Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review - The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!

Last quarter of the year, this is the time where the local budget smartphone competition heats up the most as everyone is trying to outdo each other. The result, Cherry Mobile, one of the leading contenders decided to amp up their game by releasing a smartphone with never before seen specs and build under 5,000 Pesos. Unsurprisingly, they're called the Flare 4 and Flare S4.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
The new standard of budget greatness?

Luckily, we were able to secure a unit of the Flare 4 to share with you our thoughts about this highly talked about device.

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Specs

Display: 5 Inch HD IPS 1280 x 720 resolution 2.5D curved glass w/ Dragontrail glass protection  at 294 ppi
CPU: 1.3 GHz 64 Bit MT6753 octa core processor
GPU: Mali T720
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 16 GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 32 GB
Back Camera: 13 MP OVI13850 w/ BSI and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 5 MP w/ BSI
Battery: 2,100 mAh
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, HSPA+, LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, A GPS, dual SIM, dual Standby
Others: Soft curved edge
Price: 4,999 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Flare 4 unboxing time!

The Flare 4 comes in a simple black packaging plastered with the flare 4 logo. At the back, you can see the specs and the highlights of the phone.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Accessories inside the box

Upon opening the box, you get the gorgeous Cherry Mobile Flare 4 unit itself, a 1A wall charger, thick but flexible micro USB data/charging cable, in ear monitor with mic and some documentations. What I like here is Cherry Mobile also pre-attached a screen protection to the display of the unit.

Build Quality / Design

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Faux leather back showing the weird speaker placement on top, slightly protruding rear camera and the cherry flare logo

For its price point, the design and build quality is unprecedented. With an elegant rubberised faux leather back that easily grips on to your hand when you hold the device. It has a gold metal frame which is smoothly curved with the same texture found on the iPhone 6s. Most of the buttons are placed well ergonomically.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Here's the beautiful 2.5D curved glass panel of the device
Also visible here are the capacitive keys with LED backlit and the sensors on top

One of the most impressive things about this phone is gorgeous 2.5D curved display panel that's usually reserved for the higher end devices. Protected by Asahi Dragontrail glass that prevents light scratches, and minor accidents.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
This photo shows how slim this device is and the power button on the upper right side
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
On top you see the micro USB port and 3.5 mm jack
There's also a hidden red / green notification light on top of the earpiece here
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Here's a look below where you can find the single microphone

The only concern with this phone is the lack of silicon case in the market as the metal frame is prone to scratches that could ruin the look of this phone.

Display Quality

I truly love the screen. At just 720p, it is one of the eye popping and sharpest screen I've seen at this price bracket. It packs a nice slightly warm tone with great sharpness and good color reproduction. The viewing angles is also fantastic thanks to the use of an IPS OGS panel that was boosted by incorporating a 2.5D curved screen. This also has one of brightest screens I tested that makes the Flare 4 truly readable even under direct sunlight.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
The beautiful display of this handset

It's great for reading, watching movies and its 5 points of multi touch is good enough for navigating the phone, typing and casual gaming.

Audio Quality

When it comes to the speaker quality, I find it quite clean sounding and doesn't distort badly even at max volume. However, I find it to weak for my liking as the notifications and ringing phone calls won't be that noticeable if you're afar from your phone. 
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Some audio enhancements found with the Flare 4

What Cherry did here to make the volume louder is they added an audio enhancer found in the settings of the phone. It was successful in increasing the volume loud enough, but will distort and leave you with mudded sound when you crank the volume to 100% which is bad especially if you will be listening to music most of the time.

When it comes to audio out via headphones, honestly, I'm usually not a fan of Cherry Mobile in this department. Fortunately, that's not the case with the Flare 4, they nailed it this time as the this handset is arguably the best and cleanest sound output I heard coming from a local brand so far!

The Cherry Mobile Flare 4 is a slightly V-Shaped (more of a bright) sounding handset which gives good emphasis on the lows (bass) and highs. The highs extends very well and lets you hear the decay of sound in cymbal slams. The lows of this is also one of the meatiest I heard that even has smooth sub-bass extension when needed. It's also not overly bassy in my opinion and has great speed in general, having said that, it doesn't mean that the midrange are left behind. This device sounds fantastic on both male and female vocals, it's forward sounding and the layering of instruments is close to dedicated HiFi DAPs such as the FiiO X3. It's even great enough to let you hear micro details like the opening of lips and some whispering commonly unknown in mobile phones.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
It can even play lossless 192 Khz / 24 bit audio! Just wow!
Even some highend devices can't do this

The Flare 4 also has great driving power that can give the ZenFone 2's loudness a great fight. It was also able drive my sensitive and power hungry Havi B3 Pro 1 nicely, where-in it was able to unleash at least 90% of it's potential at just 60% of volume. (Normally, I'm using 90-100% of volume with other devices to make that earphone sound properly) The Flare 4 also doesn't need equalization as you might only ruin the great harmony across the spectrum.

So far, my only complaint so far is it's slightly a tad sibilant to my liking and the highs might be piercing for some especially when using my treble happy VSonic VSD5. But for the price this is the best so far, beating the likes of previous great sounding phones under 5K before such as SKK Lynx and Rio 2.

