Cherry Mobile’s Flare series is typically known for its accessibility to the masses. However, at Php7,999, the Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie pushes the upper limits of what we expect a Flare to go for. That’s Php1k more than the Flare X and as expensive as the Flare S4 Plus.
Of course, the Flare Selfie has a few things going for it that you won’t find on other Flare variants. First, it sports a 16mp autofocus camera with LED flash on the front (aside from the one on the back), which is basically how it earned its namesake. Second, it comes equipped with a fingerprint scanner on the back, which adds an extra layer of security that you wouldn’t normally find on an entry-midrange smartphone. Is that good enough though to justify the price? Keep reading to find out!
What’s in the Box?
The Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie comes in a box design similar to what we’ve already seen from the Cosmos One Plus and Flare X with a slide out sleeve protecting the box itself. Inside the box, you’ll find the standard set of smartphone accessories:
- Headset with in-line mic
- Wall charger (1.5A output)
- Micro USB to USB cable
- SIM ejector tool
- User manual
Build Quality and Design
The most recent generation of Flare devices is bringing with them a noticeable improvement in design, and the Flare Selfie is no different. It has a unibody design and iPhone-esque aesthetics, and could be mistaken for one if viewed from any of the edges.
The front of the device is dominated by edge-to-edge glass with the front camera, LED flash, sensors and earpiece above it. There aren’t any physical or capacitive navigation buttons since their onscreen on the Flare Selfie. However, the display itself doesn’t quite extend as far as the glass on top of it so there’s a bit of stealth bezel.
On the left, there’s the SIM tray that needs a SIM ejector tool to pop it out. The phone itself supports dual SIMs, although the second slot doubles as a microSD card holder.
To the right are the volume rocker and power/lock buttons.
On top is the 3.5mm headset jack and a secondary mic pinhole for cancelling ambient noise during calls.
At the bottom is where you’ll find the micro USB port, mic pinhole, and an iPhone-esque loudspeaker.
Flipping the device over on its back, there’s the primary camera and its dual LED flash, the fingerprint scanner, and Flare and Cherry Mobile branding.
Aesthetically, the Flare Selfie looks more premium than its price would indicate. However, the unibody design means it suffers from the usual complaint of a non user-replaceable battery. Also, the SIM tray is designed in such a way that if you decide to use a microSD card with it, you give up functionality of being able to use a second SIM.
The Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie is equipped with a 5 inch HD IPS display, giving it a pixel density of 294ppi. Again, it’s actually physically smaller than the glass on top of it, and while this might turn off a few people, it does help images and video to stand out from the screen thanks to the resulting black border on the Flare Selfie’s white frame.
The screen in itself isn’t bad, but at a lower price point, the Flare X gives you a 5.5 inch Full HD screen, which is both larger and sharper. It’s understandable, since the Flare Selfie cuts corners here in order to deliver other premium features that you would otherwise only see in more expensive phones, so you’ll just have to decide if those are worth it.
Software and UI
One thing I like about the current generation of Flare smartphones is they run Android 5.1 out of the box and the Flare Selfie is no different. However while it does give you the option of using the stock Lollipop launcher, it also uses its own custom launcher with a one-touch theme change function that some might like.
It forgoes the app drawer for a simplified homescreen, although it doesn’t have a sorting feature, which may tend to annoy once you start installing more apps. Thankfully, you can always just switch back to stock.
Benchmarks and Performance
Driving the Flare Selfie’s performance is a 64-bit 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor, Mali 720 MP3 GPU, and 3GB of RAM. Although targeted at mostly entry- to midrange smartphones, the MT6753 chipset is still capable of handling almost any app or game the Play Store can throw at it, and it certainly showed it throughout my daily usage. Here are some scores from the benchmarks I ran it through.
To see a locally-branded smartphone like the Flare Selfie score 37k+ in Antutu is nice, but with all of the new flagship phones hitting 80k+ or more, it just puts into perspective how powerful today’s phones are becoming. With Vellamo’s Metal (single core) and Multicore benchmarks, we can see the kind of phones the Flare Selfie compares well to, such as the Nexus 5 and 6 and the Lenovo A7000.
