Coolpad Note 3 Review: Hard to fault

Coolpad is among the biggest phone makers in China, but for some reason doesn’t quite make it to the headlines too much. Coolpad recently re-entered the Indian smartphone market with the very ‘budget’ Note 3 with which I spent a good few weeks.

The existence of the word ‘Note’ in the name of the device suggests that it possesses at least 5.5-inches of screen real estate… which is exactly the case.

Corners have been cut but the Note 3 is a killer entry in the Indian smartphone market at 8,999 INR / $134.

Coolpad Note 3 Review – Design

The ‘bezel-less’ look that got popular finds its way on to the Note 3. This means that there are thick chunks of black bezel on either side of the screen, reminding you of 2012 phones (minus the bezel colour, of course).

From a distance, the Note 3 looks very much like an Letv X600. Once you get the phone in your hands, however, the quality of the X600 isn’t quite there.

Nonetheless, it’s only the ‘premium’ that’s missing; ‘sturdy’ is in abundance.

Coolpad Note 3 1_resultThere’s also a silver coloured plastic lip around the phone that to me looks a little… hideous. That said, it can be a highly subjective thing. Besides, the lip should add extra protection to the frame of the phone (which is something that’s missing on the X600).

Under the screen you find three non-backlit capacitive keys with icons borrowed from the Android OS. I think these are the best looking icons capacitive buttons have had yet, but they look even better with some neon backlight behind them (which sadly doesn’t happen on the Note 3).

Flip the phone over and you see a rather generic-looking rear… but with a fingerprint sensor (this one’s crazy, keep reading to know why) right under the camera protrusion. Speaking of the camera protrusion, it has a (single LED) flash on one side and the secondary mic on the other.

Coolpad place a subtle logo (in rubberised ink) towards the bottom of the rear, just above the speaker grill. Taking the rear off will expose the hybrid SIM slots and the area beneath which the non-removable battery sits.

Make no mistake — the Coolpad Note 3 is almost entirely plastic but the phone has a reassuring build. One that appears to have enough in it to take a beating.

Coolpad Note 3 Review – Hardware

Coolpad Note 3 11_resultThe Note 3 doesn’t quite have Helio X10-esque performance, but thanks to the octa-core MediaTek MT6753 and 3GB RAM, the phone, in my books, kills any other 9,000 INR / $150 device around.

That is of course, if you plan to use the Note 3 as a smartphone and not a mobile gaming station. Before delving into the performance details of this phone, let me get the other bits out of the way.

The first thing that you’ll notice about the Note 3, like you do for any other phone, is the screen… which is a downer for me. At the first look it might seem something pretty good, but once you realise how colours wash out at even the slightest angle, it wont take too long before your opinion changes.

Coolpad seem to have tuned the screen to be a little dramatic/saturated which is another thing that might not be to everyone’s taste. Very easily, this display is the phone’s Achilles heel.

Other hardware on the phone seems to be mighty fine, though. The sound, reception, camera, battery — the Note 3 kills it.

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Speaking of battery, it has a 3000mAh battery which doesn’t sound like much, but the battery life it returns is pretty awesome. I’m all for a good battery life on the phone, and the Note 3 (along with the OnePlus One, and 1-2 other phones) is among the few to have been up to par.

Since SOT (screen on time) is a fairly dependable measure of battery performance, here’s how the Note 3 does with it: 5-6 hours of screen on time, which will be one to one and a half days of usage depending on your style.

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Moving on, sound both from the internal speaker as well as the 3.5mm jack is satisfactory. Coolpad bundle a pair of earphones which is a nice plus, but you want to get slightly better ones (perhaps something along the lines of the new Xiaomi ones) to get the best out of the Note 3. A small, closed room is where the in-built speaker of the Note 3 impresses the most — don’t ask me what that room is called.

The fingerprint sensor on this budget phone is something that’s going to bedazzle you. Hands down, it is the fastest fingerprint sensor I’ve seen on an Android phone — second only to the (much) much more expensive iPhone 6s.

Coolpad Note 3 Review – Performance

Like I said, I’ve been mighty pleased with how the Note 3 performs. The OnePlus X isn’t the most comparable phone (with regards to the target market), but just for the record, the Note 3 does better.

