The ‘Make in India’ dream has found a place among foreign companies and now even the domestic brands are boosting efforts in manufacturing devices which are locally built and also suit the local needs with an affordable tag. Micromax today extended its Bharat series with the addition of the Bharat 5 smartphone.
Micromax Bharat 5 is priced at Rs 5,555 and is targeted at the offline market. At the given price, it has a 5,000mAh battery as its USP. I spent a little while using the phone at its launch event and here are my first impressions.
The first thing to notice about the Bharat 5 is that it is heavy as a brick, owing to the mammoth battery embedded inside. The design of the phone is pretty ordinary with the rear panel embellished with a glossy texture to add a slightly premium touch to the affordable phone. However, this very aspect somewhat ruins the aesthetics. The glossy back is a fingerprint magnet and you might have to snap on a cover to protect it from looking greasy.
Another thing that grabs attention is the rear camera module. It is not a dual-camera setup, however, the outer shell has been designed in a manner that it gives you the illusion of dual cameras. While the design might look gimmicky, it sort of justifies the hidden camera capabilities, which I will detail in a bit.
The phone packs a 5.2-inch HD IPS display covered with 2.5D glass, which in the limited usage, adapted well indoors. It was both fast and responsive to touch. The front bezels are regular in size with the bottom panel featuring the Android controllers. The power button and volume controllers are located on the right, and they are the only physical buttons on the device.
Bokeh on a budget
Micromax is marketing Bharat 5 as a phone with the ‘Power of 5’. One of these powers is its cameras. There is a 5-megapixel camera at the back with a dedicated flash, and a 5-megapixel camera on the front with its own flash. With the Bharat 5, Micromax is aiming to bring the dual-camera capability at an even lower price-range.
Although the phone does not feature dual cameras, there’s a dedicated Portrait mode which supports both the front and back cameras. In the limited use, I noticed the color reproduction was good and the soft focus attempted to blur out the background. However, in Portrait mode, the software struggled to keep the outlines of the subject crisp. Given that it is on an entry-level device, it is acceptable for the algorithm to be imperfect. Nonetheless, a more extensive use of the device will help ascertain the output quality.
Bharat 5 houses quad-core SoC clocked at 1.3GHz, which is accompanied with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage that can be expanded up to 64GB via microSD card. The entry-level specifications are meant to appeal to the offline market, primarily the tier-2 and tier-3 regions, however, it is yet to be seen whether the performance justifies the price tag as there are plenty of other competing devices which offer a better specification sheet. For instance, the recently launched Xiaomi Redmi 5A is the immediate contender in the budget category against the Bharat 5 with more RAM and significantly better aesthetics.
Micromax aims to capture the offline market by next March with close to 6 million units sold. Bharat 5 is one of the promising products that could help the company achieve its target. While the performance is yet to be tested, the phone does pack a bumper battery which could help drive initial sales.
Bharat 5, whether seen as an extension of Micromax’s Make in India commitment or as another budget phone in the market, promises more than what it seems. Battery being the focus and bokeh frills thrown into the mix, Bharat 5 is Micromax’s answer to predominantly online players who do not have similar market penetration. As the company plans to add two more smartphones in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how Micromax Bharat 5 helps the brand regain its market position piggybacking the government’s domestic manufacturing campaign.