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Lava Iris Icon review


Lava Iris Icon review
TOP FEATURES

*Premium body design
*Good camera
*Decent battery backup

NEW DELHI: Lava, the Indian brand that has made it big via its low-cost smartphones, recently brought its 'premium' handset Iris Icon to the market (even though Lava already sells its 'premium' handsets under the Xolo brand).

Priced at Rs 11,499, the new Lava Iris Icon has pretty much what every other smartphone at this price point offers: quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, HD screen and high resolution cameras. The smartphone market has pretty much plateaued, with at least 5-6 handsets offering similar features at this price.

Does Lava's Icon have anything special to offer at Rs 11,499 to differentiate itself from the competition? We find out in our Lava Iris Icon review...

Design
In a bid to distinguish its new Icon series from the Iris X range, Lava has used premium materials in the new smartphone. While the front and back are made predominantly of glass, the frame on the sides and the chin below the touchscreen sport metal finish.

Even the volume and power buttons on the right side are made of metal, as is the ring that surrounds the camera module.



Though there are no physical buttons on the front, you still get the soft-touch Home, Back and Task Switcher keys that offer decent feedback. It sports a unibody form factor with rounded corners. Compared to Moto G, these corners are a little sharp, and you can feel them in the palm.

The right edge of the phone features the Power/Screen lock, dual-sim card slot and the volume rocker keys that offer decent tactile feedback, while the right side sports the microSD card slot. The 3.5mm headset jack sits at the top, along with the micro-USB port.



The easily-smudged glass back holds the rear camera and dual-LED flash on the left corner, and a speaker grill at the bottom along with Lava branding. With the camera and flash placed at the top left corner, this smartphone's back panel looks uncannily like that of Sony's top-end Xperia Z series smartphones.

In terms of overall fit and finish, Lava Iris Icon is pretty solid to hold and has a premium feel to it, making this one of its strengths.

Display
The front of the Lava Iris Icon is dominated by a 5-inch IPS display with HD (720x1280p) resolution and a pixel density of 294ppi. The display is protected by Dragontrail glass and looks bright and vibrant. The colours are a little over saturated in our experience.



The sunlight legibility of the smartphone is very, very good, offering an excellent viewing experience in a bright sunny day even with brightness at just 30%.

The viewing angles, however, are not as great. The smartphone retains colours when viewed from the sides, but we noticed colour distortion while watching videos on the handset at acute angles.

Software
Lava Iris Icon runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat with the Star OS v1.0.1 layered on top. This is like a launcher app available on Play Store, and allows users to customize their handset with themes that come with different sets of icons. The layer also allows users to change the app and desktop effects.

Apart from this, the phone comes with addition of gesture control, like many other contemporaries. Gesture Controller lets you launch apps directly through the lock screen. For instance, you can draw 'C' to open camera or 'M' to open music player.

Lava's Star OS also allows you to set custom gestures that can be used on a dedicated screen, which you can open via a downward swipe from the left corner of the screen; this interface is an exact copy of the one we have seen on Oppo's Color OS. In our experience, these gestures were not very smooth and we encountered some lag while using them.



One problem we faced with the software is that we accidentally used to open the custom gesture interface while trying to open the notifications panel. This required a few days of getting used to before we stopped swiping from the corners to open the notification menu.

The notification panel is similar to what you have seen on many smartphones, but has only four toggles that are visible at all times: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mobile data and Airplane mode. For more toggle buttons, you need to place your finger on any of the four toggle buttons and swipe downward. An upward swipe would hide the new toggle keys once again.

Camera

Lava Iris Icon features a 13MP rear camera with BSI-II f2.0 aperture, while the 5MP front camera has f2.4 f2.4 aperture; both camera lenses are backside illuminated (BSI-II).



The phone's camera app offers settings for all optical attributes, HDR and Panorama among others. Other software features of the smartphone's camera app include Face Beauty for better selfies.

Just like Xiaomi Redmi 2, the phone tries to detect the age of the user which didn't turn out to be stable as the age it was displaying on the screen kept fluctuating. The camera app also offers a mode that lets you click pictures by detecting the smile and 'v-sign' and use animations.

Images captured by the camera in daylight turned out well with decent level of detail, accurate colour reproduction and good contrast. The front camera also shoots good quality selfies and the phone offers all the tools to make you look as good looking as possible.



Hardware & performance

The Icon Iris is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM. The phone is not slow, but it is not so fast that it would set itself apart from other smartphones in the same price band. Nevertheless, we had a rather pleasant user experience and found it be pretty smooth, even though there were a few instances of lag.

The phone starts to lag frequently if too many apps are active simultaneously and begins to heat up. The contacts app of the phone has a major issue as it takes a while for it to load. Using the contacts app was a frustrating experience and we eventually decided to download a third-party contacts app to ease our daily operations.

In terms of synthetic benchmarks, it scored 6,772 in Quadrant Standard, 18,530 in AnTuTu, 1137 in Geekbench 3 (Multi-core) and 53.5 in NenaMark 2. But we'd not recommend a phone based solely on benchmarks as real-world performance is different at times.

The phone comes with 16GB internal storage, of which 11.81GB is available to the user. Storing multimedia content is not an issue since the phone supports microSD cards up to 32GB capacity.



The phone offers good call quality and signal reception and we did not encounter issues while making calls even in areas where cell signal is relatively weak. It also offers FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity in addition to HotKnot, a NFC-like pairing technology that lets users pair compatible phones and initiate transfers by touching their display panels.

The phone's built-in speaker offers decent sound output but its placement leads to sound getting muffled when the phone lies at its back. We were able to play most popular video and audio file formats. For connectivity, the smartphone offers 2G 3G, Wi-Fi, micro-USB, and Bluetooth 4.0.

With 2,500mAh battery, the phone lasts about a full day with moderate to high usage, including about a few hours of making calls, playing games, clicking some pictures, listening to music and browsing the web. Your mileage may vary with different usage patterns.

Verdict

At Rs 11,499, Lava Iris Icon offers decent looks, good camera and mid-range hardware. But even with 2GB RAM, the phone lags and has heating problems, which are causes of concern for us.

Moreover, at this price, there are other smartphones that offer much more than Lava Iris Icon. For example, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G and Huawei Honor 4X offer bigger screens, better battery and image quality. Similarly, Lenovo A7000 is cheaper and has slicker animations and better performance overall.

Therefore, we cannot recommend buying Lava Iris Icon at Rs 11,499, simply because it has not been able to set itself apart from the rivals.

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