Cherry Mobile is probably the only mastermind in bringing real innovation in the local smartphone market by bringing a lot of new and bizarre devices on the table.
Some of them are actually pretty nifty gadgets, while the others look like just a marketing flop. But either way, it is nice to see that there’s a smartphone manufacturer (and more importantly, a local one), that is taking the risk in an attempt to innovate the whole industry.
And the device that we are going to take a look at today is one of the successful attempts of Cherry Mobile to offer a handset with an exclusive feature that is actually really useful.
We have the Cherry Mobile Iris, a smartphone that has an Iris scanner for security purposes. This is clearly is not the first device to sport this new security feature as we have already seen the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 bring it to the mainstream audience, but we all know the miserable story about that device.
The Cherry Mobile Iris is priced at only Php3,499, which makes us curious if the latest and more advanced security feature will work well on a device this cheap. Let’s figure that out.
Cherry Mobile Iris Video Review
Design and Build Quality
Unsurprisingly, the Cherry Mobile Iris is built mostly with plastic. You can’t expect a premium build quality for such cheap price tag on a smartphone. But nevertheless, I would still praise an all-plastic built smartphone for being lightweight and having better heat disbursement capability.
The phone is also well-rounded – physically, I mean. The back has a blatant curved edge and the four corners of the device also have the same characteristics which make the Cherry Mobile Iris one of the most comfortable and ergonomic handsets to hold.
At the front we have the 5.0” HD IPS display, with the bezels and the glass stretching up to the end of the edges, making it look seamless giving a bezel-less impression at the quick glance. We also have here the 5-megapixel front-facing camera, earpiece, proximity and ambient light sensors, and the infrared and iris sensor camera.
Cherry Mobile also opted to use capacitive buttons instead of going the on-screen route, which is really a more practical move as it preserves some screen space. However, these buttons are not backlit, so using it in the dark can be challenging, at least not until you get used to it after a few days of use.
The left side is clean while the right has the lock/power switch under the volume controls. The buttons are protruded well enough making it still relatively tactile despite the mushy plastic construction.
At the top, we have the 3.5mm headphone jack and the microUSB port, which isn’t really the ideal location for ports in my opinion. Having the device plugged in while it is in use is quite annoying. At the bottom, we only have the single built-in microphone.
At the back pf the Cherry Mobile Iris, we have the 8-megapixel primary camera with LED flash, the manufacturer logo, and the loudspeaker. The speaker’s performance is fairly decent for the price. The volume is clearly not the best, but loud enough if you’re using it in a quiet room. Popping out the back panel reveals the two micro SIM card slot and the 2300mAh battery.
Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the Cherry Mobile Iris’ build. A protective case is recommended, but nonetheless, it looks like it can take some minor beating.
The device has a 5-inch HD IPS display, which has a 1280 x 720 resolution and populated by 294 pixels-per-inch. Like what I have said in our Cherry Mobile FB100 review, which also shares the same screen attributes, having a 720p resolution is just fitting for a 5-inch device as a 1080p panel isn’t really that necessary considering that it would also benefit battery longevity.
And just like most IPS displays, the panel on the Cherry Mobile Iris is impressive for its level. Blacks are deep, colors do pop a lot but not overly saturated. However, the tone of everything is on the yellowish side, but not unless you’re really that picky it is barely noticeable.
Sharpness is also fine while screen brightness clearly isn’t the best but still quite capable. The Cherry Mobile Iris can get pretty bright; the ambient light sensor would sometimes misjudge the amount of available light indoors, thus, letting the backlighting glow unnecessarily bright.
Performance and Hardware
The Cherry Mobile Iris is powered by a MediaTek MT6580 chipset, which has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a Mali-400MP GPU.
Multitasking is clearly not its strong suit. Actually, it’s been a while since I have seen a device that only has 1GB of RAM. Almost all of the device that is available on the market today have an at least 2GB of RAM, which is actually still a bit on the lower side considering the existence of smartphones with 4GB, or even 6GB.
But nonetheless, considering the extremely low price tag and all of the other special feature that the Cherry Mobile Iris has, it’s really hard to complain. Performance wise, this thing can surely switch between different light apps easily; but switching in/from a game may take the chip a few seconds to accomplish.
On the other hand, day-to-day tasks and activities are doable on the Cherry Mobile Iris. Browsing the web, sending text messages, making calls, etc., I did not experience any problems in those departments. Even the gameplay performance is also acceptable; Real Racing 3 is playable at comfortable frame rates and the processor-intensive game called Sim City: Build It ran without the annoying frame drops and stutters.
Cherry Mobile Iris Benchmark test results:
Probably another annoying thing about the Cherry Mobile Iris is its onboard storage. Just like the Cherry Mobile FB100, the Iris also only has 8GB of ROM. After installing a few number of apps, the interface would already display the “Memory Full” message, which is really frustrating when you still want to install some games other than your social media applications. You can move some apps to a microSD, though.
Now we proceed to the highlight of the show. Like what I have said earlier, this isn’t the first time that we are seeing an Iris scanner on a smartphone. But the way Cherry Mobile was able to implement it on a budget device is really impressive.
