Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus Review
Cherry Mobile has been relatively quiet during the first half of the year and has not released anything big that would stir up the crowd. And just when I’m starting to wonder what they’re up to, they have unveiled the new Flare S7 series a couple of months ago, and leading the pack is the Flare S7 Plus.
Design and Construction
I got excited when I first saw the Flare S7 Plus, not because it’s a new offering from the company, but because it sports a design that is trending in smartphones this year. And by that, I mean it now has a large display with a notch. Yes, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus now features one of the trendiest smartphone design cues nowadays.
Although no longer a new feature, the notch provides the Flare S7 Plus with advantages like sporting a large 6.18-inch display while keeping the footprint small.
The design of the notch reminds us of the iPhone X. It’s wide, but understandable considering that it houses the earpiece, 16MP front camera, and the IR camera for the face unlock feature.
Looking at the rest of the body, we have the hybrid SIM tray on the left, while on the right are the volume and power/lock buttons. They’re easy to reach, firm, and clicky.
Found at the bottom are the main microphone, the USB-C port, and the loudspeaker. There’s no 3.5mm audio jack but Cherry Mobile included a USB-C adapter in the package.
At the back, there’s the dual rear cameras and the fingerprint scanner. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but this device has no Cherry Mobile branding on it.
In the hands, the Flare S7 Plus feels premium thanks to the metallic frame and glass back that curves to the sides. It’s relatively wide so it can be a bit of a challenge to navigate it with one hand. Like with most smartphones with glossy backs, it’s a smudge and fingerprint magnet. Good thing Cherry Mobile included a clear case in the package to help protect the device.
Display and Multimedia
The Flare S7 Plus is equipped with a large 6.18-inch LTPS display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. Cherry Mobile calls it the TrueView display. Protecting it is a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and comes with a screen protector in the package. It has a Full HD+ resolution which equates to 403ppi which is good considering the screen size. The display quality is sharp with good viewing angles and punchy colors.
If you’re worried about the notch, the Flare S7 Plus allows you to hide it by going to Settings -> Features -> Notch Screen Gesture. Once activated, just slide down from the upper left corner of the screen to switch to 18:9 aspect ratio. If you want to revert to its original state, just slide on that part again, which is very handy.
When it comes to audio, the single down-firing speaker is loud enough for casual listening to music, watching videos on YouTube, or gaming. The audio is crisp and full with almost no distortion, but like most smartphones in this price range, the bass is weak. If you want a better listening experience, use earphones or pair it to an external speaker.
When it comes to imaging, the Flare S7 Plus is equipped with a 16MP + 5MP dual-rear BSI cameras, while selfies are handled by a 16MP camera. The cameras are AI-assisted with scene recognition, Night mode, Face Beauty, HDR, Panorama, Pro mode, Time-lapse, Slow motion, Group selfie, and LivePhoto.
It also has FlareMoji which is Cherry Mobile’s take on animated emojis that is also found in other smartphone brands. It work’s fine as it uses the IR camera for guidance, but the animation is not as smooth compared to, let’s say, the iPhone X and the characters available are still limited.
Images produced are quite good. In bright conditions, the details are sharp with plenty of details, good contrast, and rich and accurate colors. HDR also works well to bring out details in dark areas. Autofocus is also fast although I noticed some inconsistencies when shooting in macro. Some shots are spot on, while others are blurred. Selfies, on the other hand, have plenty of details. Although the beauty effect tends to make the photo look softer.
While shots produced in bright conditions are good, I can’t say the same thing when the lights go down starting in the late hours of the afternoon or when shooting indoors. The cameras struggle to get as much light as possible by bumping up the ISO which results in images with muddy details. Upon inspection of the images, quality works best up to ISO 400.
As for the video, it can record up to 1080p at 30fps in MP4 format. Colors are okay but the details are disappointing as it looks smudgy even in bright conditions. There’s no video stabilization so the footage is prone to shakes. Watch the sample below:
OS, UI, Apps
The Flare S7 Plus is running on Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with a custom UI meaning it has its own wallpapers and icons. The interface has been tweaked as well but still similar to Android stock.
