Cherry Mobile stays true to its brand of providing affordable premium quality smartphones with its Flare S8 series–the Flare S8, Flare S8 Pro, and the Flare S8 Plus. This new line of Cherry Mobile devices aim to bring the latest mobile technologies and innovations to a wider market by creating a budget-friendly package. Here we take a look at the entry-level model in the series, the Cherry Mobile Flare S8, and see what this phone can offer to the techie crowd.
Priced at only P3,999, you’d be surprised that on paper the Flare S8 already comes with midrange- to flagship-level features. This phone runs Android 9 Pie, and has an octa-core processor paired with 3GB RAM. It also boasts features such as dual rear camera setup, LTE support, expandable storage, teardrop display, and fingerprint scanner.
Despite the enticing numbers on paper, the big question is that how this phone fares in real life? Read on to find out.
Design & construction
Out of the box, the Cherry Mobile Flare S8 comes with the usual accessories. There’s the microUSB cable and power brick, an pair of in-ear Cherry Mobile headphones, ejector pin, and a free clear jelly case.
Now on to the smartphone itself. Cherry Mobile certainly has mastered how to give its phone the premium look despite the relatively cheaper price tag. Looking at it turned off, you’d mistake the Cherry Mobile Flare S8 for a phone that is twice (or more) its price. The glass front adds to the premium appearance of the phone. Meanwhile, the gradient back, which reveals a subtle pattern when hit by light, certainly elevates the phone in terms of aesthetics. Our review unit came in the Irish Purple variant; the gradient transitions from blue to purple, depending on the lighting and angle. Yes, we know the gradient finish on smartphones is slowly getting old, but it still looks good overall.
It is only when you hold it in your hand and turn on the display that the Flare S8 shows elements that it is indeed a budget phone. For one, it feels light to hold at 172.4g. Just to be clear, it doesn’t feel flimsy at all; the Flare S8 feels solid enough to take on the task of being your daily driver. It’s just that, it doesn’t have that weighty feel that is mostly associated to higher-end handset. With that said, this phone isn’t slippery to hold. The bundled clear jelly case provides extra protection to the phone, including from fingerprints as this is prone to get much.
Another feature that belies the somewhat premium look of this device is the thick chin bezel at the bottom of the screen. While Cherry Mobile managed to keep the side and top bezels as well as the notch to a minimum, the space at the bottom of the display is noticeably thicker. This is simply nitpicking on our part, and can be easily ignored.
For the buttons and ports, the Flare S8 has the power button and the volume rocker on the left side. The dual SIM tray–in which one tray can be used for an microSD card instead of a second SIM–sits on the right. A single loudspeaker and the microphone can be found at the bottom part, while the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port (for charging and data transfer) are accessible at the top.
In front, the teardrop notch at the top center of the screen houses the front camera. The call speaker is placed right above it. At the back the two shooters, with the LED flash between them, are arranged vertically on a slightly protruding oval module on the upper left corner. The circular fingerprint scanner can also be found at the back on the center, right above a simple cherry mobile branding.
Display & Multimedia
Powering up the phone reveals the 6.25-inch Trueview display of the Cherry Mobile Flare S8, interrupted only by a teardrop notch. The screen offers HD+ (720 x 1520) resolution, so if you’re used to Full HD+ and above, you’d easily see the difference when viewing images and videos on this handset. The colors will appear subdued and details are not that sharp. Even just by looking at the icons on the home screen, you’ll notice that they don’t appear as sharp. If you’re not too picky on the quality of the images, then by all means, the Flare S8’s is enough for your simple messaging, browsing, and social media.
The huge screen size, however, is something to look froward to. With a big real estate, watching videos and playing games are enjoyable. If you have small hands, navigating on the tall screen requires two-handed use. Another thing to appreciate on the display is that it is bright. Without sliding to full brightness (our configuration sat just between 50% to 75% for the whole review) the screen can provide clear and readable images and text under any lighting conditions.
On the audio side of things, the loudspeaker provide adequate quality as well. At maximum volume, the sound from the phone can get through a room full of people. There’s nothing exceptional in here. It’s just a good thing that the audio doesn’t sound tinny even at the highest volume setting.
