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by Linus 51


Firstly, I have reviewed this device with an old software, which had quite a lot of bugs in it. That happened due to the fact that OTA updates did not work at that time as I always check for the latest software updates before reviewing a device. In fact, I received one OTA update once I took the device out of the box but then OTA feature went down for some time due to the device pre-release nature.

Ok, enough is enough. I have just updated the ROM to the 1.4 version (release date – 2015.08.04). It is said to fix all the bugs I’ve found in the older version of the review. Let’s not waste any time and get right into it as I will re-test every feature of the device and see if Umi can keep up the promise.



1. Camera optimized
2. Heart rate/stress test/UV test optimized
3. Notificationlight optimized
4. Eyeprint ID license activated
5. Hifi headphone audio optimized
6. 3 keys (return/home/manu)is customziable, change location base on your habit; as well as move them to the hardware part via setting if you don’t fancy the software keys
7. UI optimized the best oringal from google andriod UI, you can compare with othe Mediatek 5.1 UI, they are different and ugly
8. Super ROOT, very stable and good on ROOTJOY to manage your phone!
9. Quick manu now support to be pull down in anywhere (for now you can only pull it down the quick manu from the very top of the phone, but our new update support to pull it down even it’s in the middle of the screen)
10. One key end all apps (on Quick manu called “end all”)
11. Guest using mode optimized


You may have heard of Umi – a small Chinese manufacturer that has not been in the industry for many years, but has been known for their good understanding of how to design phones.

Firstly, the company attracted a lot of attention with its Zero model, which sported premium materials and decent specs at an affordable price. Since then it has become clear that Umi’s strategy is to try and stay in the competition by producing nicely designed handsets and thus lure some consumers.

Their newest model Iron is no exception. Let’s take a look what we’ve got.

We wanted to say thanks to for sending Umi Iron for a review!

Umi Iron Review: VIDEO

Umi Iron Review: SPECS

Display5.5″ 1080p
ProcessorMediaTek MT6753, 1.3GHz, octa-core, 64-bit
Camera8MP Front/13MP Back
ConnectivityBluetooth, 3G, 4G, GPS, WIFI, GSM,EDGE, GPRS, UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+
Battery3.350 mAh (non-removable)
Dimensions152.3 x 76.5 x 7.9mm/ 148g
OSAndroid 5.1
Storage16GB (expandable via microSD card slot up to 64GB)

Umi Iron Review: UNBOXING


The packaging is a bit different than the majority of boxes as you have to pull one side to open it up, to reveal all the items packed neatly.





The accessories that are in the box include the instruction manuals, USB plug along with the USB cable. Last but not least the company added USB OTG cable. Well, any extra accessories are a great thing.

Overall, the contents look to be of good quality (but not the best).



I have also received a decent quality leather flip cover case. Not sure if it is a real leather but it definitely feels like. Also, it feels well made and fits nicely on the device. It does not come with the standard packaging but you can buy original flip leather case for $14.99.


Last but not least I received a tempered glass screen protector. To be honest, I haven’t installed it yet and I cannot tell you if it is made out of high quality glass or not. Still, it is not included in the standard packaging but you can buy the original tempered glass screen protector for $14.99 separately.




The device comes with a 5.5″ display, which is very bright, sharp and vivid. Also, it has great viewing angles and natural looking colours. Overall, it is a superb panel for a budget device and you will notice that immediately once you turn on the device.


On the top side there is a proximity sensor, 8MP camera sensor, earpiece and front firing LED flash for night selfies.

On the bottom you can find capacitive buttons, which can be customised thanks to the latest update (v. 1.4). In addition, Umi says that these navigation keys “will be brought to the hardware part” with the upcoming v. 1.5 update meaning that a user will have a chance either to use software on-screen buttons or capacitive buttons below the screen.

In addition, on the bottom side there is a really nice looking notification LED light, which has a great looking pulsing effect. It flashes green for notifications and red for charging/low battery by default but it can be changed!


The LED has plenty of customisation options, which is a really neat feature if you want you can assign different colours for particular things,  you have a lot of colours to choose from.  I have to tell that the notification LED really makes the device stand out, as the LED is bright and looks great with it’s pulsing effect.


Here is why we call this model Iron as the back plate is made out of metal. It definitely feels like a high quality material and adds a bit of a premium look and feel. Also, it feels great in the hand (I may be subjective as I just love metal phones).

However, the top and bottom parts are made out of plastic as this is the solution Umi chose to implement to get a normal antenna reception.


