In a bid to expand the brand’s online presence, Micromax has launched two new smartphones in the Evok series, called Evok Note and Evok Power. Targeted at the sub-Rs 10,000 category, the two smartphones are exclusively available on Flipkart. As Micromax claims, what sets these smartphones apart is that they have been built using consumer insights coming from an online marketplace like Flipkart where thousands of customers choose smartphones across price and feature categories. Using the inputs, the Evok Note and Evok Power aim to help Micromax increase presence in the online market, currently dominated by the likes of Xiaomi and Lenovo-Motorola. With an affordable price tag, do the Evok Note and Evok Power look promising for the homegrown manufacturer that is aiming to finally spread out into the online arena? I try to address this in my first impressions of the two smartphones.
To begin with, the Evok Note and Evok Power differ in their pricing, design architecture, and also certain features. While the former is priced at Rs 9,499, which puts it in a direct competition with the current favorite Xiaomi Redmi Note 4; the Evok Power is priced at Rs 6,999 which puts it against the Xiaomi Redmi 3s and Coolpad Note 5 Lite.
The Evok Note boasts a unibody design with a brushed metal finish on its rear panel, giving the affordable phone a premium appearance. There is a physical home button on the front which doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. The display is protected with a 2.5D curved glass which further adds to the looks.
Even though Evok Note appears to be premium, it doesn’t really bring anything unique to the table in terms of design. The overall design language is very similar to what we have seen on a slew of Chinese smartphones. If you flip over the Evok Note, you will find a striking resemblance to the Gionee A1 with the slightly curved rear panel and circular camera module followed by the LED flash.
The Evok Note features a 5.5-inch full HD display with narrow side bezels. Now while the display quality is bright and good on viewing angles, I found the touch response a wee bit slow. Consumers today seek a big-screen experience but one that also packs in higher resolution for gaming and watching quality videos. Micromax appears to have got that right with the display size and resolution, but I am slightly skeptical of the touch quality over the long run.
Powering the Evok Note is a MediaTek MT octa core MT6753 processor which is clocked at 1.3GHz and paired with 3GB of RAM. The internal storage on offer is 32GB, of which about 22GB is user available. Micromax has injected plenty of apps including Around, whole stack of Jio apps, Uber, BeautyPlus Me, OYO, and some gaming apps. You can uninstall these pre-loaded apps if needed. The disappointing bit here is that the storage expansion is possible only up to 32GB more via microSD card, which, again, can be fitted into a hybrid slot. Basically, you can either boost your storage or have a second SIM in the device. During the brief time of experiencing the Evok Note, there were no app crashes or heating issues. A final verdict on the performance of the smartphone is reserved till an in-depth review.
The next thing customers look for in a budget smartphone after its display size is perhaps its camera capabilities and the Evok Note tries to get the balance right with its 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. There are over a dozen filters, HDR mode, gesture capture, and beauty tools for selfies. The output from both the rear and front shooter in given conditions is decent, albeit not very sharp. However, we will be able to talk more about the camera capabilities through a detailed usage in varied lighting conditions.
Coming to one of the highlights of the smartphone – its battery. Fuelled by a 4,000mAh battery, the Evok Note sits neatly in the category of battery-centric budget smartphones. Present-day smartphones with their bigger screens, higher RAMs, and 24×7 internet connectivity need more juice than before to keep running through the day. The Evok Note appears to get the calculation right with the massive battery. But whether it lasts for an average user in real-time is something we will have to wait and see.
The Evok Note runs the older Android Marshmallow, which feels slightly outdated at a time consumers and manufacturers seek to have devices running the latest OS update. An older OS not only impacts the device’s performance in the longer run, but also hampers the quality of apps running on the device. While there is no word on whether the new Evok Note will get Nougat update, it is hoped that the update is rolled out soon if Micromax intends to target the huge base of online consumers who have the liberty and access to multiple options on a single platform while choosing their next smartphone.
To sum up, the Evok Note does pack in some impressive features such as its premium appearance and a massive battery, and some nifty features such as the Secure Vault app for device security, but it faces strong competition from plenty of other devices in the sub-Rs 10,000 price category such as Redmi Note 4 and Lenovo K6 Power, both of which pack a Qualcomm SoC, are battery-centric, and are known as strong performers with good camera output.
Now talking about the more affordable Evok Power. USP of the Rs 6,999-priced smartphone is its anti-shock design. There is a rubberized strip that runs on the sides of the smartphone. According to Micromax, this has been added to prevent damages from accidental drops which usually impact the corners of any smartphone. If you hold the Evok Power, it does feel quite sturdy and heavy, but don’t let the rubberized strip confuse you for an overall durability. The strip is placed on the sides of the removable rear panel. When you remove it, you will notice that the rubber strip adds strength to the otherwise plastic panel. In a time when smartphones are increasingly turning fragile, I personally find the idea of adding a feature for more durability a wiser choice.
Talking further about the design, the Evok Power features a rear fingerprint sensor, which is non-clickable and is placed in alignment with the rear camera module and LED flash. The speaker grille on the rear panel is also quite prominent. While the rear panel with its glossy finish also gives a slightly premium feel to the budget phone and the rubberized strip lends a dual tone, the display takes away all the charm. Despite having no physical button on the front, the bezels are quite thick. To add to it, the virtual controllers further take space, leaving little amount of actual screen. Nonetheless, the 5-inch HD display on the Evok Power is smooth to operate and responsive to touch.
The Evok Power is powered by MediaTek MT6737 64-bit quad- core processor which is paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage of which, about 10GB is user-available. There are some pre-loaded apps which you can uninstall to free up space. Now, Micromax is again allowing storage expansion via microSD card, but it has thankfully kept the slots separate under the removable panel. At its price point, the configuration appears decent on paper. However, we are yet to test the device fully to comment on its performance.
For photography, the Evok Power is equipped with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front shooter. There are again a lot of filters and camera modes to choose from. However, in the given conditions the camera output seemed slightly grainy. For an entry-level smartphone, this might seem forgivable but when you have smartphones such as the Redmi 3s which features a 13-megapixel rear camera along with a 5-megapixel front camera with features such as 1080p video recording, support for PDAF, and more; it makes you re-think how justified it is to have a low-end camera.
The talking points of the Evok Power is also its battery capacity. It is fuelled by a 4,000mAh battery which, given its entry-level specs, should suffice for an average user. We will be able to talk more about the capacity after a through usage. The Evok Power also runs the older Android Marshmallow out-of-the-box.
To sum up, the Evok Power is a sturdy-looking smartphone with entry-level specifications backed with a strong battery capacity. With these features, the Evok Power is likely to prove successful in Micromax’s renewed approach towards online sales, but it also competes with other tested performers and more aesthetically pleasing smartphones such as the Redmi 3s which features a metal unibody design along with a better camera.
Micromax’s aim behind launching the new Evok series exclusively on Flipkart is to expand its brand’s presence in the online sales market other than adding to the budget category. Designed and built with input from Flipkart’s customer insights, the new Evok series will sit in one of the most popular price segments in the country. However, with smartphones such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Moto G4 Play, Coolpad Note 5 Lite, it will be interesting to see how the Evok series fair against the competitors. Till then, wait for our full review of the Evok Note and Evok Power smartphones.