The ROM — despite having bloatware — is very stable and clean. Like every other company that’s made phones in China, this one too ships the Note 3 without an app drawer.

Take a look at some benchmark scores.

Coolpad Note 3 Review – Camera

It’s an alright camera. Nothing out of the world, but then again, we’re talking about a sub-$150 phone.

The sensor itself is a 13 mega-pixel one without any fancy stuff (PDAF/laser focus/etc). It doesn’t take mind boggling photos, but it’s pretty much at par with other phones in the range. That said, the camera doesn’t quite live up to the expectations raised by the rest of the phone.

Take a look at a few samples.

Coolpad Note 3 Review – ROM, Other

The ROM on the phone is fairly stable, but contains some bloatware. This includes apps such as WeChat (removable), Cool Store (Coolpad’s store, non-removable), Amazon (non-removable), Cool Service (Coolpad service; non-removable), Xploree (keyboard; non-removable) and some other widgets which you can thankfully get rid of.

This is understandable on Coolpad’s part, because they’re attacking the market with price and need other means to make a cut. The consumer though, can only use the phone around these apps.

The phone also comes with an app that will let you lock apps which can be opened upon scanning of the correct fingerprint. This I think is a very nice addition if you have prying friends.

Something worth noting is that I was unable to use any microSD card with the hybrid SIM slot. I’m not sure if its an issue only with my review unit or across other Note 3 units as well, but it is super annoying.

Coolpad Note 3 Review – Gallery

Coolpad Note 3 Review – Specifications

Model: Coolpad Note 3
SIM Card: Dual Standby
Color: White
Capacity RAM: 3GB


Language Multi Language
Chipset CPU: MediaTek MT6753 octa-core 1.3GHz
System Android 5.1
Screen Display size: 5.5-inches

Resolution: 1280 x 720 pixels

Cameras Rear:  13 mega-pixel

Front:  5 mega-pixel

Network and Wireless Connectivity 4G: FDD 1/3/7/20 (800 1800 2100 2600)

3G: WCDMA 1/5/8 (850 900 2100)

2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz

WIFI : 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz)

Battery capacity  Non-removable 3000mAh
Dimensions 151 x 77 x 9.3 mm

Coolpad Note 3 Review – Conclusion

The Coolpad Note 3 is a top phone for not too much. It’s a shame it is available only in India, since I’m sure buyers in many other countries would be happy to get the device… perhaps even with a slightly higher price.

The only downside to the phone is the screen, and the bloatware if that bothers you. Oh, and Coolpad’s following Xiaomi’s flash sale methods, so you can only buy the phone on specific days at a specific time via

Overall, the Note 3 is a killer note for what it costs… and I daresay, it trumps the K3 Note as well.

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  1. vijay sud
    December 21, 2015

    Thanks for a very balanced review of this phone, which has sometimes received quite a negative treatment from Indian sites.

    • December 22, 2015

      I believe I’m a little stingy with the scores, but the review is extremely positive in the qualitative analysis 😀

  2. ksuuk
    December 21, 2015

    Physical button with wrong layout = fault.

  3. Muhammad Yasir
    December 21, 2015

    i beg to differ … the k3 note had the BEST camera for phones costing $150 AND below !
    it was stated on this very site , i believe.

    • mf1gt3r
      December 21, 2015

      I haven’t held this phone. But with samples I’ve seen and downloaded. They are very close in performance.

    • balcobomber25
      December 21, 2015

      What do you differ with? He said the camera wasn’t the best.

      • Muhammad Yasir
        December 21, 2015

        he said “I daresay, it trumps the K3 Note as well.”

        which AUTOMATICALLY implies that he’s rating the dazen note’s camera above the k3 note

        • balcobomber25
          December 21, 2015

          He is saying that about the phone overall. A phone can be better overall but have a worse camera. An example would be the Gionee E7, it had one of the best camera’s last year but there were better phones than it with worse cameras.

          • Muhammad Yasir
            December 21, 2015

            oh , well in that case i stand corrected.

    • slartiblart
      December 21, 2015

      The K3 Note is a damn sweet camera for the price.

