Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 is a fantastic device. It is one of the best smartphones under RM1,000 that you can buy in Malaysia right now. A deadly combination of a premium metal construction and killer specs makes this a formidable device at its low price point.
Challengers for the Redmi Note 3 were hard to come by because of the sheer value this device offered. However, we were rather impressed when Flash announced their new Flash Plus 2 budget smartphone that seemed to bank on that same formula.
It has finally been officially launched in Malaysia, so the only question left is: Can it stand up to the Redmi Note 3? Well, we had a brief hands-on with the device to try and find out.
One of the Flash Plus 2’s biggest selling point is the fact that it comes with a metal body. On the surface, it looks really good and has a rather premium finish. The back plate is shiny and has a hairline brushed look and feel to it that is very reminiscent to the more expensive honor 5X.
It feels pretty good in the hand as the subtle chamfers and curves at the back allow the phone to sit in your palm effortlessly. However, once you pry open the removable metal back, you will be greeted by more plastic than you would probably like.
In order to make the back removable, Flash had to wrap the edges of their metal back plate in plastic. We suspect that’s because metal isn’t as flexible or snappy as plastic so having a metal frame that pries open wouldn’t be very practical.
Honestly, I think Flash should have just stuck with a metal unibody design as the removable back doesn’t really serve a major purpose aside from letting you swap between the two available covers. You can’t replace the battery and trays can be made for the microSD and dual-SIM cards. Instead, their decision has left nothing but a chink in the armour of their solid build.
But, that’s not all. I have one last issue with the Flash Plus 2’s exterior and that’s with the power button placement. It perplexes me that Flash decided to place their power button near the top of the 5.5-inch smartphone instead of towards the middle of the device. My fingers aren’t particularly long so reaching that button was definitely a stretch.
Let’s talk about performance now. When it comes to specs, the device sports a 5.5-inch full-HD IPS panel on the front with a MediaTek Helio P10 processor mated to 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage running on the inside. The good news is that you can expand that storage with the dedicated microSD card slot.
From what I could tell, performance was smooth, but not particularly snappy. I think that could be down to the Flash Plus 2’s relatively stock Android Marshmallow experience. The lack of bloatware was a welcomed sight and I’ve always been a sucker for vanilla’s clean good looks.
In terms of the camera, the Flash Plus 2 comes with a 13-megapixel f/2.0 rear shooter with Mixed Autofocus and a RealTone LED flash. On the front, it’s got a 5-megapixel selfie with a dedicated front-facing LED flash to help out in low light.
Camera performance in the poorly lit venue was far from impressive as images turned out grainy without much detail even in the well-lit portions of the photo. Not its strongest feature then.
What the Flash Plus 2 does well, though, is its battery. Inside, keeping the lights on is a 3,000 mAh battery with support for fast charging. The best part is that Flash includes a 9V/1.67A fast-charging brick out of the box too, so you won’t have to purchase an additional one from them.
The Flash Plus 2 also features a front-mounted fingerprint sensor that sits beneath its rather stiff home button. This sensor comes with 360-degree fingerprint detection and can supposedly unlock the device in just 0.5 seconds. We were unable to test this feature, however.
Flash has also included an NXP9890 audio amplifier and AKM4375 Decoding chips for clean and loud audio.
For all of that, the Flash Plus 2 will retail at RM599 and can be preordered from Lazada in one of two colours — Luna Silver or Venus Gold. There is also a higher spec version with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage that retails at RM729, but that device will not be available until mid-June.
So, is the Flash Plus 2 a Redmi Note 3 killer?
The short answer? No. Not for me at least. There are certain aspects of the Flash Plus 2 that I really like over the Redmi Note 3, like a proper fast-charger, the lower price tag and most importantly the stock Android Marshmallow experience. But, all things considered, I would rather pony up the extra to get what I think is the better phone overall.
Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 simply has a much snappier smartphone experience thanks to a more powerful Snapdragon 650 processor and although I gave the Redmi Note 3 a lot of flak for their mediocre camera performance, it’s noticeably better than the Flash Plus 2’s.
The Redmi Note 3 is also built better thanks to its unibody design. It’s more robust and feels nicer in the hand. I really feel that Flash shot themselves in the foot when going with a removable cover because they compromised what could have been a phone with a great build quality.
For a budget smartphone, the Redmi Note 3 is definitely still the top choice if you can spare the extra RM100+ for it. But, if you simply can’t afford the difference, the Flash Plus 2 is definitely a solid device worth considering.