On the top side there is a 13MP Sony IMX214 shooter along with dual tone dual LED flash and a noise cancelling mic. It is worth mentioning that the camera lens are surrounded by a quality stainless steel ring.


On the bottom side there is an UMI logo along with the loudspeaker.


The metal shell continues around to the sides of the device and is secured to the rest of the body with visible screws, which also provides a nice looking industrial design.



In addition, you can find a dual nano SIM card/microSD card (up to 64GB) slot , which you have to open up with a pin.


On the left side you can find a  power on/off switch along with a volume rocker made of metal.


On the top side there is just a headset jack.


Finally, on the bottom you can find a micro USB charging port along with the main microphone.

Umi Iron Review: UI


Umi Iron runs Android 5.1 with a light Umi skin on top of it out of the box. The experience of using this device for a few weeks has so far been good. I didn’t have any lags or hiccups if I was doing non-demanding stuff, e.g. browsing the web, Facebook, Youtube etc.

In addition, all the apps are opening up and closing fast, transitions are smooth and I have no major complaints. After the latest software update the user available storage was increased a bit. Also, Umi updated the quick access notification and right now it can be pulled down from any part of the screen (not only the top). Finally, the quick access menu was updated with “end all tasks” button.


Umi marketed this model “as the world’s first” to have Iris scanner. I had to re-test this feature with the latest software as it did not work on the earlier software builds. In short, it works but it is far from perfect.

The setup is a bit similar to the fingerprint security one as you have to scan your eyes several times, so the device remembers your “retina ID”. Also, you should choose an alternative unlock method in case Iris scanner cannot recognise your eyes.

The main question here is how this method of security works. Well, you have to be in good lighting conditions meaning that the camera may struggle scanning your eyes indoors. Also, the struggles may continue if you scan your eyes in bright sunny day as you naturally squint. If you are not in the ideal position for the front facing camera, the Iris scanner feature may become annoying.

All in all, I can confirm that Eyeprint ID is a feature that actually works and it may be cool to show it to your friends once or twice. However, if you really need this feature, it is up to you to decide. Still, this feature is what makes Umi Iron stand out from other devices in this price range.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the overall UI performance as it is working fast and snappy almost all the time. It is almost a stock Android experience and a lot of users should be happy with it.

Umi Iron Review: BENCHMARKS

The benchmarks’ results improved a little after the 1.4 software update. Overall, Umi Iron is a decent performer in the benchmark tests.

Umi Iron Review: PERFORMANCE


The most graphically tasks like gaming are okay but could be better. The graphics look quite good but there is occasional stutter and skipped frames during gaming sessions. You can still enjoy gaming but for more serious gamers out there, it may be annoying at some times. Anyway, the performance is comparable to other devices in this price category.

On the other hand, the device gets warm as usual but not hot at all even after 30 mins of gaming, which is quite an impressive achievement in terms of thermal management considering the fact that the device has a metal back plate.

Umi Iron Review: MULTIMEDIA

You can enjoy multimedia like 1080p video, Internet browsing, scrolling through gallery and even listening to FM radio (a feature that slowly disappears in today’s device) on this device without any issues.


The music playback is kind of the star of the show on Umi Iron. The company is really proud to implement a DIRECTPATH HiFi Audio chip on a budget device. Well, it indeed sounds awesome. Umi even included a dedicated audio app to adjust the a lot of settings of music.

But what about the sound quality via earphones?

The sound is definitely great, you can hear some richer tones with a lot of depth, especially when you know how to play with the equaliser.


However, once you crank up the volume (the volume output is very loud)….. the device freezes and turns off after like 5 seconds. I’ve tested it like 5 times in a row, same result. In addition, I tried turning on/off equaliser enhancement (it is a separate app from the stock Android music player app), same result again..  It happens once you crank up the volume more than a half. A good thing is that I could barely keep the earphones in my ears as the music was so loud.

Umi has already addressed this issue but the latest 1.4 software update still has not fixed that. Well, it the device does not freeze all the time like before but it still happens often when you crank up the volume to the highest levels. It has never happened to any other devices I have reviewed. A good thing that Umi is working on it and they promised to fix it as soon as possible.




The speaker quality is quite good. I played with a lot of equaliser settings to get a better sound. All in all, it is a decent speaker but not the best. E.g. The Lenovo K3 Note has a better one.

Umi Iron Review: CAMERA



Umi Iron has a stock MTK camera app that has some basic features and shooting modes and it works fine most of the times. The device has a 13MP rear shooter but it seems that Umi has interpolated it to 20MP. In addition, if you want to have a wide screen (16:9 ratio) pictures, the resolution goes to 15MP.

