Celero 5G is the first smartphone offering from DISH/Boost Mobile. Boost is launching this new smartphone Celero 5G at an attractive price of $139 along with a freebie case.
Having just reviewed my favorite budget 5G smartphone – Poco M4 Pro 5G – I knew that the Celero 5G review was going to be an interesting exercise in comparison. Well, let’s get the unboxing going to see how well the Celero 5G performs.
Unboxing the Celero 5G
The retail package is a chipboard carton about the size of a personal pan pizza box. Getting the flaps to open on this box was an ordeal so finally, I just tore off the middle part. Once the box is open, you can see that all the contents are neatly put in three compartments – phone, cable, brick, and the SIM tool is tucked in on a flap.
Unlike Poco, Vivo, Xiaomi there is no case or factory film screen protector on the Celero 5G, at least with the review unit. Boost is giving away a free case if you purchase it during the launch window so keep that in mind.
Celero 5G – Hardware Design and Build Quality Impressions
First impression when you hold the Celero 5G in your hand is that it is a large phone yet fairly light in weight. This is because of the plastic frame and the matte plastic back cover. I do like the silver color and the muted branding on the back.
As soon as I saw the phone I kept thinking that I have seen this device before. So I did a quick search for a phone case on Amazon and sure enough in a few clicks, I was able to see that the Celero 5G is basically a Samsung A22 5G. And this is not a bad thing since the Samsung A22 is a fairly decent device for the price.
The Celero 5G nails all the basics in a good smartphone. Large screen, a small notch, headphone jack, and USB-C charging. It also has two microphones, a single speaker grille at the bottom, and a triple camera module on the rear with a single flash.
One thing that kinda tells you it is a budget device is that large chin at the bottom but you have to keep in mind that this entry-level 5G smartphone costs only $139.
Celero 5G performance is surprisingly quite decent
I wasn’t expecting any big surprises from the Celero 5G. The Geekbench 5 scores are 546 for Single-Core and 1662 for Multi-Core. Benchmark scores are just about 6-8% behind our favorite budget smartphone the Poco M4 Pro 5G.
The MediaTek MTK5G-C processor powering the Celero 5G is basically a Dimensity 700 which is a 7nm chip. It packs an octa-core processor with 2x 2.2GHz Cortex-A76 and 6x 2.0GHz Cortex-A55 cores. Graphics processor on this chip is a Mali-G57 MC2 and my guess is it is running somewhere around 850MHz to 950 MHz.
During my review, the phone did not exhibit any slow down or erratic heating behavior. I did not see marked heating during extended video playback on YouTube or Netflix. Since this is an entry-level smartphone I didn’t test any graphics-intensive games on this device.
Boost is only offering one version with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. However, the SIM tray houses a micro SD card slot and you can expand the storage up to 2TB which is nice.
Software on the Celero 5G is stock Android 11
So even though this is a rebranded Samsung A22 the software is more stock Android than One UI. Since my daily driver is a Pixel 6, I had no issues getting used to the software on the Celero 5G. A swipe left from the home screen brings up Google Discover. Pull down from the home screen and the quick settings look very similar to Pixel phones in 2020 while running Android 11.
Having no duplicate apps for Contacts, Clock, Calendar, Phone or Message is great. However, there are a bunch of Boost apps that will get downloaded automatically and get added even if you just plan to use this device on Wi-Fi which is quite annoying. Even more annoying though is the constant barrage of notifications that some of these apps generate on a constant basis.
Now while the phone is running stock Android 11 which is similar to what other Android devices have compared to the Google Pixel series, the security patch on the Celero 5G is from July 2021 which is very out of date. This does not bode well in terms of this device getting timely updates for security patches or OS updates. In addition, Boost’s webpage has scant details on future OS updates so keep that in mind if/when you decide to get the Celero 5G.
Display is excellent even though it has a big chin at the bottom
One thing that is quite good on the Celero 5G is the display. It is big, bright, and vivid. Specs-wise it is 6.5 inches with HD+ resolution (1080×2400 pixels) that yields a 399 pixel density.
