King of the Budget Phone Wars?
Cherry Mobile released so many smartphones in the last two months that it’s getting hard to track and review all of them, lol. A good example would be the barrage of launches under the budget-friendly Flare series. We started with the Cherry Mobile Flare 2.0 then we suddenly found out that there were two more: Flare 2X and Flare S. Cherry Mobile also announced the Flare for next year, Flare HD. That’s a grand total of 4 Cherry Mobile Flare smartphones in under three months. Boom boom pow! Andami!
Anyway, we’re on a mission to review all of ’em. We’ve already reviewed the Flare 2.0 and the Flare HD. Today we’d like to share with you guys our full and comprehensive review of the Cherry Mobile Flare S.
Here’s a rundown of the specifications.
Cherry Mobile Flare S Spec Sheet
- 1.3GHz Quad-core MTK 6582 Processor
- Mali-400 MP2 Graphics
- 1GB RAM
- 4GB Internal Storage, expandable via MicroSD Card
- 4.0-inch IPS Display, 800×400 resolution
- 8.0-megapixels primary camera
- VGA secondary camera
- WiFi, WiFi Hotspot, 3G, Bluetooth, FM Radio
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- Android Jelly Bean 4.2
- 1,400mAh Battery
- Comes with Free Case and Screen Protector
- SRP: Php4,499
Those numbers might look plain to you but they actually threw in a very powerful quad-core processor in the Cherry Mobile Flare S. The MediaTek 6582 combined with Mali-400 graphics and 1GB RAM should get you a score of around 16,000 on the Antutu Benchmark Test. Imagine all that power in a budget-friendly phone (Php4,499)? We live in amazing times indeed!
Hardware: Good Looking “Rubbery” Smartphone
For Php4,499 you’d expect this to be the typical cheap glossy plastic smartphone. Surprisingly that’s not the case at all. The Cherry Mobile Flare S has a very smooth finish for the back plate which extends to the top and bottom of the front. The material almost feels “rubbery”. At the top of the back plate there’s a glossy plastic black strip where the 8MP camera is situated together with the LED flash.
Along the sides are the usual ports and buttons. On the left we found the volume rocker and on the right was the Power Lock button. At the top we have the standard audio jack and the micro USB port. There were no buttons, controls, or ports at the bottom.
Up front we have the 4.0-inch glass screen sandwiched by the two rubbery strips we mentioned earlier. It actually looks great since it gives it a certain kind of duality and texture that you normally don’t find in phones in this price range.
We turned the device on and we were a bit underwhelmed by the 800 x 400 pixels resolution display. The good news though is that they used IPS panels so viewing angles were still quite good.
Over-all when it came to the hardware the Cherry Mobile Flare S surpassed our expectations. It’s a fresh take on entry-level budget smartphones.
The real story of the Cherry Mobile Flare S though is performance! The potent combination of the 1.3GHz Quad-core MTK 6582 Processor, Mali-400 MP2 Graphics, and 1GB RAM pushed the Antutu Benchmark Test score of the Cherry Mobile Flare S to well over 16,000! It actually rivals the performance delivered by the turbo quad-core devices we’ve seen (also using MediaTek).
In terms of real world usage, the high score is justified by the smooth and fluid Android Jelly Bean experience that the Flare S delivers. We rarely felt lag even if we had a live wall paper running in the background together with a 3D weather widget on the home screen. We did some research and apparently the 1.3GHz quad-core processor of MediaTek was really made for non-HD displays and they’re geared towards maximizing performance (probably because they don’t have to spend resources on supporting HD).
We tried a bunch of game apps and all of them worked without noticeable issues. As usual we fired up Dead Trigger 2 and surprisingly we got an even better and smooth gaming experience with the Flare S compared to the upcoming Flare HD! Another case of when non-HD actually trumps HD, lol.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S was able to handled almost everything we threw at it. It had no problem with the core and basic functions like messaging, calls, and social networking as well. We did notice though that the WiFi antenna seemed kinda weak. In the same room our other phone would have 2-3 bars while it would be stuck at 1.
Everything considered, the Cherry Mobile Flare S delivered a knockout performance that we never really expected from it. It’s kinda like Manny Pacquiao when he was still breaking into the boxing scene. Very small, fast, and packed quite a mean punch.
Too Much Power! Ubos 1,400mAh!
The Flare S does have it’s fair share of problems though. The most notable and frustrating one is battery life. The 1,400mAh battery pack just can’t handle the quad-core processor even if it’s made for budget phones. With 3G on and Brightness at 30-40% we barely could go past 6-7 hours with our usual usage habits.
If you’re going to use the Flare S as your primary phone it would be wise to invest in a Power Bank. Otherwise you’ll always end up short.
Camera is Below Average
Lastly we have major concerns with the optics of the 8MP shooter on board the Flare S. It was a huge disappointment for us because we were hoping for it to take at least decent or average photos. Instead we got so much noise even in mid-lighting conditions as you’ll see in the sample shots we took below.
Just… bleh. So yeah if you’re in the market for a budget smartphone with a good camera, look somewhere else!
Verdict: A Good and Powerful Budget-friendly Smartphone Under Php5,000
So what’s our final verdict for the Cherry Mobile Flare S? If you value power and performance this is it! Just accept two facts: you’ll run out of battery fast and your camera isn’t the best one for picture-taking, hehe. If you don’t take too many pics with your smartphone though and you have a mobile power charger, the Cherry Mobile Flare S is possibly the best value-for-money and bang-for-your-buck option to date.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S is available in Cherry Mobile kiosks and stores. SRP is Php4,499.
Cherry Mobile Flare S Unboxing Video
To get a better feel for the build of the Flare S, check out this short video that we created and first showed during our first unboxing post.