Previous Cherry Mobile Android smartphones came with ads that pop up in the interface. I’m glad to report that the Flare S7 Plus doesn’t have that. In addition, it didn’t have a lot of pre-installed apps, just Facebook, Instagram, Firefox Rocket, and Chums Live. The rest is handled by Google’s own apps.
As for features, it has its own System Manager, Smart Gestures, Data Clone, Customizable Navigation bar, and Suspend button which works like the iPhone’s AssistiveTouch.
When it comes to storage, the Flare S7 Plus comes with 64GB with 52.42GB as usable. This can be expanded via microSD using the SIM 2 slot and USB OTG.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Flare S7 Plus is a MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core CPU, Mali G72 MP3 GPU, and 4GB RAM. With this kind of configuration, I’m getting good mid-range performance as apps launch fast, navigation is smooth, and switching between apps is quick. When it comes to biometric performance, the Face Unlock feature works well and can recognize our face in different lighting thanks to the IR camera. It’s also fast, takes about a second, but not as fast as the iPhone X which can do this almost instantaneously.
In terms of gaming, the Flare S7 Plus can pack a punch as it was able to run games like Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile in HD graphics and High Frame Rate. There was some drop in frames in busy scenarios but not that noticeable. Warming is felt at the backside just above the fingerprint scanner but not enough to be a serious concern. Check out the benchmark scores below:
• AnTuTu – 137,837
• 3DMark – 1,047 (SSE – OpenGL ES 3.1), 932 (SSE – Vulkan)
• PCMark – 7,679 (Work 2.0)
• Geekbench 4 – 1,497 (Single-Core), 5,792 (Multi-Core), 5,417 (RenderScript)
• AndroBench – 288.89 MB/s (Read), 215.12 MB/s (Write)
Connectivity and Battery Life
The Flare S7 Plus is equipped with your standard connectivity features which include 4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. So far these features work as advertised as I had no problems using mobile data, Bluetooth speakers, and location-based apps like Google Maps or Grab. Call quality is good as well but that depends on your location and if the signal is good.
The battery part is where I’m disappointed as it only has a 3,050mAh battery. For a phone with this kind of configuration, I was expecting at least 3,500mAh. Mixed usage only got me around 7 to 8 hours of battery life. PC Mark rated it at 5 hours and 34 minutes which is poor, while our video loop test yielded 12 hours of playback which is not bad. Charging, on the other hand, takes a little over 2 hours.
What we liked about the Flare S7 Plus is its wireless charging support which is uncommon for mid-range smartphones especially at this price. It’s cool but not really a necessity. We’d rather let go of this function for extra battery capacity instead.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is like a statement that the company is capable of producing a smartphone with features found in more expensive devices — a high-resolution screen, good-performing mid-range chipset, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, decent cameras, IR face unlock, and wireless charging. What’s even more impressive is its asking price of PHP 11,999. It has its imperfections but considering the benefits mentioned, it’s still a good offering.
Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus specs:
6.18-inch LTPS FHD+ (2246 x 1080) TrueView display, 403ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
MediaTek Helio P60 2.0GHz octa-core processor
ARM Mali-G72 MP3 GPU
64GB internal storage
expandable via microSD card up to 256GB (uses SIM2)
16MP + 5MP BSI rear cameras with LED Flash
16MP + IR front camera with AI Selfie
4G voLTE with Band 28 support, Carrier Aggregation
Dual SIM (nano, hybrid), Dual Standby
WiFi 801.11 a/b/g/n
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
Android 8.1 Oreo
3,050mAh battery (nonremovable) with fast and wireless charging
155 x 75.5 x 7.85mm (dimensions)
What I liked:
• Good build
• Good display
• IR Face Unlock
• Good performance
• Affordable price
• Wireless charging
What I didn’t:
• Small battery
• Poor video recording quality
• No 3.5mm audio jack