During the latter part of September, Cherry Mobile has launched the Flare 2.0 which is part of the second wave of handsets under the local company’s portfolio. Dubbed as “Quad-Core ng Bayan”, it bears the same dirt cheap price tag of its predecessor, but with a handful of nominal upgrades to please the budget-conscious crowd.
Much like its predecessor, there’s nothing really spectacular about the Flare 2.0’s physical attributes. It does look presentable, especially for its price, but the handset come off as too plastic-y for our taste.
The physical buttons are found on each side, and are easily accessible with the thumb and index finger. Meanwhile, the ports are all located at the top panel which includes the audio jack and Micro-USB port for data transfer and charging.
As for the back side, it comprised of the usual stuff like camera, LED flash and a pair of speaker grills. Tucked underneath its glossy back panel is a duo of SIM card slots, as well as a port for a MicroSD card.
The Flare 2.0 is equipped with the same 4-inch WVGA display of its predecessor. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, it’s appalling at best. It has poor sunlight legibility, awful viewing angles and its max brightness isn’t bright enough in most situations.
In short, if you’re looking for a crisp display for watching movies, then you’re in the wrong place. However, if you’re not too particular about those little enhancements usually found on a pricier phone, then we think that you should be able to tolerate the Flare 2.0’s shortcoming in the display category.
OS, UI and Apps
On the software standpoint, there are a lot of things to be desired about this handset. Among those things is the fact that it runs on an “almost” stock Android 4.1.2, thus making it easier for long time Android users to familiarize themselves with this budget smartphone.
Unfortunately, the all-too-good user experience was ruined by the square icons that somewhat made the Flare 2.0 look like a toy rather than a decent smartphone. I know it’s a simple miscue on CM’s part, and one that can be remedied by installing a custom. However, sometimes it’s these little things that make a huge difference, and in the case of the Flare 2.0, it did make a difference, just not in a good way.
Performance and Benchmarks
As you would’ve expect from a handset with 512MB RAM, the Flare 2.0 will easily choke on heavy multi-tasking or strenuous tasks like gaming and advance photo editing apps. But the thing is, it’s not meant to do those things. Therefore, as long as you stick within the confines what it can do based on its specs, then we think that this handset will do just fine.
For the sake of keeping score, we’ve ran our usual synthetic benchmark test and here are the results we’ve got:
Quadrant Standard: 2,852
We didn’t expect too much from the Flare 2.0’s 5MP camera, but the snaps that we took were surprisingly decent. It was quick to focus and the quality is manageable for social media use and small prints. The colors were a bit on the dull side, but nothing too bothersome and something that can easily be corrected with a photo app.
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One thing we really love about the Flare 2.0 is its battery life which is rather astonishing considering that it’s only powered by a 1550mAh battery pack. On moderate use, we were able to get through a day and half on a single full charge.
We also tried watching a 720p movie on 50% brightness and volume whilst leaving all wireless connection off and managed to get almost 5 hours out of its battery pack.
Above anything else, the Cherry Mobile Flare 2.0 is what it is – a budget quad-core Android smartphone. Although I have to agree that the quad-core is a bit overrated considering that it only has 512MB RAM, still the fact remains that it’s Php3,999 price tag is its main selling point, not a pixel-packed screen or a snappy engine.
That said, it’s no longer a question what it does or does not have, rather it’s a question of how much are you willing to spend on a smartphone. If you’re not the picky type or you’re just looking for a budget dual-SIM smartphone as back up phone, then the CM Flare 2.0 will do just fine. Now, if you’re in the market for a more capable handset, then you better be prepared to shell out more dough.
What we liked about it:
Good battery life
Reasonable performance for its price
Decent pictures from 5MP camera
Loud output from loudspeaker
What we didn’t like about it:
Too plastic-y build
Horrible display, coupled with
Uninviting Home Screen UI (Geez, I really hate those square icons)