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Cherry Mobile Iris Review - The Most Affordable Handset With Iris Scanner

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Within the past few years there have been different lock screen security innovations being applied to mobile phones and tablets. Initially most of the mobile tech would be fitted with either a PIN code or swipe pattern lock screen features. This then moved to the utilization of finger print and iris scanners that only high-end phones have had the benefit of using. Well not anymore. Cherry mobile has introduced the Iris, the most affordable handset with an IRIS Scanner.
Cherry Mobile Iris Review - The Most Affordable Handset With Iris Scanner
The Cherry Mobile Iris review - I see you!

Disclaimer: Our Cherry Mobile Iris is a seeded unit from Cherry Mobile for our honest review.

Cherry Mobile Iris Specs

Display: 5 Inch HD 1280 x 720 resolution at 294 ppi
CPU: 1.3 GHz MT6580 quad core processor
GPU: Mali 400
RAM: 1 GB
ROM: 8 GB ROM expandable to via micro SD card slot up to 32 GB
Back Camera: 8 MP w/ AF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 5 MP
Battery: 2,300 mAh
OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, dual SIM
Others: Iris Scanner, voice unlock
Price: PHP 3,499

Unboxing / Accessories

The box
The box

The phone comes with standard stuff with Cherry Mobile products - a 1A wall charger, micro USB data / charging cable, and a pair of standard earphones with mic.
Accessories inside
Accessories inside

In addition to the standard documentation, Cherry mobile has also added a small guide on how to setup the Iris Scanner.

Build Quality / Design

The phone in front
The phone in front

The handset is simple but does not give off an entry level phone vibe. It's frame is primarily made up of plastic. It has soft curves along the sides and back which gives the handset a sleek and light feel.
Cherry Mobile Iris at the back
Cherry Mobile Iris at the back

The front face of the phone has the 5 inch IPS HD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, selfie camera, proximity sensors, and the capacitive android buttons. It does not have any glass protection against scratches though.
Audio jack socket and USB port at the top of the phone
Audio jack socket and USB port at the top of the phone
Mic can be found at the bottom
Mic can be found at the bottom
volume and power control on the right hand side

In terms design, the Iris a definitely good. The design maybe simple but it does the work. The front panel looks futuristic with addition of the iris scanner and a larger LED light sensor. The only dragging part of the handset's design is the positioning of the speakers at the back which would get covered when the phone is placed flat on any surface.

Power and volume buttons can be found on the right-hand side. The removable back enclosure has the 8 MP camera, the cherry mobile brand, and the speakers. the phone's mic are at the bottom. The handset is generally fine to hold as well.

Display Quality

Good size screen with HD resolution for a budget phone
Good size screen with HD resolution for a budget phone

The phone sports a 5 inch IPS HD display with 1280 x 720 resolution. The color saturation and depth are good but the bezel bordering the screen maybe a bit akward for some. Given the price range, I would say this display would be acceptable to say the least.

The phone also features a 5 multi-touch screen which somehow stands the phone out a bit with its competitors

Audio Quality

In the audio department, the Iris is pretty much standard with its competition, it is fairly loud and audible enough in a small room. As mentioned earlier, the drawback is the position of the speakers. Having the speakers at the lower back panel means that the sound would get muffled once it is put down on a desk or dock.
Speaker is poorly positioned
Sound quality using the headset are good and well balanced. The microphone is clear enough for cellular calls. For recordings, don't expect too much, but it is decent.

Battery Life

PC Mark battery bench score

The Iris houses a 2,300 mah battery capacity which is pretty average. Given the modest functionalities you can do with an entry level phone, the Iris'battery lasted between 7 to 8 hours with the SMS, and light to medium online browsing.
Battery life is a little above-average!
Using PC Mark's battery benchmark utility, the phone scored 7 hours and 55 mins which is a little above average. In terms of charging time, the Iris would take about 2 hours from 0 to 100 percent with the in-package charger.

Camera

The Iris is equipped with an 8 MP main camera w/ AF and LED flash. It offers the basic HDR and panoramic mode as well.

However, the main camera quality is unfortunately quite bad. Even with a sub 5k price tag, I would have expected that the images would have more detail and sharpness. Shots are mostly washed, grainy, or soft most of the time as well. Though, under great outdoor lighting, the shooter get the color contrasts decently.

Rear Camera Samples

Outdoor daylight HDR sample
Outdoor daylight HDR sample
Indoor sample
Indoor sample
Outdoor dusk
Indoor shot with flash
Indoor shot with flash

The 5 MP selfie camera is a different matter. it shoots very well even on medium lighting. though the frame is a bit small. The beautify function works very well too.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie without beautify
Selfie without beautify
Beautify enabled
Beautify enabled

For videos, the back camera can record up to 720p videos. It is usable if you have no choice, but don't expect its quality to be great.

Performance

Antutu and Geekbench scores
Antutu and Geekbench scores

Powering everything in this handset is a MediaTek MT6580 quad-core processor running at 1.3 GHz with 1 GB of RAM 8 GB of expandable storage. The benchmark scores are sublime but it is expected given the price range.

The handset comes with decent speed and performance good enough for basic gaming and Android task. However, we noticed that it isn't as snappy compared with other similarly spec'ed devices we tested before.
Home Screen and lock Screen
Home Screen and lock Screen

On the software part, the handset loads Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS out of the box. However, it has several bloats and random pop-up ads appearing. The software of the phone offers a number of security features like the usual pin and pattern unlock modules and some out of the box stuff like voice and retinal scanners.
Iris scanner
Iris scanner

The voice scanner is dismal and is not that accurate. However, the great thing about this phone is the Iris Scanner - hence the name.
The Iris Scanner is accurate and responsive!
Aside from the retinal scanner that can be found on the upper right portion of front panel is very accurate and scans really fast given the perfect lighting conditions. It is amazing how fast the retinal scanner reacts when unlocking the phone.

Pros - Accurate retinal scanner, better than average battery life, selfie camera takes decent photos
Cons - Rear camera needs improvement, not LTE capable, voice unlock is far from accurate, optimization could be better, no OTG

Verdict

For a price tag of  PHP 3,499, the Iris is composed of the expected components for the bill. It may be far from being an impressive phone but the Iris Scanner does peak interest. The scanner is surprisingly accurate and responsive. The existence of an Iris Scanner on a budget phone is more of an advertising pitch more than it is main feature of this handset. This handset introduces the user to a biometric security feature that would grow and improve over next few years. The Cherry Mobile Iris would be a good starter phone that is low key budget wise and enough spunk to get you started.

Build / Design - 3.25
Display - 3.5
Audio - 3
Battery - 3.5
Camera - 3
Performance - 3
Average - 3.2
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