Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 review

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As the phablet wave continues to hit the Indian market, Micromax has launched the Canvas Doodle 2, the successor to the Canvas Doodle. The new Doodle smartphone-tablet hybrid from Micromax features an upgraded 5.7-inch HD display, a quad-core processor and a 12-megapixel rear camera.

At Rs. 19,990, Micromax's latest phablet has been priced steeply and is now the costliest handset in Micromax's smartphone portfolio, leaving behind company's flagship, the Canvas 4. But, does it do enough to stand out in the premium phablet crowd? We take a closer look in our review.

Design/ Build

It is impossible to talk about the appearance of the Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 and not mention the resemblance it bears to company's flagship, the Canvas 4. Micromax seems to be following a consistent design strategy across the Canvas range - the newly launched Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 looks and feels like a bigger and heavier version of the Canvas 4. We got a Silver variant of the Canvas Doodle 2 for the review.

Compared to the Canvas 4 and Canvas Doodle, the Doodle 2 is sturdier and more compact, despite being a little heavy. However, it is a trifle too wide for single-hand operation, and those blessed with smaller palms will find it tiring to carry the device around.When you hold the Canvas Doodle 2 up to your ear to make or receive calls, it was hard not to feel like you have been sent back to those early days of cellular phones, when the devices used to dwarf the complete face.

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The Doodle 2's build quality is good, and it features curved edges that give a smooth look. The flagship smartphone, Micromax Canvas 4 came with an aluminium frame on the sides, but the Canvas Doodle 2 features an aluminium rear body.The back panel of the device is divided in three segments by two white-coloured bands.The top portion is made of plastic and is removable with access to SIM slots. Removing this can be a little unnerving, for the fear one might break it.The same portion also houses the 12-megapixel rear camera on the top right side, and protrudes out a bit, surrounded by a chrome ring and sitting alongside an LED flash.The camera placement looks good, but could be counterproductive, as the phone rests on it when lying on a surface,potentially scratching the lens protective screen.

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The middle rear part of the Doodle 2is made of aluminium and is not removable. It includes Micromax branding at the lower part while there is an m! logo above. The bottom part is again a bit plasticky and houses the speaker grill. The Canvas Doodle 2 is also the first phone from the company that does not come with a user-removable battery.The build quality of the phablet can be considered amongst the best in the price segment.

The 5.7-inch HD display takes up most of the space in the front with a thin bezel on either side, and much like the other Canvas smartphones the sensors (ambient light and proximity) are lined up on top alongside the chrome earpiece and the 5-megapixel front-facing camera.Beneath the display one can find the Settings, Home and Back capacitive buttons,not relying on Jelly Bean's interface buttons.

The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 features a power button on the right panel, while the left has the volume rocker, the bottom comes with the Micro-USB/charging port, and the top features the 3.5mm audio jack. Micromax has supplied a stylus with the device, but there is no slot on the phone to put it in and has to be carried separately, which is a bit weird.

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Yes, the Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 follows a tried and tested design rather than a radically new one, but the phone's solid build quality and familiar form factor will still make an impression on you.

Display

The display of a smartphone is a critical aspect one considers when making a purchase decision, and of late, companies have launched smartphones like Spice Pinnacle FHD and Wicked Leak Wammy Passion Z Plus with full-HD displays under sub Rs. 20,000.

However, the Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 disappoints in this department as despite coming at a price point of about Rs. 20,000, the device still features a HD display. We at least expected the company to ship the device with a full-HD display. For many this may not be noticeable, but when you hold it up next to a full-HD display device, you can see the difference.

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The Canvas Doodle 2 features a 5.7-inch IPS HD (720x1280 pixel) display with pixel density of 258ppi. The display attracts lot of smudges, but nothing that cannot be wiped away quickly.The display has decent viewing angles and though colour reproduction is not the best, it gets the job done.

Since the phablet is equipped with IPS display, we found that it was quite nice to read text on. Browsing the Web and prolonged reading on the device was also a relatively comfortable experience, thanks to the large display. The touch response of the Canvas Doodle 2 works smoothly.

At full brightness under indoor conditions, the device performs decently. Under direct sunlight, we found it hard to read the Canvas Doodle 2's display even at full brightness, and we had to use palms to cover the screen and attempt to see what's on it.

Camera

The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 sports a 12-megapixel autofocus rear camera which seems to have a different sensor from what we have seen on the Canvas 4 [Canvas 4 Review]. Outdoor shots in daylight are crisp with almost accurate colours, although we did get some noise on the edges. Images clicked in artificial light (without using the LED flash) are not very impressive as background noise does tend to creep in. We would have liked a hardware key for camera as one has to rely on the soft key on the screen to click images.

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Software-wise, the Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 offers an array of camera options as seen already on the Micromax Canvas 4. Users can choose from a host of camera settings like normal, HDR, face beauty, smile detection, exposure compensation, panorama, and photosphere (multi-angle view) modes. It also offers a burst mode, letting users click 40 to 99 shots at once; users just need to long-press the camera soft key on the display to take a burst shot.

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The Canvas Doodle 2 is capable of full-HD video recording and the preloaded camera app also has the option of adding filters to the clicked images as well. The recorded-video quality is about average and relatively smooth, however, with slightly washed out colours.

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The front-facing 5-megapixel camera is amongst the best in the price category, with decent clarity and sharpness, however, suffers from the same minor flaw as the rear camera, delivering slightly washed out colours.

