Budget smartphones (sub Ksh. 10,000) are a favourite to many Kenyans, however the space is becoming crowded each day. Walk into a phone shop and you’ll be met by an endless list of budget smartphones (not literally). For this reason, manufacturers are coming up with better specs and “gimmicks” to lure in customers to their brand.
Today, we see sub 10k phones with fingerprint readers, 4000mAh batteries, really good HD displays and now, we have one with an actual iris scanner. The Fero Iris, was launched at the end of February 2017 and the highlight of the phone is its Galaxy Note 7-like iris scanner. Don’t worry, that’s the only thing it borrows from the Note 7, therefore no battery explosions.
I have been using the Fero Iris for the better part of March, here’s what I think you should know about it:
The Iris Scanner
I will jump right to it. The Iris scanner works as advertised. The device has a dedicated camera on the front next to the front facing camera, just for scanning the iris. The iris scanner is aided by an LED, shooting near-infrared light at the user’s face.
The best thing about the iris scanner is that it can work even in low light. The speed and accuracy of the scanner is mind blowing. It literally takes micro seconds to scan your eyes and unlock your device.
However, this is not to say that it doesn’t fail to read sometimes. This has happened to me, but not as much as you would expect. As long as you put the phone at the recommended distance (at least 20cm away from your face), you should have no complains. Oh, it also works when you’re wearing sun glasses or spectacles as well.
Seeing that the Fero Iris’ iris scanner is not a gimmick, how secure is it? Throughout my testing, the device only unlocks if the set of Iris has been registered on it (you can register up to 5 sets of iris). Pictures cannot fool the scanner either, so it is pretty secure.
The Fero Iris does not try to convince you that it is an expensive phone, it will not turn any heads with its design and it does not even try to be slim. The Fero Iris is simply a smartphone with a shiny plastic outline around its top, a plastic removable back and capacitive navigation buttons. A 5.0” IPS HD (1280*720) display covers the front part of the device. If you’re buying this smartphone, it will definitely not be for its design.
We have an 8.0MP main shooter that constantly reminds you that the Fero Iris is a budget smartphone. More often than not, pictures come out looking washed out and pixelated. During the day, you can manage to snap one or two decent pictures to share on social media, at night… well, just keep trying. Here are a few sample images:
All I can say about the selfie camera is if you’re looking for a smartphone to flaunt your beauty* with, skip this one.
Performance and Memory
The phone has 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal memory, which is expandable up to 32GB via SD card and a MediaTek MT6753 Quad-Core processor clocked at 1.25GHz.
The phone stutters with all resource-demanding apps; Instagram, twitter, Facebook (especially this one) and once in a while, it will take time to even open the phone dialer. The 8GB internal memory is a pain as well, as the system uses up 4.53GB leaving you with slightly over 3GB to play with. Install Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and you’re done. Storage full, you can’t even update apps. You definitely need to invest in a SD card with the Fero Iris.
Software and Battery
After being praised for having a near-stock android experience, Fero went ahead and removed the app drawer. Like seriously? So all your apps are on the home screen and you’re going to have to do some organization yourself if you want to make your home screen look decent. Underneath the mess of lacking an app drawer, the Fero Iris runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and an outdated security patch from October 2016!
When it comes to battery performance, stand-by time is great. With the 2500 mAh battery inside, you can get through the day if you’re not a heavy user. But play a game, listen to music, turn on your mobile data, troll politicians on Twitter and you will be running for the charger by 3pm.
The Fero Iris, well is a really affordable smartphone that will get ahead of the competition due to its iris scanner. It gives a lackluster performance in all other aspects but it’s called “Iris” for a reason. If you’re in the market for a smartphone costing less than 10k and comes with a technology that will impress your friends, then you should definitely consider the Fero Iris.
Wait, should I have mentioned it is 4G capable?