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January 16, 2014

Cherry Mobile Flare HD Review

The Cherry Mobile Flare lineup has carved a name for itself in the local scene by luring in the budget-conscious crowd with its affordable price tag and pretty decent spec sheet. This time though, the company has added a 720p display in the mix which makes the Flare HD even more interesting.

In case you missed it, here’s our quick first impression of the handset just to get your feet wet for our review.

Cherry Mobile Flare HD

Display and Multimedia

One of the caveats of the Flare handsets was not having a decent screen. This has always been the case for inexpensive handsets with quad-core processors but has a poor WVGA display.

But Cherry Mobile is looking to change that with the Flare HD. And although their new budget smartphone is, by far, the most expensive handset among the Flares, it’s still cheaper compared to other handsets with the same feature set.

CM Flare HD

The Flare HD sports a 4.3-inch IPS display with 720p resolution, making it an ideal companion when watching movies or viewing high-resolution pictures. The brightness levels and color rendition were generally OK for the most part, and we didn’t have any issues using the phone under broad daylight.

We also didn’t encounter any problems when it comes to the screen’s responsiveness, although we did notice that the touch inputs were sometimes slightly off by a millimeter or two. We’re not sure if this is just an isolated glitch on our review unit, but it’s something to keep an eye.

OS, UI and Apps

The Flare HD runs on a slightly-tweaked version of Android 4.2 Jelly bean right off the bat. I say slightly-tweaked because the UI is almost similar to a stock Android version, but the company has made a few adjustments on the interface to give the handset some distinction.

Flare HD OS

Apart from finally dropping the hideous square icons (Thanks CM!), one of the more significant changes in the UI that we noticed is the lock screen. It’s not something that Cherry Mobile came up with, rather a preinstalled lock screen app from Celltick called Start.

Start provides users access to almost all of the apps that are installed on their device including feeds from Facebook and Twitter. On top of that, users can customize how the UI looks and which shortcuts are displayed on the lockscreen.

Flare HD lockscreen

Speaking of third-party apps, we’re glad to report that we didn’t encounter any issues when installing/running apps on the Flare HD. The only serious problem we had was that the internal storage was too small to accommodate all of our apps, but luckily the Flare HD provides an option to move the apps to an SD card.

Performance and Benchmarks

Luckily, the Flare HD packs a pretty decent specs to go along with its 720p screen. Handling the workload for this handset is the combo of MT6589 quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and PowerVR SGX544MP GPU.

Flare HD Benchmark

This is the same engine found at the core of the CM Apollo, as such we expected the same results on our usual synthetic benchmark tests.

nenamark

True enough, the Flare HD fared similarly to the Apollo. Here’s the breakdown of the test results:

AnTuTu: 13,744
Quadrant Standard: 4,786
NenaMark2: 44fps
Vellamo: 1541 (HTML5) / 430 (Metal)

As far as the overall performance is concerned, the handset delivered a satisfactory performance. Apart from a few minor hiccups here and there, the Flare HD ran smoothly for the most part and, as mentioned earlier, didn’t cause any issues when running apps.

Camera

Another feature that the Flare HD shares with the Apollo is the camera. The only difference between the two is the lack of a BSI sensor on the former, but both handsets are equipped with 12MP camera with LED Flash on the back couple with 5MP on the front.

The quality of the image we took using the Flare HD is almost at par with the ones we got from the Apollo. Sadly, the resulting image also suffered from lack of detail and contrast, not to mention the colors aren’t that vibrant.

Low-light performance isn’t so great either. The camera had a hard time locking on a subject during dim conditions and the built-in flash isn’t powerful enough to aid the snapper in lighting the subjects in scenarios when there’s little to no light.

Battery

Despite having a smaller screen, the Flare HD and its 1,800mAh battery fared slightly worse than the Apollo in our battery test. It only managed to last 6 hours during the test which involves looping an HD movie while the phone is in Airplane Mode and the brightness and volume set to 50%.

Flare HD battery life

Conclusion

Despite the average battery life and so-so image quality produced by its 12MP rear camera, we have to admit that the Cherry Mobile Flare HD is indeed a keeper. The combination of reasonably cheap SRP coupled with a 720p display and decent engine configuration makes this handset a formidable candidate in the mid-range category.

The CM Flare HD is expected to hit the shelves starting this month and will retail for Php5,499.

Cherry Mobile Flare HD specs:
4.3-inch HD IPS display, 1280×720 @342ppi
1.2GHz MTK6589 quad-core processor
PowerVR SGX544MP GPU
1GB RAM
Expandable 4GB internal memory
12MP camera w/LED flash
5MP front-facing camera
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 with A2Dp support
GPS w/ A-GPS
Dual-SIM, Dual Standby
Android 4.2 Jellybean
1,800mAh battery

What we liked about it:
* 720p display
* Decent specs for price
* Stock Android UI with fancy Lockscreen app
* Dual 3G/HSDPA SIM card slots

What we didn’t like about it:
* Generic design and plastic build
* Weak built-in flash and poor image quality
* So-so battery life

Why the resistance to dual-SIM mobile phones?
Cherry Mobile teases quad-core Skyfire 2.0
Cherry Mobile enters 4G with W900 LTE

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This article was written by Ronnie Bulaong, a special features contributor and correspondent for YugaTech. Follow him on Twitter @turonbulaong.

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