Cherry Mobile launched six new smartphones on October 17, which included: the nearly bezel-less Cherry Mobile Flare Infinity and the successor to one the local companies best-selling smartphones, the Cherry Mobile Flare X2; both of which, by the way, have their full reviews up on the website. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at one of their siblings — The Cherry Mobile Flare S5 Plus — to see if it’s worth its price tag. Before we begin, here’s a refresher for the specs of the Flare S5 Plus.
Cherry Mobile Flare S5 Plus specs
- 1.3GHz Mediatek MT6753 octa-core processor
- 3GB of RAM
- Mali-T720 GPU
- 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 32GB of expandable storage
- 16-megapixel rear camera with PDAF and LED flash
- 8-megapixel front camera
- Dual SIM
- 3G, LTE, 700MHz ready
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 3000mAh battery
What’s in the box?
One thing that we weren’t able to do in our initial review for the Flare S5 Plus was to show you guys the contents of the box. Once you slide open the packaging and lift up a flap, you’ll see the device itself protected in a foam lined compartment. Below that are the accessories, which include: the USB wall charger, USB Type-C cable, in-ear headphones, user manual, and additional documentation. We really wish that Cherry Mobile had included some sort of case for the Flare S5 Plus for reasons that will be discussed below.
Designed Entirely In-House
As mentioned in our initial review, the Cherry Mobile Flare S5 Plus was one of the phones released in October that was designed by the team at Cherry Mobile. It borrows a lot of design cues from a Korean brand who has had a device known for its explosive tendencies and if you don’t see it — the familiar shape of the home button that happens to hide a fingerprint scanner, flanked by the capacitive navigation keys on its chin should be a dead giveaway. The front of the phone is covered by 2.5D curved glass to protect its 5.5-inch Full HD display; a feature fast becoming a staple for most smartphones out in the market and is definitely a welcome addition to the Flare S5 Plus.
Flip the phone over and you’ll see its polycarbonate plastic back cover that’s been given a glossy, brushed aluminum finish. Its edges have gentle curves to go along with frame’s chamfering and curved corners, making it easier to clasp with one hand despite its size and the considerable amount of heft the device has. If there’s one thing we absolutely abhor about the exterior of the Flare S5 Plus is that it tends to attract fingerprints like crazy, which is why we’re a little bummed that a case wasn’t given as a freebie. In addition to that, despite our best efforts to keep the phone scratch free, we noticed a few nicks on the camera as well. If you do decide to purchase the Flare S5 Plus after reading this review, make sure you invest in a cleaning cloth, have it with you at all times, and purchase a case as well.
A tour of the phone reveals that all the usual ports and buttons are roughly where you’d expect them to be, with one exception. Yes, the right side houses the volume rocker and the power button, behind the device is its 16-megapixel main shooter and LED flash, and up on top is a 3.5mm jack, but on the bottom you’ll notice that, flanked by speaker grilles, the local brand has ditched the microUSB port in favor of USB Type-C.
The Flare S5 Plus has a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD Display, which gives it a pixel density of 400 pixels per inch. Images are crisp plus its color saturation and contrast ratios were satisfactory, but using it outdoors on a bright day can be a bit of a hassle. Watching videos on the device was quite enjoyable, but those huge black borders around the screen can be a bit of an eyesore.
Accurate Fingerprint Scanner
Below the screen are the home button plus the capacitive Android navigation keys and, as mentioned above and in our initial review, it pretty much screams Samsung in terms of its design. We would shave off some points for looking so much like it came straight from the S7, but — while it isn’t the fastest scanner around — it does perform rather well and we can’t seem to recall a time where the scanner failed to recognize our prints.
A Familiar Processing Package
The Cherry Mobile Flare S5 Plus is equipped with a MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor that clocks in at 1.3GHz and is paired with 3GB of RAM, a Mali T720 GPU, and 32GB of expandable storage. This combination of hardware is definitely something we’ve seen in a lot of smartphones recently and it performs as well as you’d expect. Navigating through the user interface was a breeze and the phone has enough power to handle light to moderate multitasking without batting an eyelash. It’s a budget-oriented processing package, so do keep that in mind when considering this phone for your next purchase and be prepared to accept its limitations.
Speaking of limitations, you’ll also want to stay away from heavier game titles because the settings on games, such as: Asphalt Xtreme and Dead Trigger 2, were noticeably turned down but still suffered from frame rate drops. We did try NBA 2K17 for the heck of it and frame rates were annoyingly low, so you’ll definitely want to stick to simpler games. If you happen to still be playing Pokemon Go, you’ll be happy to know that you can play with AR on as well.
While there may be nothing new with most of the hardware in the Flare S5 Plus, what’s different this time around though is the fact that it is capable of using the 700MHz LTE band recently made available to both major telcos in the country and we could definitely feel the extra speed in a few areas. Tethered to our laptop via Mobile Hotspot, we were able to upload a video that was about 300MB onto YouTube in less than 10 minutes, which is way better than the DSL connection I personally use at home (Fibr, please! T_T).
Decent Cameras, Decent Snaps
We get a little cynical when it comes to the performance of cameras on a budget device, so you can imagine our surprise when we finally transferred our snaps from the Flare S5 Plus to our PC to see how it fared. It actually did a pretty decent job in both well lit conditions and in less than ideal situations. Details are still fairly clear when zoomed in and, while it’s there, the amount of noise in the indoor shot we took is still within a respectable range. There are a few issues, of course, and exposure can be a bit hit or miss at times, but overall the 16-megapixel main camera and 8-megapixel front camera can hold on their own all things considered.
Juice to Last the Day
PCMark for Android recently updated its Battery Benchmark tests to show significantly lower results than what we’re used to seeing on phones equipped with a 3000mAh battery, giving the Flare S5 Plus a time of 4 hours and 15 minutes. Our real world test, however, show that the Flare S5 Plus can get you through a regular work day with a bit of a top up if you happen to be a heavy user. We should also mention that Cherry Mobile has chosen to go with a built-in battery instead of a removable one for this device.
The Verdict: Standard Fanfare
The Cherry Mobile Flare S5 Plus is priced at Php 8,999 and the question is: “Should you consider purchasing the Flare S5 Plus?” The device definitely has a lot going for it, namely: a 5.5-Inch Full HD display, a processing package that has been tried and tested in many-a-mid-ranged smartphone, decent camera performance, and an accurate fingerprint scanner. Based on those merits, it’s certainly worth a look the next time you go window shopping for phones. That being said though, the Flare S5 Plus does sit in a pretty precarious position in terms of its price and may have a hard battle ahead of it facing challenges from both local brands and international manufacturers who are braving the waters of the sub-10k price segment more and more.