During the past couple of years that Lava has been actively bringing out Android smartphones, they’ve always been a small fish in a big pond. That’s because the company has been catering primarily to the entry-level segment while their sister brand, Xolo, took care of the more premium segment. Now, Lava aims at branching into the premium segment and the Iris Pro 30 is the first phone that’s designed in-house. Indian companies seemed to have caught on to the fact that the general public want more than just a cheap, Chinese clone stamped with an Indian brand name. Lava is the first Indian company to make this shift and we think they’re onto something here.
Design and build
The Lava Iris Pro 30 looks and feels unlike anything Lava has produced so far. It’s a giant leap forward from their previous offerings in this range, and if we may be so bold to say that it’s easily the best looking and built handset, after the Lumia 720. The chassis is made of a magnesium alloy, which gives makes the frame rigid yet, incredibly light. At just 114g and 7.5mm in depth, it’s extremely pocketable too.
The buttons take their usual spots around the phone and are well put together, with no play whatsoever. The rear cover is made of soft plastic and is easily removable. The matte finish also keeps fingerprints at bay. The 8MP camera in the back is accompanied by a dual LED flash, which is very powerful for night shots but a bit too harsh on close subjects. You also get a second microphone for noise cancellation.
The Iris Pro 30 also has an ambient light sensor and a notification LED in the front. You get a blue LED for alerts and orange for charging status. The capacitive buttons also work well and have a soft white backlight which is visible in the dark without being too intrusive. Underneath the rear cover, we have a micro-SIM and a full SIM slot and a microSD card tray as well.
Overall, the Iris Pro 30 is a refreshing change from the typical clones we see dumped in this price range, month after month. The design and ergonomics are just perfect, and a lot better than Gionee’s Elife E6, which we felt was one of the best looking handsets in this category.
On the front, you get a palm-friendly 4.7-inch HD IPS display. The panel uses Sharp’s OGS solution along with Gorilla Glass from Corning. The high pixel count of 312ppi ensures crisp text and sharp and vivid images. Colours are also punchy and black levels are deep and inky. Lava has also added something called Content Adaptive Backlight Control (CABC), which adjusts the backlight based on what’s being displayed. The latter bit tends to get annoying during regular use though as the backlight keeps fluctuating a lot. The change isn’t gradual either which means the change in the light intensity is quite stark and that’s distracting when you’re watching a video or browsing the web.
We also noticed that the screen doesn’t adapt quick enough to your input and this is easily noticeable when typing fast. When using Swype for instance, the display still registers your finger even after you lift it and by the time you touch the screen again for another letter, Swype thinks you’ve slid your finger across and throws up a word that you didn’t intend to type. This means you can’t type as fast as you’d typically like, which is a let-down. Other than this, we didn’t have an issue with the display as it also has good sunlight legibility.
The Iris Pro 30 runs on stock Jelly Bean 4.2.1, save for a couple of tweaks and new apps. You have the option to change the theme as well as schedule a shutdown or restart. Lava has added a system monitoring widget in the notification bar which can be toggled on or off. The graph gives you the current CPU usage, memory usage, baseband signal strength and battery discharge status. Another new feature that’s added is video PIP. Essentially, this is similar to what Samsung, LG and recently, Micromax has added in their handsets. It lets you watch a video in a mini player while you perform other tasks outside the video app.
The phone is powered by a MediaTek MT6589 chipset along with 1GB of RAM. Operation is pretty smooth for the most part and you even get Full HD video playback, but lag does tend to creep in every now and then. Apart from the standard suite of core Google apps and an office suite, Lava also give you a Backup and Restore app and Lava Care, which directs you to the nearest service centre in your area.
You get 4GB internal memory, out of which 2.4GB is available to the user. The stock audio and video players do a good job of playing back most formats. The audio player also has something called gestures however, we couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. The video player also gives you thumbnail previews of all the videos in the folder. Audio quality is good with a good pair of IEMs and the speaker has fairly loud as well, enough to not miss any alerts.
The Lava Iris Pro 30 is a quad-band GSM and single-band 3G handset. You also get other standard connectivity features like Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v4.0 and USB 2.0. There’s no GLONASS or NFC. You also get some smart calling features like direct calling, flip to mute and a call recorder app built in. Audio quality is good and the earpiece is loud enough for a comfortable conversation even in busy public places.
The camera is an 8MP BSI sensor with dual-LED flash. There’s a 3MP camera in the front which delivers very good video quality for selfies or video chats. The 8MP snapper on the other hand isn’t great for low-light and the focusing takes forever to lock on to the subject. Enabling ‘Zero Shutter Delay’ in the settings didn’t help much either. Macro shots are quite good but landscape shots tend to lack detail. You also need to be extremely steady when shooting as even slight movement results in a blurry shot. It would have been better if Lava added a 13MP sensor instead, like their competitors.
The 720p display and CABC technology seems to be working in Lava’s favour as the 2000mAh battery had about 30 percent charge remaining after our 8-hour loop test. Compared to other Full HD display phones with 2000mAh batteries, the Iris Pro 30 will last about 60 percent longer as compared to say, a Micromax Canvas Turbo.
Verdict and Price in India
At an MRP Rs 15,990, the Lava Iris Pro 30 is easily one of the best phones in this segment and is most certainly the best when it comes to design and ergonomics. The phone does lack slightly in the camera and internal storage department, something the Karbonn Titanium X and Gionee Elife E5 make up for at a slightly higher cost. Lava has nailed the aesthetics beautifully and we were genuinely pleased with how good this phone is to live with. Yes, we notice that it looks very similar to an iPhone 5, but so what? We don’t have an issue with this as long as it’s tastefully done. The phone has a killer design, good multimedia feature set, a rich display and great battery life. Apart from the minor sensitivity issue with the display and the sluggish camera, the Iris Pro 30 is an excellent buy if you’re looking for a premium smartphone under Rs 20,000.
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Feb 27, 2015