Same is with the front facing snapper. It has a 5MP sensor but Umi interpolated it to 8MP.

Umi Iron Review: IMAGE QUALITY


The 13MP camera on the back is can take some good looking images outdoors. The images have a good amount of details and are quite sharp. The pictures seem to be a bit sharper due to software tricks, which lead to upscaling images to 20MP.  Also, the colour reproduction is good. However, usually the corners of the images are out of focus and look a bit blurry. Also, the dynamic range is usually off. Still, the daylight images are good for a budget device.


The pictures taken indoors are actually pretty good. With plenty of lighting you can get some great looking images. When the scene is not lit up that well, the level of details become lower but are still acceptable for a budget device.




Night shots are just average. On the other hand, they have improved after the latest software update. Nothing major but you can notice it.  Also, there is a visible purple tint in some of the pictures. Finally, noise levels go up and the level of details goes down. Just please do not get me wrong here, Umi Iron is not a disaster in low-light scenarios. It is simply the same as the majority of the devices in this price range.



The dual tone dual LED flash is pretty powerful and definitely helps out. It helps illuminating the scene well. After the latest software update I can say that it is a definitely good implementation of LED light on a budget device.

Download night camera samples


A 5MP Selfie camera (interpolated to 8MP) is good outdoors and decent indoors. In addition, you are getting a front facing LED flash, which is better than the one found on Ulefone Be Touch or Zeaplus M7 I’ve tested but much worse than the former flagship class vivo Xshot. Still, it is a pretty neat feature and it may help you taking a few selfies in a night club.

Overall, Umi Iron actually has a good camera for daylight images outdoors as images have lots of details, colours look natural and pictures look sharp overall. However, the dynamic range is usually off but this is common to all devices in this price range.

The indoors images are also look decent but the night pictures do not impress.

All in all, I am happy with this camera and I am also glad that Umi made a significant improvement in the camera department with the latest software update.

Download Full-res camera samples

Umi Iron Review: VIDEO QUALITY

The 1080p video quality is quite good. I like the level of details, colours look natural, auto-exposure is not jumping like crazy and overall the footage looks good.




The call quality is good (not on par with flagships though) and signal reception is decent. As far as Wifi, it has a good range and works without interruptions. However, the GPS lock speed is very slow. A very first cold start outdoors took like 2 minutes, which is terrible. Hopefully, this is something that Umi addresses in the future. Once you get a fix, navigation is pretty accurate though.

Umi Iron Review: BATTERY LIFE


A Geekbench 3 test score is very impressive for a budget device as Umi Iron got 6 hours 38 mins screen-on time (dim screen off, auto-brightness on, Wifi with some apps syncing on).


Real life test is not that great but still good. This diagram shows a very intensive use of the smartphone (Internet, Youtube, 3 different benchmarks, gaming, taking pictures, shooting video etc.).

Overall, the device will get you through the day even if you are a heavy user but not a die hard gamer or addicted Youtuber. If you are an average user, you may even get 2 full days of use.

Umi Iron Review: CONCLUSIONS


So here it is, Umi Iron, a metal phone for a budget. I would say that the design and build quality are one of the key aspects of this device. A metal back cover and the sides definitely add some premium look and feel and those little screws add a bit of an industrial design impression. Also, a customisable LED is a welcome feature to any device and it seems that Umi has implemented it well on this phone.

Almost stock looking Android 5.1 based UI is great and I have no major complaints doing a lot of daily tasks. One of the selling points of this device is iris scanner and it works. Well, it is not ideal as you need to scan your eyes in good lighting conditions but I am pretty sure that you will get some attention from your friends once they see this feature.

In addition, the phone has an decent camera for outdoors shoots and it is quite good indoors. The night images are not the the best but not the worst either.

There are some issues to address like the music playback at the highest volumes using headphones but Umi knows that and they assert that they’ve been working on a fix.

Finally, you are getting a good looking device, which has a great, sharp and very bright display, good battery and premium build for under $180. I believe that Umi will fix the rest of the software bugs very soon as the latest software update (V. 1.4) brought a lot of improvements and bug fixes already. I have to say that Umi has some dedication to what they’re doing as they are listening to the community (including me) and trying to fix all the issues. That means you are NOT dealing with a knock-off Chinese company, which simply wants to sell the device and provide zero after sale support. Finally, the Umi Iron is a decent offering at it is worth looking at if you are looking for a device which costs below $180.

We wanted to say thanks to for sending Umi Iron for a review!

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  • Riccardo Benzoni

    what’s the point of reviewing a phone with an old and WIP rom (v5) when a lot of newer versions (last being v11) were released and fixed a lot of bugs and optimized system and camera?

