The smartphone market in the Philippines has been saturated with devices from Chinese brands. Companies like OPPO, Vivo and Huawei have really flourished in the last couple of years due to their commercially successful midrange line-up.
And despite being the undisputed tech brand in the local scene, Cherry Mobile, a household name for really affordable smartphones, is on the verge of being dethroned from the top spot.
In the recent IDC report, it’s been reported that Filipinos are now spending more money when getting a new phone. As a result, the midrange segment got a huge market share in the previous quarter.
To survive this trend, Cherry Mobile needs to step up their game in this price category. We now have the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus, the company’s latest attempt to penetrate the midrange market.
In this review, we’ll see if Cherry Mobile can really compete with international smartphone manufacturers. Let’s start.
Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus Specs
- Android 8.1 Oreo
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby (Hybrid)
- 6.18-inch FHD+ IPS Corning Gorilla Glass 3 Display, 2246 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~403ppi
- 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- Mali-G72 MP3 GPU
- 64GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
- 16-megapixel front camera
- 16-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual rear cameras, BSI, LED flash
- Bokeh Mode, FlareMoji, AI Selfie
- Fingerprint scanner, Infrared Face unlock
- HSPA+, 4G LTE, VoLTE, VoIP
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
- Bluetooth 4.2
- GPS, A-GPS
- USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 155 x 75.5 x 7.85 mm
- Weight: 200 g
- 3,050mAh non-removable battery, wireless charging
Design and Build Quality
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is easily the cleanest and most elegant-looking device that the company has ever come up with. Cherry Mobile even removed their logo at the back of the device to make it look more seamless.
Speaking of which, the back panel has this shiny, almost premium-looking design to it. It does look like made of glass, but it feels more like plastic when touched. Also, I noticed that the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is prone to some random hairline scratches and fingerprint marks, which is common in materials like this. So, you might want to snap on the included clear protective case when using it.
In our initial hands-on, we did easily notice how heavy the Flare S7 Plus is. And we stand on that claim up to this day. Not that it’s super heavy, but at 200g, it’s surely one of the heftiest devices in this category.
But other than its weight and the fragile back panel, everything is pretty decent on the Flare S7 Plus’ build. The curved corners and edges make it really comfortable to hold. Despite the thick notch on top, the tiny bezels on the sides makes it look really sleek.
Speaking of the notch, the Flare S7 Plus has a large 6.18-inch screen on the front. On top of it is the 16-megapixel selfie camera, an IR sensor for the face unlock feature.
The left side houses the hybrid SIM card tray, while on the left we have the volume controls and the lock/power switch. The buttons feel really sturdy and tactile when being pressed.
The top is clean while the bottom has the two speaker grills. The one on the right serves as the actual loudspeaker, while the one on the left houses the built-in microphone.
Right between them is a USB Type-C port. Unfortunately, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus now lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack. This is definitely a big no-no for most people. However, this is also an indication that Cherry Mobile wants to be part of the revolution.
Ironically, the headphones that Cherry Mobile included on the package has a standard 3.5mm size. Although they did include a Type-C to 3.5mm adapter on the box so you can use your existing pair of cans with it.
As stated earlier, the back of the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is free from any branding and whatnot. All it has is the dual camera setup, which is in a vertical orientation that’s identical to the iPhone X. There’s also the fingerprint scanner on the middle, which is easily reachable by your index finger.
I also noticed the antenna bands on all four corners of the device. They look so inconspicuous and subtle, but it does provide an extra character to the Flare S7 Plus’ straightforward look.
Overall, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is definitely the most gorgeous-looking smartphone that the company has ever introduced. Just make sure you put a case on it to save it from ugly scratches and to make sure it’ll last longer.
One of the strongest feats of the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is its display. This handset comes with a huge 6.18-inch IPS screen, with 2245 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~403ppi, and is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus does have a tall aspect ratio of 19:9, but due to the thick screen notch on top, some details on the screen are a little obscured, especially when you’re using it in landscape mode. Thankfully, you can hide the notch through the settings menu.
