Review: Micromax Canvas HD A116

A quad-core processor, a 720p display and an 8-megapixel camera in a package worth Rs 13,990 is something people dream about in a world dominated by the Samsung Galaxy S III. Of course, at such a price the quality and user experience is not guaranteed, but that’s what Micromax is trying to prove with the Canvas HD. We put it through the paces, read on to find out if it’s worth the hype.



Design

Micromax is not known for its industrial design. It’s not known for its build quality. Actually that’s one of the reasons people choose brands like Nokia, and Samsung over local Indian brands because they are not sure about the quality of the product even though on paper they are more feature packed.

To just clear the air about the Canvas HD, we like to point out that it is the best Micromax smartphone build quality wise. We will be remiss to point this out because the build is on par with some of the higher end Samsung Galaxy smartphones. What we don’t like is duality of the color palette – Black on the front, White on the back. It looks ungainly, but the build of the phone especially at Rs 13,990 is superb. We will keep pointing out the price in this review because that’s the metric the phone should be judged by, it should not be compared to a phone that costs more than double.

Design wise it takes forward the heritage of the Canvas line of smartphones. To bystanders it also looks similar to the Samsung Galaxy S III, minus the signature home-button, as Micromax opts for a three capacitive key layout, which works perfectly.

The large 5-inch 720p display takes center stage and it converts to a pixel density of 294ppi. On top of the display we have the 2-megapixel camera and the usual suite of sensors. The back is highlighted with the large 8-megapixel camera which is supplemented by a LED flash on the bottom and there is also a speaker on the lower edge. The back plate can be removed quite easily. Once open, one can see the large 2,000mAh battery, the twin SIM card slots and a microSD card slot. On the left we get the twin volume rockers, the top is home to a 3.5mm jack and the microUSB port and the right is home to the power button.

The design of the Micromax Canvas HD does not elicit any emotion. It’s a very boring design, but it scores heavily in terms of its build quality and largely, the design is ergonomic and can be easily held as the curve on the back panel makes it very easy to hold.

Hardware

The Micromax Canvas HD scores heavily in terms of its hardware spec. It comes equipped with a large 5-inch 720p IPS display, a quad-core MediaTek SoC, which is clocked at 1.2GHz, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory (Only 1.77GB is available to the user), a microSD card slot, dual-SIM capabilities, a 8-megapixel camera and a 2,000 mAh battery.

When compared to 720p displays on phones like the Galaxy S III, and the HTC One X, then we have to say it is not the best, but for the price it is absolutely fantastic. In fact, apart from the Lava A1000 no other phone in this price range offers such a high-resolution display. The display is pretty washed out and blacks are not very deep, but it has decent viewing angles and is adequately bright when the brightness is bumped. While it may not be the best 720p display in the market, at this price point it is the best one save for the Lava A1000, which we have not tested yet.

Perhaps, the most surprising aspect of the Canvas HD is the 8-megapixel camera. It is surprisingly good and even when compared to the Samsung Galaxy Grand, the Micromax Canvas HD comes out in front. The low-light performance impressed us in particular, as it manages to retain more details and highlights and does not over expose images. Of course the images are grainy and it cannot be compared to an iPhone, but again the image quality is very good for the price. The device even does well while shooting video, but here the low-light performance does suffer a bit. We have a minor quibble with camera UI, which has been heavily customized by Micromax as the flash toggle switch is buried in a nonchalant corner.

Software

The Canvas HD comes loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which is relatively new. Micromax has lightly skinned the device, so one does not need to deal with intrusive Android skins like TouchWiz and HTC Sense. Now this is pretty subjective as these skins add a few software features, but these come at the cost of the general user experience. The Canvas HD maintains a clean Android ‘Holo’ UI, which is a delight to use save for a feature tweaked icons that look quite cartoonish and a few Micromax apps like the Hook Up messenger, the M!Store, M!Zone+ and M!Live.

Overall, the experience is pretty stock and slick. Another advantage of Android 4.1 is that users get access to apps like Google Now that add improved voice recognition and contextual information based on the users likes and dislikes.

We managed to run in to one glaring hitch with the Canvas HD when we installed the Flipboard app. The launcher started acting up and performance became very unstable. This problem was isolated to Flipboard only, but once installed the app was a pain to remove, but once removed the performance returned to normal.

Micromax did make one notable modification to the pull down menu as it added shortcuts for toggling between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G, Flight mode, and phone states. On the whole we liked the relatively toned down Android experience on the Canvas HD and we hope that more OEMs will follow suit.

