The much-awaited 4-inch Cherry Mobile Flare has taken the local Android mobile scene by storm with its hard-to-ignore, budget-friendly Php3,999 price tag for the type of phone you are getting.
With the Flare, you’ll be getting a dual-SIM Android 4.0 phone with dual-core processor and a big 4-inch display. However, is that enough for you to shell out your hard-earned cash to acquire this phone? It might, but you might also want to read our review of it first.
Right off the bat, we love how the Cherry Mobile Flare looks up front with its subtle rounded corners and no visible logos or branding. It’s a rebrand of India’s Karbonn A9+ if you’re wondering about this phone’s roots.
The whole front is covered by glass with the 4-inch display having nice thin side bezels. At the bottom of the display are your four Android capacitive touch icons ““ Home, Menu, Back, and Search (looked like this phone was originally made for Android Gingerbread). You’ll also see the VGA front-facing camera on the upper-right side.
Going through the sides, on top is just the Power/Sleep button and the 3.5mm audio jack while on the left you’ll see the volume rocker and the microUSB port for data and charging.
The back panel is made of hard plastic which has a soft matte finish that wards off smudges and fingerprints. Here you’ll see the 5 megapixel camera with flash, and the speaker grill at the bottom. Like the Cherry Mobile Titan, the prints at the back look like it could scrape off over time.
Pry to open the back panel and inside you will see where you need to put your two regular SIM cards and microSD. This phone also comes with a 1500mAh battery.
Despite the plastic build of this phone, we like the overall feel when handling it. The girth and weight feels just right for its size. It’s not too light to make it feel like you’re holding a dummy phone. Actually, this phone looks simple and nice, not premium-looking, but not bad either.
I did feel a slight creak on the left side just below the volume rocker on this unit and the one I used before this.
The CM Flare sports a 4-inch 480 x 800 resolution display with 16 million colors. On its own, it translates to a very nice image output with vibrant colors and sharp edges on text. Just don’t compare it to those qHD Super AMOLEDs and you’ll be happy with this phone’s screen. Our only qualm is that it’s not too bright for proper use under the sun.
It runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich but with some slight modifications when it comes to the icons. It has a different set of icons enclosed in rounded squares which will remind you of the iOS. Frankly, we like it as it gives uniformity to all icons including downloaded apps.
Powering the Cherry Mobile Flare is a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8625 dual-core 1.2GHz processor, not the MSM8225 as reported before. Both are almost the same except that the MSM8625 can also access EVDO 3G networks so you can use a Verizon SIM on it when you’re in the US. This phone comes with 512MB RAM which is subpar compared to the 1GB RAM of big-name dual-core phones released this year.
Using Quadrant, a synthetic benchmarking tool, this phone got a really decent score of 2771. However, it’s still better to rely on actual usage than such apps. The Cherry Mobile Flare can give you a nice user experience with insignificant lags and stuttering whether you’re adding widgets, navigating homescreens or using your apps.
There’s only 4GB of internal storage here with about a GB reserved for the phone’s use so you’d want to make use of a microSD with this one.
Gaming on this is good without any lags although we only tried Jetpack Joyride, Angry Birds Star Wars, and Temple Run. One thing we noticed though is that the gyroscope is not balanced in our unit. Our Temple Runner tends to lean on the left when the phone is laid flat on a surface.
Opera Mobile comes pre-installed on this phone which gives you fast loading but still render some websites incorrectly. Web browsing using Chrome is slower than Opera but pages are displayed as is. I noticed that pinching my browser to zoom doesn’t have that smooth transition but it’s also common with other dual-core phones.
Cherry Mobile included a Perfect Keyboard inside which you have to enable in the Settings. If you don’t have a keyboard app of choice, this one’s better than Google’s default in my opinion.
You won’t be disappointed watching movies on the CM Flare because of its 223 ppi display, well not unless you want to watch HD videos here. Playback is smooth with your regular AVI’s and has a nice contrast going on but we still suggest not watching videos under bright conditions.
