Cherry Mobile Flare S6 Review: Budget Smartphone Done Right

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The budget smartphone segment is a challenging one: In efforts to keep prices as low as possible, there are compromises needed to be made: It may be the camera, it may be the internals, it may be the screen, or it may be some features.

Among the top contenders in the budget segment is Cherry Mobile, and the Flare S6 is their latest offering. This time around, they made a few tweaks to their latest budget smartphone offering: Aside from CherryOS, they added some features not normally found in budget phones like USB-C, fingerprint scanner, and Sony-branded rear camera. With a price of Php 3995, we ask ourselves: Is the Flare S6 a definite buy with its added features? To start things off, let’s take a quick look at the spec sheet:

Cherry Mobile Flare S6 specs
  • MediaTek MT6737 quad-core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 5.2-inch HD IPS display
  • 16GB Internal Storage, expandable via MicroSD
  • 13-megapixel f/2.8 Sony IMX135 rear camera with BSI and LED flash
  • 13-megapixel f/2.2 OmniVision front camera with BSI and LED flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFI, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
  • Removable 2600mAh battery
  • Android Nougat 7.0, Cherry OS

Typical budget phone looks with a dash of sophistication

Upon first impression, the Flare S6 looks like your typical budget smartphone. For the front, you have a 5.2-inch HD display, along with a 13-megapixel OmniVision camera and a LED flash on top. At the bottom, you have your usual capacitive buttons.

The rear is made of polycarbonate plastic and has faux antenna lines both on top and bottom. We got the recently-launched red version and if you ask us, it is the best color for the Flare S6. At the back, you have your Cherry Mobile branding, along with a 13-megapixel Sony camera with an LED flash below it.

You’ll also find the fingerprint scanner here as well. Both the camera unit and the fingerprint scanner have a chrome trim, making the Flare S6 look better than most budget smartphones out there. Underneath the back case, you have slots for two MicroSIMs and a MicroSD slot, along with a removable 2600mAh battery.

Button and port placement is typical: At the bottom, you have your microphone, USB-C port, and loudspeaker:

On the right side, you have your power and volume buttons:

On the top, you have a headphone jack.

Decent display

The Flare S6’s HD IPS display has a decent brightness level. As for the colors, the Flare S6’s display is less saturated than usual. This is not a big deal for us, even when we preview photos we took using its cameras, when we watch videos, or when we play games with it.

In terms of reading text with the Flare S6, letters come in crisp, but the screen’s brightness can cause eye fatigue during long sessions. We do think that Cherry Mobile can address this by adding a reading mode function to the Flare S6, where the screen is optimized for reading. 

Impressive internals for its price

Being a budget phone, one can only ask much with the Flare S6. Equipped with a quad-core MediaTek MT6737 processor, along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, the Flare S6 fared on the average side compared to other budget smartphones. We got a score 29188 with AnTuTu, which brings the Flare S6 roughly on par with most budget smartphones.

However, when it comes to real life use, the Flare S6’s performance is noticeably different compared to its budget smartphone rivals: Multitasking is better than the competition even with slight lags at times, and we did not encounter any sudden freezing problems with the Flare S6: A proof that its internals can keep up with daily use from a typical Pinoy smartphone user. Its fingerprint scanner is accurate and does not lag up in unlocking the phone, which is also a plus side with the Flare S6.

While you can play games with the Flare S6, it has limitations especially since it uses a quad-core processor. Measuring benchmarks using GameBench, the Flare S6 can go through some games, though you have to be aware that the phone does heat up after a few minutes of gameplay.

With Marvel Future Fight on High settings, the Flare S6 did struggle to keep the gameplay smooth with a median FPS of 16, along with an FPS stability of 33%.

With Asphalt 8 on High Setting, the Flare S6 managed to coast through, with a median FPS of 14 and a respectable FPS Stability of 93%.

