Cherry Mobile Flare Infinity Review
Cherry Mobile unveiled a number of devices for Q4 2016 and also just in time for the holiday season when most would buy a new phone as a reward for themselves, or maybe a gift. We’ve known Cherry to release a lot of lower-midrange handsets that are bang for the buck but they also have higher tier devices that battle major smartphone brands. A good example of that is the Flare Infinity. It’s a Php13k phone encased in a fine metal unibody. Here’s our review.
Design and Construction
The Flare Infinity has a 5.5-inch display that’s practically borderless on both sides. The whole front is topped with a 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3 that’s also protecting the 5MP front camera and a couple of sensors. The front glass’ curved edges are prominent when viewed up front giving the “infinity” feel of the display. It’s almost like have a Galaxy S7 Edge display, almost.
Its right side has the volume rocker and power/lock button plus the fingerprint scanner. It’s one of the handsets in the market that have the scanner on the side similar to the Xperia handsets from Sony.
The left has the ejectable hybrid card tray which pops up using the eject tool that’s conveniently plugged into the 3.5mm jack. It’s a dual SIM card (Nano + Micro) setup or a microSD card for more storage. When trying to put in our Nano-SIM, there’s a slight hitch before being able to properly put in the tray back. It’s also a bit wobbly once removed, so try not to switch cards often.
The top houses the 3.5mm headphone jack with a removable dummy cover that, as mentioned, also doubles as your ejector pin. A handy slot to keep your pin with you always. Although, you might want to keep it if you’re a frequent user of the jack as it’s easy to misplace.
A USB Type-C port sits at the bottom of the handset with symmetrical holes for the main microphone and the loudspeaker. Mind you, you’ll need a bit of force when plugging the included cable into the port at first.
The back is a cold aluminum panel with antenna bands like the iPhone 6. It’s not exactly ugly but a darker variant of the handset can hide the bands easily. A 16MP rear sensor with phase-detection autofocus is also found here with its dual-tone LED flash, and the subtle Cherry Mobile brand. Keep in mind, the camera has a slight bump making it prone to scratches when placed on a surface.
The overall construction of the Flare Infinity easily awards itself as the most well-built Cherry smartphone to date. The upgrade to metal unibody comes with a consequence like the heft and unsightly antenna bands. Still, the front 2.5D is a visual treat adding move value to the looks of the phone.
Display and Multimedia
The Flare Infinity is equipped with a Full HD LTPS display which translates to 401ppi pixel density. Due to LTPS LCD used, the colors seem to be painted on the glass panel. It’s vibrant and pleasing to the eye. Color accuracy is also on the good side and it’s got wide viewing angles. You can tweak the settings for the display too if even you feel like it. It’s worth noting that the 2.5D glass and the bezel-less sides create an “Edge” effect akin to the Samsung Galaxy phones.
While the display is impressive, the down-firing loudspeaker is a different story. It’s tinny and shallow. It’s not even loud to pass as a casual speaker for quick music playback. The actual speaker is located at right side of the grilles (when the phone is facing upwards) while the left most probably has the main microphone.
OS, Apps, and UI
Like most Cherry Mobile devices, the Flare Infinity runs on stock Android. To be honest, it feels bland for a company’s flagship phone. Not because it doesn’t have any colorful skin on top but rather the use of uninspired apps especially camera. It’s no different from any cheaper MediaTek-ran handsets.
We know you can have this changed by downloading and setting up defaults, but if an average consumer were to purchase a nicely designed Cherry handset, they’d expect something similar to the caliber of Samsung or even Huawei. We do hope that in the coming release, the UX of top-tier Cherry smartphone will still be stock but something near to the likes of Moto or even the promising Android One phones.
Anyhow, the Flare Infinity runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. We’re skeptical that this will even receive Nougat, no promises were given. It’s smooth and responsive due to its stock nature. It’s pre-loaded with a few Cherry Mobile apps to make it their own. One more thing about the OS, it has ads. It would be a fair warning for potential buyers out there that the Cherry Fun Club app pushes app notifications and even pop-ups. It’s an annoying feat for something you purchased at full price. It doesn’t get in the way that much but we hope Cherry Mobile disables them immediately.
The Flare Infinity is equipped with a 16-megapixel main shooter armed with phase-detection autofocus and a handy dual-tone LED flash while on the front is a 5-megapixel selfie camera.
Since this handset is Cherry’s current highest offering, we expected them to put capable cameras on the phone and they did, sort of, and we hope they would have a better default camera launcher.
