We’ve seen plenty of Flare variants lately ever since the latest Flare came out. The plethora of new Flares is annoying. The others see it as an opportunity to select the most suitable device for their lifestyle.
The grand daddy of the new Flares, the Cherry Mobile Flare S4 Plus, promises great results. We got ourselves a unit, tried it for a month and now we’re ready to give you our full report.
Build and Construction
The Cherry Mobile Flare S4 Plus’ build and construction is outstanding. In fact, in my opinion, it is the most beautiful Cherry Mobile phone you could get at an affordable price point. It is part aluminium, and part plastic. It is heavier than most smartphones released by Cherry Mobile.
Its chamfered edges look sleek, and match the phone’s integral design. The embossed Flare and Cherry Mobile branding looks cheap though. It could’ve looked better had they laser-etched it on the back frame.
Its buttons are all positioned on its right side. Its ports are at its top (3.5mm headphone jack) and bottom areas (microUSB port). The phone can accept 1 micro SIM and 1 microSD card.
I like the fact that they placed the speakers at the bottom of the phone. This make the sound blast without any obstruction whether the phone is facing up or down.
Hardware and Software
The Cherry Mobile Flare S4 Plus isn’t Cherry’s fastest smartphone. Its octa core processor is running at 1.3Ghz, a tad slower than Cherry Mobile Flare X. It has 3GB RAM, with available 2.1GB memory at boot. In fact, I’ve been running into several issues even after the December 12 update patch.
Here is the the list of issues I encountered before and after the December 12 update:
- Slow UI. Changing the launcher from Launch 3 to Google Launcher didn’t fix the issue. I also tried turning down some effects via Developer tab on settings.
- Irresponsive screen
- The following games struggled to run smoothly on Flare S4 Plus.
- NOVA 3 (frame rate issues)
- NBA 2K16 – the game is downloadable via Play Store; the game starts too slow. Graphics look great, but I’ve been getting frame rate issues. I observed some sound issues as well while playing the game.
It runs on Android Lollipop 5.1 out of the box. The Flare S4 Plus is pre-installed with third party applications. Unfortunately, these applications aren’t uninstallable unless you root the smartphone.
Out of the 16gb internal storage, around 12gb is available for apps and other contents. The provision for MicroSD card (up to 64gb) is helpful, but the lack of move to SD is quite unfortunate.
It carries with it a slew of software Mediatek-goodies like HotKnot and Miravision. These aren’t exactly the features that we all wish to have, but it’s a welcome inclusion to its software mix.
The device’s OGS 5.5-inch IPS screen looks gorgeous. It projects clear and perfectly saturated images, and shows clear texts. Its glaring irresponsiveness issue may still addressed via software patch though. I’ve mentioned this before to Cherry Mobile’s R&D team, and I hope that they’ll fixed this issue soon.
Among the connectivity features available on the S4 Plus, 2 definitely stand out in our books. First, it can connect to 4G LTE, and has HotKnot preinstalled. The former is compatible to Smart and Globe. The former allows users with the same feature to transfer contents without using Bluetooth.
GPS, on other hand, works well on the smartphone. I didn’t run into some problems while running Waze or even Google maps on the phone. GPS-lock is stable, and reconnecting to GPS is fast and easy.
The smartphone has 16mp main camera and 8mp front camera. These 2 cameras work excellently; in fact, this is where the device excels greatly. The recently announced Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie can win over the Flare S4 Plus though
The rear camera’s sensor is powerful enough to keep the blackness of black and whiteness of white. The sensor can render the wide spectrum of colors really well, and can sharply focus on subjects. Noise starts to appear when there is lack of available light. Blooming start to manifest due to sensor limitations. Even so, the quality of our output using the phone’s rear camera is acceptable.
Its front camera perform outstandingly well if there is enough light that its sensor can suck in. There is a “beautifier” included in the camera app, but it may distort reality. I’m not being mean here.
I don’t want to beat around the bush here. The smartphone’s battery life is poor. Contributory to the latter are processor and RAM usage, software optimization and heat. Uninstallable pre-installed applications use RAM and processor in one way or another. There is a lot of overhauling that Cherry Mobile must do on the Flare S4 Plus’ software. Heat generated by its hardware, plus the aluminium case enveloped can drain its battery.
Charging the device is problematic as well. It is either a hardware, charging cable, charger or a software issue that Cherry needs to check.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S4 Plus is not a perfect smartphone. It excels in many aspects, but fails in some parts too. It is certainly not for Cherry Mobile’s market who plays plenty of games. It is made for people who are after good looking phones, and for mobile photographers.
This, in my opinion, Cherry Mobile’s great attempt to make their products aspirational. The Cherry Mobile Flare S4 Plus is desirable in a lot of respects, but it (kind of) fails to deliver the expectation of some consumers. It is pre-installed with the Flare-X-much-coveted Android Lollipop 5.1 albeit buggy and unoptimized.
Should you buy this one? Yes, if you’re in the market of looking for smartphones that look good and take good photos. If you’re out of the prescribed market, ditch your intentions of buying the Flare S4 Plus. Move on, and wait for the Cherry Mobile Flare Selfie this January 2016.