For a quick overview, how the Iris scanner works is not the complex. The sensors read the intricate wavy lines in your iris, which has a pattern that’s unique to almost every human on the planet and matches it with the recorded image that is saved in the system. It operates just like the fingerprint scanner, which also scans the patterns in your fingertips.
The Iris Scanner on this Cherry Mobile smartphone consists of two hardware – a dedicated camera and an Infrared LED that beams a special, slightly invisible light that makes the scanning process really fast even in a pitch-black room. The traditional front-facing camera doesn’t work well with Infrared signals, thus, having a devoted camera that also has a narrow field-of-view is really needed so the device can scan the eyes properly.
And I must say, this sensor works very well. Its performance is way better than most fingerprint scanners, even though they have been around for a while. And an iris scanner on a smartphone is still in its early stages, so that makes it even more impressive.
The sensor was able to detect my eyes accurately fast, even with my eyeglasses on. It worked really well that I doubt its credibility and thought that it would unlock the device with any eyes you present it with, but I was wrong. I had a colleague test it, without his eye credentials saved in the device, and he wasn’t able to bypass the security feature. Really impressive stuff.
Software and User Interface
And just like most of the devices today, the Cherry Mobile Iris runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The newer Android Nougat version is seen only in some handsets, but I highly doubt that this device will be treated with Android’s 7.0 software.
Nevertheless, Android Marshmallow is still an impressive and serviceable operating system. All of the goodies that the system has is present on this phone and is presented the way Android wanted it to be, thanks to the absence of a clunky and useless third-party skin. The entire interface is filled with useful stuff that the Marshmallow is known for.
However, the Cherry Mobile Iris is not safe from the pre-installed manufacturer apps like the Bonus Load, Cherry Mobile Fun Club, Cherry Play, Cherry Prepaid and much more. Thankfully, it can be easily removed to help you save precious onboard storage that this device clearly has a limited source of.
Probably the only annoying thing that is common across all of the Cherry Mobile devices’ interface is the advertisements – advertisements that now not only pop-up in the notification bar but also on the lock screen – even on the home screen.
The Cherry Mobile Iris sports some pretty decent camera sensors in both front and back. The primary shooter is an 8-megapixel camera partnered with a 5-megapixel front-facing one. This combo is actually a standard to most budget-friendly handsets today, so there’s nothing really special about it.
The primary camera can surely take good photos in good lighting. Images appear to be sharp, well-detailed, although colors look a bit overly saturated and the contrast and dynamic range are middling. But in any case, it is still acceptable.
Images taken at low-light scenarios are still usable. Noise and grains are now more visible, but still quite bearable. Photos also appear a little soft and details are a little washed out.
The 5-megapixel front-facing camera’s performance is also something to be expected. Details and sharpness are lacking, colors are a bit lame, and the contrast is on the downside.
For social media and casual picture-taking, the Cherry Mobile Iris is definitely usable.
The Cherry Mobile Iris comes packed with the most basic set of antennas. We have 3G HSDPA+, GPS with A-GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFI.
All of those antennas performed well during my tests and showed no irregularities. However, the 3G HSDPA+’s speed just feels insufficient at this age of time. Almost everything that is on the internet right now is a bit heavy in data, thus, the need for a fast and more reliable internet connectivity is required. However, it’s not the phone’s fault that we have crappy internet speeds in the country.
The Cherry Mobile Iris has a 2300mAh battery, a capacity that is obviously small for a 5-inch device, and my battery test results clearly justify it.
Screen-on time lasted for only 2 hours and 30 mins. That’s a total accumulated time of casually browsing the web, taking pictures, and receiving and making calls and texts. However, the phone doesn’t eat that much juice during idle. So depending on your usage, this thing can last you until you reach home at night.
Unlike a lot of competing devices today, the Cherry Mobile Iris is really an interesting device. Not because it has a flashy, non-sense feature or design; but because it actually has something that is new and is actually useful. Plus, that feature actually works really well.
The Iris scanner in a smartphone, despite being in its early stages of development, performs impressively on this device. It really beats a lot of fingerprint scanners, and the tech has been around a couple of years ahead. The Iris scanner on the Cherry Mobile Iris works, and it works well.
But it is not just about this security feature – the device also works well as an all-around smartphone. The display is good, the processor is capable, the camera is acceptable and the software version is still one of the best from Android.
Of course, not everything is great on the Cherry Mobile Iris, especially on a device with such cheap price tag. It kind of sucks that Cherry mobile wasn’t able to squeeze in the 4G LTE capability. The 1GB of RAM is really limiting. The battery longevity is short. And most importantly, those advertisements that are coming out of nowhere are really annoying.
But with that all said, the Cherry Mobile Iris is probably one of the best options at this price range. Not only because of its new and unique security feature that works really well, but it’s just a good all-around smartphone – all of these are incredibly packed in a cheap Php3,499 price tag.
Cherry Mobile Iris Specs
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- 5-inch HD IPS Display, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution
- 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6580 quad-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
- 3G, HSPA+
- 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash
- 5-megapixel front camera
- GPS, A-GPS
- Iris scanner
- 2300mAh battery