Reviews

Micromax Canvas A1 Preview

Micromax Canvas A1 Preview

I wanted to do a full review of the Canvas A1, being an Android One device and all, but Micromax did not give me enough time with the device. As such, I’m just writing a short preview of the phone instead of a longer review. Considering all three Android One devices are mostly identical, what’s written below should mostly apply to the Sparkle V and Dream UNO as well. 

Design

The design is quite simple but also quite boring. The design is the only thing that really differentiates the Micromax, Spice, and Karbonn versions of the reference Google design for Android One but again the differences are minimal and basically limited to the back cover.

The phone is quite compact, though, and fits perfectly in one hand. The build quality is also quite good and the phone doesn’t feel cheap as such.

I thought the design was a bit too simple but other than that there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it.

Display

The 4.5-inch FWVGA (854×480) display was adequate. Despite the resolution, I was pleasantly surprised with the sharpness of the screen, which seemed quite good. The viewing angles and sunlight legibility were also quite decent. Where the display lacked was in colors, which were quite off from what they should look like. I am in the company of far too many displays that are correctly color calibrated, so it’s easy for me to spot this, but honestly, most people would neither notice nor care. Even with the color issue (which is minor, really) I think the display is pretty decent overall.

Hardware, Software, and Performance

All three Android One phones run on the MediaTek MT6582, with a quad-core CPU clocked at 1.3GHz and Mali-400 MP2 GPU. There is also 1GB of RAM, 4GB storage space and microSD card slot. Regarding the memory card, I must highlight that the phone needs it for a lot of tasks, such as photos, videos and even saving screenshots. The phone won’t let you do any of these tasks without a memory card inside. With just 4GB onboard, it’s pretty much expected that you’d have a memory card anyway but it’s still odd to see these restrictions.

As for the software, the Android One phones run on a stock version of Android 4.4.4 for now. The OEMs have preloaded a few apps on the phone. On the Canvas A1, there were very few of these but I still thought it was unnecessary and could have been left out. Other minor differences from Nexus phones include a missing Gallery app (you need to use the Photos app that comes with Google+ app), FM radio app (seriously, why don’t the Nexus phones have this?) and dual SIM options in the Settings app.

In terms of performance, I was consistently impressed with how well this phone ran. The performance ranged from good to shockingly good at times. Just scroll through Instagram app to see how fluidly it scrolls, better than many of the high-end phones I’ve used. Performance in other apps was also similarly good.

Gaming was also surprisingly good. I actually just managed to try a couple of games but they all ran perfectly fine, which was again surprising. The GPU seems to have bit more power than is necessary for this screen resolution, which is what helped the frame rates in games.

The only issue I had was with the software, which had some scaling issue. To maintain the visual size, the UI renders at a higher size than it should for this screen size and resolution, which causes many of the UI elements to flow out of the screen or overlap. This actually happens less in third party apps and more in the first party Google apps, such as Camera and Hangouts, that come preloaded on the phone, which shows either lack of attention to detail or concern for this anomaly.

Camera

Not impressive. First of all, it comes with that godawful Google camera app. Beyond that, the max resolution has a strange aspect ratio and the images look blurry at that setting than they do at a lower resolution with proper 4:3 aspect ratio, so there is some interpolation going on there. This happens in videos as well, and at a far more terrifying scale. The phone supports “1080p” and “720p” resolutions, but both look like the base 480p video being upscaled. The 1080p video is unwatchable and looks so blurry it almost looks like it’s out of focus.

You can get some okayish shots for Instagram or Twitter but don’t even bother with the video option.

Battery Life

Didn’t get to test this. In the first few days of getting a phone you tend to use them a lot, which is a bad time to test battery life (this is why you don’t trust battery life numbers of devices that were reviewed over a period of two days and rushed for page views). I need to use the phone for a couple of weeks to get a good understanding of the battery life. In my short usage, the battery life wasn’t bad as such, otherwise I’d have noticed it. I feel with average use the phone should last a full day with two SIM cards, but don’t quote me on that.

Verdict

Really solid phone. Few things, such as design and camera aside, there really isn’t much to complain about it. I can’t believe we have phones this good at this price now. Android One is everything that Google promised it would be and I’m glad it managed to deliver such a good smartphone experience at such a low price.