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Lava Iris 504Q+ review: Camera disappoints, but the phone is stylish

At Rs 14,999, the Lava Iris 504 Q is a cheap, feature-rich phone.

Written by Abhimanyu Chakravorty | Updated: May 29, 2014 3:30 pm
Iris-504Q+-Composite Lava Iris 504Q+ is priced Rs 14,999

The Lava Iris 504Q+ is not just any other budget Android smartphone that’s struggling to stand out amongst a deluge of similar-looking, similar-feeling phones. Phony, therefore, is not the correct description.

If anything, it is a torch-bearer for other Indian smartphone manufacturers. Why? Because after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4, that made motion and gesture controls mainstream, Lava was one of the first smartphones to adopt gesture control with the Iris 504Q.

Some might consider this as a gimmicky feature and for all practical purposes not use it daily, but it does add that extra punch. Gesture controls aside, the general trend seems to point at more budget Android smartphones cramming in high-end features bringing better displays and great performance to the table.

As technology evolves at break-neck speed, smartphone manufacturers are left with little elbow room to scale up their hardware specs beyond a point. So the focus is on adding more value to existing products. But how does the Lava 504Q+ measure up with all its high-end features? We put this phone to test and find out.

There’s simply no dissing the phone build quality. It’s a sturdy phone that looks and feels upmarket. So upmarket that 8 out of 10 people we showed it to couldn’t believe that at Rs 14,999 you can get this good-looking device from an Indian manufacturer.

“ Is this really a Lava?”  asked one of them almost in shock, until she flipped the rear to notice the inconspicuous Lava logo. “It can totally pass off as a high-end Samsung phone,”  she said. That’s because it is quite sleek at 7.9mm and relatively lightweight at 149g. The matte-finish rear panel is also well-crafted and doesn’t look cheap. Even though the phone might appear dainty, it’s not.

We had the misfortune of dropping the phone twice and surprisingly the metallic outer body panel registered only some scratches, definitely no complete dismantling. We also found its edges slightly sharp, but it doesn’t gnaw at your skin inside your pocket. Over a period of a time, the shine that lends this phone a premium feel, especially the chrome strips on the edges, fade or chip away.

That’s a cause of worry. However, this phone doesn’t look plastic and Lava gets thumbs up for looking good.

The 5-inch HD display (1280×720 pixels) offers stunning resolution for watching HD videos and games. The colour reproduction is vivid and crisp, while viewing angles don’ t disappoint. Even if you hold the phone at a 45 degree tilt, you can still read without your eyes hurting.

One of the compelling reasons for buying this phone could be its display. Of course, we would have loved full HD, but then again we shut up because of the punchy price-tag. Screen responsiveness is also good.

But there’s one thing you should know about the screen: The screen coating is a scratch-resistant Asahi Dragon Trail Glass. It’s apparently tougher than the Corning Gorilla Glass. But we got a few scratches during the review, so we would recommend using a screen guard.

Another interesting feature in this phone is the gesture control. This lets you shift through apps by simply waving your hands over the sensor or front camera. It’s a fun feature no doubt, but it doesn’t function seamlessly.

When you want things to go smoothly, it acts weird. When you swipe it once over a picture, you end up skipping two. Sometimes it’s super sensitive and sometimes it’s stubborn. After a point it’ s more of a hindrance in the whole experience.

OS and Processing Power
When Micromax launched their Rs 6,999 entry-level smartphone Unite 2 (same price tag as Moto E) with Android KitKat, we felt a bit shortchanged. But if you consider the whole package, the fact that it is not KitKat might put off some buyers. Suffice to say though that being a new phone Lava should have armed it with the KitKat. What you do get however is the uncomplicated Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS powered by a zippy 1.3 GHz Mediatek’ s MT6582 quad-core chipset with 1 GB RAM.

This feature is common to most smartphones and offers decent performance. A nifty feature in the new chipset is that unused cores can be turned off when not in use. High-spec games perform decently well without any lag. A plus point for the device is that despite running heavy games and apps for extended period of time, it doesn’t heat up even with a metal back panel.

You’d be surprised to hear this: The Lava Iris 504Q+ is equipped with the Sony Exmor sensor besides having a 10MP rear auto focus camera and a 2 MP front camera. But the camera disappoints at many levels. Even though it captures decent quality images in well-lit conditions, it produces grainy images in low-light. The in-built flash light makes it worse. To hide the inferior picture quality, we used Instagram for cosmetic changes. Instagram always works.

We also tried zooming in on a few subjects but they were so grainy that you couldn’t recognise them. The front camera is also deceptive. Yes, it’s a 2MP camera, but the camera quality is limited to video calls, not selfies. Don’ t buy this phone for its camera.

IMG_20140514_072150 IMG_20140514_072340 IMG_20140514_072541 IMG_20140514_110543
The music player is very attractively designed and you get the option of changing skins making the whole interface look quite slick. The internal music quality isn’ t great, but if you use a good quality headphone, (we used the Senheisser PX-80 on-ear headphone), you won’ t be disappointed. The external speakers are loud enough with a decent amount of bass in it. It doesn’t scream like a cheap knock-off Chinese phone.

The battery life is somewhere in between: neither good nor bad. We were able to tease out 12 hours with half an hour of gaming, browsing web and sporadic calling. But beyond that it dies out.

Network reception and internet connectivity is seamless. We did not experience any call drops as well. Call quality is also good, but there were times we couldn’ t hear the other person simply by holding the phone flat 90 degree. Tilting the phone to 45 degree helped at times, but that’ s not really great news. Call volume is an issue and that can be killjoy.

8 GB internal storage is next to nothing nowadays. Out of the 8 GB, only 5.48 GB is available. If you crowd your memory with heavy apps, you will soon run out of memory because apps require updation every few days. But thankfully, the Iris comes with an expandable micro SD storage slot of up to 32 GB.

Design and price-wise it’s impressive. Performance, storage and connectivity too are decent. But the battery output and call performance is poor. If that’ s a consideration, opt for a Moto G. The biggest dud is the much-touted 10MP camera plonked with a Sony Exmor sensor. Buy this phone if you want to watch movies, videos and some occasional gaming.

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