Monsters from Asia: The incredibly priced, metal-clad UMi Iron with its iris scanner, heart rate sensor, and selfie flash


With colleagues having gone through the latest major announcements to come out of China — of the Huawei Honor 7 and the Meizu MX5 — we were left with just one choice for this week's installment of our fortnightly Monsters from Asia column: the UMi Iron. In case you didn't know, this is the second time we're featuring a UMi handset, with the stylish UMi Zero having made an appearance already. The Iron, however, is a very different device, featuring top-shelf specs through and through.

To start off, the 0.31-inch (7.9 mm) UMi Iron is a fully metal-clad phone, meaning that even the physical volume and power keys on the left side are made out of stainless steel. Overall, the phone reminds us of the HTC One M8. Moving on, the engineers at the company have nestled a large, 5.5-inch LTPS display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 (an excellent 403 ppi), under which we've got an octa-core, 64-bit MediaTek MT6753 with eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.5GHz and a Mali-T720 GPU, along with 3 gigs of RAM. In terms of storage, there are 16GB for you to play with, along with the ability to expand upon that through a microSD card.

Turning to imaging, we're looking at a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 main camera with a two-color LED flash for (theoretically) more natural images in low light, and an 8-megapixel OmniVision OV8858 selfie camera with f/2.2 lens up front. That wasn't enough for UMi, though, so the company decided to include a front LED flash, though its inclusion probably also has something to do with the fact the the Iron sports an iris scanner, too. The thing allows you to unlock the device by just looking at it, which we've found to be a more convenient method than a fingerprint scanner, granted that it's fast and accurate enough. Speaking of the lock screen, the Iron also supports drawn gestures, allowing you to skip a song without unlocking, or launch an application quickly.

You'd think we're done by now, but that's just not the case. To add to the already impressive specs sheet, UMi has also picked a very generous, 3,350 mAh battery, dedicated heart rate and UV sensors that have their own health suite app to call home, two SIM slots, a large, customizable LED strip on the bottom for missed notifications/calls, and Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box. If you end up disliking UMi's proprietary skin on top of Android, the company is pretty open to modifications, and even provides special software that aggregates all relevant custom ROMs for easy flashing.

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A hefty specsheet, but here's the real crazy part: the UMi Zero is currently up for pre-order through various international retailers for $179.99. This thing is a darn steal, if we've ever seen one.

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