Greetings to all my readers and Flarenatics. If you're reading this you're either a new Flare owner verifying your personal experiences with the units and rationalizing your purchase, or you're one of those who wasn't able to make it to the Flare Day earlier this month and you're waiting for the next batch, perhaps reading up on user reviews to help you decide if you will actually go for the Flare.
For new readers who happen to be here, here are the CM Flare's specs at a glance:
1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon S4 processor
4.0" WVGA (800x480) IPS capacitive display
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Adreno 203 GPU
512MB of RAM
4GB of internal storage (with roughly 3GB user usable: 2.57GB as Internal Storage and and 581MB System Space)
microSD up to 32GB
5MP autofocus camera with LED flash
VGA front-facing camera
GSM/GPRS/EDGE 900/1800/1900MHz WCDMA 900/2100Mhz
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
GPS with aGPS support
Li-lon 1500 mAh battery
I was one of those fortunate enough to be able to purchase a unit, the second to the last one in fact, last November 17 at SM North Annex. When I got to the store, they had officially sold out all of their supplied units (all 1000 of them) but just as I was about to leave, the lady at the counter who was in line for a Flare announced that she was actually buying something else. Lucky me! But enough about me, on to the "review"!
After having been able to experience the Flare for the past 9 days, I can tell you that it's quite a solid piece of hardware. It doesn't feel plasticky at all, like the W100 did. The display is crisp and bright and the 4.0 inch size is just right (and I'm a big guy). The response time is stellar (having come from a Samsung Galaxy 5 with Android 2.1, I probably would've been wowed with less) and the stock Android 4.0 ICS interface was great. However I've installed GO Launcher Ex There are some Cherry added apps in there, classified as bloatware by some, but size-wise they're negligible.
Appearance-wise, the Flare is basically a black touch-screen phone. Not special by any means. Cherry Mobile is selling colored back covers however, for Php 290 a pop. I do not feel the need to buy one at the moment as my back cover is still ok.
The charger works well and there are no touch screen bugs when charging with the provided charger. However if you use something with a higher power output, you encounter a glitch with the touch screen.
Speaking of the touch screen, it's sensitive and works well. It only has 2 points of touch contact, which may prevent you from using some HD games and multi-touch apps that you may want to download.
The 1500 mAh batt is does pretty well when using just 1 sim in the phone, with wifi access and some music. On a single charge, I was able to get the phone to last more than 24 hours. Using two sims, specially ones that may need to hunt for signal more often than not, drains the battery significantly. However if you bring a charger to work, or have a charger in your car, this isn't much of an issue. I haven't gotten to the point where the phone itself tells me that it needs to charge however. I'm just charging / erring on the side of safety.
The provided headset does what it should do, but it isn't the most comfortable thing to wear, specially while jogging. The phone, however, won't work with my third party headset, an Urban Ears Tanto, that I used with my previous phones without issues. My Bluetooth headset works well enough with the Flare, though the Mic seems to be getting dodgy.
The onboard messaging app allows you to choose between sims when sending messages, however its current version doesn't let you rotate the phone and type with the landscape keyboard. To remedy this, I installed GO SMS Pro, the messaging app I'd previously used on my older phone. However, GO SMS Pro doesn't let you pick which sim to send with. Even if you receive the message in Sim2, it will automatically use Sim1 to send out your reply. This will be a bit confusing for your recipients if they don't know both your numbers.
This one pet peeve is going to be addressed in a software update that Cherry Mobile will be releasing for the Flare soon. I'd love to be able to use an FM radio on this. No date on that though.
One of the things that confuses me with the unit is that it has two sets of internal memory. The "System Memory" is comprised of 581MB of space, with perhaps half of that as user-usable. Then there's also an "Internal Storage" space with 2.5GB user usable space. I personally wonder if its at all possible to just merge the two into one.
When you insert a microSD card in the slot, the phone selects it as your default storage and deactivates the "Internal Storage" space.
One thing I've observed regarding the external storage microSD card, the Flare that I'm currently using sometimes spontaneously removes said microSD card when I'm accessing Apps or Music that are currently installed there. Rebooting the unit fixes the issue, however it's kind of annoying. This may be a card related issue however, so please wait for an update or ask other users if they're experiencing the same issues. For my part, I've recently purchased a new 16GB microSD (though the phone can support 32GB which there doesn't seem to be stock of in any CDR King branch anywhere) and we'll see if this affects performance positively.
All of that being said, I would still like to reiterate that I'm glad I bought my new phone. It's not 100% perfect, but then what phone is? Specially considering the Php 3,999 price tag. It's value for your money, that much is undeniable. Would I recommend this to anyone? Yes. Would I buy it for anyone as a gift, heck yeah.