We review the Flare Mate!
Cherry Mobile’s 6-inch Flare phablet has been a long time coming – after it was unintendedly leaked last year, it seemingly entered a news vacuum, and has only recently surfaced. It’s finally out in the wild right now, joining its other Flare brothers six months after they were originally announced. The Flare Mate is the final piece of the puzzle for the Flare series, as it fills the phablet-sized hole in the Cherry Mobile’s lineup. But has the wait been worth it or is it too little too late?
Cherry Mobile Flare Mate
- 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 6-inch full HD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 16GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 16-megapixel rear camera, BSI, flash
- 5-megapixel front camera
- Dual SIM
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, fingerprint scanner
- 4000mAh battery
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
It’s big, but not unmanageable
Here’s the thing about phablets: they’re big. They’re so big in fact that many people have trouble holding on to them, even with two hands. That’s obviously not a good thing because that usually leads to accidental drops, which then leads to dented frames and cracked screens.
It’s a good thing then that the Flare Mate isn’t too big, at least for a phablet. The design of the phone takes many liberties from Huawei’s own Mate 7 smartphone, thus the name of the device. That’s a good thing, because the Flare Mate uses many of the same tricks that the Mate 7 used to keep the phone from being unusable because of its sheer size.
The biggest trick is the dramatic reduction of the bezels on the sides, top and bottom of the phone. This allows the Flare Mate to be shorter than typical phablets – it’s exactly the same height as the Mate 8, which in turn is slightly smaller than Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus. There’s no physical navigation keys – just on-screen ones, which further reduces the need for a big chin.
While the phone tries to emulate the look of Huawei’s big screen offering, several material sacrifices had to be made to keep the phone in budget territory. The biggest tradeoff is a mix of metal and plastic, instead of an aluminum unibody in the original phone. The frame of the Flare Mate is made out of aluminum and has chamfered edges. The back of the phone is plastic. One thing we noticed about the Flare Mate when we first got it was the noticeable creak on the back. It’s since disappeared, but it’s something to be aware of.
As far as button placements go the Flare Mate has the volume rocker and power button on the right. The SIM slot is on the left side, while the 3.5mm jack and USB port are located on the top and bottom, respectively. There’s also an IR blaster on the top of the phone, and an accompanying app which allows the device to control some appliances.
Flip the phone over you’ll see the 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as the fingerprint scanner located right below it. The speaker grille is on the lowest part of the phone.
Does the fingerprint scanner work as advertised? Yup, though it feels a little slow to unlock the phone compared to more expensive smartphones with the same feature. The fingerprint sensor is similar to the one in the Flare Selfie, meaning it can read fingerprints no matter what orientation they land on the sensor.
Probably the biggest appeal of the Flare Mate is the full HD, 6-inch display. Viewing angles on it are generous, and overall display quality is good. It doesn’t have rich blacks that other, more expensive phones have but for the price, it’s perfectly acceptable.
Same old MediaTek processor that’s on the other Flare smartphones
Another Flare Mate, another MediaTek processor powering it. You know the drill – MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor running at 1.3GHz, paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. It’s fast, reliable and is good enough for most tasks, but gaming performance will take a hit if you try to game on higher settings.
For the most part the processor does a good job. Navigating through the mostly stock Android UI feels fast and quick, without any lag whatsoever.
Call connectivity is good, without any dropped calls during our time with the phone.
Good camera under the circumstances
The Flare Mate uses a 16-megapixel rear camera with flash and BSI. We suspect that it may just be the same camera that was used in the other Flare smartphones, but we can’t be sure. Anyway, the Flare Mate produced good looking photos, though we did notice a bluish tinge in one of the daylight photos that we took with it.
Low-light performance is okay, and the front selfie camera performed well even under less than ideal lighting.
Slightly disappointing battery performance
One of the nice things about having a phablet is that there’s so much space in the phone’s body to stuff a battery in. The Flare Mate is no exception, as it sports a 4000mAh battery inside its sizable frame. Combined with the power efficient MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor, the phone should be able to outshine its other Flare brothers in terms of battery life, right?
Not exactly. The Flare Mate received a slightly disappointing 7 hour and 57 minute battery rundown time with PCMark’s Battery Benchmark. While that’s still an impressive number, it pales in comparison with the Flare Selfie, which received an 8 hour and 40 minute score with a smaller 3000mAh battery. It seems like the 6-inch full HD display sucks way more juice than other phablets, something that you’ll have to keep in mind when you’re thinking of buying it.
Verdict: A decent phablet, but there are better options in the market
So, does Cherry Mobile’s Flare Mate live up to our expectations? Not really. While it’s one of the more affordable 6-inch smartphones out in the market today, its mid-range processor performance and middlin’ battery life (for the amount of juice packed into it) left a not so nice taste in our mouth. Still, it’s an option to consider if you’re looking for a phone with an absolutely large display, but you’d be better served if you downgrade to a smaller phone that has a more power-efficient panel.
The Flare Mate retails for Php 8,999.