2016 Cherry Mobile Flare phones: First impressions

In Phones by Alora Uy GuerreroLeave a Comment

IT’S been a while since Cherry Mobile gathered dealers and members of the media to launch a slew of devices. That day has finally come with the unveiling of six new phones from what is arguably its most successful series, Flare, and the timing couldn’t be any better — Christmas is just around the corner.

Cherry Mobile is aiming to sell a whopping 5 million Flare units by this year. It already moved close to 3.2 million Flare devices from 2012 to 2015. Roughly 1.5 million units were sold in 2015; 970,000 in 2014; 650,000 in 2013; and 76,000 in 2012. All the company needs to sell to achieve its target is about 1.8 million Flare smartphones in 2016.

In 2013, Cherry Mobile outpaced Samsung to take the top spot on research-firm IDC’s “top 5 smartphone vendor market share in the Philippines” list. It held onto its No. 1 position in 2014 and 2015, but its market share is facing a slightly downward trend in an increasingly competitive market — from 24.27 percent in 2013 to 21.93 percent the next year and 20.23 percent last year. Who knows, with this series, we just might see an uptick in Cherry Mobile’s market share in 2016.

Here are our short takes on the new Flare phones.

  • Cherry Mobile Flare 5
  • Cherry Mobile Flare 5
  • Cherry Mobile Flare 5
  • Cherry Mobile Flare 5

The most affordable Flare phone among the bunch reminds us of the ZenFone, as its back features a concentric circle pattern similar to the style made popular by ASUS. It is seriously shiny and reflective, though, that it attracts prints and smudges easily. The entire body is made of plastic, so it’s light. On the right-hand side is a physical slider; sliding the button down will launch the camera app or the flashlight depending on how long you hold down the button. It works even when the screen is off, and the hardware can be configured to do other things, like take a screenshot, set the phone to silent, or launch your favorite app or game. The Flare 5 is one of the few affordable phones that support the 700MHz LTE band for faster and better network coverage in areas where the spectrum is being used.

  • 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor
  • Mali-T720
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 5-inch 720p HD AMOLED screen
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with backside illumination and phase-detection auto-focus
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • 700mHz LTE-ready
  • Dual micro-SIM
  • 2500mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Availability: October
  • Cherry Mobile Flare S5 and S5 Plus
  • Cherry Mobile Flare S5 and S5 Plus
  • Cherry Mobile Flare S5 and S5 Plus
  • Cherry Mobile Flare S5 and S5 Plus
  • Cherry Mobile Flare S5 and S5 Plus
  • Cherry Mobile Flare S5 and S5 Plus

Both phones have a similar design, sporting a plastic-and-metal build (the latter applies to the phones’ edges) and a physical home button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. From the front, they look like a Samsung model. Cherry Mobile has crammed into them all the internals on the Flare 5, but has opted for a larger, full-resolution screen and double the storage on the S5 Plus. Both support the 700MHz LTE band. Future-proofing also comes by way of the USB Type-C port found on the bottom of the phones.

  • 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor
  • Mali-T720
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage / 32GB internal storage (S5 Plus)
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 5-inch 720p HD IPS screen / 5.5-inch full-HD IPS screen (S5 Plus)
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with BSI and PDAF / 16-megapixel rear camera with BSI and PDAF (S5 Plus)
  • 8-megapixel BSI front camera
  • 700mHz LTE-ready
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • USB Type-C
  • 2400mAh battery / 3000mAh battery (S5 Plus)
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Availability: November

The plastic rear panel is glossy and picks up fingerprints all too easily. The hardware itself is heavier compared to other phones of similar size because of its thick metal frame and 6050mAh fixed battery. Cherry Mobile confirmed to us that the phone has quick charging, but don’t expect the phone to fully charge itself in an hour. There’s a small, round button on the right-hand side. At first, we thought it was the power button; it turns out to be a physical shortcut key that launches the camera (single press) or the audio recorder (press and hold) on the S5 Power. The phone promises the same performance as the Flare 5 and the Flare S5 and S5 Plus, with the same octa-core chipset and RAM configuration, but its rear camera seems to perform better in low light than those of the said models. The Flare S5 Power has three capacitive navigation buttons right below the display, though only one — Home — is visible. The back and menu keys on the right- and left-hand side, respectively, are hidden, a change that might take some time getting used to.

  • 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor
  • Mali-T720
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 5.5-inch full-HD LTPS screen
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with BSI
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • LTE
  • Dual micro-SIM
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 6050mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Availability: October
Cherry Mobile Flare X2 by Winslow Co of Hungry Geeks

Cherry Mobile Flare X2 by Winslow Co of Hungry Geeks. The one Flare phone we weren’t able to take photos and videos of because of time constraints.

The Flare X2 is the only device among the new Flare bunch that is built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset. Cherry Mobile says the change is meant to give users a better gaming experience without stepping up to a faster and more expensive phone, like the Flare Infinity. The proof is on the front of the device, where a “good for gaming” 5.5-inch, 1080p panel sits, and inside the phone’s metal frame, which is sandwiched between two sheets of scratch-resistant glass. The Flare X2 boasts eight CPU cores and as much RAM as a typical Android flagship (4GB). The placement of the fingerprint reader on the rear is ideal for a handset this size.

  • 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 505
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 5.5-inch full-HD IPS screen
  • Dragontrail glass (front and back)
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with BSI
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • LTE
  • Dual micro-SIM
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Availability: November

The 5.5-inch, almost-bezel-less display is encased in a premium, all-metal body, but the thick antenna bands around the back take away from the “wow” moment of seeing the device for the first time. Regardless, fitting a near-borderless screen on a sub-P13,000 phone is something we haven’t seen done before by any smartphone company, and that in itself is cheering news. Camera performance is pretty good for the price range, and the phone is responsive and smooth with its near-stock Android Marshmallow software. And while we’re on that subject, all six phones actually rock a vanilla version of Android.

  • 2.0 MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core processor
  • Mali-T860
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • MicroSD up to 64GB
  • 5.5-inch full-HD LTPS screen
  • Infinity view (edge-to-edge bezel-less screen)
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with phase-detection auto-focus
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • LTE
  • Side fingerprint sensor
  • USB Type-C
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Availability: October

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Alora Uy Guerrero

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Editor-in-chief: Alora Uy Guerrero has 19 years of experience as an editor for print and digital publications such as Yahoo. She took time off journalism to manage OPPO’s digital-marketing campaigns. When not busy with her babies, she’s working on Revü, a passion project — or probably traveling or obsessing over her favorite bands, movies, TV shows, and basketball teams.