Note 1: Never use the sound enhancements found in the audio settings, you'll only get un-natural sound
Note 2: The audio chip Cherry used here is MT6382 as per Cherry Mobile themselves (no other info about it though)
Note 3: You'll need great sounding head gears to maximize the audio potential of this phone

Battery

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Normal daily usage

Rated at just 2,100 mAh, I never expect too much when it comes to the battery life of this phone. But surprisingly, it performed very well. Under normal usage of casual calls, wifi, browsing, taking photos and listening to music. I was able to squeeze a little over 8 hours of usage.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Heavy usage

When it comes to heavy usage of gaming, watching movies and LTE on with max brightness and speaker volume, the device was able to last for a little over 3 hours. The only weakness here is the charging time, it took me almost 3 hours to fully charge the phone using a fast charging 2A charger.

In general that shows the efficiency of the new MT6735 octa core chip paired with Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Note: I got almost the same result when using the regular 1A charger. That confirms that the Flare 4 doesn't support 2A fast charging.

Camera

The Flare 4 incorporates a 13 MP BSI rear camera and 5 MP BSI selfie camera. The aperture size is unknown as it's not visible in the details of the photo taken. Having said that, I did not expect much with the camera quality of this phone because this might be the part where they cut corners to make the price a lot better.

Fortunately, that's not the case with the rear camera of this device. It was able to produce near to balanced color reproduction, pretty sharp details and nice focusing power even when you're shooting a close up subject. It's also decent when it comes to night shots as there are just few grains. White balance is also pretty outstanding in this one even some shots are de-saturated sometimes.

On the other hand the selfie camera kinda needs improvement. While it can take decent photos especially under good lighting. I find it grainy and lacks in details against some other 5 MP camera setup.

The shutter and focus speed of both the rear and front camera is also not that fast against some of the budget offering found from international brands. Overall, it's the camera is still not the best in this price range, but it's on the above average more than decent side.

Camera Samples

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Outdoor shot on normal mode, great details and less grains found here
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Great for close-up shots, notice the nice blur "bokeh" it was able to produce
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Left: photo compressed, Right: photo 100% cropped
It's still pretty detailed!
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Normal mode and HDR mode, HDR tends to brighten but overexpose the subject a little
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Left: Flare 4, Right: My31
In this case, both are using pretty capable cameras under 5,000 Pesos
But, notice the better color balance of Flare 4 against the over saturated shot that came from My31
The Flare 4 also has better blurr as you can see
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Here's a sample outdoor shot in the dark, nothing too special about it. Just decent
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Another one in the dark
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Even with the use of just a single LED flash, it's bright enough not to overexpose the subject
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Sample selfie I took while walking
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Selfie with good indoor lighting
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Sample of an outdoor evening shot, grainy but still quite decent


Performance

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
It performed nicely on most heavy games I tested like Mortal Combat X, UFC and Real Boxing as I never experienced lag and major frame drops.

The Flare 4 utilizes one of the meatiest setup you'll ever find in a smartphone as of today at this price category. It packs a powerful and efficient 1.3 GHz 64 Bit MT6735 octa core processor, Mali T720 for gaming and graphics, 2 GB RAM that's more than enough for moderate multi tasking and has 16 GB expandable storage.

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Here's the total usable space of the Flare 4

The results are quite pleasing, the overall performance is buttery smooth, the almost stock Android Lollipop UI is fantastic to use and has a lot of built in options and I never experienced bad heating with this phone even with LTE data turned on.

To find some flaws, what I don't like here is some non removable apps that I'm not using like the dr booster, kakao talk and other cherry apps. Fortunately, some of them are uninstallable like - pomelo and beauty plus.

Benchmarks

Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
High antutu benchmark score and 5 point multi touch
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Geekbench and quadrant results
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Here's the quite high GPU Bench score at 19,959 points!

Given those scores, I'm quite sure that along with the Flare S4, this device is the most powerful you can get for the price as of this moment.
Sensor box
Update: All the working available sensors inside

Notable differences with Flare S4

First let's go with the difference of the Flare 4 against the Flare S4. Donning idential specs the Flare 4 only differs compared Flare S4 in terms of back cover used and 100 mAh of battery.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
The sides of Flare 4 and Flare S4

Upon further inspection we also noticed that the Flare 4 has a more refined build compared with the Flare S4 as it doesn't have sharp edges and feels nicer to hold overall. One advantage of the Flare S4 is it packs smart gestures and hotknot features that's missing with the Flare 4.
Cherry Mobile Flare 4 Review, The New Standard Of Budget Greatness!
Showing the display and settings of the devices

The display of the Flare S4 is also brighter and slightly blueish against the warmer tone and more eye friendly display of the Flare 4.

Special thanks to master Raffy of Techpatrl for letting me borrow his Flare S4! Cheers Mate!

Pro's - Top notch performance for the price, gorgeous design, no heating issues, great rear camera, best in class headphone out audio quality, 
Con's - No smart gestures, some uninstallable bloatwares, weak speakers, front camera needs improvement, doesn't support fast charging

Verdict

At this time of the year, the Flare 4 is phenomenal. It has most of the things I never imagined seeing before from an under 5,000 Pesos smartphone. The build is unprecedentedly gorgeous and the hardware is nearly twice as powerful compared to the nearest competition. I'm sure that together with the Flare S4, this device will definitely be a tough act to follow. Truly a must buy if you want a powerful phone on a limited budget.

GIZ Rating 4.75 / 5 Stars
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