The highlight of the Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie is that it’s equipped with a pair of 16mp autofocus cameras, one each for the front and back. The rear camera comes with a dual tone LED flash while the front shooter comes with its own single LED flash. On paper, it seems like an awesome setup, especially for people who like to take selfies. Here are some sample shots for you to judge.
HDR and Auto Mode Comparison
Here is an outdoor shot that would typically result in either one area of the photo being over- or under-exposed. HDR takes two images, one over-exposed and one under-exposed, and combines them to preserve luminosity and resolve more detail. The first shot above is an HDR shot, which is obvious see you can see a lot of detail across both the light and dark parts of the shot. What’s surprising though is that even when switching to Auto mode, which only takes one exposure to produce a shot, there’s still a lot of detail in the under-exposed area of the shot.
These samples were taken indoors in Auto mode with only ambient lighting coming in from a bright afternoon sun. The lighting here isn’t optimal and it shows, with the colors appearing a bit washed out. In these instances, it would be best to tinker with the white balance settings to get a warmer tone.
In comparison, this is a better foodie shot resulting from ample lighting.
If there’s a reason to get the Flare Selfie, it’s to take better selfies, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The first shot was taken while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Lighting wasn’t very good so the details tend to be blurred, but I turned on a beautification that helped erase any blemishes. The second shot was taken using a different camera app on the Flare Selfie called the UCamera. Using its makeup feature, I was able to get a shot that looked like I had makeup on. This was particularly awesome because for the most part, it doesn’t look digitally painted at all, at least to my eyes.
In poorly-lit environments, you’ll want to use the flash a lot since the Flare Selfie already doesn’t do that well without good lighting.
And here’s a puppy that wasn’t feeling too well and had to be wrapped up in one of my old T-shirts. He’s feeling better now ^_^
Entertainment and Gaming
The Flare Selfie has a decent HD screen and moderately powerful MT6753 SoC, which combine to make it a respectable entertainment device. These days, 5.5 inch screens are becoming more preferable, but a 5 inch HD screen can still provide an enjoyable experience whether you’re reading eBooks, browsing the web, or watching movies.
Thanks to a Mali 720 MP3 GPU, the Flare Selfie isn’t a bad gaming device either. I played a number of my favorite games on it, namely Unkilled (high graphics), Need for Speed: No Limits, and Implosion. There were a few frame drops in Unkilled where I had cranked up the graphics, but it wasn’t so bad that it affected the entire gameplay.
One small issue I had was the weak loudspeakers. Even at just half volume, they start sounding like they were coming from a tin can. So if you’re the type that likes to use the loudspeakers a lot, the Flare Selfie will likely disappoint.
One thing that surprised me about the Flare Selfie is its awesome battery life. On my first day of using this handset as my main phone, I had 4G constantly on and had played some games for about an hour so. Mobile data was only switched on for a few hours when I went out on errands and it managed to last roughly 12 hours. Dialing the usage back to normal meant switching back to 2G most of the time with WiFi mostly on instead of mobile data. This allowed the phone to last about 22 to 24 hours on average.
So Should You Buy the Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie?
The Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie comes in at the high end of what a typical Flare smartphone sells for, but it’s also one of the more affordable selfie-centric handsets available in the local market. For the most part, both the front and back 16mp cameras perform well in good natural lighting. However you’ll need to start tweaking the white balance and other settings to get the best shot indoors and other situations where the light may not be quite as good.
While more camera-centric smartphones are beginning to flood the market, there aren’t nearly as many selfie-centric models for Pinoys to choose from. What options are there tend to be a little pricier. The Flare Selfie is a sweet alternative that retails for much less while still managing to add some premium features you don’t usually see on many budget smartphones.
Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie Specs
- 5″ HD IPS display (720 x 1280 resolution, 294ppi)
- 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor
- Mali 720 MP3 GPU
- Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 3GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- 4G/LTE, dual SIM (2x micro)
- GPS with A-GPS
- 3,000mAh battery
- Price: Php7,999