Performance

The Canvas HD is powered by MediaTek’s MT6589 SoC, which has four ARM Cortex A7 cores that hum away at 1.2GHz. It works in concert with 1GB of RAM and a PowerVR 5XT GPU. But its performance cannot be compared with competing Nvidia Tegra 3 or Samsung Exynos chipsets that power the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III, because those chipsets have four ARM Cortex A9 cores. On the other hand, the ARM Cortex A7 SoC on the Canvas HD is more frugal with the way it sips power and that is evident in its battery life. So, it will be unfair to expect performance that will compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S III.

In a way we can say its performance is closer to dual-core ARM Cortex A9 chips found on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II. That said, the Canvas HD just hums along without skipping a beat, though there is an in-tangible lag in its performance, especially if one has used other smartphones with quad-core processors. People living in a dual-core world will not notice it because the general performance of the device falls right between the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPUs that were found on the flagship Android smartphones from 2011 and the quad-core ARM Cortex A9 chips in the flagship phones of 2012.

Even when we ran benchmarks our theory was ratified. For instance on the Quadrant benchmark it scored above 4,000. This is well above a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU and well below a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU. Even the web browser performance is quite smooth. Admittedly, the pinch to zoom and scrolling is not as smooth as say the Galaxy Nexus or even the Galaxy S II, but for most purposes it is more than adequate.

The call quality on the Micromax Canvas HD is nothing to write home about. It is at best average. It failed calls in the basement where the iPhone managed to get a signal, but we are guessing that it’s not a deal breaker. The battery life on the Canvas HD is surprisingly good. For our tests we ran a video loop of a 720p copy of Batman Begins and it lasted for 4 hours and 43 minutes. While this may not be extremely impressive, the phone performs very well when it comes to day-to-day usage. It easily lasts a day and our daily usage involved browsing the web, email, social networking, a bit of photography, listening to music, and making a few calls and all this with 3G turned on.

Verdict

Does the Micromax Canvas HD successfully fulfill the promise of a solid reliable quad-core device with a HD screen at a price under Rs 15,000? For the part yes, save for a few odd software related glitches. Obviously, the screen and the performance just does not compete with some of the top-tier Android smartphones in the market, but then again it’s not supposed to at such a low price. It can get away because it represents incredible value at Rs 13,990. And when one accounts for the fact that it’s a dual-SIM device and has solid battery life then it becomes a no-brainer.

Additionally, it becomes a better option than Windows Phones in the price bracket, because in terms of usability it competes very well and it has the backing of a legion of Android apps on Google Play. Perhaps the only worry would be Micromax’s lackluster after sales service, and if that problem is resolved then, Micromax has a winner at its hands.

Photo Credit: Rohit Sharma

  • Ramprasad

    You don’t get the timely update from MM, Even if the Android 5 comes by this June , then MM will release the Android 5 version device, rather than provide update to existing device customers .

    MM A90s in ICS and no Jelly bean update
    MM Canvas1 in ICS and no jelly bean update and launched Canvas 2 with Jelly bean,..

    So don’t expect any support from MM , after you buy from them..

    Better , you can spend another 5-6 K in Galaxy grand and get the timely update from Samsung.

  • Karun

    Auto rotate screen also not working. Mobile network range problem is there. Dual simple active not working, it’s standby. Netqin mobile antivirus… Launcher crashed as in clipboard.

  • Karun

    Auto rotate screen also not working. Mobile network range problem is there. Dual simple active not working, it’s standby. Netqin mobile antivirus…the Launcher crashed as in flipboard.

    • joby

      GPS working properly? how do you feel any slow ?plz replay

  • guess

    you won’t need update from vendors like MM…cause by the time update is ready your device has already doomed. so if you are planning to buy MM products don’t bother about updates.

  • Narayan

    Hi,

    Never ever purchase micromax there looks very good, they quality tests are not good, If some thing happens to your phone thay take months to repair / Replace or troubleshoot. its look beautiful on pictures. not on working poor performace.

    Regards,
    Narayan

    • Arun Sahoo

      Yes. Narayan. Ur words r true. I got a faulty handset and now snapdeal and micromax both are resonding like typical corrupt govt official. I am going through an extremely worst procedure for replacement of the set. After wasting 6busyness day now I am thinking it was better to through the CanvasHD in dust bin and forget the issue. Cheaper will always be cheaper. People should remember this always.

      • vinayak

        hi arun. I am using a110 from last 4 months.its really a very good handset.its ips screen display shows good quality HD video.touch & battery life are very good.dual core also supports for heavy games & apps.Do not underestimate mmx.mmx gives gellybean update also for a110.dont write nonsense comments @ mmx.Micromax already beats Samsung in all aspects.

