We have been here before, a powerful octa-core smartphone flashing a full HD display and a beefier hardware muscle in an affordable price tag. It is currently putting a shade to the flagship phones these leading brands have to offer. In the local value-for-money smartphone scene, the likes of Xiaomi and Meizu have set the trend in the past couple of years; of course, Alcatel also joined the bandwagon with the first Flash Plus handset.
Flash Plus 2 Review
This year, the smartphone sub-brand branched out of its mother company. In line with these recent advancements, the Flash Plus 2 was introduced to the public as one of the must-have phones this season due to its "metallic" design and its upper mid-tier internals. On paper, the handset has everything you need – fast processor, brilliant display, fast charging, premium build and legit camera. On top of that, it only comes with a Php 6,990 price for 16GB (2GB RAM) variant and Php 8,490 for the 32GB (3GB RAM). But will this be enough to make you buy it instead of other smartphones offered by the industry's stalwarts? Let’s find out in this review.
More than Metal. That's how Flash markets the Plus 2; and I think the handset delivers in this category. You will fall in love the moment you pick it up. It’s a well-built device which features a removable metallic back panel. The back cover is defined by the brushed metal design which is very pleasing to the eyes. The rest also come in good proportions – the oval home screen button, the power button and the volume rocker.
What bothers me though is, unlike any other 5.5-inch handset, Flash Plus 2’s power button is situated above the volume keys. This makes it cumbersome when you use it with one hand. Likewise, it’s thin and agile when you’re trying to put it in your pocket.
The back plate is removable giving you access to SIM and microSD cards. Unfortunately, the battery isn’t - this is another thing that I’d like to point out. Nonetheless, the handset is attractive and functional. It could even turn a good number of heads in the wild.
It's pretty clear that the Flash Plus 2 is getting serious about its display. The current model now comes with a better 5.5-inch full HD 1080p panel. This means that it packs 401 ppi pixel density to offer sharper, punchier and more vibrant screen.
I love how it registers deep black which complements the dark-themed default wallpaper. It is also pretty crisp when it comes to whites.
I'm always critical about smarphone displays, and I think the Flash Plus 2's screen is more than sufficient for everything else I do with the smartphone. Bezels are okay - not so thick, not so thin.
The raised edge of the glass-screen is also a welcome feature for me. This protects your display from being scratched when placed face-down in a flat surface.
Hardware and Performance
The Flash Plus 2 packs a powerful set of hardware underneath its shell. I run the handset in my daily routine with an extra time for intensive gaming, audio and video playback. The MediaTek Helio P10 is seriously one of the most commendable mid-range chipsets I've ever used. I couldn’t help but notice how quick the handset responds to simultaneous multitasking. With 2GB of RAM, to me, everything works pretty fine until I hit the multiple app thresholds. There’s also a very small latency when swiping and pulling up an app.
The base model comes with 16GB native storage though users can only use roughly 10.5GB of the whole pie. But you can still have the option to expand it up to 64GB.
Multimedia, Call Reception and Messaging
The handset is also great in doing video playbacks. The Hi-Fi audio plus the display makes it a great portable entertainment device. Calls are also clear; messages are sent and received almost instantaneously.
Playing a graphic intensive title like Need For Speed Airborne with the Flash Plus 2 is also a worthwhile experience. Though we believe the graphics processor could be hard-pressed in this kind of game, we were surprised how the game went smooth with only little hiccups in collision scenes. Check out the video of Flash Plus 2 running with Need For Speed Airborne below.
Talking about performance, the Flash Plus 2 has a great set of scores in our multiple benchmark tests. Let’s start with PC Mark. The handset hits 3902 score in the popular Work Performance test. This test suggets a “recommended” rating across all score details.
|Antutu and Quadrant Bnchmarks|
It places itself above HTC One X in the Quadrant Standard benchmark clinching a 15515 score. In Antutu, it scores 41962 directly under the Meizu M3 Note.
Fingerprint Sensor and Audio
The front panel also houses the fingerprint sensor. I am surprised that the scanner is fast - it's very reliable to the point that it unlocks the phone with ease.
However, if you allow me to be nitpicky, I just don’t like the build of the home button - it feels hollow. But I could give it a pass since I'm looking into a sub Php 7K handset. It performs well though, even faster than any other fingerprint scanner of some premium brands.
Flash Plus 2 also features speakers that definitely fare much better than what we had with the original Alcatel Flash Plus. It comes with a Hi-Fi audio driven by AKM4375 chipset. The audio is pretty clean and the sound gets pretty high when you crank it up. However, it gets a little muddy sometimes if you hit the maximum.
Like any other handset similar to it, the Flash Plus 2 includes a non-removable 3000 mAh battery which could sustain a day of heavy usage. Surprisingly, it comes with fast charging based on our standard charge test. From zero to 100 percent, it only took 1 hour and 30 minutes for the Plus 2 to fully charge. However, you need to use the USB cable and wall socket that comes out of the box.
In our PC Mark Work Battery Life test, the phablet scores 7 hours and 14 minutes. We tested the handset in automatic brightness and 50 percent volume.
Flash Plus 2 also comes with a decent camera. The sensor is a 13-megapixel camera with Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF). This feature makes focusing on subjects instantaneously when we have tested the rear camera. The lens has f/2.0 aperture which seems pretty legit to a smartphone in this price standpoint. Likewise, the Realtone dual LED flash is also a welcome feature in low-light environments.
Images taken with the Flash Plus 2 are pretty decent especially when there’s an ample amount of light. For low-light environments, the handset also produces good shots. However, it could hardly capture moving objects, this is very evident from the fact that it mostly rely on its phase detection autofocus.
With proper lighting, colors come out as accurate. Images are also sharp. The 5MP front-facing camera also consistently produces great selfies.
It could record 1080p full HD videos at 3gp format. Videos are not that impressive. But I just love the fact that it responds fast when I tried the tap-to-focus feature while recording. If you’re only snapping shots or recording videos for Instagram or Facebook, I think the camera will pass your standards. Check out the sample video below.
Knowing that the handset boots with Android 6.0 Marshmallow is a breath of fresh air. Apps are now scrolled alphabetically from top to bottom which is very convenient on my part. The interface is clean; Marshmallow offers added features that float my boat. For one, there’s the Doze function that will automatically shuts everything in your smartphone if it’s left idle on a surface. This dramatically conserves the battery. It also borrows some tricks from other Android players like the double-tap-to-wake function.
The Flash Plus 2 is definitely a step forward for the company. In the market that demands value for money, the Plus 2 is a good contender among the similarly-specced handsets. It captures most of the points that we need for a mid-range handset – elegant design, snappy performance, zippy fingerprint sensor, latest Android software and stunning display.
One thing’s for sure, the balance of affordable price and great performance makes the Flash Plus 2 one of the better handsets around. Thus, if you’re planning to buy a decent phone without breaking the bank, this should be included in your choices.
See Flash Plus 2 complete specs here.
See Flash Plus 2 complete specs here.
- Stunning 1080p Full HD Display
- Great metal-and-plastic build-quality
- Snappy fingerprint sensors
- Buttery Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Zippy performance
- Affordable Price