Fingerprint sensor, face-recognition, and now retina scanner. Hong Kong-based TCL is aiming at taking the game of biometric security in smartphones a notch higher with its TCL 560 that features the newer form of authentication in a budget. We find out if the company’s debut smartphone in India makes to our list of recommended budget Android smartphones.
For budget smartphones, it is always the price that takes precedence and at Rs 7,999, the TCL 560 is likely to score a hit among consumers. Competing with other smartphones in the same price segment, this phone comes with a decent display that measures 5.5 inches in size. Featuring a slim profile and curved edges, the phone has been ergonomically designed.
The virtual Android controllers on the front are slightly tweaked with the back button on the left instead of the standard right so one might have to initially struggle to get used to the changed experience. The power button and volume controllers sit on the right of the device, while the left is free of distractions.
The highlight of the device is its iris scanning feature called - EyeVerify. Unlike the popular fingerprint-based biometric authentication, the TCL 560 scans your eyes for authentication. Initially it took me a lot of time to get the eye-scan right. The problem with eye-scan is that there is no way you can adjust the pressure, the way you can with fingerprints, to get the scan right in one attempt. Once you get your eye scan registered, it will ask you to have either a pattern or PIN as an alternative way of unlocking the device. I registered the scans without wearing glasses, but, surprisingly, I was able to unlock the device even while wearing the glasses.
The phone comes with a 2500 mAh battery which gives a decent backup for an average user. On the performance front, the 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 8909 quad-core processor with 2 GB RAM. During the review period there were no app crashes or heating issues.
In terms of audio output, the phone offers a decent experience - both on loudspeaker mode and with earphones.
What’s Not So Cool
While the phone comes in a comfortable design, the looks are a little disappointing. The phone is unibody with a removable back cover to insert SIM cards and memory card. But the rear cover is made of plastic which could be prone to breakage if handled roughly. Also, the shiny golden texture is an eyesore.
This budget smartphone comes with an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front snapper with 84.4 degree wide-angle lens. The good thing is both the cameras are equipped with flash. The disappointing part is there are barely any customisation options. You only get five modes - Auto, HDR, Pano, Scanner, and Face Beauty with no option to apply any filters while capturing. There are, however, some filters available for post-capture editing. The results are decent in well-lit conditions.
Although the phone comes with the unique iris-scanner, it requires you to hold the device quite close to the eyes to be able to get the scans matched right. Iris-based authentication technology is still at a nascent stage when it comes to smartphones. The kind of precision and speed which standard fingerprint authentication delivers is something that will take a while to come with iris scanners.
The phone comes with 16 GB of internal storage, but much of that is eaten up by bloatware in the form of games with about 10 GB available at user disposal.
At Rs 7,999, the TCL 560 competes with a lot of budget devices in the under-Rs 10K range. This includes Coolpad Note 3 Lite (Rs 6,999), Intex Aqua View (Rs 8,999), and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Rs 9,999).
The goods with the TCL’s first phone in the Indian smartphone market is the ergonomic design, 4G VoLTE support, the unique iris-based authentication feature and the freedom to use dual SIM along with a microSD card for storage expansion. The disappointments include average camera and looks. There are plenty of smartphones available in the same price segment but if you want to up the security level of your phone with the iris scanner, then TCL 560 could be considered.