The main camera performs well in bright conditions and previewing them on the phone show vibrant colors and just an overall pleasing image. Although, when we transferred them to our PC, the stills seem a bit washed out and muted. Not all shots were like this, just those dealing with high exposure. Low-light performance is okay, nothing notable or extreme displeasing about it. As for the front camera, 5MP is a bit low for selfie addicts plus it doesn’t have a wide-angle lens. You’ll want to extend your arm a bit if you were to take a group selfie photo. Images captured fall on the warm side. You may check out the samples below.
4K option is present unlike with its M1 cousin. It can only do 1080p at steady 30fps and we’re surprised to see the quality to be so-so but still better than other 1080p recordings of cheaper handsets that look like a blown-up 720p video. Audio is still not on a good caliber even with stereo recording.
Cherry is still not a phone-camera expert per se even with their highest offering. Still, it’s not the worst for its range.
Performance and Benchmarks
Cherry put in a Helio P10 CPU paired with 4GB of RAM. This easily puts the Flare Infinity in the midrange department of smartphones. Despite this, we’re disappointed since they were not able to bring back the more powerful Helio X20 chipset found in the M1. Still, the P10 is more than capable of everyday tasks and some gaming on the side. The 4GB RAM also helps a lot with the overall performance.
We installed the NBA 2K16 (2K17 is also compatible) and if set at medium settings, the game is totally playable. Turning it up to high will give you choppy frames but still at a tolerable level. Other intensive games like Asphalt 8 and Real Racing 3 work great. Everyday performance is good with a lot of memory to spare for multi-tasking.
Here are the benchmark scores we could get:
- AnTuTu Benchmark v6.2.1 — 50933
- PCMark — 3374 (Work 2.0), 3221 (Storage)
- Quadrant Standard — 16850
- Vellamo — 3424 (Chrome), 1304 (Metal), 2399 (Multicore)
- 3DMark — 415 (Slight Shot ES 3.1), 593 (SlingShot ES 3.0)
Rest assured though that a gyroscope sensor lives inside the handset so you can use it for virtual reality compatible headsets. The fingerprint scanner on the side is very slim to be able to scan your fingerprint properly on different angles. Expect to see the “Partial fingerprint detected” message when quickly trying to unlock the phone.
Call Quality and Connectivity
We still do calls on phones, right? The Flare Infinity will give you about an average quality to it. On a regular network call, the earpiece is on the soft side but when on a VoIP service like Messenger or Viber, the quality is good as expected with more volume and clarity.
Speaking of networks, the handset has 4G connectivity although it doesn’t support the new 700MHz band, unlike its cheaper Flare siblings. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, and GPS. It has Dual SIM connectivity too, as usual.
A sealed 3,000mAh battery provides juice to the phone. With the heft and thickness of the handset, we expected it has a bigger cell, though. We used the Flare Infinity as our daily driver. And as a moderate user with consistent data connectivity, a full 100% could only get us through work hours (9 hours) which is a bit disappointing since it won’t have enough left for the trip home. Good thing there’s a power bank to save us.
With the new PCMark battery test (Work 2.0), it lasted for 7 hours and 39 minutes. While with a more traditional video loop test, it lasted for 11 hours and 7 minutes in a full run.
The Flare Infinity is indeed the best looking, or one of the best depending on your preference, Cherry Mobile handset to date. The display and the 2.5D glass deserve an applause. It’s also a good performing device for light to heavy tasks.
What takes away the crown is its weight and the short battery life. If this would be a heavy handset, it may as well have at least a 5000mAh battery and that’s just us asking too much. Yet, at Php12,999 they should have done better in terms of battery life. It does feel and look like a 13k handset you’d expect, though.
Cherry Mobile Flare Infinity specs:
5.5-inch LTPS LCD @ 1920 x 1080 pixels (401ppi)
2.0GHz MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core processor
Mali T860 GPU
32GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD, up to 64GB (uses SIM 2)
16-megapixel PDAF rear camera w/ LED flash
5-megapixel front camera
Dual SIM (Nano + Micro)
GPS w/ A-GPS
Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, G-Sensor
3,000mAh Li-Ion removable battery
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Beautiful display and unibody
- Attractive 2.5D glass
- Large memory and storage
- Good camera
- USB Type-C
- Feeble loudspeaker
- Disappointing battery life
- Limited USB Type-C accessories locally available
- Pop-up ads from Cherry Fun Club