    • shivu

      Hi sir am also using MM a110.it has very good performance.I put 120 apps but its didn’t get slow.don’t under estimate about Indian products jai micromax…

  • Narayan

    Hi,

    Never ever purchase micromax there looks very good, they quality tests are not good, If some thing happens to your phone thay take months to repair / Replace or troubleshoot. its look beautiful on pictures. not on working poor performance.

    Regards,
    Narayan

  • SANJEEV

    SAR Rating of A116 not available. kinldy share the same.

    • Ramesh

      By seeing lot of comments, i was surprised, how other phone owners jealous about the micromax success.

      1) Updates–> whether samsung has jelly bean updates for all their products??? no phones like s2 and older canot be upgraded to latest as they have hardware limitations. They are taking lot money, they have to provide. After giving such a good phone for lower price again spending lot of money on providing best updates may not so easy.

      2) Please understand no samsung/sony/htc phones under 30 thousand having quad core and HD and IPS display.

      3) Dont blame without experiencing the phone—> please read the real review about the phone in tech2

      4) Samsung has released grand to only to face the tough challenge from Indian makers. Otherwise they would have sucked more money from all rich dumbs.

      5) Please read review above, if human being or tools are not wrong, review all the tests results, why samsung cannot give quadcore CPU in grand which 6thousand more than 116.

      6) After all can a 39000 can be used for life long, max two year, your 39000 will reduce to 10000. Do you like to waste money like, you better buy a canvas or buy a laptop.

      • Dineesh

        Ramesh, please be informed that Samsung already rolled out the Jelly Bean update for its S2 devices starting from Europe. India has not got this update yet hope to get this soon but I’ve already updated my S2 with the Europe version of the update and it works like a charm. I was really getting bored with the ICS and Jelly Bean update put a new life to my S2.

        After sales support does matters!!!!

        • prem shrini

          Yes Dineedh, Ramesh is a bit bended to MM. i am using S2 (At&T version) for past 18 months..i didnt find even a minute lag in UI/ Touch/ and i installed a hell lot of apps, say some 170 apps, yet i dint face any lag running 10-15 apps in background..And upgrading part..Ramesh is not so aware i guess. i am on 4.2.1 JB. well Samsung does delay a bit in releasing upgrades one by one, but thanks to XDA developpers, they make us updated..I guess MM doesnt get the support the way Samsungs/iphones/HTC’s/ or Nokias too..
          Verdict: Its better spending more for a long term buying hi-end phones wth all support over web..than spending 15K for a mere say maximum 8 months on this sort of phones..Dont go just wth the price..

          • niladri

            may u dont know XDA developers allready made the upgrade for MMX HD, samsung v pahele nokia k samne noob tha. bad me tarakki ki hai.. MMX v kar raha hai.. MMX is giving huge at 14k, samsung cant reach the point by giving a third party processor at galaxy grand dude.. sasung doob raha hai.. and the samsung users are jealous… may v s3 use karta hun per MMX v kharida hai.. i m a gadget fan.. MMX is not equal but not at far behind from samsung/nokia/htc also…

      • prem shrini

        Yes Dineesh, Ramesh is a bit bended to MM. i am using S2 (At&T version) for past 18 months..i didnt find even a minute lag in UI/ Touch/ and i installed a hell lot of apps, say some 170 apps, yet i dint face any lag running 10-15 apps in background..And upgrading part..Ramesh is not so aware i guess. i am on 4.2.1 JB. well Samsung does delay a bit in releasing upgrades one by one, but thanks to XDA developpers, they make us updated..I guess MM doesnt get the support the way Samsungs/iphones/HTC’s/ or Nokias too..
        Verdict: Its better spending more for a long term buying hi-end phones wth all support over web..than spending 15K for a mere say maximum 8 months on this sort of phones..Dont go just wth the price..

  • Sajin

    Ofcourse MM is an Indian brand….but the parts are chinese…that is why it is so cheap…why cant they provide gud quality processers for this price??? updates are crucial for smartphones….this phone is having lot of complaints….the basic thing for a smartphone company is the after sales support…MM do not have that thing….dont go for this phone….

