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Friday, January 11

Cherry Mobile FLAME Review: Catching flames on a budget-friendly level

The Cherry Mobile Flame boosts up Cherry's dominance in the local Android industry. It sits above the highly-received CM Flare and below the new CM Skyfire. CM's marketing strategy of rebranding phones poses a great threat to premium handset manufacturers, it also attracts the uncanny comparison from other local players like Starmobile and MyPhone. (We have a different review for Cherry Mobile Flare here.)

Cherry Mobile Flare and Flame

In a normal point of view, the Flame looks like the Flare having an extra screen real estate. Released in the last months of 2012, it comes with a pack of other dual-core devices. But can the Cherry Mobile Flame make its own glory with its Php 6299 price tag? Or will it just live in the shadow of its smaller brother?


Build and Design

If Flare's design takes you to the edges of your seat, then Flame's build and finish will completely thrust you towards the floor. Its premium build quality is one of its deal-makers. The glossy black finish of the glass in the front panel gives the impression that it is intricately made to converge with the semi-matte plastic backing. Like the Flare, the front panel includes the traditional Home, Menu, Back and Search at the bottom of the 4.5 inch display. Going to the top part, there's the front camera, proximity sensor, light sensor and the earpiece.


The iPhone-ish power/sleep button sits at the top together with the 3.5mm headphone jack. The back panel contains the protruding 5MP rear camera and the LED flash just below it. Towards the bottom, you'll find the speaker grills. Left side sports the micro-USD and the right side has the volume rocker.

















You can tell that its a flagship-quality device that is defined to be a black slab divided in a glass and plastic layers. In a non-perfectionist point of view, it is attractive more so than the Flare. The build itself may justifies the Php 2300 difference from the Flare, but we'll have to check if the performance tells otherwise. I have placed a CM Flare and a Flame side by side for a photo comparison.



































































Display

One good thing about its display is that it doesn't have a lot of jargon. It just have the plain 4.5-inch qHD (960 x 540 p) display. Having said that,  the display itself is a breath of fresh air. Brightness is balanced, colors and contrast are accurate. However, its Achiles Heel is the sensitive viewing angle. Display quality collapses when you are viewing in a landscape or extending to left  or right side in portrait view.


You just have to stick in a direct viewing habit to experience the delight of the screen quality. Likewise, pixels are lovable in 245 ppi density.

Performance and User Interface

The Cherry Mobile Flame is a rebranded Karbonn A21 and is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU partnered with Adreno 203 GPU, 512MB RAM and Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on paper. However, my actual benchmarks says that it is exactly 1.15 GHz dual-core. The 4GB internal memory serves an ample amount of beef for the not so heavy users, otherwise you can expand up to 32GB via microSD card.


Just like the Flare it offers a dual-SIM support. One has 2G via GSM and the other one has both 2G and 3G capabilities. Other connectivity options includes the conventional Bluetooth, WiFi and micro USB to PC port.


The Antutu Benchmark gave it a score of 5910 giving it a favorable advantage. In Quadrant benchmark, it scored 2751 placing just below the Asus Transformer Prime TF201 in the leader board.


Performance-wise, the phone is capable of doing multiple operations at the same time frame. It could give a smooth flow in dealing with light apps, but once we opened graphically-demanding apps it did stutter a bit. Probably, this is due to the insufficient partitioning of RAM for user apps. The benchmark results tells us that it uses 386MB for the OS alone and the rest is for the apps.

User interface is a bit choked-up. Compared to Flare, there is an undeniable lag when going through the homescreens and apps. Memory manager apps or launcher apps can do away with this issue though.




Gaming

We ran a few games like Angry Birds Rio and Where's My Water and it chew those apps with composure. So it is advisable to do away with graphically-heavy widgets, homescreens and games. However, I can tell that it is smooth enough to handle your regular tasks compared to other single core phones. But if you're serious about gaming, you could look at other options.

Battery Life

Compared to Flare, this handset offers an extra amount of specs in its battery to suffice the 4.5-inch display. Its 1800 mAh battery could manage sto tay up to 9 hours of use with two-hour use of internet via WiFi, half-hour camera work, one-hour light gaming, one-hour video watching and ocassional use of its phone features (texting and calling). It seems to me that a moderate user wont get any issues with the battery life after a day of using it.


Camera

At Php 6,299 price, you can also have a decent camera that is capable of holding its own ground compared to other 5MP premium devices. You can tell that the photo qualities are detailed, not to mention that it offers less noise as seen in the sampled snaps below.





































































However in low-light conditions, it underwhelms. But there's a little to complain with this phone with it having a low pricepoint. It's a good alternative to any mid-range point and shoot camera. The front-facing camera isn't much use besides video calling. But I found this unit having a "no-video" issue with Skype - an isolated case maybe.

The camera shooter has an approximate half of a second delay. So be sure that you'll have to check the pictures after every shoot to get the desired output.

Multimedia and Internet Surfing

Video playback runs smooth on this handset, high-definition videos registers well when played in its native video player. There is an occasional lag but for sure its normal in playing HD. Playing Full HD videos seems to be off though, you may need to have a good movie player app for that.

On the otherhand, there is no issue about the audio playback. What annoys me is the headset that comes out of the box. It may not be your preferred device if you're an audiophile.


One of the things that convinced me that it is a dual-core phone is its internet streaming capability. Pages loads faster and navigating through a webpage is surprisingly smooth. We also tried to stream a video in YouTube and it played just as we expected.


The Wrap

The Cherry Mobile Flame is a solid budget-friendly mid-range phone, and if it were introduced before the CM Flare, it could be potentially drop many jaws.

We can never deny the fact that the awesome build and admirable display will keep you want this phone. Yes it's wonderful, but its also vexing.

The user interface, for one, is the one you'll compromise if you want to buy this device. Having said that, it is a great alternative if you could hardly get your hands to a CM Flare.

But for the price of Php 6,299, no one could argue that this is still a value-for-money device. If you want a CM Flare with an added screen real estate, a better display and a premium build. Go help yourself.

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