"The Lava Iris 504Q+ is the successor to the Iris 504Q. Here's how it fared in our review."
It's no fluke that Indian manufacturers have taken over the country's smartphone domain. Unlike international brands, which need to consider the bigger picture, an Indian brand can cater to the local demand and offer exactly what the consumer wants, at the price they want. A classic example in case is the spate of new KitKat running entry-level handsets, a trend which might have a little something to do with a smartphone called the Moto E. Lava and Micromax were quick on the take, and didn't wait long to launch their own offerings, namely the Lava Iris X1 (review) and the Micromax Unite 2 (review).
Another tried and trusted formula Indian brands adopt is to release updated versions of popular handsets, something Nokia has done in the past with the Lumia 520 and 525. The Lava Iris 504Q+ is one such device. The successor to the Iris 504Q, it offers improved specifications in a similar package. The smartphone seemed very capable during our unboxing and first impressions, but now that we’ve been testing it for a couple of weeks, here's the final say.
As far as looks go, the Iris 504Q+ is unremarkable at best. It’s basically a dark rectangular block, with the slightly curved sides bringing the only relief to the stark geometric shape.
|Short on time? Check out the Lava Iris 504Q+ review in pictures|
A smartphone with a 5-inch display is always going to be on the larger side, but because of its thick bezels (particularly at the top), it becomes a bit awkward to use one-handed. Thankfully, Lava has shaved a few millimeters off the frame, with the 7.9mm profile bringing some much needed thinness to the device.
On top of the display, you’ll find the 2MP front camera, and a nearly invisible duo of proximity and ambient light sensors. Just above is a thin earpiece that runs the length of the front panel, neatly masked by a chrome strip on top. The same chrome finish runs all around the display, concealing the primary microphone at the bottom, and ingesting the power button on the right spine, and the volume rocker on the left. You’ll find the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge, and a micro USB port at the bottom.
The Iris 504Q+ features a row capacitive Android hardware buttons instead of onscreen controls. The buttons are backlit, and the home key doubles up as an LED notification light too.
The back panel sports a two-tone finish, with the 10MP camera and flash on top, and the secondary noise-cancelling microphone in the vicinity. At the bottom there are three rows of finely drilled holes for the loudspeaker. The back panel is easily removable, thanks to a small notch on the side. Opening it up reveals a pleasant surprise – this is no flimsy plastic cover, it’s a solid sheet of metal. Anything metal on an affordable smartphone is a rarity, and makes it both premium and reassuringly sturdy.
Under the cover you’ll find the 2,000mAh user replaceable battery, dual-SIM slots and microSD card slot. The 504Q+ accepts a regular SIM and a micro-SIM, and it’s worth noting that the former supports CDMA SIM cards.
The phone’s 5-inch display sports a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, resulting in a decent pixel density of 294ppi. The IPS panel makes for good viewing angles, and the display is bright and vibrant, readable even in sunlight. There’s also a layer of Asahi Dragontrail glass on top for protection. The display was fluid and responsive, without any noticeable lags. The display can handle 720p and even 1080p videos smoothly, making it ideal for any kind of media usage.
With the inclusion of its 10MP rear camera with a Sony Exmor RS sensor, the Iris 504Q+ can be classified as a ‘camera phone’, at least on paper. Lava isn’t the first Indian company to use a Sony camera sensor though. XOLO tried it with the Q1010i which we reviewed earlier, with middling results.
The device's camera isn’t all that it’s made out to be, but it’s still a very capable shooter, offering better results than most others in its price range. Images are vivid, with bright colours that are a tad oversaturated, but good enough for showing off on social networks. The camera is fast and responsive, and takes particularly good action and macro shots.
The camera has only one main fault, and that's noise. Even in daylight, zooming into photos reveals a fair bit of pixelation, and in low-light, the problem is worse. We also found the HDR mode disappointing, resulting in washed out images that lacked detail.
The primary camera can shoot videos in 1080p, and results are pleasing, although microphone quality could have been better. The front 2MP camera is surprisingly usable for selfies, as long as you take them in ample light. In poor lighting conditions, we found that images tended to look hazy.
