Dubbed as the 'Dual Core ng Bayan" (Dual Core of the Country), the Cherry Mobile Flare has eclipsed the local market upon its release last Saturday. This 4-inch dual-core puppy can sure draw some crowd with Cherry Mobile's brilliant marketing strategy, but the real question is how far does "Flare" fair to other smartphones in the market? How could this rebranded Karbonn A9+ convince the naysayers that it is truly the best alternative to iPhone and Galaxy handsets? And how can it deviate from its brothers like Titan and Flame? (Check our Cherry Mobile FLAME review here)
Design and Build
When I say brilliant marketing strategy, I am pointing out to the handset's price. Its design could hardly stoop down to its sub Php 4000 price. For a device of that price range, CM Flare looks more classy and even intricately built. Yes, it is a rebranded Karbonn A9+ (Indian Brand) with 123 mm x 62.5 mm x 11.8 mm dimensions; but the feel and weight of the phone suggest that it is on the Php 10,000+ range.
Front is covered with glass that contains the 4-inch IPS (In-Panel Switching) display that is bounded with a thin bezel. You can find the familiar Android buttons on the bottom part of the frame, the secondary VGA camera is stationed at the upper-right of the frame for your video calling needs.
Around the back, welcomes a hard plastic-ish material where the brand and phone-name can be found. And by the looks of it, these prints could be worn off eventually. Other prints are the 5MP label for the rear camera with LED flash and the "Autofocus" moniker. Back side is also the home of the handset's main speaker. Yet again, back of the handset feels good in the hands with its semi-matte finish.
Going through the top ridge, you'll find the iPhone-ish Sleep/Power button at the rightmost edge and the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the left.The buttom ridge is not that interesting since you can't find anything there. Left side contains the volume rocker and the microUSB port for charging and data transfer.
Design-wise, the handset does not underwhelm nor overwhelm.The back panel is noticeably smudge resistant compared to something like its cousin, the Dragon phone. Externals are not that classy but for sure, it could get an A+ when looking into its price standpoint. It other words, it's respectable and even better looking than other expensive handset.
The Cherry Mobile Flare sports 480 x 800p resolution that is well suited for its 4-inch screen's real estate. Its 223 ppi makes images and texts look crisp and clear but the viewing angles might be a bit off the board. Screen colors look balanced when you're viewing it face to face, but a slight angle tilt makes a drastic dwindle to its screen's quality.
I may have expected too much with the display that I tend to compare it with Retina display; but for new users, the display is just vibrant and sharp enough if not seen off-center. And don't use it under the sun, you might get disappointed. The screen is a serious fingerprint magnet.
Internals and Performance
Under the hood of the Cherry Mobile Flare, you'll get a dual-core Qualcomm Snapragon S4 chip that is clocked in 1.2 GHz. It also offers 512MB of RAM and an on board 4GB storage. Memory monsters, dont fret! This rookie is expandable up to 32GB via misroSD slot that you can access once you open the back cover. The device also packs in GPS/aGPS support, Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. The device, itself is capable of WiFi Hotspot.
It scored 2932 in a Quadrant benchmarking tool just below Asus Transformer Prime TF201 and way above Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Optimus 2X. One good thing with CM Flare is the snappy performance, speedy if you will. There's an occasional lag but that's way too negligible. Apps are rather quick to open and close. The pre-installed Opera browser is also smooth to use compared to Chrome browser. Overall browsing is fast due to the dual-core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz.
Graphics run smooth when playing with Gun Strike. Likewise, I have also run a Gun Strike app via Sony Xperia Sola (1GHz dual-core, 512MB RAM running in ICS,) and seen no significant difference in rendering and gaming experience. Though the display in CM Flare seems a bit washed off even when both units are in auto-brightness mode.
|Cherry Mobile Flare with Sony Xperia Sola|
Flare being a dual-SIM phone makes it a hot topic in the market. But unlike its older brother Titan, Flare has only one 3G capable SIM. The other one will settle with 2G ofcourse. Calls are clearer compared to other Cherry Mobile handsets.
Camera and Multimedia
Music and videos run smooth on this handset.The 480 x 800 resolution is very well suited for a 4-inch display. Plus, its 223 ppi pixel density makes it more engaging to users. Video playback is rather flawless. Speaker when set to maximum volume may not register the right kind of output for movie watching, thus it is advisable to use headphones instead. But still, you wouldn't want to see videos off-center and outdoors.
You'll get a 5 megapixel shooter at the back with LED flash that adapts to Ice Cream Sandwich's camera interface. The shooter includes tap-to-focus capability but not as impressive as the iPhone's. But still there is a little to complain with its price range.
Photos taken outdoors register good qualities, surprisingly. And there's still room for improvement for photos taken in low light conditions. Video recording register in 480p quality.
One of the drawback about the Flare is the battery life. With it having 1500 mAh rating, I've tested the unit with my normal routine with 3G and WiFi always On, I squeezed in for about 4 hours - it certainly what you would expect with a dual-core device with dual-SIM technology. Moderate users could also expect it to last for about a day. So this means that you should be bringing your charger with you all the time.
I'll say it again, there's a little to complain about this phone with it having a splendid price. Cherry Mobile Flare is not just a brilliant phone for a sub Php 4000 price tag. It's brilliant - that's all.
Cherry Mobile Flare is fast and got all the major features covered and is priced strategically to make you forget about some feature-cuts. It has capable screen, 5MP shooter, fast Qualcomm dual-core processor and dual-SIM capability. It feels like something that could sell much more than a peso less than Php 4000.
If you're toying with the idea of having an Android phone but wouldn't want to shed off some serious cash, then this could be your chance to have one.
[Review Unit is not from Cherry Mobile]