Moving on to the cameras of the Cherry Mobile Flare S8. The built-in camera app offers typical menus and settings. You can choose from the following different shooting modes from the home interface of the app: Video; Photo; Beauty (for enhanced portraits); FaceCute (if you want to add cute stickers to your photos); and Bokeh. Additional modes are Panorama, GIF, Time-lapse, Beauty Video, PRO, and more–all can be accessed by clicking on the four square icon on the upper left corner of the screen. Nine filters are also available for your use.
Now, the big question is: how does the camera fare? It’s okay. Under good lighting conditions, the 13MP + 2MP rear camera produces good quality photos, especially considering it’s only priced around P3,000. There are enough details on the images and the colors, while not too vivid, are fairly accurate. One thing I didn’t like with the camera is that it is slow to focus; it takes 2 to 3 seconds before it locks on your desired subject. If you need a camera phone that’s quick to shoot, then this might not be the device for you.
Meanwhile, videos on the rear shooter are okay, too. The Flare S8 allows video recording up to 1080p at 30fps. The same focusing problem is present when shooting videos. You can see the clip pulsating several times when trying to focus on a moving subject or just when something moves within the frame. There’s also no stabilization feature available. Other than that, the footage are serviceable for simple documenting needs.
The output of the 13MP front shooter is a little bit disappointing. The selfies lack detail and the colors are under-saturated, even when its taken under good lighting. Bokeh images taken from the front camera appear unnatural at times. Understandably, the front camera struggles with taking photos in low light and dark scenarios.
Running on Android 9 Pie with the latest Cherry OS on top, the Flare S8 offers a clean, easy-to-navigate user interface. It comes with built-in applications like the standard Google apps, Property System, Power Manager, Themes, Hi Weather, and Game Boost. The Game Boost helps improve the phone’s performance when playing games. You can access all the apps right from the home screen by default, but you can also swipe up to reveal the app drawer. And while the built-in apps can’t be uninstalled, these take minimal space on phone’s storage.
For computing power, this Cherry Mobile device packs a 2.0GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P23 processort and a Mali G-71 GPU. The Flare S8 also arrives with a 32GB built-in storage (expandable up to 128GB via microSD card) and a 3GB RAM. In general, basic tasks–like opening apps, switching between programs, scrolling, and messaging–are smooth and hitch-free. The phone can still perform with minimum effort, although there”s a slight delay in response, even when you open up several apps at the same time. There’s little to no delay when switching between apps, too. The fingerprint at the back takes a couple of seconds to respond, but nothing too cumbersome.
We’ve run several benchmarks app to measure the phone’s performance, and here are the scores we got:
3DMark Sling Shot: 719
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme: 8016
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited: 11236
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – Open GL Es 3.1: 527
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan: 564
PCMark Work 2.0: 5157
Geekbench – Single-Core: 161
Geekbench – Multi-Core: 844
Playing on the Cherry Mobile Flare S8 is a mixed bag. Games like Mobile Legends run with no problems at all, even with the graphics set to high. However, graphic-heavy and power-intensive titles like Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt 9 show the device’s limitations. We were still able to play COD Mobile and PUBG on the Flare S8, granted we had to choose the lowest graphics settings for these games to avoid any major lags while playing. The Game Boost feature helps a bit to boost the performance of the phone, but it’s not that enough, especially if you really want to play with the highest available settings on. Note that the device heats up after long periods of use. This more noticeable when playing games, taking photos, and watching videos.
From 100% charge, the 2800mAh battery can last 8 to 9 hours of mixed use (browsing, social media, calls and text, watching videos and a few game sessions; Wi-Fi connection and mobile data are constantly on) before needing to recharge again. Charging takes a while as there is no fast-charge feature on this one.
Standard connectivity functions are available and working great, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LTE connectivity. The handset is having a hard time, however, when it comes to pinning the users location for navigation apps.
Considering its price, the Cherry Mobile Flare S8 delivers in terms of design and performance. The almost premium-level style, large display, as well as the big RAM and storage capacity, are a big plus points to the Flare S8. Its performance for basic tasks are great, too. Some things that this phone struggles with are launching intensive apps, focusing on subjects fast, and low-lit shooting.
However, if you’re tight on the budget or you’re simply looking for a reliable secondary phone, then the Cherry Mobile Flare S8 is already a good choice.