Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!

Release after release, Cherry Mobile continues to top themselves over and over again. That's what they're trying to do when they unleashed the Flare Selfie. Another selfie centric smartphone to serve as a follow-up to last year's great performing CM Selfie.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie review

This time it goes with a number of improvements from screen size, camera, processor and features uncommon at this price range. It's also 2,000 pesos more affordable compared when the first Cherry Selfie was released. In that sense, the Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie generated a lot of hype in the past few days.

Now the question is, is it worth all those attention? Let's all find out in this review.

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Specs

Display: 5 Inch HD IPS 1280 x 720 resolution w/ Dragontrail glass protection at 312 ppi
CPU: 1.3 GHz 64 Bit MT6753 octa core processor
GPU: Mali T720
RAM: 3 GB
ROM: 16 GB expandable via micro SD card slot up to 32 GB
Back Camera: 16 MP Samsung sensor w/ AF, BSI and dual LED flash
Selfie Camera: 16 MP Samsung sensor w/ AF and single LED flash
Battery: 3,000 mAh
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, HSPA+, LTE, Bluetooth 4, GPS, A GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM (micro)
Sensor: Gravity, proximity, light, geo, gyro
Others: Fingerprint sensor
Dimensions: 143.5 x 69.4 x 7.99 mm
Price: 7,999 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Flare Selfie box

The Flare Selfie goes with a familiar looking box except for the funkier colors of the font. It also goes with the standard Cherry print that indicates some images and information about the phone like the specs.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
The rest of inclusions you'll find inside the box

Upon opening the box, you get the standard package usually found in Cherry devices with a little improvement. Those includes a higher than normal 1.5 A wall charger / adapter, their thick yet flexible micro USB data / charging cable and in ear monitors with mic. This phone also arrives with a sim card ejector and screen protector already pre-installed.

Build Quality / Design

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
At the back of the phone showing the fingerprint sensor at the back, camera and semi curved glass like plastic

In terms of build, the Flare Selfie feels very flare. It goes with the same high class looking semi rounded smooth to hold aluminum frame with the Flare 4What's different here is the back cover as Cherry decided to use a non-removable one with glossy semi curved glass like appearance that's aesthetically sexy in my opinion but feels flimsier and smudge friendlier against the faux leather back of the Flare 4. Fortunately, that's just a super minor thing.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
At the top you see the smooth rounded corners, 3.5 mm jack and microphone
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Below there's another microphone, micro usb charging / data port and speakers
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
At the right side the power button together with the volume rocker is ergonomically placed
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
On the left, you can see the removable dual SIM / micro SD card slot tray

Also gone is the scarier to drop 2.5D curved glass panel which is replaced by the standard flat one with Dragontrail glass protection to prevent scratches.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
A full view of the phone in front

Moving forward to assess the design of the phone, the Flare Selfie possesses that "queenly aura". It looks stunning in person that will make you think that you're holding a phone that looks like an iPhone, but sleeker. I also loved that Cherry decided to follow Huawei's design mastery by putting the fingerprint sensor at the back to locate it a lot for faster and effectively. As a whole that smaller and slimmer type of design makes the Flare Selfie relatively easy to use even with one hand operation.

You also get the parts, ports and buttons placed on the right places here as the volume rocker at the right, charging port below and 3.5 mm jack on top is easy to locate and / or press. To nitpick a little, I would just like it better if the SIM tray is located on the right side of the phone as well ala Honor 6 Plus to find it faster.


Display Quality

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Flare 4 and Flare Selfie side by side

The display of the Flare Selfie has some resemblance to the Flare 4 except for the lack of 2.5D curved arc panel and the physical capacitive keys. Then even with the black thing that to surround the main screen, the bezels are still fairly thin.

Going to the quality it there's also hardly noticeable difference between the two as both rocks sharp, eye popping, not-overly saturated and well balanced display that should make most fall in love with. The IPS OGS panel was also able to provide more than decent viewing angles which is still nicely viewable under direct sunlight at max brightness.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
5 points of multi touch screen shot and display options

It also has 5 points of multi touch for better navigation and miravision technology that improves the overall display performance of the phone.