Lava has made a few changes to the camera app, with a Mode button below the shutter to switch between different modes like HDR, Beauty Mode, Panorama, Smile Shot, Best Shot and EV Bracket Shot.
Next to the flash and front camera controls, you’ll also find an icon for a QR code scanner, which will open up a separate app where you can scan or create QR codes for an email address, URL, phone number, contact, and more. Hitting the settings button on top will bring up options for scene modes, exposure, white balance, ISO and a timer.
The camera also supports Voice Capture (enabled via the menu), which activates the shutter when you scream (and we mean scream) ‘Cheese’ or ‘Capture’.
|Related read: Lava Iris 504Q+ camera review|
Check out some of the image samples below. Click on the thumbnails to view them in full resolution.
The Iris 504Q+ runs a rather dated Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Lava hasn’t choked the OS with a skin or tons of bloatware, but there are still a few customisations and pre-loaded apps worth mentioning.
One of the USPs of the device is Air Shuffle, a feature that utlilises the phone’s proximity sensor to detect when you swipe your hand above the display. You can use it to swipe through the gallery, app drawer and FM stations.
Air Shuffle even lets you capture photos by swiping your hand above the screen, a rather annoying feature which is turned on by default. You can enable or disable Air Shuffle for specific functions by going into the Accessibility option in settings. Another gesture which the phone supports is Flip to Mute, letting your turn over your phone to mute an incoming call.
Coming to modifications, the multi-tasking menu has been slightly tweaked. Long pressing the home-button will bring up all the running apps, which you’ll need to swipe down vertically to close. There are also shortcuts to close or view all running apps.
The music player and FM radio have been been revamped with a new interface. The music player displays neat visualisations, and offers a couple of skins to choose from. There’s also an equaliser where you can tweak audio settings. The dialer app has also been customised, with a call recording option and the ability to swipe to the right to open up a note-taking app.
Among the pre-loaded apps, you’ll find WhatsApp, BBM, Sketch, OfficeSuite, and MyNotes. There’s also a Battery Saver app, which offers you a bunch of different modes, like ‘User Mode’, ‘Normal Mode’, ‘Long Mode’ and ‘Alarm Mode’. You can choose what apps and connectivity options to allow to run in each, as well as get an indication of how long the battery will last. There’s also a ‘Clean Up’ option, which will close any apps that are sucking up too much battery.
By default, the phone offers the standard Jelly Bean theme and icons, but you can tweak this through the Variety Theme app, which offers three additional themes called Pioneer, Rainbow and Windows.
The Iris 504Q+ is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 chipset, a popular SoC among budget smartphones. Adding 1GB of RAM to the mix, we found the phone to be fast and responsive, with no noticeable lags or freezes. We did experience the occasional app close, but overall the performance was smooth and reliable.
Graphics are handled by a Mali 400-MP2 GPU, and the phone was able to handle intensive games like Riptide GP2 without any hiccups.
You get a decent 8GB of onboard storage, out of which about 5.4GB is available for storage. If you plan on installing tons of app, you’ll need to make use of the microSD card slot, which can increase memory by an additional 32GB.
The dual-SIM smartphone supports 3G only in the first (micro-SIM) slot. Other connectivity features include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and USB OTG.
Battery life on the Iris 504Q+ was a bit of a let down. With regular use, you’ll definitely need to plug in your charger before the end of the day. Our standard video loop test gave us exactly seven hours of playback before the phone ran out of fuel, which is below average.
Call quality wasn’t the greatest on the phone, since the earpiece is at the very top, causing sound to get muffled. We often felt the need to adjust the phone to hear the other person clearly.
It appears that our first impressions of the Iris 504Q+ were spot on – it is a solid device, right from build to performance. At its current market price of Rs 11,500, it offers all the features you’d expect to find on a smartphone in its price range. The Iris 504Q+ doesn’t have it easy though. The Moto G is easily a dangerous competitor, offering equally enticing features, and adding customisable back panels and Android KitKat to the mix. Given that Motorola has already confirmed that the Moto G will get the Android L update this fall, the Iris 504Q+ falls far behind with Android 4.2. That said, if what you’re after is a reliable device with a great display and capable cameras, the Iris 504Q+ strikes us as a good option.