Smartron burst onto the scene last year with the t.phone, an affordable flagship device that had its fair share of issues. Another key talking point for the company was its famous brand ambassador, former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. The company went quiet soon after, with no other major launches apart from the t.book convertible laptop.
Back now with the srt.phone, Smartron is taking on the much more competitive mid-range smartphone market. Priced at Rs 13,999 and on sale at Flipkart, the Smartron srt.phone is a mid-range option that goes up against the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and Moto G5 Plus. But can this Indian smartphone manufacturer take on the might of the established brands? We find out in our review.
Smartron srt.phone: The Good
Considering that specifications determine which phones perform well in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment, Smartron has sensibly specified the srt.phone to strongly challenge the current segment champions. With 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 SoC under the hood, the phone has the specifications to mount a serious challenge on more expensive devices such as the Moto G5 Plus and Nubia Z11 Mini S. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 costs Rs 1,000 less, but irregular availability means that a lot of buyers can turn to the Smartron srt.phone for a well-specified device that you can buy easily.
In terms of hardware, there are a few key aspects that also give the phone leverage over the competition. While a 5.5-inch full-HD screen, dual-SIM connectivity, fingerprint sensor and 3000mAh battery are fairly standard in this segment, the presence of the type-C port for charging and data transfers is a key department where the phone shows its modernity. Not only that, but the phone is compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, and the charger bundled in the sales package is a QC3.0 compliant unit, meaning that you get fast charging out of the box.
You also have the ability to change the rear panel, and Smartron will be releasing artistic covers featuring Sachin Tendulkar, which can be purchased separately. You can also purchase the phone with a specific cover of your choice, which will appeal to fans of Sachin Tendulkar.
Performance is fairly good, thanks to the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 SoC running the srt.phone. Although it’s fabricated on the 28nm process unlike the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 which uses the 14nm process, power is in fact slightly higher, albeit at the cost of battery efficiency. In terms of functionality, the phone runs smoothly and capably for a mid-range device, and you’re unlikely to have any issues with multi-tasking or graphics-intensive tasks such as gaming or videos.
One department that will appeal immensely to power users is the software, with the Smartron srt.phone running Android Nougat 7.1.1 out of the box. The user interface is a near-stock Android option, with the same focus on simplicity and efficiency. However, there is a bit of bloatware to be found, with certain Microsoft apps such as Skype and the Office suite being locked onto the device with no option to uninstall. There is also TronX, Smartron’s own app which gives you access to the Smartron store, unlimited cloud storage through tcloud, a support centre and the user forums for community discussions around the device.
Smartron srt.phone: The Bad
While the Snapdragon 652 SoC does deliver class-leading power for a mid-range SoC, its 28nm fabrication process comes at a cost. Battery life is considerably weaker than on phones powered by the Snapdragon 625 SoC, such as the Redmi Note 4 and Moto G5 Plus. With careful use, you can get the phone through a full day on a single charge, but intensive use rapidly drains the battery and heavy use will need you to recharge at least once before your day is done. Although rapid charging certainly helps in this case, this isn’t always convenient, especially if you spend a lot of time away from a power socket.
In a time when even phones priced at well under what the srt.phone goes for come with metal bodies, the Smartron comes with an all-plastic build. While this does keep the phone light and allows for the replaceable back panel, it also has the phone feeling not quite as premium or good as devices such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and Moto G5 Plus. Smartron’s explanation for this is to ensure better connectivity for the phone’s antenna, but I didn’t see any significant improvement in connectivity over all-metal phones that I ordinarily use, such as the OnePlus 3 and Redmi Note 4. Furthermore, the power button is oddly located at the top of the device, which is a strange and inconvenient position for this today, particularly considering that at 5.5 inches, this isn’t a small phone.
The Smartron srt.phone has a 13-megapixel primary camera with single-tone LED flash, and a 5-megapixel front camera. Although video recording is possible at 4K resolution for the back camera, there isn’t much else to praise here. The color in pictures isn’t quite as vibrant as it could be, and there’s a fair amount of grain visible even in well-lit conditions. Low-light conditions produce pictures that are dull, grainy and unexciting to look at.
Smartron’s return to the smartphone market is a much better effort than its first launch. While the t.phone was plagued with issues with the camera, heating and a general lack of finesse, the srt.phone is a much better product from the Indian manufacturer. With good hardware, decent specifications and a concerted effort to make the phone as good as it can be for the price, the srt.phone is a worthwhile alternative to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and Moto G5 Plus.
It is far from perfect though, thanks to its plastic build which makes it feel a bit cheap, and the use of a power-hungry SoC which affects battery life. However, distinct advantages in the form of the latest software, fast charging out-of-the-box, and plenty of internal storage and RAM. And of course, if you’re a Sachin fan or just want to support an Indian manufacturer, the Smartron srt.phone is a good option for you.