Almost one year ago, Micromax announced that it is reinventing itself by launching a wide range of devices. Under the new tagline ‘Nuts. Guts. Glory.’, Micromax seemed all set to regain its dominance in the Indian smartphone market, where the competition has continued to intensify. One year later, we are still talking about Micromax’s ‘comeback’. This time around, Micromax isn’t using any outrageous catchphrases, but delivering smartphones like Bharat, Evok and Canvas Dual 5, strategically targeted at different price points.
Besides the price points, these smartphones come with specifications that are on par with rival smartphones in their categories. The Evok Note E453, for one, comes with full HD display, MT6753 processor, 3GB of RAM, 13-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front cameras, and 4,000mAh battery, and fingerprint scanner. Priced at Rs 9,499, the Evok Note has specifications that match the similarly priced Redmi Note 4. Micromax has attempted to check all the boxes with the Evok Note, but does it mean that it is the best Rs 10,000 smartphone in the market? I have been using the Evok Note as my primary smartphone for past few days, here are my key takeaways.
After having used a slew of budget Android smartphones over the last two years, I have started to believe that there is no design innovation happening in this category. All smartphones tend to look the same, and to an extent where if you remove the logo of the company, I don’t think you will be able to differentiate which phone is which. In the case of Evok Note, even though it doesn’t attempt to do anything different, it seems to be well-built for a 5.5-inch device.
After having used the Gionee A1 for quite some time, getting used to the dimensions of Evok Note was not a hassle at all. For its size, the smartphone doesn’t feel heavy at 162 grams. And at 8.5 mm, the smartphone isn’t really slim but it isn’t bulky either. As you might have seen on other smartphones in this category, the Evok Note has a metal body with 2.5D glass on the front. ALSO READ: Evok Note, Evok Power first impressions: Micromax’s new online-only phones look promising
The front has the display with LED light and front camera at the top whereas the bottom has a pill-shaped fingerprint scanner, which also doubles as the home button. The rear of the Evok Note is quite neat with a flat camera module followed by LED flash and Micromax logo at the bottom. The 3.5mm jack is at the top while the base has the micro-USB port along with the speaker grille. The volume rocker and power button are on the right while the left houses the hybrid SIM slot.
I have no qualms using the fingerprint scanner either on the front, back or even on the side. However, I’d like the scanner to be comfortably within the reach and responsive wherever it’s located. That being said, I was not really a huge fan of the protruding borders on the fingerprint scanner on the Evok Note. It felt a little too sharp which was a bit uncomfortable. Since it’s pill shaped, I could just get the partial fingerprint on the scanner, and at times it wouldn’t read the print at all. I’d refrain from calling this a pain point as the experience might vary from individual to individual. Overall, the Evok Note looks good enough, but there really isn’t anything ‘premium’ about it.
The Micromax Evok Note comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera that has a variety of modes such as HDR, gesture capture, smile capture, and a few pre-loaded filters. As you’d expect from a budget smartphone, the camera delivers good shots only when in good light conditions. Here are some of the camera shots taken from the Evok Note.
As you will notice, the quality deteriorates in the low light with evident noise and lack of focus.
The 5-megapixel front camera on the Evok Note is satisfactory, though, quality is surprisingly very low when doing a WhatsApp video call.
Display, software, performance
There are very few smartphones with a full-HD display under Rs 10,000. This gives the Micromax Evok Note a bit of an edge over the competitors. I watched some high-resolution videos on the device and the experience was quite satisfactory. The indoor legibility is pretty good as well, with acceptable levels of color and sharpness. However, I’d have liked the auto brightness to be more responsive to my surroundings. It’s bit sluggish when it comes to moving from indoors to outdoors, especially under the sunlight. There have been multiple occasions when I had to manually adjust the brightness levels to achieve the desired results.
As far as the UI goes, it isn’t overly colorful as you might have seen on other custom skins running on smartphones in this category. Running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Micromax hasn’t tweaked the stock Android experience much, although there are customized icons for calls, messages and other native features. I could not help ignore the similarity between call icon and WhatsApp icon. There have been occasions when I tapped the call icon when I had to open WhatsApp and vice versa. The gallery has been redesigned which feels a bit inspired by Google Photos elements such as collections and favorites. There’s quick access to Midrive (Micromax’s cloud-based storage) as well.
Another thing that may put off a lot of people is the number of pre-loaded applications on the smartphone. It comes with Opera Max, Amazon, Jio, Dailyhunt and more pre-installed. The good thing is that these apps can be deleted; I deleted Reliance Jio apps as I was fed up with constant push notifications. The smartphone comes with 32GB of onboard storage and supports expandable storage of up to 32GB, so you’re unlikely to have a storage issue considering the price.
Swiping left on the home screen, you get the Around service, a universal platform for ordering food or cabs. We have talked at length about the feature in the past. The Around service is pretty good for those who want a single app for multiple functions. Then there’s a secure vault where you can store your private photos and notes. You can access the vault through your fingerprint scanner. If you are interested, you can create a Micromax account to avail services such Around and Midrive.
It’s disappointing to have the dated Android Marshmallow OS onboard, and overall performance of the Evok Note isn’t really up to the mark. There have been numerous occasions of apps crashing and some apps taking too long to load. There’s an apparent freeze when you kill all the background apps with the on-screen button, and there are some bugs as well. For example, on one occasion opening an email attachment directed me to Jio Chat rather than opening the document.
Looking at the price point, the smartphone isn’t meant for graphic-intensive gaming, but I played games such as Marvel’s Clash of Champions anyway. Needless to say, the experience was underwhelming, although games like Angry Birds and Temple Run work pretty smoothly on the device. Simply put, don’t expect the phone to work well with resource-heavy games, especially considering the price.
The smartphone boasts of a 4,000mAh battery, but the Evok Note’s battery drains relatively quickly if you are a heavy user. This is due to the SoC in place, and will get you good battery life only if you keep your usage basic. In my experience, the battery reached to the critical 15 percent level in roughly 7-8 hours. My usage included messaging apps like Slack, Facebook, WhatsApp, and a bit of browsing and a fair amount of multimedia streaming. Since there’s no quick charge feature, it will take quite some time to get it fully charged. If you have a bit more patience, you can use some workarounds such as switching off the GPS location tracking, reducing screen brightness or activate battery saver mode. But that, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of having a 4,000mAh battery on the phone.
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The Micromax Evok Note could have been a lot of better had the user experience been fluid. I am okay to overlook elements such as pre-loaded apps or the inconsistent fingerprint scanner. But for now, Micromax needs to fix the software, which mars the overall experience. At the moment, I’d not recommend this smartphone. If you have a budget of Rs 10,000 and are looking for a new smartphone, you can consider proven performers like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 or the Lenovo K6 Power.