Volume can get really loud on this phone even if you lay it down on its back. However, you won’t get good clarity or range from its speakers especially when the volume’s on high. I recommend using a pair of headphones or good external speakers if you want good sound quality here. Do note that there’s no FM radio on this phone.
UPDATE (11/26): Actually, this phone is equipped with an FM receiver but no FM Radio app is installed. Here’s how you can install an FM Radio app into the Cherry Mobile Flare.
One of the selling points of the Cherry Mobile Flare is its dual-SIM and dual-standby capability. Do note that only the first SIM slot is capable of 3G connection unlike the Cherry Mobile Titan that can do 3G on both slots.
What I like here is that sending and making calls on any of your SIM requires only one click. Each call and message window gives you a button for each SIM so you don’t have to keep on switching. Selecting which SIM to use for data requires you to go deep into the Mobile Network settings though.
You’ll get a 5-megapixel camera with flash here which comes loaded with Android 4.0’s default but useful features. Auto-focusing is not that quick but we didn’t expect much from phones with this price.
Here are a few sample photos:
Surprisingly, we got some decent shots with this phone. Photos under broad daylight or with very good lighting appear sharp with decent range of colors. However, you need extremely steady hands when shooting indoors or in poor lighting condition to get a good result.
Video recording on this phone tops at
You’ll also get a VGA front-facing cam for video chat. We tried it on Skype and it works fine, just don’t expect good picture quality on the other end.
I just have to point out that I know of a couple of Flare units (including the one I used before) having this upside down view with the front cam. When in Skype, you will see yourself upside down although it looks fine on the other end so it’s not a big deal at all.
Giving juice to the Flare is a 1500mAh battery. How does that battery fare on a dual-core phone, with two sim cards and a 4-inch screen?
Here’s my normal usage pattern with the CM Flare: WiFi always on (but not connected), on-off data connection totaling less than an hour, brightness set to auto, very minimal calls and text, and a short bit of gaming every now and then. The Flare lasted for just 10 hours which is below average compared to other Android phones I’ve tested.
With data connection always on while downloading apps and games, and display always on, I barely reached 4 hours before it asked for the charger.
If you’re getting the Cherry Mobile Flare, you would want to charge it when you get to the office and when you get home to be on the safe side unless you have a spare battery or one of those battery packs.
The Cherry Mobile Flare in its entirety is a very interesting and tempting proposition with its Php3,999 price tag. The unbelievably low price makes you think if there’s a catch somewhere. Maybe it’s buggy? Or maybe it uses subpar hardware? The only downside of this phone for me is its battery, which you can easily manage. And that tiny creaky feeling on the left side just because I’m OC like that.
If you ask me if I would pay Php4k for this phone, in a heartbeat I would say no because it would make me feel guilty. Like I’m robbing Cherry Mobile. This phone should be worth at least Php8k for such specs. It uses Qualcomm which is a trusted brand for mobile chips as Intel is to the PC. The design may look plain but at least it won’t attract too much attention when you’re commuting. On the other hand, it doesn’t look too cheap that you would feel ashamed whipping it out amidst the Samsung’s and iPhone’s in your crowd.
In short, if you’re still considering getting the Cherry Mobile Flare, don’t. Just go ahead and get it once it becomes available or else you’ll ran out of stocks.
Disclaimer: If you’re wondering, Cherry Mobile didn’t give me a free unit of this phone although if they do, I’ll just be raffling it away here anyway.
|Cherry Mobile Flare Specs:|
|Qualcomm MSM8625 Snapdragon S4 1.2GHz dual-core processor|
|Adreno 203 GPU|
|4.0″ IPS capacitive touch panel (800 x 480)|
|4GB internal storage|
|up to 32GB via microSD|
|3G / HSDPA|
|WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot|
|GPS w/ aGPS support|
|5-megapixel rear camera with flash|
|VGA front-facing camera|
|No FM Radio (here’s how to install)|
|Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|SRP: Php 3,999.00|
Here’s a link to the latest Cherry Mobile Flare smartphones.