    • December 21, 2015

      Probably. I’m not sure who reviewed the K3 Note here (wasn’t me; reviews can be slightly subjective with matters such as camera) but on the whole the Coolpad Note 3 is the better phone. I’ll have to concede that the K3 Note has the better camera though.

      • Muhammad Yasir
        December 21, 2015

        im guessing it was prolly Andi with the k3 review….

    • Assefa Hanson
      December 22, 2015

      i disagree i would give that to the ulefone paris

      • Muhammad Yasir
        December 23, 2015

        u sure ? the mods here weren’t so convinced on Ulefone’s camera …
        im hoping you can prove me wrong if u do decide to follow up , since ulefone is cheaper than both at $120 (atleast on aliexpress)

        • Assefa Hanson
          December 23, 2015

          well i dont own the device my self but from the reviews ive seen from youtubers like s7yler,itxtutor,andro4all the camera looks slightly better for pictures and the colours look better in vidoes , versus reviewers of the k3 like android authority,geekyranjit,itxtutor,mayiandjay

          • Muhammad Yasir
            December 23, 2015

            i see …
            while not a big fan of video reviews i ocassionally see s7yler’s reviews

            but the mods here , they are like stern old men :p (sorry Andi , Yash and co :p)
            they judge a camera accordingly and in-depth and i really look forward to their analysis when it comes to decide upon a phone’s camera capabilities.

            • Assefa Hanson
              December 23, 2015

              lol the old stern XD, to be honest these reviewers dont go indepth with cameras so i would have to give it to them if they say its better if they go more indepth most likely they are more credible

            • Muhammad Yasir
              December 23, 2015

              yeah … i have raised my voice on that a few times , but they ain’t that bad :p

  4. balcobomber25
    December 21, 2015

    Coolpad has had some good phones over the year but they have never been able to achieve the fame as some of the other Chinese companies. They always have kind of just floated along. This phone isn’t bad for the price, but there is nothing exceptional about it either. I would love to see Coolpad to come out with a great midrange phone that matches the recently released models from LeTV, Xiaomi and Meizu.

    • Muhammad Yasir
      December 21, 2015

      exactly … a bit too mediocre !
      they need to step up a bit … a bit more Oomph , but for the SAME PRICE !

      and we’ll no doubt have a mid-range , upper-budget winner on our hands !

      • Dante
        December 21, 2015

        Its not funny any more , lets get helio x9000 36 Mp Next gen Canon Sensor , 8k screen , Superconductor battery , liquidmetal titanium alloy body , godzilla glass 4 , and a tad 64 gb ram in the entry level version all for the unfai price of 9.99 , there is a limit in developing something ? sinecost etc

        • Muhammad Yasir
          December 22, 2015

          here , have a snickers …

    • King
      December 21, 2015

      Qiku Q Terra… what do you think? Qihoo + Coolpad company.

      Q Terra specs here.

      @Yash Garg:disqus any plans to put this phone under microscope and get some reviews?

      • December 21, 2015

        Looks like a lovely phone indeed, but Qiku have been poor with communication. Yet to hear from them on whether they’ll be sending a review phone.

        • King
          December 22, 2015

          Since they have tie-up with Gadget 360 it may be difficult to get a review phone IMO. I read some reviews on other tech sites and new papers columns and it looks like a good phone. As a consumer, i have three options now – Q Terra, Yutopia with Cyanogen and third is to wait for LeTV’s launch in India scheduled on 5th Jan. 😀

  5. Karly Johnston
    December 21, 2015

    You can get a Redmi Note 2 for $150. That has an X10.

  6. Angry Mobile Nerd
    December 22, 2015

    If the local Best Buy is ever sold out of Toshiba Handibooks then Eric Cartman’s mom can always buy him a Coolpad.

  7. Riccardo Benzoni
    December 23, 2015

    Another solid device from Coolpad, yet they still fail to deliver a proper successor of the highly acclaimed Coolpad F1. If this note was released 4-5 months ago and packed a mt6752 and a sony IMX214… it could have been it!

  8. Tony Lee
    December 24, 2015

    the battery is a little small and has no Touch ID