Saturday, April 21, 2018
MobileTechPinoy

Cherry Mobile Flare S6 Premium Limited Edition Review: The Best Smartphone They Might Never Release

It’s not every day I get a smartphone with my name on it and seeing the Cherry Mobile Flare S6 Premium Limited Edition delivered to my doorstep was more than just a pleasant surprise. See, while most phones I’ve reviewed can usually be found on retailer shelves, this particular phone is the local brand’s way of showing love to their partner dealers and members of the press. Only 500 of these babies have been made and boy am I happy I got one.

There’s lots to love about the Flare S6 Premium Limited Edition, not least of which is its crimson red aluminum unibody. And while you won’t be able to buy this phone anywhere, there might still be a chance if enough people become interested in this seriously specced device.

What’s in the Box?

The Limited Edition Flare S6 Premium comes in a relatively classy-looking retail box. Inside you’ll find the following:

  • Handset
  • In-ear Headset with in-line mic
  • USB Type-C cable, red
  • Wall charger, 2A output
  • Case
  • Micro USB 2.0 (F) to USB Type-C (M) adapter
  • Screen protector
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Quick user guide

Cherry Mobile Flare S6 Premium Limited Edition Specs

  • 5.5″ Full HD IPS display (1080 x 1920 resolution, 401ppi), protected by 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3
  • MediaTek Helio X27 MT6797X SoC
    • deca-core CPU (2×2.6GHz Cortex-A72, 4x2GHz Cortex-A53, and 4×1.6GHz Cortex A-53)
    • Mali 880 GPU
  • Nougat 7.0
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage
    • expandable via microSD (up to 256GB)
  • Dual 13mp autofocus rear-facing camera
    • color + monochrome sensors by Sony
  • Up to 4G/LTE, dual SIM
  • WiFi a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • USB Type-C
  • 3,680mAh battery

Build Quality and Design

The Flare S6 Deluxe sports an aluminum unibody with the Limited Edition coming in a gorgeous crimson red. It adopts curved edges and rounded corners as first popularized by the iPhone 6, with the black antenna bands breaking up the solid red body.

While there’s a large fingerprint sensor right below the screen, it doesn’t double as a home button as you would expect from its placement. Instead, it does double duty as a “back” button for navigation.Equally weird is that it doesn’t have accompanying navigation buttons flanking it on the left and right. No, navigation is via onscreen buttons, which can be confusing at times, but at least there’s the option of choosing between two different layouts.

Above the screen are the earpiece, front camera, a front-facing LED flash, and notification light. The notification light glows red during charging and green once full. It also glows blue for app notifications.

On the left, you’ll find the SIM tray slot where you can fit 2 SIMs or 1 SIM + 1 micro SD card.

To the right, there’s the volume rocker and power/lock buttons. Unlike most phones I’ve seen, the volume rocker is separated into individual buttons for volume(+) and volume(-).

On top, there’s the 3.5mm headset jack while at the bottom, you’ll find a pair of iPhone-esque loudspeaker grills and the USB Type-C port for charging and data transfers.

Flip it on its back and you’ll find the protruding dual camera setup with its LED flash, Cherry Mobile branding toward the center, as well as the antenna bands toward the top and bottom. Since this is a Limited Edition unit, it also has the owner’s name and the phone’s number in the series.

Overall, the Flare S6 Premium is a gorgeous looker, especially in Limited Edition red. However, there may be some confusion with the unorthodox combination/placement of the fingerprint sensor against the onscreen navigation buttons.

Display

The Flare S6 Premium is equipped with a large 5.5 inch Full HD IPS display. You get great color reproduction and viewing angles thanks to the reasonably good quality panel, and you can even adjust the saturation, contrast, brightness, and other display settings further with the help of the onboard MiraVision software. It’s also great for onscreen typing thanks to its large size and 5pt touch panel.

Software and UI

Unlike the core Flare S6 variants, the Flare S6 Premium Limited Edition goes back to the local brand’s preference for running a mostly vanilla version of Android. In this case, it’s Nougat 7.0. Personally, CherryOS has too many things it needs to work out, so to me, this is a welcome change.

Of course, you still get some branded and non-branded bloatware, some of which actually drive ads to load in the middle of usage. This can be frustrating, but thankfully you can just disable them and some of the apps can even be uninstalled.

Benchmarks and Performance

Unlike most of Cherry Mobile’s smartphones, the Flare S6 Premium comes with a much more capable Helio X27 SoC. It’s driven by a deca-core processor utilizing a big.LITTLE configuration so it uses high performance core clusters when running intensive tasks and switches to the more power-efficient cores.

