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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.