Flash Plus 2 Review - The Best In Its Class Yet!

I'll be frank, very frank, the original Alcatel branded Flash Plus is a phone with best in class specs in its time, but failed to impress in real life. It has flimsy build quality, inconsistent cameras and badly designed UI. That's why I didn't set my expectations high after its sequel was announced, the Flash Plus 2.
Flash Plus 2 review
Flash Plus 2 review

Fortunately, upon checking the phone at its launch few days back, the now independent Flash branded Flash Plus 2 appears to present total refinement over its predecessor. That's the main reason why we wanted to fully test its potential. Was it able to live up to its promise? Find out in this review.

Related: Flash Plus 2 With 3 GB RAM / 32 GB ROM Review - The Best In Its Class Made Better!

Disclaimer: This review unit was borrowed from Lazada Philippines for an honest review

Flash Plus 2 Specs

Display: 5.5 Inch FHD IPS 1920 x 1080 resolution at 401 ppi
CPU: 1.8 GHz 64 Bit Helio P10 octa core processor
GPU: Mali T860
RAM: 2 GB / 3 GB
ROM: 16 GB / 32 GB expandable via micro SD card slot up to 128 GB
Back Camera: 13 MP f/2.0 OV13853 w/ Mixed AF, 76.5 degrees wide angle lens and dual real tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 5 MP f/2.4, 84 degree wide angle lens and LED flash
Battery: 3,000 mAh
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, A GPS, dual SIM
Sensors: Light, proximity, g, accelerometer, e-compass, hall, gyro
Others: Fingerprint sensor, AKM4375 DAC, NX9890 amp, dual mic, Colors: luna silver, venus gold
Price: 6,990 Pesos (2 GB RAM / 16 GB ROM), 8,490 Pesos  (3 GB RAM / 32 GB ROM)

Note 1: The unit we have here is the 2 GB RAM / 16 GB ROM version in luna silver color
Note 2: The 2 GB RAM / 16 GB ROM variant is now on sale for 5,990 Pesos only!

Unboxing / Accessories

The new good looking box
The new good looking box

The way that Flash presented the package of the Plus 2 is noteworthy especially for a new brand. Why? From our first look, it's enticing and highly appealing. You'll see that minimalist design with some touch gold colored heart that made us feel how much this brand wants us to love the device.
Inclusions inside
Inclusions inside

Upon opening the package, the beautifully crafted Flash Plus 2 greeted us immediately. Then after digging further, we saw the rest of the inclusions like their wall charger with up to 3x fast charging tech, thick micro but not that long USB / data cables and pretty useful paper documentations.


What the Flash team failed to include in its package is an in ear monitors w/ mic and even just a screen protector. Anyway, there's not much room for complaints as this is a bang per buck phone in other terms. That's probably one of the few trade-offs of a super affordable phone with great specs.

Note: There's also a JBL made "HiFi" earphones that'll be separately sold soon

Build Quality / Design

Metal clad back cover
Metal clad removable back cover (battery is non removable)

Most of the things we said from our first hold of its didn't change that much, the Flash Plus 2 boast one the most durable build, stylish looks and high-end like ergonomics that's never before seen on a sub-7K phone.

The back cover is fully made out of metal, the buttons are metal clad too and the glass is durable enough with its Dragontrail glass coating. Most of what you'll see inside is made of plastic, but fortunately, it's well protected by the solid aluminum back cover. For us, this phone is well crafted that's would fare well even if you compare it against higher end phones.

As a testament to its durability, I accidentally dropped the phone pretty hard earlier. Gladly, it didn't even have a scratch or small dent. Aside from that, most of the phones that we tested that doesn't have glass protection usually have hairline scratches in the display part. However, our unit didn't even have a single one as of this writing even if we don't have a case or cloth protection.
Top view
Top view (mic and audio jack)
Bottom look
Bottom look (micro USB port and another mic)
Volume rocker and power button at right
Volume rocker and power button at right

In terms of design, like what I said before, the back cover reminds me of the already stylish Huawei GR5, but better. It's a looker, has that combination of Huawei and Samsung flare that's good enough to make you think that you're looking into a high-end phone.