  • Antutu: 84,060
  • Geekbench 4
    • Single core: 903
    • Multi-core: 3,973
  • PCMark
    • Work 2.0: 3,882
  • Vellamo
    • Metal (Single core): 1,939
    • Multicore: 3,420
  • AndroBench
    • Sequential Read: 250.23 MB/s
    • Sequential Write: 107.19 MB/s

Based on the benchmark results, single core performance is far from remarkable, only delivering performance roughly equivalent to flagships from 3 years ago. However, the combined performance of the deca-core CPU allows the Flare S6 Premium to compare against phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and OnePlus 3.

Connectivity

Thanks to its Helio X27 SoC, the Flare S6 Premium supports a broad range of wireless connectivity, including Category 6 LTE, the WiFi a/b/g/n/ac standards, and GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo. Not that you’ll ever need all of them at any one time, but it’s nice to still be able to use your phone across different countries that follow different communications or navigation standards. Unfortunately, there’s no NFC, but years after it became a feature on mostly mainstream flagships, it still hasn’t caught on.

Camera

At this point, it’s safe to say that the Flare S6 Premium is a fairly capable smartphone and this extends to its imaging capabilities as well. It sports an impressive dual IMX 258 camera setup from Sony on the back, mimicking  Huawei’s Leica-engineered solution as one is geared toward capturing in monochrome while the other captures RGB. This supposedly results in capturing more accurate colors and improves contrast. Check out these sample images so you can judge for yourselves.

Gaming

While it would probably still be considered a budget phone, the Flare S6 Premium has a capable GPU under its hood. Before playing anything, I ran it against the GFXBench suite of graphics benchmarks and the results were promising.

The Car Chase benchmark is the heaviest of the tests, showcasing a host of different effects in a full HDR environment and the Flare S6 Premium only achieved 6.7fps, which isn’t actually that great. However, this is a benchmark that only flagships tend to perform well in, so I’m not surprised.

The Manhattan 3.1 and Manhattan 3.0 benchmarks are just improvements from each other, although both have typically rendered as near slide shows on entry level octa-core phones. Here, it only achieved 10fps and 13fps respectively, which is slightly watchable.

Finally, the T-Rex test if the most representative of today’s heaviest games. It achieved a decent 24fps.

The first game I tested it against was the graphically intensive Injustice 2 that was virtually unplayable on older octa-core MediaTek SoCs. Thanks to the Mali 880, I was finally able to enjoy the game on a sub Php20k phone although the frame rate wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked.

I’m also a heavy FPS player and one of my favorites on mobile is Modern Combat 5. This one is playable even on less capable phones, but that’s because it has a low graphics setting. On the Flare S6 Premium though, I was actually able to enjoy it on high settings and still benefit from reasonably fluid frame rates.

Finally, I decided to test it on another relatively new game, this time an RPG: Iron Blade. For a mobile game, it has a lot of detail and lighting particle/effects. Frame rates were playable enough that I could enjoy the game, but not as smooth as I would have liked.

Overall, the Flare S6 Premium should be able to run any game from the Play Store and make it an enjoyable experience.

Multimedia

Another area the Flare S6 Premium excels in is as a multimedia player. This is due in part to a large and reasonably color accurate 5.5 inch screen that you can adjust thanks to MediaTek’s Miravision software. Its loudspeakers are also exactly that: loud. It’s even fairly audible at its lowest setting. Oh, and it has 64GB of storage for all your media, which is especially awesome for folks who still have large movie or audio libraries even as streaming content has become popular these days.

Battery Life

As impressive as the Flare S6 Premium is, one area it’s mediocre at is its battery life despite its 3,680mah capacity. MediaTek’s Helio series of SoCs have not been known to be that battery efficient. I use my phone relatively often to check messages, email, browse news feeds.  Keeping mobile data and 4G enabled at all times, it averages roughly 10 to 11 hours before it needs to be charged, which is actually decent if you keep the most power-hungry features on. You’d still have to plug the Flare S6 Premium in sometime before leaving the office to go home though.

I ran it through a couple of synthetic battery benchmarks. GFXBench’s test gives it 3hrs and almost 15 minutes of straight gaming. PC Mark’s Work 1.0 battery benchmark gave it just 5.7hrs of working time.

Thankfully, Pump Express 2.0 Fast Charging technology is legit, allowing me to charge the relatively massive battery in just 1.5 to 2 hours as opposed to 3 to 4 hours.

So Should You Buy the Cherry Mobile Flare S6 Premium Limited Edition?

Okay, so you won’t actually be able to buy the Cherry Mobile Flare S6 Premium. There’s no estimated SRP and after asking my contacts with the local brand, I’ve confirmed that there are currently no plans of releasing the phone as of now. So the limited edition Flare S6 Premium is truly limited, and it’s essentially a show of power in addition to being a significant token of appreciation to Cherry Mobile’s dealers, media partners, and other VIPs.

About The Author

Back when I started MobileTechPinoy in 2012, phablets weren't a thing yet. I enjoyed the stares I got from iPhone owners whenever I whipped out my Samsung Galaxy Note at the time. I'm much more budget-conscious these days though and am perfectly fine with using phones from any of our locally brands.