    • niladri

      news confrm karle net se samsung is also useing a Chinese processor at galaxy grand LoL^

  • Jeevan

    Even dell laptops manufactured china, processors used in Samsung is manufactured in china, all world known intel microprocessors are from china, whatever electronic items you take they are manufactured in china. Then why are you so particular about micromax. If a Sony cam manufactured in china is better means why can’t micromax. Every 3 secs one mmx canvas is sold. Please read the news and realize the fact and accept! Because reliance mobile call rates reduced. Because of revolutionary from mmx even Samsung worried and released grand with weak CPU. Jail Micromax!!!!!!!!!

  • http://micromax vishnu verma

    Hai friend. I am no doud quality for micromax canvas. I am using mmx a110 i am surprised gaming perfomance and apps download. Games perfomance very well and touch mukkhan

  • Arun Sahoo

    What I belive is most of the people are posting reviews without even using the phone. Am I right? I received the phone on Feb21 and I found that shipped handset is faulty one. This is how micromax is working. Product is not even checked prior to packing. It doesn’t look attractive how it seems in posters. Presently my 6busyness days gone wasted in just proving snapdeal that I received a faulty product. Snapdeal and Micromax both’s reponce is completely hopeless like typical govt corrupt officers. Then time period which has been commited to me to provide replacement is enough to buy and use another Samsung phone. At last but not least- if you are getting a product so much cheaper then definitely your vendor is doing compromise in some area, otherwise how one can manufacture product in half of market price. Hope you got my point.

    • suresh

      Samsung and Apple mobiles are not using costly parts. they buy in bulk and always keeps thier vendors under pressure of big volume buyers. You may have read they are making billions of dollars in profit. Micromax is giving you a real good product at lower margins and hence giving you at reasonable price. Since you people have too much money and have committed mistake of buying products costly you want to justify your purchase to yourself….

  • Ali

    Iphone in America costs cheaper…MMX in India costs cheaper…But most people in India prefer Iphone as they can tell THIS IS AN AMERICAN phone…pity them..I dont knw why they spend a lot of money on such device…And now in India MMX is giving such a device where a budgeted user can afford for a phone,people are saying it cheap..This is why India is STILL INDIA.

  • pravin vaja

    I don’t know why only some people talking worst things about mmx, cause it’s cheaper, it’s providing better features, low cost, indian company. I have read many reviews where users are talking like mmx a116 is the best one as per features, components and price. Guys mmx is for all kind of people which either poor/medium/richer also.

    • Paul

      its important mmx is a
      Indian commany

  • Ravi Dahariya

    why all people fight each other?? Damm.. It’s matter of choice and availability of money.. technology always looks forward beyond our vision.
    one device beats other..noone is always perfect and stable.. if someone trying to buy M.M, Just buy . It is in affordable price for normal or middle man.

  • delcon

    micromax canvas hd when saled tamilnadu tirunelveli

  • Naveen

    All good. However, when it would be available in retail market for users as its almost a month since the launch and it’s still not available in retail market. If Micromax can’t deliver the product, then there is no point launching the same.

  • Suraj

    Pls dont buy Micromax. I wasted 2 canvas.
    one first had prob with reciever, then i got it repaired at noida service center(30 days). then batery stoped charging.. finally i got fed up. then got it repaired and sold it for 4k , then bought HD, and guess what ??
    it became dead fourth day.. and MM says – “we have replacement within 3 days not 4 ” Cheap !!!!

    its better to go for SAMSUNG,

  • Raghu

    Suraj phone kharab nahi,kharab hai Teri kismet…….))

  • Souvik

    I got the Canvas HD delivered to me by snapdeal a day before HOLI.. one word its fantabulous.. MMX has exceeded expectations.. barring the delay they have given both a white cover (which is awsum.. would have preferred a flap one though :-P)and also screen guard is provided which initially is good but it might need replacement soon.. It lives up to its reputation both performance and lookwise.. heard songs on my philips earphone.. serene experience altogether. Doing NET eats up battery fas but overall battery backup is okaiyish.. Pictures though a bit flushed with flash appears really well detailed and clear.. downloading a lot of aPPS all of which are really working out too well.. Believe for once MMX and go for it.. Totally value for money

  • param

    plssss plsszz help me in selecting a best phone bt

    1.canvas 3 hd

    2.karbonn s5

    3.xolo q800

    plsss tell me as soon as possible which one is d best…

    • http://www.91mobiles.com/micromax-a116-canvas-hd-price-in-india Julia

      just go for canvas 3 hd, this would be better than other phones.

  • arichandran

    i like tat micromax canvas hd mobile very nice

  • http://NA Vipul Panchal

    A116 is totally fail. When it goes to standby mode it never wake up. You need to remove battery to restart.
    Visit MMX service centre they always flash the mobile but the problem still not resolve.

    Hope some one will have solution.