    • Linus

      so why these newer versions do not come up when I check for the OTA software updates?

      • Gruff

        I think you’d need to upgrade through UMI’s rootjoy system to get the latest ROM. But v0.5 is definitely a very old ROM version and will not be giving a true reflection of what the phone will be like out of the box.

        • Linus

          I have just updated the device manually. You see, I always check the phones’ software via OTA. However, I cannot know details about each phone like in this situation that OTA updates do not work at the moment and I have to flash the ROM manually.

          I will re-review this device, which may take a few days again. Thanks.

    • Muhammad Yasir

      hey , u think the camera’s performance is a software issue ???

      • Steve B

        The Umi Zero had a good installation of the IMX214, I would hope they would equal or better it in this…

  • Shaun Lee

    Hey Linus, could you update the review after the latest update? 🙂

    • Linus

      Hi. I have the latest OTA update. I always check for updates before a review. Are there any updates that need to be flashed manually?

      • Shaun Lee

        I’m not sure, but according to Umi their latest update enables the Iris scanner to work? Or is it REALLY just a gimmick? Quite confused haha

        • Cpaun

          I would bet it’s a gimmick 🙂 But let’s give Umi a chance.

        • Paap Mrittu

          Surely Iris scanner is a gimmick whether it’s working or not. But I am more interested in camera and audio.

          • Linus

            stay tuned for a re-review soon 🙂

  • mf1gt3r

    It’s really not up to 13mp. Just look at the resolution…and why F2.8? I thought it was F2.0.

    • Muhammad Yasir

      yeah … that really doesnt make sense … why would they do that ?

      • Linus

        I will re-review this device, which may take a few days again. I just flashed the newest ROM manually as OTA updates do not work at the moment due to device’s pre-release nature. Thanks.

        • Paap Mrittu

          After the flashing if you need to re-review it, means something has improved or changed, right?

          • Linus

            yes. stay tuned for a re-review 🙂

        • Muhammad Yasir

          pre release nature ?? u got a set which is like a pre-production model.. ?

          • Linus

            yes, indeed.

          • Muhammad Yasir

            well .. i hope its a REALLY crappy pre-prod … cos i really wanted Umi Iron to shine …

    • Linus

      pictures uploaded to the website are lower resolution (due to server’s limitations). I will soon put original format pics for download

  • Cpaun

    Soft corners for photos probably mean poor optics quality.

  • Muhammad Yasir

    wow … that is JUST DISAPPOINTING ?!
    wth umi ???!!! i thought u were building the next big thing in the budget category :/

    bad camera , iris scanner wont work … just heart breaking man … u suck umi !

    • Linus

      I hope they will address these issues in the OTA software update. If they will, I will update this review 🙂 but so far this is what I’ve dealt with.

      • Muhammad Yasir

        ok … thanks 🙂

        i hope they do…

        • Linus

          I hope too! It just seems such a nice budget phone! Hopefully, I can say smth better after retesting it! 🙂

  • iron-looks-good-so-far

    Does this phone support 850Mhz 3G?

  • Edgar Cárdenas

    So, the camera will improve with the latest update??? F2.8? WTH ;/ And what about the iris scanner? I really hope we will see a better version of the phone , I wanted this phone to be a really worth buying phone for all the amazing specs and the good price /: seeing this bad performance in the camera just made me sad /:

    • Linus

      check the update review, plz

  • Zaya SARAA

    i just need a good sounding phone with a good sound chip can you review more deeply sound quality plz?

  • Mr. O

    A new rom (1.4) got released.
    I think you can do ure review all over again. It supposed to be a cracking update…. Cheers!

    • Linus

      Indeed, just re-tested every aspect of this phone using v. 1.4 update.

      • Stiven

        Did you tried this i mean move keys to hardware part? “6. 3 keys (return/home/manu)is customziable, change location base on your habit; as well as move them to the hardware part via setting if you don’t fancy the software keys”

        • Linus

          yes. the soft keys are customisable. Hardware keys will be available just with a v.1.5 update.

  • Dave OK

    Linus please what about this changelog how true is it and what does it mean

    3 keys (return/home/manu)is customziable, change location base on your
    habit; as well as move them to the hardware part via setting if you
    don’t fancy the software keys

    • Linus

      capacitive keys are indeed customisable (see screenshots in the review) but the “move them to the hardware part via setting if you don’t fancy the software keys” is not yet available. It will be brought with a v.1.5 update.

  • Muhammad Yasir

    well.. DESPITE the update ….