They are also giving you the option to quickly show or hide the notch by swiping down from the top left corner of the screen. However, since I’m used on using that gesture to reveal the notifications tab, I just left it switched off.
As for the actual display quality, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus can project images with decent colors and contrast. It sure is not the most vibrant and color-rich IPS screen that we have seen, but for what you’re paying, it’s definitely acceptable.
And since it’s an Full HD+ screen, sharpness should really be out of the question. The details in videos and movies are on point. One of the main benefits of having a sharp screen is for reading texts. With this thing, reading web articles, even when zoomed out, is still possible as the quality of each character is well preserved.
For a device this cheap to have a good hardware and performance, some compromises are needed to be done. And one of the easiest ways to cut some corners is by neglecting the audio department.
The bottom-firing loudspeaker outputs audio with disappointing fidelity. The treble/highs are ear-tingling while the bass/lows are almost non-existent. It also gets distorted on maximum volume.
If you want a more decent listening experience, you might want to plug in a pair of headphones. The lack of a dedicated 3.5mm port is really disappointing, but Cherry Mobile did include a Type-C adapter on the packaging to help you get started.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus lacks an audio chip like what some devices have, so the audio quality will really depend on the pair of earphones you plugged in to. I used my KEF M100 HiFi earphones in here and it sounded fine.
Performance and Hardware
One of the main things to like about the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is the hardware under the hood. This handset comes with a 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a Mali-G72 MP3 to handle the graphics.
Since this isn’t the first time we’re testing an Helio P60-equipped device, we weren’t surprised by its performance. As usual, it made the Flare S7 Plus really fast and snappy. Although I noticed some odd stuttering, which may be caused by its unpolished software (more on that later).
But overall, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus provides a really reliable performance. Applications load fast and they operate smoothly. Also, thanks to its 4GB of RAM, you can switch between four to six apps seamlessly.
Its capable processor and graphics chip also makes it a good smartphone for gaming. For a quick preview, PUBG Mobile automatically set the graphics setting to “Medium” upon launch.
Under the pre-determined settings, PUBG Mobile was decently playable. It definitely doesn’t have the smoothest frame rates, although it feels like it’s running at around 25fps-30fps, which is still very enjoyable to play with.
The only main issue I noticed is that the device does heat up a little bit after a few minutes of playing. This is actually not a big deal as most smartphones in this category doesn’t really have a top notch thermal management system.
Cherry Mobile is calling the Flare S7 Plus as a quad-camera equipped smartphone. While it’s technically true, the second front-facing shooter is actually an infrared camera sensor, which is used for its face unlock feature, and not for taking pictures, just like we see on smartphones like the Huawei Nova 3i.
On the upside, the IR camera does work well. Thanks to this sensor, the face unlock can do its job even in a pitch-black environment. Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus can detect your face correctly and unlock the device in just a split second.
However, during my time with it, the scanner only had a success rate of around 80%. So for the other 20%, I had to use the fingerprint scanner on the back, which also worked fast with great reliability. To be honest, I actually prefer to use it than face unlock anyway.
Software and User Interface
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with a custom interface on top. While it does run on a recent version of Android, the interface that Cherry Mobile dressed it with feels really half-baked.
There’s still a lot of optimizations to be done so the UI doesn’t stand in the way of the device to perform well. But other than that, the software provides a slew of features that make the Flare S7 Plus worthwhile to use.
For one, there’s the sliding gestures, which allows you to replace the navigation buttons with the iPhone X-like gestures. The notifications tab is also well-detailed, with the presence of Notification Dots that lets you know if you have an existing notification right on on the app icon.
In addition, Cherry Mobile has finally removed the pop-up ads that their previous devices have. A big plus for the brand’s fans.
The company is also sparing us with bloatware and pre-installed software, so you’ll mostly rely on Google apps and download other things you want from the Play Store.
Lastly, the keyboard on this thing might take a while to get used to. But if you get the hang of it, it’s actually comfortable to type on with its large keys.