Audio Quality

Going to the speaker, I liked the major improvement that Cherry Mobile did here compared with the Flare 4. First they changed the speaker placement from the back to the bottom which is meant to make the sound airier in comparison, secondly it's louder than expected and lastly the audio quality is pretty good with good level of warmness that doesn't badly distorts. I was also surprised to hear punchy and tight bass in some tracks.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Also goes with interesting audio options that you can play around with (though it sounds better when off most of the time)

When it comes to audio quality when using your favorite pair of earphones or headphones, I'm glad to say that the Flare Selfie was able to sound almost as good as the Flare 4.

This time, they added some warmth to the bright sound output of the Flare 4. They Flare Selfie is better for pop, rnb and rock music which I find slightly more relaxing as well. It's still a slightly V-Shaped set that provides a lot of emphasis on the bass and treble regions. The bass response is slightly meatier here and has great crawling sub-bass effect while maintaining good speed and tight bass punch.

Vocals performed relatively nice as well which is I find very clear and detailed for a midrange phone. The highs this time is also slightly toned down that lessens ear piercing effect. Another thing that I liked here is has the same level of soundstage and loudness compared with Flare 4 that will surely give a lot of "wow effect" especially to non-picky listeners.

Again Cherry proved with the Flare Selfie that they can create smartphones that could sound as good as entry level HiFi music players.

Note: The Flare Selfie is also good in video recording and calls, thanks to the dual microphone setup found in this unit. 

Battery

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Visible here is the screenshot of the battery test and power saving options of Flare Selfie

Rated at 3,000 mAh with just a 5 inch HD screen paired with the power efficient MT6753 octa core processor. The Flare Selfie was expected to perform very well in this department. And we got decent results even under heavy usage as it was able to surpass the 4 hour mark at Geek bench battery test with max brightness, Bluetooth, data, WiFi and GPS on settings.

Under normal daily usage, I was able to use it from 1 pm to 12 mn with 35% of battery left. My operation includes WiFi or LTE all the time, occasional music playing and video watching and general phone usage like call and text. It's that good!
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Normal charging cable on the left and good quality charging cable on the right

The wall charger of the Flare Selfie is rated at 1.5 A, making it one of the fastest charging charger found in a Cherry Mobile package. That is a great thing, however, I also discovered that the charging / data cables included isn't a good one. Using the stock cables it was able to charge the device in 6 hours and 20 mins from zero to 100 % which is pretty bad.

When I tested it with my trusty cables, my charging time is at 9:30 am to 12:35 pm only which is just a little more than 3 hours. Cherry should do something about that cables in their future releases as it may lead to frustrated customers.

Camera

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Crazy! Manual controls on Selfie mode!

The Flare Selfie is a highly touted camera phone under 10K Pesos. Why? This device boast that 16 MP Samsung sensor at the back with auto focus, BSI technology and dual LED flash. In front it also has a 16 MP Samsung sensor with AF and single Flash that makes it a good selfie phone.

Going to the quality of the camera, the rear camera sensor is excels better than the selfie camera in my opinion. It was able to produce amazing shots with good amount of details and very nice white balance. It works wonderfully under good lighting situations such as daylight and bright room lighting that's not grainy at all. The shutter and focus speed is also very fast as I can even capture moving objects at times.

The selfie camera on the other hand even if it's not as good as the rear camera is one of the most detailed selfie camera in the under 10K segment right now. There are even times that it's even sharper than the ZenFone Selfie, but it falls short in challenging conditions and low light situations even with the use of the weaker than expected yellowish front flash.

Update: Also noticed that the focus of the selfie cam is slower in low light

As we proceed to the camera app, the Flare Selfie goes with more than one Camera app. First you'll find the stock camera app with surprising built in features for your standard photography needs. The Beauty camera with a lot of filter perfect for taking selfies and the feature packed UCamera loaded with crazy cool features that even has manual controls to let you unleash the photographer in you.

While all those features in each camera app are exciting, I would have loved it better if Cherry just used one optimized camera app with all the combined features to avoid confusion. The lack of one really good camera app also made me feel that it's the reason for some inconsistencies with my shots.

Note: The exact Samsung sensor is still unconfirmed. If it's really the popular 16 MP sensor by Samsung it might be the same ISOCELL used with the Galaxy S6, but I doubt it as the color signature is different. This could be a different variant.

