Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus Review
Cherry Mobile’s newest Flare member comes in a big size, 5.5-inch to be exact. Can an affordable sub-4k large display smartphone with modest yet cheap internals be any good? Here’s our full review of the Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus.
Design and Construction
The Flare XL Plus gives a standard Cherry feel to its build. What does it mean? It’s the usual polycarbonate construction with a chrome lining on the side. The device is not blessed with a metal frame but the plastic material is not bad either. It’s solid and well put but it does feel a little cheap on the hand.
Up front is the large 5.5-inch display with the front-facing camera, earpiece, and a couple of sensors sitting on top. There are three capacitive buttons below which doesn’t have backlighting and a small hole for the microphone.
The left side is bare while the right has the volume rocker and the power/lock button. Up top, we have the 3.5mm headphone jack and the micro-USB port leaving the bottom virtually clean.
Flip the phone over and you’ll see the main camera module along with its dual-LED flash and the loudspeaker down at the bottom end. What special about the back panel here is the crystal-like pattern that shows when light strikes it.
Removing the panel will give access to the removable battery cell, microSD, and dual-SIM card slots. It’s worth noting that it accept a Mini-SIM for the slot 1 and Micro-SIM for the slot 2.
The overall build of the Flare XL Plus is your run-of-the-mill affordable smartphone with no creaks or any loose parts. The pattern does add a bit of ‘flare’ to it, though.
Display and Multimedia
There’s a 5.5-inch IPS LCD on the Flare XL Plus with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels or at 267ppi. That’s pretty standard for budget devices today and is better than the lower-res qHD. Color saturation and contrast are average but the viewing angles are stable on the sides. Although, we find the touch response to be buggy and slow. Perhaps a software update can fix this but for now, we have to deal with rather frustrating responses especially when typing.
Using the phone’s loudspeaker will suffice for quick playback. The quality is nothing to write home about but it can get pretty loud indoors. The loudness compliments the device’s large display for media consumption.
OS, Apps, and UI
Like most budget devices in the local market, the Flare XL Plus runs the already dated Android 5.1 Lollipop with no customization on top. There are quite a few Cherry-made and other pre-loaded apps to get you started. It’s good to see Cherry Mobile fitting in some home-baked apps that cater to the interest of their users.
System apps are onboard here and since this is stock Android, customization through a number of launchers in the Play Store will be a good idea. Cherry has their own Cherry Launcher up in the Play Store and we’re surprised that they didn’t preload it to the device.
The handset is equipped with a fairly decent 13-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel selfie camera. The UI for shooting is your usual stock Android launcher with quick access to beauty mode, panorama, and the live picture option.
As expected, there’s some software magic going on when taking a still. What’s noticeable is the excessive sharpening applied every after shot. While the stills look great on the device and when previewing on PC, zooming in will show nasty artifacts and noise. Contrast and saturation are also a bit high which causes lost in detail but not a major issue for social media posts. Here are some samples:
As for the selfie camera, the 8-megapixe shooter is definitely better to have than VGA or even 1.3MP. The output is a bit washed out compared to the rear camera but should be fine for video calling. Here’s a quick sample taken on a cloudy day:
You can record a full HD video at a steady frame rate of 30fps given that you’re in a bright environment. Captured details are run-of-the-mill with mediocre audio recording. There’s an issue when it comes to focus as the camera locks on as you start recording and you’ll have to tap to your desired area of focus for adjustment. Here’s 1080p sample:
With its sensors, the Flare XL Plus has nothing special offer among the big sea of budget smartphones in the local market but its performance is okay especially for quick updates to social media.
Performance and Benchmarks
What’s ticking inside is a 1.4GHz MediaTek MT6592M octa-core processor paired with 2GB RAM to handle multi-tasking. Everyday performance is pretty stable with just minor hiccups when switching apps and quickly scrolling. As for gaming, intensive games like Asphalt 8 is playable at high graphics although you can get smoother frame rates in lower settings.
Of course, we did our usual benchmark tests to see how the smartphone fares in numbers and here are the results:
- AnTuTu Benchmark v6.1.4 — 27821
- PCMark Work — 2921
- Quadrant Standard — 13803
- Vellamo — 1981 (Chrome), 741 (Metal), 1022 (Multicore)
- Nenamark 2 — 55.4fps
- 3DMark — 4453 (Ice Storm Extreme)
Unfortunately, 3DMark doesn’t load properly during the review. If this gets fixed, we’ll be adding the benchmark GPU score.
Call Quality and Connectivity
Making calls with the phone is surprisingly pleasant with decent volume for the earpiece and clear voice capture for the benefit of the other party in the line. There’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS radios onboard although 4G LTE connectivity is not present here. The chipset is only equipped with an HSPA+ radio thus limiting connection speed to your telco. Looking on the brighter side, 3G has more areas of coverage over LTE.
Despite having a 5.5-inch display size, the battery capacity of the Flare XL Plus is rather small at just 2300mAh. Despite this, it’s good to know that it’s replaceable. With our traditional video loop test with a 1080p clip at half brightness and volume on earphones, the handset was able to last for only 3 hours and 52 minutes.
As for the PCMark battery, we’re getting an error when already halfway through the test. We’ll update when this bug gets fixed as soon as possible.
The PCMark battery test was able to give it a score of 3 hours and 30 minutes which is almost the same as the video loop.
With its large display, generic design and build, so-so performance, and average cameras, the Flare XL Plus doesn’t aspire to be your best option but it does keep the common factors to a good budget phone intact. For just Php 3,999, there’s not much to wish for the smartphone in this range but a change in design is a must to make a phone standout, especially when a brand like Cherry Mobile already has a vast selection of Androids.
Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus specs:
5.5-inch HD IPS Screen Display
1.4GHz MediaTek MT6592M octa-core CPU
16GB Internal Storage
Expandable storage via microSD up to 64GB
13MP rear camera w/ LED flash
8MP front camera
Android 5.1 Lollipop
What we liked about it:
- Slim design
- Patterned back panel
- Good call quality
What we didn’t:
- Touch response issues
- Short battery life