To come up with a good midrange device, smartphone brand should at least nail three things: the display, performance, and the camera. So far, we already know that the Flare S7 Plus got the first three right. Now, you’d be glad to know that they also hit the mark on the camera department.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus has a 16-megapixel front camera and a dual 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel rear cameras. It is also worth mentioning that this is the first device from Cherry Mobile to come with AI scene detection. It surely isn’t the best camera phone out there. But for the price, you can comfortably take Instagram-worthy pictures as expected.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus produces images with decent colors, although some might appear a little washed out when compared to some of the competition. The contrast is also slightly lacking and while the dynamic range is just plain disappointing.
But surprisingly, it can take good photos in low-light and indoor scenarios. With the exposure set right, the colors and details are still pleasant, with a little to almost non-visible grains and noise.
The secondary 5-megapixel rear camera also did a good job of analyzing the depth of field, providing a really believable bokeh effect. But on the other hand, the AI scene detection might still take a few software updates before it gets better.
Moreover, the 16-megapixel front-facing camera can take good selfies. The pixel-packed sensors mean it can capture images with sharp details, and it clearly shows.
But unlike most midrange smartphones today, the camera app’s novelty features still needs a lot of polishing. For one, it doesn’t have an AI-assisted face beauty mode which means you’d be manually adjusting your desired face smoothness, whitening, and more.
FlareMoji, Cherry Mobile’s take on the popular animated emoji trend, is a fun novelty to play with. However, just like the one we saw on Nova 3i, the midrange-level camera system can’t track your facial movements with the accuracy of a flagship one.
Overall, as I stated earlier, the camera on the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus feels really comfortable to use. You can surely expect that the images that it can churn out are really worth sharing online. However, there are still some few things that still need ironing out, which can be easily done with a software update.
At this point of this review, you already know that the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is an impressive smartphone. But for this price, you cannot really have it all. While the company went all out on most of its features, the battery department was a bit compromised.
Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus comes with a 3,050mAh battery, which is a decent capacity for a device at this price. However, the performance that it offers is a little disappointing.
Using PCMark’s battery stress test (WiFi off, brightness and volume at 50%), the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus only had a screen-on time of 6h and 53m. For a perspective, the Huawei Nova 2 Lite with its 3,000mAh had a score of 7h and 9m, while the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and its 4,000mAh battery was rated at 13h 16m.
So how does this translate to real-world use? Well, if you play games or watch videos all the time, then you might want to carry a powerbank with you. But if your day mostly consists of sending texts, browsing the web, and scan through social media feeds, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus’ battery might still last you through an entire day.
To compensate for its poor battery performance, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus comes with wireless charging. And if you’re one of those who pre-ordered it, or you’re one of the 100 people who got one, you probably got a free wireless charger from Cherry Mobile.
The free wireless charger worked well. I didn’t experience any overheating issues, and the charging time was pretty normal (around 1h 30m to 1h 45m).
I’ll say it right away, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is the company’s most impressive smartphone to date. This device found the right balance of performance, features, and price. The right formula that makes a really interesting smartphone.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus sports a large, sharp, and colorful screen, which impressively projects everything that its hardware has to offer.
Speaking of which, the MediaTek Helio P60 processor on the Flare S7 Plus is proven to be a reliable workhorse, and we’re really seeing it here. It can handle day-to-day tasks without breaking a sweat, and can also run games at good frame rates.
Of course, let’s not forget about its capable cameras. Both its front and dual rear cameras can take colorful and well-detailed images — one of the main things that people are looking for on a smartphone.
The Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is not a perfect smartphone. Despite its good looks, the device’s build quality feels cheap. It also has a below average battery life. And lastly, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack might be a huge bummer for most people.
But then again, the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus is definitely the best smartphone that the company has released. If you’re an avid fan of the local brand, it sure is something worth checking out.
Pricing and Availability of the Cherry Mobile Flare S7 Plus
The Flare S7 Plus has a retail price of only Php11,999. You can get it at Cherry Mobile stores, kiosks, and authorized dealers nationwide.
- Large, colorful display
- Reliable performance
- Good cameras
- Cheap build
- No headphone jack
- Below average battery life