The device is also pretty slim, nicely sized for your pockets and has that good slanting curve at the back with exquisite looking wire drawings

Ergonomically, this is the finest phone that I was able to hold yet in the sub-10K range. It feels smooth to hold, there are no sharp edges, has enough heft and goes with proper buttons /  ports placements.
The Flash Plus 2 is one of the best looking and better built affordable phone that feels great to hold.
To nitpick and give suggestions, we would have liked it better if the screen bezels are slimmer, has less camera protrusion and and have a dedicated camera button just like the Flash 2.

Update: There's also an white colored LED notification on top

Display Quality

Great type of screen here
Great type of screen here (slightly slimmer bezels than the ZenFone 2 series)

Unlike most phones in the sub-7K region, the Flash Plus 2 is using a 5.5 inch FHD IPS screen instead of the usual 720p suspects. Not only that, this is arguably the nicest screen we've seen for the price so far.

Even with its slightly thicker bezels, the colors were crisp which is definitely on point for the price. It also has great viewing angles, nice contrast and that Miravision 2.0 tech that makes your video playing experience even more pleasurable. Just don't expect it to render deep blacks ala AMOLED screens and be super bright and you'll be fine.
The experience was mostly good, the colors were correct and nicely toned considering the price.
As a result, we mostly enjoyed watching YouTube contents here, enjoying the visuals of the games we played and viewing the photos we took.
5 points of multitouch only
5 points of multitouch only

Just to look for something to complain (even if it is really not that much of an issue), we would have like it better if it has 10 points of multitouch for better touch precision and response.

Update: This phone also has BluLight Defender feature for eyecare, has dynamic contrast for video enhancements and adjustable color tones.

Audio Quality

It pairs well with most type of earphones and headphones
It pairs well with most type of earphones and headphones

Related: Flash Sound Pro In Ear Monitors Now Available At Lazada PH, Priced At 999 Pesos!

One of the things that this phone highlights is its "HiFi" audio capability with it use of a real dedicated DAC, AMP and "good type" of dual speakers at the back. Were it able to deliver the tunes we wanted? Here's our take.

The speakers of the Flash 2 is one of the cleanest I heard on a smartphone at any price point. As a matter of fact, it's better sounding than most of its competitors I heard before. Some may sound louder, but this presents better balance, nicer mids, hearable bass slams, and rare analytical (detailed) sound. There are even times that we get immersed to our favorite tunes with its speakers.

However, the speaker setup is located at the back covers the sound when placed on top of a flat surface. It would have been nicer if the placement is in front.

Going to its audio out thru headphones. The Flash Plus 2 used a dedicated AKM4375 DAC by Asahi Kasei and NX9890 amplifier. While were not expecting it to perform like other dedicated HiFi portable DAPs like the FiiO X1, the Flash Plus 2 sounds good for a phone.

As a matter of fact, it its the best sounding locally available phone that I ever heard yet. It's goes with that warm and smooth sound signature that's suitable for most kind of music genres.

The bass response was fairly detailed and accurate, has good speedy slams and tightness. 
It's bassy, but not to the level of other smartphones that has too much and distorted bass response.It even had good bass control that doesn't have bleeding in the mids. To end the bass department, this goes with sweet sub-bass decay when needed. 

For me the mids is the highlights of its sound where it foes with sweet and highly detailed sound. It's great for both male and female vocals that's engagingly good most of the time. There's also little to none harshness and grains here.

In its highs, the amount is just right for my ears. It could be underwhelming for treble happy individuals, but would make most who avoids peaky and fatiguing highs smile. We also noticed that it doesn't have the usual hiss commonly found with non-HiFi ready phones.

Soundstage-wise, it isn't the widest I heard, but did okay to give you that nice in your face sonic presentation. Anyway, I would like to point that this phone is also analytical enough in terms of instrumental separation.
It's one of more musically refined and properly tuned affordable smartphone in the market today.
In terms of loudness, don't expect it to go as loud as the FiiO X1 or even the FiiO M3. Fortunately, for a phone, it's good enough to drive most IEMs and give them above average loudness.

