Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus Review - The Affordable Contender

Cherry Mobile Flare XL 2 is arguably one of the strongest offering of the local giant in the sub-4k region that's readily available in the market today. It has impressive specs and good style that compliments its affordable price.
Cherry Mobile Flare XL review
Cherry Mobile Flare XL review

After unboxing this handset and using it for more than a week, we were able to compete the necessary details that we can share with you. Is it worth all your bucks? Here's our take.


Disclaimer: This review unit was provided by Cherry Mobile for an honest review

Display Quality

Donning an "XL Plus" monicker, at first we kinda expected that this device will carry a 6, inch or over type or screen. Instead, we only got an averagely sized 5.5 inch HD IPS panel and we're fine with that.

In terms of quality, its 720p panel is decent, but we've seen better Cherry screens than it. It has average sharpness and details, but the colors are washed and looks pretty pale against other screens. Then unless you take a super close look at it, pixels won't be be that visible.

Fortunately, this type of screen is acceptable enough for most. It also has acceptable viewing angles and average screen brightness. It's pretty viewable outdoor, just make sure that you won't put it under direct sunlight.
5 points of multitouch
5 points of multitouch

Lastly, the display of Flare XL Plus will give you 5 points of touch for your better touch and type experience.

Overall, this phone decent for watching videos, viewing photos and browsing even if it doesn't have Miravision or Clearmotion tech.


Audio quality

On the speaker part, the Flare XL Plus gave us good enough tunes that's a standard on smartphones nowadays. It has nice clean / clear for its class output and goes with average loudness that makes it hearable even from several meters afar.

On the audio-out thru headphones, this is a mid centric player. However, this doesn't produce the best sound around. It's acceptable for the price, but the lows are uncontrolled, there are noticable grains, harsh highs, and narrower than expected soundstage.

Fortunately, it has average separation, can go pretty loud and good for vocal tracks. This phone can also play some 16 bit lossless tracks, but don't expect the best out of it.

Note: This phone isn't CTIA ready so it's not compatible with iOS ready headphones or earphones.

Moving to the microphone quality, It has a single mic below that nicely performed in calls and some voice recordings. There's some background noise and grains due to its lack of a noise cancelling mic, but it still did a good job overall.

Battery Life

Battery test
For unknown reasons, PC Mark battery test didn't work with this phone

For a phone that only has 2,300 mAh of battery capacity, I was a little disappointed at first as that's not the standard of phones with 5.5 inch screen. I would have like it better if it has at least 2,800 mAh of power just like what we saw with the Excite Prime.

Gladly, things didn't go out the way we predicted. Our Flare XL Plus was able to give us better battery life than expected. I must say average at best. In our battery test, it scored almost 8 hours of usage. Under heavy gaming with data and audio, it lasted a little more than 4 hours.


Then you can also use the default battery saving option, but we won't suggest using it as a bug. When you turn it on, then lock your phone, you won't be able to open it again. You may need to restart your device to be usable again. My case could be an isolated one, but that's one of the bugs I saw here that can be fixed with an OTA update. (If Cherry will provide one)

As a whole, while its battery life is not enough for heavy users, most casual users would find this okay.

Camera

The main camera at the back
The main camera at the back

On paper, the Flare XL is using a 13 MP Omnivision sensor at the back and a 8 MP camera in front. While we don't expect it to be great in terms of performance, but at this price point, we would like to see phones with decent imaging capabilities.

It takes good photos as long as you're in well lit places.
Fortunately, the cameras of this phone did okay in our test. The main camera is capable of delivering acceptable photos especially in daylight, has decent speed in shutter / focus and can go pretty close for macros w/ good background blur.

However, it has some inconsistencies where there are times that your shots goes with too grains and vibrant colors. There are also times that it over-saturates your photos and times where your shots are washed out. We suggest to use the HDR mode even if the shutter is clearly slower as it takes better photos most of the time.

In the dark, as expected it won't perform that nice. It's violet-ish and grainy, so we suggest to use the Flash to give you decent stills under in low-lighting conditions.

In front, we liked its performance for a budget offering. It provides good colors, nice details in most of our shots and wide enough angle to put more people in your selfies. It takes photos pretty fast too, has decent face beauty mode and even has panorama mode.

Under low-light conditions, of course it won't do good and we would have liked it better if it have its own screen flash.
The camera software of Flare XL Plus
The camera software of Flare XL Plus

It's software is easy to use too and has some usable features such as beautify mode, panorama, HDR and change scenes. However, it doesn't have grid that you can use as a guide in your shots.

For videos, the main camera takes up to 1080p videos and only 480p in front. It's usable at best and could be good enough under good lighting, but expect constant shakiness, lack of focus and not that accurate colors.


Rear Camera Samples

Sample daylight shot
Sample daylight shot
Normal vs HDR
Normal vs HDR
Nice macro shot
Nice macro shot
Indoor shot sample
Indoor shot sample
Low light shot
Low light shot
Flash test
Flash test

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie in good light
Selfie in good light
Dim light selfie
Dim light selfie
Low light selfie
Low light selfie

Video Samples


Performance

Antutu and geekbench scores
Antutu and geekbench scores

This phone uses a dated setup that's still very good when placed on extra affordable phones like this. It's MT6592m octa core chip clocked at 1.4 GHz paired with Mali 450 GPU and 2 GB RAM is great enough in running most of the basic, moderate and even some heavy task. It's good enough for basic multitasking, run most modern apps and even play some 3D games.
Heavy game test
Decent enough to make heavy 3D games playable in low settings

However, don't expect it to run most of the modern 3D games such as NBA 2K16 due to compatibility issues. Plus you may need to tone down your game settings to medium or even low to ensure that heavy games are playable.
Clean stock UI of CM
Clean stock UI of CM

UI-wise, you'll be treated with a nice and clean looking near stock Android 5.1 Lollipop OS. Thanks to its use of a light type of skin, its transitions and animations feels smooth in general. There are also some cool features such as HotKnot, double tap to wake and air gestures that you can use as shortcuts.
Even if it has some bloats, most of them are useful and even removable when not needed.
In terms of connectivity, it has good GSM signals, but it doesn't have LTE connectivity, has slow Bluetooth transfers and weak WiFi signals. 

Pros - Good specs for the price, pretty stylish build, nice selfie camera
Cons - Display colors are washed out, slow Bluetooth connection, weak WiFi reception, power saving mode bug

Verdict

Overall, considering the price, the we would like to laud the effort of Cherry Mobile to came up with something this decent in the sub-4K range. While its clear that the Flare XL Plus is far from perfect, given those specs and capabilities, this handset is absolutely one of the contenders for the affordable segment.

GIZ Rating: 4/5 Stars
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