Coolpad Max unboxing and first impressions: the two-faced smartphone

“The mainstay of the new Coolpad Max is a private space feature that lets you keep accounts and data separate”

Coolpad is still a new name in India as far as smartphones are concerned, but right from the get go, seems to be doing a few things right. In a market obsessed with specs, it made sure it piqued interest levels by launching affordable phones with compelling specs. In the recent past, the Note 3 variants from the brand have grabbed headlines for offering features like fingerprint scanners and 3 gigs of RAM for under Rs 10,000. Seems the brand is getting ready to enter the higher-end segment now, and the vehicle for that will be its new flagship, the Coolpad Max.

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The Max comes packed inside a fancy-looking black box, which includes the usual stuff like a wall charger, a USB cable (with a tiny LED that lights up at the end with the micro-USB connector), and a pair of earphones. Coolpad has also thrown in a transparent plastic back cover and a screen protector. 


In terms of design, the first thing that came to our mind when we saw the Max was how closely it resembles the Apple iPhone 6s Plus. We’ll refrain from commenting on that though – it certainly isn’t the first one to ape the iconic design… and let’s face it, the design language followed by the iPhones is quite nice. Add to that the fact that our review model comes in rose gold, and the resemblance is hard to miss. All said and done, you can be sure you’d be able to turn a few heads with the Coolpad Max in your hands.

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The phone feels large, mainly due to the 5.5-inch display… and heavy, thanks to the metal build. The 2.5D curved glass adds to the premium feel, along with the white bezels around the screen. Apart from the screen, you’ll see the usual elements on the fascia. There’s the earpiece, front cam, sensors and a notification LED on top, with the latter hidden from view till it blinks. There are no navigation keys below, since they’re implemented in the software.

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The left spine holds the volume rocker, while the SIM tray and power button are placed on the right. The ejectable SIM tray can hold a pair of nano-SIMs, or you can choose to forsake dual-SIM functionality to add a microSD card for more storage.

The headset socket is on top, while the bottom is home to a micro-USB port flanked by holes that hide the speaker and microphone.


Flipping to the rear, you’ll see the primary camera lens up top, along with the flash. A circular fingerprint scanner is placed below. The expanse of rose gold is broken up by a pair of white antenna lines that run on the top and bottom.


The 5.5-inch display offers a resolution of 1080p, and looks quite sharp and vibrant. And thanks to the Snapdragon 617 processor mated to a healthy 4 gigs of RAM, we didn’t encounter any lags during our breif usage. The 64GB internal storage (with about 51.5GB accessible) should suffice for most, though there’s the option of adding more via the hybrid SIM slot. For shooting, there’s a 13MP primary camera with a true-tone flash, and a 5-meg snapper at front. The sealed battery is rated at 2,800mAh, and despite the various battery saving modes available on the device, feels a tad weak in terms of capacity if you ask us. 

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On the software side, you get Android 5.1.1, layered up with the brand’s custom UI. Don’t bother looking for a dedicated app drawer – it isn’t there. The software features and preloaded apps are similar to what we’ve seen from the brand before, and include a one-touch memory cleaner, a dedicated icon for managing fingerprints, Rock Wallpaper for switching backgrounds etc.

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You can use themes to customise the look even further. Also on offer is Cool Manager, a suite that provides functions like a cleaner, data monitor, power manager, call blocker, app manager, and a privacy manager. The app manager controls what apps can run at boot, includes an antivirus, an ad blocker, and lets you uninstall apps or move them to external memory. The extensive feature-set continues when you dive into the privacy manager, which offers a permissions manager and an app locker. Surprisingly, there’s an option to hide apps as well, but that’s available as a separate icon hidden inside a folder labelled ‘Others’, but it’s probably have been more logical to include it along with the other apps-related tools present in Cool Manager.

There’s a built-in call recorder as well, and interestingly, you can tap on the fingerprint scanner in the middle of a call to record it. The scanner can also be used to accept calls and shoot photos. Since the navigation buttons are overlaid in software, you can even change the sequence of the keys as per your preferences, and swap the recents key function in favour of a menu key if you like.

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The Max also offers a multi-window feature, letting you use two apps simultaneously. This is implemented via a sidebar that slides out from the side, and it lets you add installed apps to the list. When you have two windows open, you can drag and resize any one of them as per your requirements.

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The key highlight of the Max however, is something that the brand has been teasing extensively. The phablet is being called ‘dual-in-one’, and this feature is available in the form of ‘spaces’. The device lets you segregate apps and data between a main and a private space, which is handy if you want to keep your work and personal stuff separate. The private space can be protected by a password and can be hidden as well. Since the two spaces can have their own apps, it means you can effectively use multiple accounts for apps like WhatsApp, Facebook etc – something we feel could be really useful for some users.

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The default camera apps offers a bunch of modes, including a Pro mode that lets you tweak settings like ISO, white balance, focus etc. Then there’s a beauty mode and a night mode as well. Tapping on the three dots on top displays some more options, including GIF, refocus and a long exposure mode. A range of colour filters with live previews is also available. A could of quick test shots indicate fast focussing speeds, and the captured images show promise.


In sum, the Coolpad Max ticks most boxes – it looks stylish, feels premium, and seems loaded in terms of hardware. The software features, especially the ability to use multiple accounts on apps like WhatsApp and Facebook should also lure quite a few. The pricing though, could play spoilsport, as there are quite a few other, stronger rivals in the fray. The Max has been priced at Rs 24,999, which seems on the higher side, considering you can get the Snapdragon 820-powered Xiaomi Mi 5 (review) at the same cost. Then there are others, like the vivo V3 Max (first impressions) and the newly-launched Smartron Let’s see how the new offering from Coolpad fares in the face of heavy competition. Our review is in the pipeline as you read this. 

Photos by Raj Rout

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