    Iris Scanner works but annoying 🙁

    CAmera is abysmal in low light and DR is out of range 🙁

    Freezing Issue continues …

    Umi REALLY need to up their game or they’ll just crash and burn …

    bad BAD phone for $180 … especially with so much promise but no living up to it

    • Paap Mrittu

      And he didn’t test the gimmicky heart rate monitor, otg, all the sensors etc etc. So I am not convinced by this review.

    • Linus

      Muhammad, it is not a bad phone but not the best either. It would say it is a decent phone in its price range with a few features that turned out to be gimmicks.

      Still, you are right about all the points you just mentioned. However, I am so used to seeing these Chinese marketing campaigns (like Elephone P7000 etc etc.) saying that their device will be a new flagship killer. You have to take it as a part of their business and a Chinese understanding of marketing.

  • Vojislav Krstic

    Manyl customers who have already received
    the Umi Iron from the first batch, noticed few serious problems:
    SD cards cant be mounted, the phone does not accept them.
    The phone cant be connected to the PC;
    There is annoying loud sound when you want to pause or resume any audio applicationor even any sounds on the phone.
    Phone freezes and shuts down on high speaker volume. Bad quality of the speaker.
    Magnetometer and gyroscope sensors are out of function or even missing.
    There is no indication that any of mentioned issues have been solved in the
    last update v1.4.
    Finally, after many complaints from customers for mentioned issues, the guys
    from Umi don’t give any profound of a statement.
    Some of these problems surely are the reasons why http://www.to2c, the official
    distributor of Umi Iron,few days ago notified that after receiving and testing
    the phones, they had to send the whole first batch back to the factory for the
    replacement. For some reason, after two days they erased these comments.
    Finally, I would like to emphasize that I am ambivalent about the
    Iron, from one side pretty disappointed with all mentioned
    unsolved issues, and from the other side feel very happy for not being in the
    first batch shipment, so I can cancel my order.

    • Gaby Todoran

      Hi….any of those problem resolved yet ?….for a long time I’ve searched for a midrange phone that is cheap….but I see that many people said that UMI IRON and Elephone P8000 have some important problems… I don’t know what to do.If I shouldn’t buy any of these two phones or what to buy….I am starting to look at the Ulefone Be Touch 2 but the price also starts to go up and that’s not very good for me….what can you advice me ? You can live with any of these phones ? there are some other ones ?

      • Vojislav Krstic

        My first reply have been erased. I realized to late that many negative comments are being erased often on some forums.
        Finally, I received the phone yesterday. After first settings several issues have been noticed:
        The cable cant be used neither for charging nor for connecting to the PC.
        I have tried several cables, but none of them cant connect the phone to the PC (Win7). With the same cables other phones connect smoothly.
        I succeeded to connect the phone via Mobile Go. All folders are accessible, but you cant make any changes to external SD card, so the SD card is totally useless.
        The headset sound volume is low and the ringing sound quality is very poor.
        I updated the phone to the v1.4 via OTA, but there isn’t OTA update for v1.6. As the phone cant be connected to the PC, I cant update it via RootJoy.
        Although I asked the reseller to check the phone before shipping regarding well known issues, probably I will have to send it back to China. I was waiting the phone almost for two months, from the promotion period, and finally became very disappointed and frustrated. I really regret for wasting money and time. For sure next time I will go only for proven products.

        • Hi, your first comment was not erased, I can clearly see it with lots of complaints. Well, I’ve told a lot of the issues in the review of this phone, you should have read that more carefully as it may have helped you to make a buying decision.

      • I suggest checking out the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2, Asus Zenfone 2, Meizu M2 Note. These are truly great budget phones as I’ve tested them myself. If any questions, please write me an email.

  • Bruno Madeira

    Hi guys,
    for those who know/have UMI X3, comparing to this UI, which one do you think is better? I have the X3 and it might not be the best phone on earth, but I’m satisfied with it. Cheers.

  • ElLollo

    Linus do all the sensors work? Does the micro SD works? Can it be connected with the PC?

    • Dave OK

      Linus please answer this question

  • carlos soza

    Linus which would you recommend, Umi Iron or ZTE nubia Z9 mini? Which is the most reliable?

    • Nubia Z9 Mini without any hesitation.

  • Mario

    This phone or Meizu M2 Note?

  • Gabriel Hines

    Okay so i am seriously considering purchasing the umi iron pro, as there are no reviews i am looking at the model before it. I just wanted to ask one question, From the complaints i read on this article, the phone seems not so good.. But would you even consider recommending this phone, i am a basic user no games or anything and is this a reliable device? Because i will be using it almost every day..