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Cherry Mobile Flash Review: The Budget Cameraphone You’ve Been Waiting For?

Cherry Mobile Flash 04

Budget phones don’t usually pack high-performance camera sensors – in fact camera performance is usually the first casualty in the affordable phone war. Imagine our surprise then when Cherry Mobile launched the Flash – a smartphone that comes packing a fingerprint scanner, octa-core processor, and more importantly, a large, 16-megapixel rear camera. For people not in the know, that’s a megapixel count that’s on par with more expensive offerings from international brands. Is the Flash a great budget snapper?

Cherry Mobile Flash specs:

  • 1.3GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6753 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch full HD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 16GB of expandable storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner
  • 2800mAh battery
  • Android Marshmallow

Cherry Mobile Flash 05

Textured finish is a nice touch in a sea of me too phones

While the Flash is being marketed as a budget device, it’s one of the visually interesting local phones we’ve seen in a while. The back of the phone uses a unique, weave pattern similar to what you’d see on a handwoven blanket. It gives the phone a nice visual touch when the screen is facing down. The back is curved to give you a better grip on the phone when you’re using it one handed, and there’s a silver trim on the front for variety’s sake. Aside from that though, the phone feels like what you’d expect a budget phone to be – it’s primarily made out of plastic, has big black bezels on the side and uses capacitive, non-illuminated Android navigation keys.

Cherry Mobile Flash 07

Fingerprint scanners are fast becoming a common sight on more affordable phones, and the Flash is no exception. The circular fingerprint sensor is located on the back of the device, and has beveled edges to make it easier for your finger to find it when you’re holding the phone. The rear of the device also plays host to the 16-megapixel rear camera paired with an LED flash right below it.

Cherry Mobile Flash 09

Going around the physical features of the phone, you’ll see the power button and volume rocker on the right side (with the screen facing you), the hybrid SIM slot on the left, 3.5mm jack on top and USB port on the bottom. The phone does not have a removable battery.

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Cherry Mobile Flash 13

Overall the phone’s design is good, though aside from the textured finish the phone feels much like any budget Android phone in its price category. Overall fit and finish is good, with no obvious creaks in the phone’s construction. There’s no obvious gaps anywhere in the phone either, which is always nice.

Cherry Mobile Flash 08

The Flash uses a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display. While the display isn’t going to blow you away (it is a budget device after all), it doesn’t have major issues light light leak when playing darker scenes or color shift when viewing at an angle. Color reproduction is good, viewing angles are generous and the display is fully readable under bright sunlight. We would have loved to have illumination on the capacitive Android navigation keys though.

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Not the fastest kid in the block, but it’ll do

The Flash uses the venerable (some may say aged) MT6735 octa-core processor, paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage. Because of the sheer number of phones that passed through Unbox’s review labs powered by this processor, we already have a good read of the device’s potential when it comes to day-to-day use. The phone is powerful enough to ensure smooth operation when navigating through the mainly stock Android Marshmallow UI. It’s also capable of running most mainstream Android games, but will start to falter when you try to play more demanding, graphics-rich games on it.

As for the fingerprint scanner, it’s good enough to unlock the phone 8 out of 10 times, though it’s understandably not as fast as the ones in more expensive devices. There’s a good half a second delay when you’re unlocking the phone from sleep, which can be quite annoying especially if you’re trying to unlock the phone to take a quick photo, but it’s nothing too major.

Probably the biggest failing in the Flash is the speaker – at even the highest volume you can barely hear anything, which necessitates the use of external speakers or the included headphones if you want to actually hear anything.

As for the actual phone bits, the Flash makes and takes phone calls without any issues in regards to audio quality. GPS and LTE performance isn’t as good as the newer SoCs of MediaTek, so you can expect slow GPS lock-on times as well as lower LTE performance.

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Cherry Mobile Flash 01

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Cherry Mobile Flash 02

Camera performance is good, but isn’t stellar

One of the biggest selling points of the Flash is the 16-megapixel rear camera, which is substantially better than the offering of other phones at the same price point. Does it deliver stellar image quality?

