The Cherry Mobile Flare is definitely in my local top 5 on form factor. At first glance, it will remind you of an Xperia, or if you know your aircrafts, a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. It also is one of the cleanest local devices I've ever seen, with only three areas of the rear shell occupied by small text, rivaling only its bigger brother the Cherry Mobile W500 Titan. The design is definitely a major contributor to this device's strong sales.
The Cherry Mobile Flare sports a 4-inch IPS display, complemented by four soft-touch buttons, a front VGA camera, a very discreet earpiece, a proximity sensor, and a LED indicator.
The rear side of the Cherry Mobile Flare reveals its matte charcoal black skin (which is very nice to the touch), along with its 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, a small loudspeaker grill, and a few brand markings. The matte skin also helps defeat much smudging and increase grip.
Rounding up the Cherry Mobile Flare's design are its side buttons and ports. The left side of the device carries the volume rocker and its USB/charger port. The upper side is where the standard 3.5mm audio jack and sleep/wake button is found. The remaining sides are totally bare.
With regards to handling, the Cherry Mobile Flare is really comfortable in the hand. It's not as hefty as most phones and is easily manageable. It doesn't feel cheap, and it slides right in your pocket too.
The Cherry Mobile Flare sports a 4-inch IPS capacitive touch display at a 480x800 resolution. It has a really low display setting on paper, but once you try it first-hand you'll be impressed that for its price, it carries such a passable screen.
The Cherry Mobile Flare uses a slightly modified version of the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS, but the photos shown in this review the device runs on the Holo ICS launcher, which makes the device look pure stock. On a first-hand note, the native modified ICS launcher it seems was slower (on all aspects) than the launcher I was using. It may have something to do with the software itself.
The device's auto-brightness feature functions correctly.
The Cherry Mobile Flare sports a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 MSM8625 processor coupled with 512MB RAM. And although we're still wondering how Cherry Mobile managed to install such a powerful processor in such a cheap device, we're not complaining. Here's the benchmark results we got from Quadrant and AnTuTu.
We managed to get a 2882 on the Quadrant benchmark. It sneaks past the Motorola ATRIX 4G by a very narrow margin. It's at par with other local devices such as the Cherry Mobile W500 we reviewed.
A more accurate and up-to-date AnTuTu gives the Cherry Mobile Flare a 7075, just below the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which has a 7164). Relatively, the LG Optimus G tops the chart at 19078.
All in all, the Cherry Mobile Flare scores decently on benchmarks. In real world usage, its scores reflect its actual performance, which is awesome by the way. It's snappy enough to give you a smooth experience, nonetheless dotted with some minor lags. This of course also depends on the background apps running on the phone. Discounting such insignificant slowdowns, this device performs great.
Opening and closing the app drawer continuously draws no lag.
The Cherry Mobile Flare doesn't come without faults. For one, its gyrosensor—the device that detects the direction of the phone in your hand—is off by a lot, although it's just a software bug (this is heavily observable in Temple Run). Second, its messaging application doesn't have the basic landscape mode. I'm personally a landscape keyboard fan and I find it hard producing messages in portrait. Lastly, the device's native email app fails to load my email account at startup. I have tried multiple times to no avail. Fortunately, these problems are already fixed in new batches of Flares. For existing units, Cherry Mobile is already making a patch fix to be available soon.
Audio and Video
Equipped with a 480x800 IPS display, the Cherry Mobile Flare produces videos that are a pleasure to watch (except if you're coming from a high-res device). What's problematic is its viewing angle horizontally at the front camera side. Tilting it to an outward direction renders the image or video unviewable.
The blaster of the Cherry Mobile Flare is pretty good. Everything is audible and clear even at max volume. Bass doesn't show though. Just don't attempt to point it to your ear because its direction would peel your eardrum away (at that close it sounds canny). A good pair of headphones will do that job. I used my pair and have not encountered any sort of problem.
The Flare's internal storage is 4GB. It's a little tight, considering you have lots of apps to install, but it's expandable up to 32GB.
Playing casual games in the Cherry Mobile Flare is like a champ. Download whatever casual game you know and the Flare will run it, and in great colors too. I played Iruna Online on this device and it runs perfectly.
Unfortunately the same can't be said with more graphics-intensive games such as Dead Trigger and Shadowgun: Deadzone. Playing the former brings unacceptable levels of ghosting while the latter doesn't even load the game map, just the menu screen. I don't know if it's just my unit or if all Flares suffer this issue since I expected the Flare to perform at par, if not more, than the Titan.
The Cherry Mobile Flare sports a 5-megapixel shooter which surprisingly takes decent shots, especially in well-lit places. Here's a few sample shots.
With the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich's native photo filters, a decent photo can become great. Just add a few masks here and there and you're good to go.
The autofocus of the rear camera takes—by my rough estimates—at least a second and a half to focus. Could be software, could be the camera itself.
Skype video calling is compatible with this device, although you may see yourself in the display the wrong way. I guarantee though that the receiver of your video call sees your image upside right.
The Cherry Mobile Flare carries a 1500mAh Li-ion battery, which is nowadays a pretty low number for smartphones, more so because the device is on ICS and has an IPS display. You'll have to change settings for brightness and as much as possible avoid data and background-intensive applications if you want this device to last. Either that or get a powerbank from Cherry Mobile for P999.
I used the Flare continuously for surfing, downloading, and texting with brightness on max and it lasted 7 hours. Online gaming (and gaming in general), however, consumes the battery much faster.
3G - The Cherry Mobile Flare's 3G performance is great. It picks up fast and, depending on your provider and location, surfing and social networking is great.
Dual-SIM - Which is also dual-standby. Most local phones being released nowadays are all dual-SIM, so nothing to see here. Only the SIM1 slot is 3G-ready.
USB tethering, WiFi hotspot - Great for an unlimited surfing plan. Unfortunately the lackluster battery performance will get in your way.
The Cherry Mobile Flare, simply put, is a total win. Yes it has bugs, yes the battery life is terrible, but would you expect an 4-inch IPS display and a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor powering this device for only P3,999? Me, not in two years. That plus the sleek, stealthy design makes up for a great primary phone. That's why this device is always out of stock. That's how hot it is.
The Cherry Mobile Flare is available nationwide at all Cherry Mobile kiosks for P3,999. If a kiosk is selling more than the selling price, you should ask why.
Click on the following link for the complete specifications of the Cherry Mobile Flare.