Cherry Mobile has been quick to capitalize on the popularity of the Flare series, branding many of their entry level smartphones as one Flare variant or another. The 4th generation Flare series is no different, with the Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus adding itself to the mix. At Php3,999, it’s an attractive mix of performance for the money. Still, the sub-Php5k segment is becoming rather crowded. Is the Flare XL Plus worth a look? Find out in my full review.
Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus Specs
- 5.5″ HD IPS display (720 x 1280 resolution, 267ppi)
- 1.4GHz MediaTek MT6592M octa-core processor
- Mali 450 GPU
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage
- 13mp autofocus rear-facing camera with LED flash
- 8mp front camera
- WiFi b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS with A-GPS
- Micro USB 2.0
- FM radio
- Price: Php3,999
Build Quality and Design
While the Flare XL Plus shares a few design cues as its siblings, the Flare 4 and S4, the overall design is quite different. It’s larger, owing to the 5.5 inch screen, but it also skips the iPhone-esque edges that gave the Flare 4 and S4 their premium look.
The design is nowhere near as premium as the main Flare 4 and S4 models, but it certainly doesn’t come off as cheap.
If there’s one thing the Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus owes its name to, it’s its large 5.5 inch HD screen. The resolution may not be the sharpest, but its 267ppi pixel density is still good enough for most visual content. The pre-installed screen protector helps guard against drops and scratches, but it does seem to reduce the screen’s sensitivity as well. Of course, you can peel it off, but keep in mind the risks of doing so.
Software and UI
Another thing going for the Flare XL is that it runs Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box. It’s also pretty close to stock aside from the pre-installed bloatware. There’s also the branded wallpapers to remind you it’s a Cherry Mobile smartphone, but that’s pretty much it.
Benchmarks and Performance
Under the hood runs a 1.4GHz MT6592M octa-core processor. This particular MediaTek SoC is getting a little long in the tooth, as the benchmarks would indicate. However, it still provides plenty of performance to drive any app or game you can throw at it.
Telephony and Wireless Connectivity
The Flare XL Plus fares well enough as a communications device. Texting is easier thanks to the large onscreen keyboard and calls are clear enough even without using a headset.
If there’s one thing though that’s keeping the Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus from being a complete do-it-all smartphone, it’s the absence of 4G. Sure, HSPA+ is fast in itself on a stable connection, but the speed is still incomparable, especially if you like to stream a lot of content.
For its price, it’s surprising that the Flare XL Plus is equipped with a 13mp autofocus rear camera, not to mention an 8mp selfie camera in front. Of course, the shots can’t hold a candle against true international flagships, but they’re good enough to replace the average point-and-shoot.
Entertainment and Gaming
Whether you’re browsing your gallery, reading web articles, or watching movies, media consumption should be enjoyable on the 5.5 inch HD screen. The Flare XL Plus won’t disappoint as a gaming device either. Sure, it can’t render them as sharp or as quickly as the heavier games might have intended them to be experienced,
Audio quality is a bit of a mixed bag though. I don’t mind the loudspeakers being weak or tinny since I rely on them more for hearing notifications rather than listening to media, but the output is a bit weak using a headset as well.
Measuring battery life can be very subjective as different usage scenarios will result in varying results. One thing that I did notice is that the Flare XL Plus has exceptional battery life on standby. When I first opened up the box and took the Flare XL Plus out for a spin, the battery was just at about the 30% mark. After letting it re-install all the apps from my previously reviewed phone, I set it aside and basically ignored it for 3 days until picking it up again. Imagine my surprise when I found that it still had about 20% left! Sure, it was just on WiFi and no SIM had been inserted, but that’s still pretty impressive.
Of course, when you’re actually using it is a different scenario. To get a more standardized result, I used PC Mark’s battery test, which simulates 4 different scenarios: Web Browsing, Video Playback, Writing, and Photo Editing.
So Should You Buy the Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus?
For its price point, the Cherry Mobile Flare XL Plus doesn’t have many shortcomings. Sure, it has an older SoC and doesn’t have 4G connectivity, but both are things the average Juan can live with. Admittedly, you can get both those things by spending an extra Php1k, but if you don’t really need them, the Flare XL Plus can handle any app you throw at it, even some of the heavier games that can be found on the Play Store.