For example, my power hungry Havi B3 Pro 1 needs at 90-100% volume to shine. With normal sets with low impedance like our RHA S500i, I'll also require at least 60-70% volume to get that nice tunes.

Overall, we think that the Flash Plus 2 is one of the nicer sub-15K phones in the market right now for music listening. Honestly, even if the Vivo V3 Max has more details and soundstage, I like the tuning of this phone better which is easier to listen with and has less grains.

However, the pre-installed music Mix Music app sounds decent and feature packed that even has that "DJ" like settings, it can't play 32 bit lossless audio in contrary to what Flash has stated and what its hardware can do.

Fortunately, anyone can always download FooBar 2000 (a free music app) to unlock that 32 bit lossless audio capability. Not only that, that app also maximized the potential of the hardware as it sounds more refined which has larger soundstage without making your tunes congested.

In terms of calls, this performed decently that was able to deliver clear calls that should be good enough for most. Thanks to its dual mic setup w/ noise-cancelling feature, you'll be able to enjoy clear calls.

When used for recording videos and or voices plainly, we were quite pleased with the experience as it was able to capture your surrounding well. Not on the level of Lumia 930 and Nexus 6P, but it's decent enough.

Battery Life

Battery life test
Battery life test in w/ max brightness and volume

Donning that averagely sized 3,000 mAh of battery capacity, we expected this phone to last for a good while. Gladly, we were correct, the Flash Plus 2 lasted good enough in our test. It was able to clock a score of 6 hours and 51 mins using PC Mark benchmark. On regular usage, I was able to use it for more than 9 hours as my daily driver. That's great enough for most.
One of the fastest charging time recorded on an affordable phone in the world.
What's special here is its up to 3x fast charging feature and the Flash team isn't joking about it. The Flash Plus 2 delivered one of the fastest charging time on an affordable smartphone. From 0% we reached the 25% mark at 15 mins, the 80% mark in 1 hour and 100% mark in 1 hour and 15 mins.

Update: It tends to get warm when charging, nothing alarming though.

Camera

Camera at the back
Camera at the back

The Flash Plus 2 is loaded with a 13 MP  f/2.0 OV13853 w/ Mixed AF, 76.5 degrees wide angle lens and dual real tone LED flash and a 5 MP f/2.2, 1.12μm and 84 degree wide angle lens w/ LED flash.
The camera is great for its price.
Being a supposedly camera centric phone, we expected that this can live up to the challenge. I'm happy to say that it mostly did. This was definitely better than the old Flash Plus as it lessens that yellowish tone. As a result, the shots has much better balance, crispier, better tuned and can take closer macros. It also has less warmth compared with most ZenFone devices even if it resembles some similarities on its imaging characteristics. However, there are times that colors are a little washed especially in challenging situations. Anyway, focus only has average speed, but its shutter speed and saving time is one of the fastest at this price.

In lowlight, the main camera did a decent job. There are less grains, good amount of details and even has better than expected level of sharpness. The dual tone flash is strong enough too that's great when needed as it won't over-expose the subjects.

In front, the 5 MP selfie shooter is good in daylight, but has noticeable grains. It also feels underexposed in places with bad lighting. Fortunately, it has flash in front that you can even use as a torch to even up and make you visible in the dark when needed. It's far from the best midrange selfie cam,  but it works just fine. 

Update: Flash team fixed the 8 MP interpolation in the camera software and adjusted it to its actual 5 MP pixel size to avoid confusion. It also takes better selfies now.

However,  being a camera centric device, we expected that the software included here would have some fancy features even if its an affordable phone. It only has few filters, HDR mode, panorama, pip and night mode. While that maybe enough for your basic photography, I just find too plain as it didn't even have grids for your rule of thirds and manual controls. Anyway, that's understandable for now and you can just download other camera apps if you find its features lacking.

