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Cherry Mobile Flare 2.0 Review

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A grand follow up

The Cherry Mobile Flare 2.0 is the highly anticipated update to the super popular Flare released back in November 2012. It was touted as the "dual core ng bayan" for being the cheapest dual core smartphone available locally. I remember during the month of the launch that virtually all stores were constantly out of stock of the Flare, much to the dismay of consumers. Stocks only normalized in late December and early January. It was a definite hit. As such, there are high expectations for the Flare 2.0 which maintains the Flare's SRP of 3,999 Php.

The original Flare wasn't without faults though, especially considering its price tag. First, it had a Qualcomm MSM8225 from their Snapdragon S4 Play line-up, which wasn't exactly the most potent processor. It was definitely faster than anything else in the price bracket at the time. But apparently expectations have been set too high, too early and many users expected the Flare to perform even better, disillusioned by the fact that there are other, much faster dual core phones around. Another is that the original Flare was advertised as having an IPS panel, which is a blatant lie and it was unfortunate that even local professional tech bloggers could not distinguish an IPS from other variants of LCD panels. Given that, many consumers began looking for the word "IPS" on the spec sheet phones from in the same price bracket, which was practically impossible at the time given that impact of an IPS panel on the BOM (bill of materials). Worst is the fact that the Flare's audio output via the 3.5 mm port was absolutely abysmal, with extremely weak power output, no dynamic range and distortion at maximum volume. It simply could not replace a dedicated music player. But the most popular nitpick of the original Flare's users is the battery life. The 1500 mAh on the original Flare just wasn't enough for most of the time, as efficient as the MSM8225 is.

The Flare 2.0 manages to address some of these issues, and then some. Read on to find out.

Design and Build Quality

Design-wise, the Flare 2.0 is similar to the old Samsung Galaxy S2. A quick Google of the white Galaxy S2 will make this evident, with the most obvious difference being the use of a capacitive home button in place of a physical home button. There is a narrow silver/light gray bumper around the body through which the ports and physical buttons run along to add a touch of modern chic to what would otherwise be a white plastic bar. The screen also isn't flush which gives the Flare 2.0 an older Android phone look, which is about right considering the Galaxy S2 was released back in 2011.

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The entire body is made out of polycarbonate plastic which gives the device a very smooth and glossy texture. While it does look cheap, it doesn't look "3,999 Php" cheap and it could pass off for a more expensive device, especially in color white. The hardware buttons are tactile but have a soft, audible click when pressed while the LED backlit capacitive softkeys light up white for added appeal at night. The bezels are also relatively thin for a non-OGS screen. The phone is comfortable and ergonomic overall, but I wish the screen was flush so the fingers don't hit a bump when using long swiping gestures in and out of the small screen.

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As a 4" phone with dimensions of 123 x 63.5 x 11 mm, it's relatively small and should fit comfortably in any hand. Handling-wise, it should handle like a chubbier iPhone 5 due to the identical size and slightly wider and thicker dimensions of the Flare 2.0. The Flare 2.0 is also relatively light at 129 g but doesn't exactly feel like featherweight and overall feels solid, with weight evenly distributed.

Gone is the clunky, rough back cover that also housed the finicky hardware buttons on the original Flare. Also gone is the hollow feel of the phone, which is related to the back cover. Compared to the original Flare, the Flare 2.0 is definitely feels more polished, more premium in look and feel.

The back cover of the Flare 2.0 is easy to remove with a small slit located at the lower left corner of the phone's back. The micro SD card is also hot-swappable. Both SIM card slots require that you remove the battery first though as the battery blocks the insertion point.