For the most part, the colors look punchy, touch responsiveness is excellent and no issues to report during the review period. The only two things that stand out are the V notch for the selfie camera, most modern smartphones tend to have a hole punch in the Android world. And the second thing is the fairly large chin at the bottom. The rest of the bezels are fairly uniform on the front of this smartphone. Keep in mind though that this is a $139 smartphone and for that price, you are still getting a fairly large and color-accurate display.
Audio output is adequate and there’s a headphone jack
As far as audio goes for speakerphone or video/music streaming there is only a single bottom-firing speaker. This single speaker doesn’t sound very clear until you crank up the volume about 70% or higher. And once you crank the volume level close to maximum it does sound decent. One thing to note is that it is quite easy to cover the bottom grille and once you do that you can barely hear anything.
While it is nice to have a headphone jack, I wasn’t thrilled with the output using my Audio Technica or Bose wired headphones. You need to crank the volume slider close to 75% to get decent audio output. Surprisingly though this issue does not occur while using wireless earbuds via Bluetooth. Audio quality via BT is great across all tones at about 40% of volume so my suggestion is to invest in a reasonable pair of BT earbuds on Amazon.
Battery life is easily a full day on the Celero 5G
There is one big change on the Celero 5G in comparison with the Samsung A22 and that is battery capacity. The Samsung version has a 5000 mAh battery while the Celero gets a 4000 mAh battery. So overall battery life on the Celero 5G while being good is not as great as the A22.
If you are a light user though you can charge this every other day otherwise in most cases the battery will last you morning till night. And thankfully there’s an 18W fast charging brick and cable in the retail box to top it up. It’s quite funny that budget devices tend to get headphone jacks and charging bricks while flagships come without either of these features today.
Main camera takes great pictures in daylight
There are three cameras on the rear of the Celero 5G – 16MP main camera, 5MP Ultrawide, and a 2MP depth sensor. In daylight, the pictures from the main camera are quite good. Another thing you will notice is that there is zero lag in taking the pictures with either rear camera. Remember the 2MP third camera is mainly a depth sensor for portrait mode.
Simple camera app that is easy to use
Camera app itself is uncluttered and easy to use. One thing missing in the app is Night Mode. However, the main camera takes reasonably good quality pictures in low light – good enough to share on a smartphone. But in really dark situations the results are terrible even with the main camera.
Ultrawide pictures are serviceable in daylight with decent color and contrast. One thing that didn’t add up for me with the Ultrawide camera is that the app indicates 0.5X but actual results are definitely nowhere close to being 0.5X of the main camera. On the bright side, there is minimal barrel distortion on the Ultrawide pictures which is also a telltale sign that the results are not 0.5X.
Portrait mode is Live Focus and works really well – just like on Samsung devices. In the ‘More’ section you get Pro, Slow Motion, and Hyperlapse modes which can come in handy in certain situations.
The 8MP front-facing selfie camera produces images with good color accuracy but details are lacking and images are quite soft even in good lighting. These should work for sharing images via social media as long as you are not pixel peeping too much. Background details are sorely lacking in selfies so keep that in mind.
Let’s switch gears from photos to video. Video wise I suggest you stick with the main camera for optimal results. This is one area where you realize right away that you have a budget device so using the best rear camera makes logical sense.
Connectivity is great on the Boost Network
Boost sent me a SIM card and Boost cash to enable connecting the Celero 5G to their network. There were zero issues connecting to their network in Southern California on the Celero 5G. Calls, texts, MMS, music, and video streaming were all hassle-free. Download speeds varied around town but that happens even on my regular cellular service provider so no complaints on that front.
Besides the network and WiFi, there’s Bluetooth and Nearby Share in terms of connectivity. It does not have NFC for contactless payments so keep that in mind.
Celero 5G -Final Verdict
Celero 5G is the first smartphone directly from DISH/Boost Mobile. It comes with a launch price of $139 (or lower from retailers like Walmart) for a large screen smartphone with 5G connectivity. There are a lot of positives – hardware design, performance, display, connectivity, stock Android software, battery life and recharging times. A few things are average such as audio output and camera performance.
There is however the lingering question of long-term software support – July 2021 security patch doesn’t inspire too much confidence. And lastly, while the $139 price is quite attractive, Boost is offering the Samsung A32 5G for $149. For $10 more the Samsung is likely to get regular software updates, has better cameras, and a bigger battery.