Rear camera samples

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Rear camera sample in daylight showing good white balance
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Great accurate color details visible in this shot
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Normal mode on left and HDR mode in action in right
The scared kitten shot
Showing crazy sharpness (the other photo isn't zoomed, only cropped to 100%)
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Focus and nice blur (bokeh) effect on the left photo and a bit of super close macro weakness in right
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
One of the cool effects found with the UCamera
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Signs of struggle in bad lighting conditions
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
The dual LED flash of this unit is surprisingly great and not yellowish at all

Selfie camera samples

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Shamless "bigote, balbas" selfie here to show you guys how detailed the selfie cam can get
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Accurate colors using normal mode on the left and HDR mode that overexpose a little on the right
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Dim light selfie: Beautify mode on max level here
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Normal mode in lowlight on the left and selfie with flash on the right
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
I also tried the flash in dim mood lighting situations

Flare Selfie vs ZenFone Selfie mini front camera comparison in photos (normal setting)

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
ZenFone Selfie and Flare Selfie side by side
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Flare Selfie on top - more accurate colors and better details
ZenFone Selfie below - which looks less detailed and overexpose a little
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Flare Selfie on top still looks sharper here
ZenFone Selfie below handles lowlight better
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Flare Selfie using flash on top
ZenFone Selfie using flash below

Video samples



Performance

Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Antutu and geek bench scores

In terms of specs, the Flare Selfie boast boast one of the meatiest setup at this price range. Remember there are not many phones with 3 GB of RAM here that was able to give me that very smooth multitasking experience. It also rocks the efficient 1.3 GHz 64 Bit MT6753 octa core processor to ensure midrange level speed of performance paired with Mali T720 GPU that can handle most of the known modern games today. The Flare Selfie also gives you of 10 / 16 GB of usable storage which is large enough for most and up to 32 GB of expandable internal storage. 

It has one problem though, I wasn't able to move apps to the micro SD card. So basically, the use of the micro SD is to just store files such as movies, music, pictures and other files. Let's hope that Cherry will do something about it so that users can install more apps in this highly capable phone.

Note 1: I was able to play Mortal Kombat X, Godzilla and Real Boxing smoothly with rare frame drops sometimes.
Note 2: I only experienced normal heating at most while playing games with LTE on at the same time.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
The new Cherry UI
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
Fingerprint setting and special functions like double tap to wake and smart gestures

What excites me the most when I first saw this phone is the user interface. I just discovered that Cherry is already using their own "Cherry UI" on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop in this one. It basically reminds me of the MIUI of XIaomi and EMUI of Huawei that doesn't use the app drawer anymore. Some may like this and some may still prefer the stock UI. The good thing is Cherry Mobile also pre-installed the stock Android UI look for those who want the app drawer.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Review: The Selfie Centric Powerhouse To Start The Year With A Bang!
OTG ready

This UI is also pretty speedy as I have to experience bugs yet as of this writing. Going deeper to the features of the Cherry UI packs some serious customization abilities. In just one click of the Theme Changer you can change the theme in an instant then you can also customize the font in the phone settings.

It also comes with smart gestures like double tap to wake and letter writing on the lock screen that works as a shortcuts to designated apps.

One of the main highlights of this phone by the way is the fingerprint sensor. This is Cherry Mobile's first device to have that kind of next generation type of security feature. It can store multiple fingerprints that it can recognize to unlock your device. Aside from that you can also use the fingerprint sensor at the back to take photos. Going to the speed and accuracy of that sensor, I was super impressed as it rarely fails to unlock my Flare Selfie in a touch.

Pros - Fantastic specs for the price, stylish looks, customizable and fast UI, accurate fingerprint sensor, long battery life, good audio and microphone performance and good cameras
Cons - Too many camera apps, weak selfie camera flash, stock micro USB data/charging cable doesn't perform nicely

Verdict

The Flare Selfie is not just your ordinary selfie phone, it's also a super capable all rounder. It can give you a lot of mileage in terms of battery, close to high end performance, advanced security features and that feeling of owning a beautifully crafted phone for 2016. At the asking price of just 7,999 Pesos, the Flare Selfie packs near unbeatable value for money by being the most affordable phone with this type of setup yet. What a way to start the year.

Update: Good News! Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Gets OTA Update! Can Now Move Apps To Micro SD Card! Click Here!

GIZ Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
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