Micromax took everyone by surprise last year when it launched its first Canvas smartphone, which was essentially an affordable phablet with a 5-inch display for Rs 10,000. Until then, the only phablet worth buying was the Samsung Galaxy Note, which was priced about three times higher. What started as a fad, soon became the biggest selling category of smartphones in the Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 segment. Encashing on the popularity of the first Canvas device, Micromax launched almost half-a-dozen products under that range in less than 18 months.
The latest Canvas smartphone, the Canvas Turbo A250, pushes the envelope a bit further, being the Indian smartphone vendor’s first smartphone with a full-HD 1080p display. Micromax is so confident of the Canvas Turbo that it has roped in Hugh Jackman as its brand ambassador, the first time a local brand has roped in a Hollywood star. Of course, that would come in handy to connect with audiences abroad as Micromax embarks on its expansion plans starting with Eastern Europe, but it also raises expectations from the Canvas Turbo. Does the Turbo live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
With the Canvas Turbo, Micromax has finally forayed into the full HD display segment, which is the latest trend in this space. Design-wise, the Canvas Turbo breaks the monotony, and looks and feels a little different from other Canvas phones.
It dons an aluminum frame in a unibody design, which gives it an edge over its rivals as well as sets it apart from its own smartphones in the Canvas range. The build quality of the phone is appreciable for its price (approximately Rs 18,000). It looks nice and feels sturdy. And with a smooth, matte finished back, slightly curved edges and an edge-to-edge running display with very thin bezel, this smartphone looks better than being yet another cheap looking clone of a premium phone.
Talking about the sides, the right side accommodates the power on/off key and volume rocker, while the left houses two micro-SIM card trays. The upper side houses a microUSB slot and the lower has a port for 3.5mm audio jack. The metallic finish keys protrude a little and are easily usable. Overall, the phone looks nice, is comfortable to hold and with the aluminum chassis, promises to offer durability as well.
The aluminum back of the phone is divided into three sections and reminds us of some HTC phones. The top most part houses the 13-megapixel camera with an LED flash. The middle part which dominates the back is actually the only place where we have real metal and has the new Micromax logo printed on it. The bottom part has the speaker grille. Mind you, none of these parts come off and the battery is sealed under the middle part while the top and bottom sections are where most of the antennas are housed.
One grudge we have is with the placement of the speaker. Since it is placed at the back, the speaker gets muffled when the phone is kept facing up on a surface. This is a pain point if you intend to use the speaker for calls and playing music.
The Micromax Canvas Turbo has a 5-inch IPS (1080×1920 pixels) full-HD display with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, which is also the phone’s USP. Talking of the display quality, it looks crisp and offers good visuals even at different viewing angles but is not in the same league as the 1080p display found on the LG G2 or the Samsung Galaxy S4. Also, the display wasn’t exactly legible under direct sunlight unless we pumped up the brightness to its peak. Plus it does not have any protective layer like Gorilla Glass or Dragontrail on top of the display, which makes it prone to scratches or even shattering of the display.
The phone comes with a MediaTek 6589T quad-core Cortex A7 chipset clocking at 1.5GHz and PowerVR SGX544 GPU, coupled with 2GB of RAM. There is no microSD card slot, which means that users will have to rely on its 16GB of internal memory space, out of which 13.5GB is actually available to use.
MediaTek’s 6589T quad-core chipset on the phone ensures a smooth performance for most of the functions and we did not face any problems with the touch interface either. However, the phone did hang occasionally, especially while playing games and multitasking.
The 13-megapixel rear camera of the phone is nothing better than the one seen on the Canvas Doodle 2, which says it all about its performance. Micromax does offer a number of shooting options like HD recording, Panorama and 3D Panorama shots which were introduced with the Canvas 4, smile as well as scene detection and burst mode with up to 99 shots at once, among others. Besides this, it has usual setting options for white balance, exposure, color effect and more. The rear camera can also record full HD videos.
We were really hoping for the 13-megapixel rear camera to work better than those seen on the previous smartphones by the company however that isn’t the case. The camera provides average shots even under good lighting conditions, forget about low light photography. In most of the photos, the camera fails to capture actual colors. The photos look decent on the phone’s display but are disappointing when viewed on a bigger display. The front 5-megapixel camera is good enough only for low quality selfies that won’t do you any justice.
The Micromax Canvas Turbo runs on Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean with a very minimal skin on top. It has the regular five customizable homescreens with option to add or remove app shortcuts and widgets, and a notification bar on the top which carries a shortcut to settings and an icon to clear all notifications.
One interesting feature is the SMS pop-up notification, which is quite similar to that on the LG G2. Essentially, whenever a new SMS arrives, a tiny pop-up appears on the display. It expands into a slightly bigger window when touched and you can read the text message and reply or delete it directly from there. The brilliance is that you are not made to go into a separate window to deal with the message. This comes in very handy when you are inside another app and don’t want to leave it to check the message.
In terms of overall usage, we did not face any noticeable cellular network problems like low reception or call drops. The voice quality during calls were decent with no complaints on either side of the call. The 2,000mAh battery is good enough for a day’s worth of usage. For us, it easily lasted for 13 hours on an average while we used three email accounts, and Facebook and Twitter accounts with push notifications, about 40 minutes of voice calls and an average of about 90 minutes of Internet usage as well as WhatsApp messaging through the day. However, we kept the brightness level of the phone to minimum while using it indoors, and connected it through Wi-Fi as well as 3G network for data.
The Micromax Canvas Turbo is a mixed bag of a device when it comes to performance. However, it benefits from no significant competition in this segment, which is where potential buyers might be willing to overlook the poor camera quality and lack of an expandable memory card slot. It is an average device, at best, but we have to give it to Micromax for the build quality.
But that does not mean Micromax can sit back and relax. Karbonn’s latest Titanium X would offer the Canvas Turbo stiff competition. We even like the Gionee Elife E6 but Micromax has an edge over it because of the price difference.