A number of people have been asking if the Flare S6 can play NBA 2K17, and while you can install the game into the phone, it is not really advisable to play graphics-intensive games like it unless you are satisfied with using the lowest graphics settings. As evident with the results we got from GameBench, users would need to tone down the graphics settings should they plan to use the Flare S6 for games. 

CherryOS has been streamlined further

Since Cherry Mobile has introduced CherryOS back in September, a number of improvements have been made since. Among these include a cleaner icon set, a streamlined camera app, and a cleaner notification panel. In addition, glitches found during our first test of CherryOS with the Flare S6 Selfie have been addressed as well.

With the improvements made, CherryOS definitely has a big potential as an Android overlay from a Pinoy brand like Cherry Mobile. A few improvements can be made though, and that includes streamlining its messages app (we noticed that there are two messaging apps on CherryOS, and Cherry Mobile probably missed out on this) and implementing Over-The-Air updates since updates have to be done by visiting your nearest Cherry Mobile store.

As for updates, Cherry Mobile confirmed to us that the Flare S6, along with the Flare S6 Selfie and Flare S6 Plus, will be receiving Android Oreo in the future. We are definitely looking forward to that.

Decent cameras, in spite of limitations

For the Flare S6 line, Cherry Mobile placed its focus not just on CherryOS, but also in adding quality cameras. While the Flare S6 does not have the Samsung ISOCELL cameras found in the Flare S6 Selfie and Flare S6 Plus, it comes with a fairly decent Sony rear camera and OmniVision front camera.

For a budget smartphone, the Flare S6 is equipped with great cameras, and we got decent shots with it, from daylight to low light. As for low light, photos appear to be soft but still highly usable. Focusing on low light situations can be a challenge at times, and the shutter button has a significant delay when taking photos during low light as well. That being said, you will be needing a really steady pair of hands should you choose to use the Flare S6 for taking photos in low light without using the LED flash.

The revamped CherryOS camera app comes with a variety of settings like Bokeh, Timelapse, and Pro mode. For the latter, it is not the Pro mode people would normally expect: Instead, this mode is essentially made for further tweaking the way the Flare S6 processes photos, though you get a manual adjustment for ISO, which is a good bonus. Bokeh mode, on the other hand, has improved significantly as shots taken using this mode have a cleaner bokeh effect compared to the pre-production software we tried with the Flare S6 Selfie a few months back.

As for the front camera, we got decent selfies with it, and CherryOS’ gender-based beauty algorithm does a fantastic job of making us look as flattering as possible.

Check out our gallery of photos taken using the Flare S6:

Daylight

Closeup

Mixed lighting

Beauty mode on

Low light

Selfie with flash

Regular selfie, no flash

Bokeh mode

Best battery performance from Cherry Mobile to date

Cherry Mobile had a bad reputation with its budget smartphones for using undersized batteries, leading to short battery life. However, this has been a different story with the Flare S6. In spite of having a small 2600mAh battery, Cherry Mobile has figured out how to optimize the battery for the best battery life possible.

This has been proven with our battery benchmark test using PCMark. With the Flare S6, we got a score of 9 hours and 1 minute—which is arguably Cherry Mobile’s most battery-efficient smartphone to date. For reference, our battery tests with previous Cherry Mobile smartphones only got us around 4 to 6 hours of battery life.

The benchmark tests also apply in real life, as one can manage to last a day without heading to the nearest power outlet with typical Internet browsing, social media, gaming, and a few photography sessions. Being equipped with a USB-C port, charging time with the Flare S6 is slightly faster than usual, and you can fully juice it up in around one and a half hours. 

Verdict: A killer budget phone offering from Cherry Mobile

With the Flare S6, Cherry Mobile got it right in crafting a budget smartphone with as little compromise as possible. That being said, the Flare S6 is definitely a recommended buy for those who are on a tight budget and want to have the best possible features on a smartphone in time for Christmas.

(unbox.ph, https://goo.gl/Af8Aof)

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