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Well, yes and no – while the camera is capable of delivering better than average snaps, it’s not the imaging monster that we hoped it to be. Photos taken at low light (in our case, during an overcast sky at around 5 PM) exhibit a lot of noise and a lack of detail in photos.

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Resilient battery will last the whole day

We originally assumed that the combination of the dinky 2800mAh battery on the Flash and the MT6753 processor would spell doom for the phone’s overall battery life, but we were pleasantly surprised to learn that this was not the case. With our PCMark battery benchmark, we managed to achieve a score of around 8 hours and 44 minutes, which is pretty impressive, considering the overall battery capacity.

Cherry Mobile Flash 17

Verdict: Not the cameraphone that we thought it was

At the end of the day the Cherry Mobile Flash wasn’t the camera beast that we thought it was. If anything, it validates our long standing belief that a quality image sensor will always trump a higher megapixel count. Despite this the Flash is still a good buy for people looking for a budget phone that has a decent fingerprint scanner, Android Marshmallow and excellent battery performance.

The Cherry Mobile Flash retails for Php 5,999.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

13 Comments

  1. Very bad review!!! Haha. why only put photo samples taken at sun down? Why not also take photos on a clear sunny day and compare the photos if the camera is good or not. you concluded without even trying to shoot sa meron pang araw at hindi cloudy katulad ng nasa sa samples mo. Why conclude that the camera is bad just because it did not exceed your low-light expectations? Take photos sa maliwanag na umaga at hindi pagabi na for comparison-sake… Thanks. 16 megapixel will still look bad if the camera is not optimized for low-light shooting. but it will definitely look good in bright sunlight. (i’m no grammar-genius, so pls…)

    1. In 2016, almost every phone with 16 megapixel sensors can take sharp and detailed shots under bright sunlight. Ang labanan ng picture quality ngayon ay auto focus speed, low light at indoor/ fluorescent light. Hindi na masyadong issue ang clarity on bright days since 2015 para sa casual users kaya technologies are pushing phones na maganda ang sensors sa madilim na lugar. Obsolete na ang point and shoot cameras improvement na lang ang ginagawa ng phone companies.

      1. Beat me to it. No amount of photos in bright lighting will show a camera’s performance envelope. Only shots in low light will show the limitations. But I’ve added more photos just for you.

  2. How bad is the speaker? If it’s that awful, I think it deserves a second mention in your VERDICT to remind everyone.

    1. tama.. great phone ito kung nasa 4k below ang price.. better buy the late alcatel flash 2 for just 4999.

  3. Cameras that resize image resolution through interpolation produces bad, blurry, not-crisp interpolated photos. Therefore i conclude that the rear camera of this phone is bad haha. Wag niyo kasi patulan ang mga trolls… Was the phone marketed as a phone that you would want to buy because its camera has a hi-resolution count? (tama ba grammar) kung hindi naman, why review it as a phone that you might consider buying because of its camera. so 16mp is just a marketing stunt to raise its price to 6k? Forget about the scanner because people want better cameras… In low artificial lighting. 🙂 P.S. do not shoot dark, backlighted, and defocused subjects as casual users do… Yes they are no photographers and they rely on good phones with better cameras to take better photos…

  4. CHERRY MOBILE phones are defective. Dont be deceive by the specs and price. Because they are worst at after sales. Ill share my experience, i just bought s4 max and after tomorrow, i discovered their unit took 11hours before it fully charged. And easily drain. So i went back to the store to have replacement. They didnt replace, instead they want me to go to service center ( sm north ). I went there and had a talk with agent, everything was ok, they will replace my unit. But after hours passed by, they called me that my unit has scratch on the back. I was like WHY THEY DIDNT TELL ME SOONER? WHY THEY TELLING ME MY UNIT HAS SCRATCH AFTER I LEFT THEM? and its very impossible to have scratch on the back coz i bought jelly case on the same store after i bought it. They are definitely fraud! They didnt replace my phone. I have nothing to do they wont replace it instead repair it. And until now, my unit is still on process of repair in their service center. 2 weeks already. Grrr!! DONT EVER BUY CHERRY MOBILE PHONE. THEY ARE WORST AFTER SALES. ZERO STAR RATE!

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