Looking into its video quality, it can record 1080p at the back and 720p in front. At the back, there's an EIS feature that reduces shakiness, but not that much. It's decent when you use a tripod, but its still shaky on on-hand use. Anyway, this should be good for your casual video taking needs.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight shot
Daylight shot
Gloomy day shot
Gloomy day shot
Normal vs HDR
Normal vs HDR
Great in macros (or close-up shots)
Great in macros (or close-up shots)
Another good focus
Another good focus
Panorama test
Panorama test
Lowlight shot
Lowlight shot (night mode)
Another night mode shot
Another night mode shot
Auto in a place with almost no light
Auto in a place with almost no light
Flash test
Flash test

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie in gloomy weather
Selfie in gloomy weather
Indoor selfie w/ Angel in good light
Indoor selfie w/ Angel in good light
Lowlight without and with flash
Lowlight without and with flash

Video Samples


Performance

Antutu and geekbench scores
Antutu and geekbench scores

Going to the most important part of this review. This phone performed in a slightly above level compared to what most entry-midrange phone can do. It's powered by the new 64 Bit Helio P10 octa core processor paired with Mali T860 GPU. That setup is touted to give you powerful performance and good gaming experience.
The phone hardly stutters that's speedy enough for most.
Upon testing the unit we experienced its good speed in most of our basic task that includes basic phone calls, SMS, social media, photography, music playing and etc. It can also load a number of apps simultaneously with the use of its good enough 2 GB of RAM.

Out unit only had 2 GB of RAM which would have been better obviously if its using the bigger 3 GB RAM setup. We expect that the experience and overall operations would be smoother if you're using the 3 GB edition. Storage-wise it has either 16 GB or 32 GB of ROM that fortunately has an expandable storage via micro SD card.



In gaming, this phone is designed to run most off the modern games. I was able to play light games with breeze and Asphalt 8 with minimal lag on high settings. With NBA 2K16, its playable in super high mode, but you'll definitely feel the lag. To make it run smoother with less frame drops, use the mostly medium and some high settings.
The clean Android 6.0 Marshmallow UI of Flash Plus 2
The clean Android 6.0 Marshmallow UI of Flash Plus 2

Another thing that we noticed here is the Flash Plus 2 is pre-loaded with one of the cleanest Android UI you'll see that's easy to use and understand. It's on near vanilla Android 6.0 Marshmallow mode, has few bloats an looks good in the eyes.

It's also pre-installed with its own "Boost" app that has a smart cleaner, launch manager, super speeder and power saving features.
Fingerprint scanner options
Fingerprint scanner options

When it comes to its speedy fingerprint scanner, it did more than just the regular unlocking mode and security of files / apps. It can also be used as a shortcut for up to 5 apps and easy clean-up by just double tapping the fingerprint scanner.


Going to the connectivity part, GSM signals appears to be normal, LTE data is good, Bluetooth connectivity works and its GPS won't give you problems with location sensing. This phone is also loaded with important sensors such as light, proximity, g, accelerometer, e-compass, hall and gyroscope.

Update: USB OTG works perfectly fine

Pros - Top notch build, design and ergonomics, good fingerprint scanner, true fast charging feature, doesn't have annoying heating issues, better tuned audio, nice specs for the price
Cons - Default camera app isn't feature packed, selfie camera could be better, 5 points of multitouch only (might not be a con for non-gamers), package lacks accessories (understandable for the price)

Verdict

The Flash Plus 2 is your almost no compromise phone on a budget that was able to mostly exceed my expectations. They're setting a new standard in terms of craftsmanship and ergonomics for the budget, audio quality on both headphones and speakers, clean UI and good main camera. 

As usual, there's no perfect phone especially at this price point. There are always somethings that could be ironed out like some of our nitpicks stated above. However, that doesn't remove the fact that this phone is the best in its class yet.

The bad memories of Alcatel Flash Plus is gone, the new Flash group listened to our complaints in the past and as a result they were able to create this affordable masterpiece. 
All in all, the experience was mostly amazing, that's legend of the Flash Plus 2.

It's available at Lazada Philippines now. For more info visit the website of Flash now.

GIZ Rating: 4.75/5 Stars
    Comments