If you read the spec sheet for the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power, it’s easy to get excited, especially with its Php4,999 price tag. You’re getting an octa-core SoC to drive your apps and a monster 4,000mAh battery to keep things going for several days. Of course, specs on paper and the actual user experience are different things altogether. Is the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power really all it’s cracked up to be? Find out in my full review.
What’s in the Box?
The Flare S3 Power comes with all the standard accessories, plus a little extra.
- Headset with in-line mic
- Wall charger with 2A output
- USB transfer cable
- 4,000mAh battery
- User manual
- Introductory card to Cherry Mobile services
- Screen Protector
With as big a battery as the Flare S3 Power comes with, it’s a good thing it comes with a wall charger that can charge twice as fast. It’s also nice to see Cherry Mobile include a screen protector since accessories for local phones can be a little hard to come by.
Build Quality and Design
As great as the Flare S3 Power looks on paper, it’s not exactly the prettiest looking smartphone you can come by. Much of it has to do with the thickness and weight. This is likely because the body has to accommodate a battery that’s twice as large as anything you’ll typically find inside a phone. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t look that thick thanks to the gold accent strip that runs along the edges of the otherwise all-white body. That doesn’t keep it from feeling chunky though.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power features a 5 inch HD IPS On Cell Display. Many of you should already be familiar with IPS display technology, which is known for its accurate color reproduction and wider viewing angles. Well, in addition to that, the Flare S3 Power’s display also utilizes an On Cell touchscreen panel, which slims down the touchscreen assembly and reduces power consumption since it requires less back-lighting to achieve acceptable brightness levels.
That all sounds good on paper, but thankfully it translates well into the overall user experience. The screen is bright and responsive, and while the HD resolution isn’t the sharpest you can get on a screen this size these days, it’s still sharp enough to preserve a lot of detail.
Software and UI
The Flare S3 Power runs on Android 4.4 KitKat with a few customizations that give it a slightly different look from stock. It comes with its own square stock icons and Cherry Mobile-branded wallpapers. In addition, there are a few pre-installed partner apps that you’ll either love or hate: KakaoTalk, Dr. Booster, and Start. KakaoTalk is a popular chat application that Cherry Mobile has partnered with to pre-install on their phones now. Dr. Booster is developed by Trend Micro and is supposed speed up game performance by freeing up RAM and deleting viruses and junk cache. Start is probably my favorite since it’s actually quite useful as a lockscreen replacement.
Other modifications to the UI can be found in the App Drawer and Notification Shade. The App Drawer has been tweaked so that Google services appear first while the rest of the apps are alphabetized. It’s a little off-putting at first, especially when you’re used to finding apps that start with “A”, “B” or “C” on the first page. The Notification Shade has also been modified so you don’t have to reach up all the way to the upper right corner to switch between notifications and toggles. The modifications don’t appear to have slowed down navigation although some of it does take some getting used to.
Under the hood of the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power beats the heart of a MediaTek MT6592M SoC with the CPU clocked at 1.4GHz. It’s slightly underclocked versus the 1.7GHz MT6592, but is still capable of delivering great all around performance. In addition, you also get a Mali 450 GPU to drive your games, to go along with 1GB RAM for basic multitasking needs. So how does the Flare S3 Power compare with the competition? Let’s take a look at the benchmark results from Antutu, Vellamo, and 3DMark.
For the price of an entry level phone, you’re getting a smartphone that performs along the lines of a Xiaomi Redmi Note or a Nexus 4. And considering its battery life, it might even be better. Of course, synthetic benchmarks aren’t the definitive test for performance, but they’re a great place to start. And the Flare S3 Power compares quite well with some popular phones.
The rear camera of the Flare S3 Power is equipped with a Sony IMX219 sensor and an LED flash. The camera on the Flare S3 Power is advertized as a 13mp snapper, however, from what I’ve read about the IMX219 sensor, it’s effective resolution is only 8mp, meaning if you shoot a 13mp image, you’re ending up with an 8mp shot that’s been interpolated up. Anyway, the image quality initially wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but an OTA update quickly fixed the bugs and now I’m reasonably satisfied. Feel free to check out the camera samples.
Entertainment and Gaming
Thanks to a reasonably good screen and a capable SoC, the Flare S3 Power functions well as a multimedia player and gaming machine. The phone is certainly capable of playing Full HD videos without a hitch and can play some 2K formats as well.
As for gaming, it’s certainly capable of running the most demanding titles that can be found in the Play Store. Just don’t expect the best frame rates or graphics on games that really push the SoC. I played a couple games on the Flare S3 Power, namely Relic Run and Dead Trigger 2. The Flare S3 Power can run Dead Trigger 2 on medium graphics with a reasonable amount of responsiveness while there’s a small noticeable delay between swipes in Relic Run.
With its 4,000mAh battery, the Flare S3 Power can run for days. On my first day of using it as my primary phone, I played around with it a lot, but settled back to my normal usage habits afterwards. After a couple of full charges, the phone has so far managed to last more than 3 days before needing to be plugged in again! Of course, I don’t use mobile data a lot, just WiFi for reading news and playing an occasional game.
Unfortunately though, the Flare S3 Power’s battery appears to be non-removable. Actually, the battery is really just covered up by a soft protective sheet and anyone could probably just peel it off. However, if you’re concerned about the warranty, you might not want to try it. That you can’t swap batteries is a bit of a downer, but it’s not like Cherry Mobile makes replacement batteries that accessible anyway.
So Should You Buy the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power?
With a price tag of just Php4,999, the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power offers ridiculously good value. You’re getting a reasonably good display, a capable octa-core processor, and battery life for days! The only thing I don’t like about it is it’s a bit chunky, but it’s easy to overlook considering the size of the battery being crammed into the body. If you want to forget the life of a wall-hugger, the Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power is an awesome phone for the money.
Cherry Mobile Flare S3 Power Specs
- 5″ HD IPS On-cell display (720 x 1280 resolution, 294ppi)
- 1.4GHz MediaTek MT6592M octa-core processor
- Mali 450 GPU
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 13mp autofocus rear-facing camera with LED flash and Sony IMX219 sensor
- 5mp front camera
- 4,000mAh battery
- Price: Php4,999