Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Micromax Canvas HD review: Worth the price

NEW DELHI: Micromax made waves with its Canvas 2, offering a very capable smartphone with a 5-inch screen. And now it is back with a more powerful phone touting a quad-core processor and HD-capable screen. On paper, the phone offers great value for money, but many wonder if it is a better proposition than Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos. Well, we had the same question (and some more) and put Micromax Canvas HD through a series of tests to find the answer. Want to know which of the two is better and see if Micromax's new flagship is worth the money? Read on to find out...

Canvas HD features an IPS display measuring 5-inch that boasts of 1280x720p (HD) resolution and 294ppi pixel density. The phone has a 1.2GHz quad-core Mediatek processor, coupled with 1GB RAM, and 4GB onboard memory with microSD compatibility up to 32GB. Connectivity suite of this phone is quite standard and comprises 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB 2.0. You get an 8MP camera with LED flash on the back and a 2MP snapper in the front with this dual-sim smartphone.

Micromax Canvas HD shares the design language with its predecessor, Canvas 2. It looks decent and fits quite easily in the hand. However, we were disappointed by the overall build quality because the plastic casing on back creaks a little when pushed little hard, but it is not something you are likely to notice during normal usage. Nevertheless, do not expect it to survive a hard fall without any damage.
The phone's front panel is black, while the plastic used in the rear is white; this is the only colour option currently. As usual, the standard sensors and secondary camera are above the display, whereas the three touch-sensitive keys are below it. On the left is the volume rocker and the Power/Lock key is on the right; both the keys are placed quite conveniently, so you have no issue reaching them while using the device with one hand. On top, you will find the microUSB port and earphone jack, while the mic is placed at the bottom. The back of the device sports the primary camera, LED flash, speakers and the manufacturer's logo.

Micromax Canvas HD runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) out-of-the-box without too many customisations. In fact, apart from pre-loaded apps like Notebook and To Do and games like Cricket Fever, Fruit Devil, you do not get any software customisations in the phone. You do get access to the company's proprietary services like M!Live, Hookup and M!Store. Apart from these, you get one-touch access to 14 commonly used features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, data connections and profiles from the Notification Bar.
On one hand, this does not slow down the phone due to heavy tweaking, but on the other, it does not add much to the user experience that other Jelly Bean phablets also offer. Micromax even missed out on Aisha, its homemade Siri rival, but we still get Google Now, which is a pleasure to use.

Camera and multimedia playback:
The 8MP rear camera of Canvas HD disappointed us during testing. The photos it clicks are quite grainy unless taken in daylight; as soon as you take photos under overcast or low-light conditions, you will find a lot of noise. The detailing was below par and the white balance was off. However, these issues mar the cameras of most other affordable phablets as well and we expect buyers will just have to live with this fact.
HD videos shot at 720p played without any intermittent lag and the screen quality complemented them, much to our pleasure. The default video player ran AVI, MP4 and MKV videos without any difficulties. Audio output delivered by the phone's speakers is quite good, but we found that non-Micromax earphones we tried on the device did not deliver clear sound quality. So you will have to invest in a pair of Micromax earphones in case yours ever stop working.

We were curious about the kind of processing power that Micromax Canvas HD's quad-core CPU has to offer. We were pleasantly surprised that it secured a respectable score of 13194 on Antutu compound benchmark test, whereas its Vellamo Metal score was 459. Its Antutu socre is higher than that of Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos, which notched up less than 9000 during its tests.
Another thing we were skeptical about was its screen quality. The phone's IPS panel does a great job when seen under sunlight with its brightness turned up and offers decent viewing angles, though we would have appreciated better contrast. Nevertheless, we were happy that there was negligible pixilation and the content appeared crisp. The touch is responsive and there was never any lag during our review. The graphics while playing popular games like Temple Run 2 and Gun Bros were good.
The 2,000mAh battery of the Canvas HD runs roughly 12-15hours on a single charge with an hour of video playing, calling and Wi-Fi browsing each and two to three hours of music playback. Tone this down and you are likely to get a full day's battery life.


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