Software/ Interface

The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 runs Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean, which is a very recent version of the OS and comes with some skinned elements of the UI like the app icons. The company claims that the phablet comes with the FOTA (firmware over the air) feature, which allows users to wirelessly download firmware updates directly to the device.

Micromax's skin on the Doodle 2 is not as radical as HTC's Sense UI or Samsung's TouchWiz UI, but adds a few neat touches to the OS without intruding too much on its essence. You get five customizable homescreens, and lots of widgets and apps which classified in terms of those that came preloaded with the device and those that can be downloaded.There are shortcuts for Dialler, Contacts, Menu, Messages and native browser on the homescreen. Similar to other Android 4.2 Jelly Bean based devices, the notifications tray on Canvas Doodle 2 features a settings shortcut and a clear all button. On expanding the notification's settings button one can find options for quick access to airplane mode, battery status, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, data connectivity, data usage status, audio profiles (for alerts and other notifications), brightness, display timeout and auto rotation.

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The Canvas Doodle 2 comes with some Android 4.2 Jelly Bean features like the lock-screen widgets. One can choose from Calendar, Digital Clock, Gmail, Google Now, Google+ posts and Messaging along with any third-party app downloaded on the phablet. The widget offers details from the apps and help in performing certain actions even without unlocking the phablet. Users can also launch the camera direct from the lock screen by pressing the power button and then swiping screen on the right.

Micromax has also preloaded a new lock screen feature dubbed the M! Unlock something that we saw in the Canvas 4. The feature allows the phablet to be unlocked with a blow of air or even by shaking the device. However, unlocking the device when using M! Unlock is not at all easy initially and we had to struggle a bit before we got it right.

The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 is no slouch in the app department. A number of apps come preloaded on the device including the likes of Foneclay that helps in customizing the phablet the way user likes, Game Hub gives access to games, Spuul can stream movies and television shows. For creating and editing MS Office files, there is Kingsoft office suit. Also on board is M!Live that gives access to download music, videos, games and apps from M! Live store.

The company has also preloaded the M! Security which is powered by NQ Mobile for warding off virus and malware attacks. However, this feature is not completely free and users will have to pay for all the features. Other apps preloaded include Hike, Opera Mini, Evernote and Skitch.

The device also features gesture support like upside silent, upside speaker, ability to receive calls automatically by bringing the device near the ear via proximity answer phone.

The native Music player and the Video player are the same as seen in Canvas 4. The Music player UI is a complete revamp with access to company's online music store. The Video player comes with the 'Pause on Look away' feature that detects when you are looking at the screen and stops the video when it does not detect user's face.Sounds very much similar to Samsung's Smart Stay that does not turn off the screen if it detects you are looking at the device.

Micromax seems to have changed gears when it comes to voice assistance apps, there was a time when the company preloaded its own AISHA on its smartphones, even the budget ones. However, the proprietary voice assistant app seems to have been replaced by Google Now that now comes with the Jelly Bean OS.

The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 comes with a drawing app that one can use along with the stylus. The M! Doodle app comes with a fair amount of options to take care of basic drawing or note taking needs but is not quite as extensive as the app seen on Samsung's Galaxy Note series.

Performance/ Battery Life

The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 is powered by a 1.2GHz MediaTek 6589 quad-core processor. It has 1GB of RAM onboard, and PowerVR SGX544 for graphics processing. There is 16GB of inbuilt storage, out of which only 12GB is user-accessible and sadly does not support expandable storage.

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Considering there is a fairly respectable quad-core processor running under the hood, the Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 manages to chug along just fine. In day to day activities the phone feels smooth enough and you are not really left wanting for more power. However, things get a bit choppy when playing heavy graphic games like Shadow Gun, Dead Trigger and it did lag occasionally while we played Temple Run 2 on the device. It is unclear why this was happening as the device ships with the same quad-core processor we saw in the Canvas 4 which managed to play the same games fine.

On the sound front, the Canvas Doodle 2 comes with a revamped music player with an easy to use interface and the sound experience is decent both on supplied headphones and on speakers.

The 5.7-inch HD display is good for viewing movies and videos.The device was able to play full-HD videos and supported popular video formats like .AVI, .MOV and .MP4. The device also managed to play the .MKV video with audio, a format that was not full-supportive on the Canvas 4. Surprisingly, the native video player crashed every time when we tried to play any video on it. However, this was fixed by downloading a third party video player from the Play store.

Call quality on the device was good. The Canvas Doodle 2 is a dual-SIM phone (GSM+GSM) with support for 3G network. However, you use 3G on one SIM at a time and other would support2G networks.

The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 ships with a 2600mAh battery that according to the company can deliver up to 220 hours of standby and up to 8 hours of talktime. However, based on our user-experience the phablet delivers satisfying battery performance. We were able to get more than a day with normal usage that includes Wi-Fi turned on for all time,Web browsing, a few calls lasting for about an hour, display set on auto-brightness and with the usual notifications for messages, emails, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Though with heavy usage of the device, that includes full screen brightness level, calls lasting for about two hours,3G turned on all time, watching videos for around two hours through YouTube and also on the device, three to four hours of gaming,and with usual notifications for messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, the device lasted for about 10-12 hours which was impressive. However, adjusting these settings can help in increasing the durability of the phone for longer period.

Verdict

While we liked the solid form of the Micromax Canvas Doodle 2, we must admit that we found it a little heavy as well. That said, it performed well with its responsive touchscreen, HD display, average camera performance and packaged apps. Battery life was decent when comparing it with some counterparts in the same price segment. Overall, the Canvas Doodle 2 is good performer, although the price is a bit on higher side. A few thousand rupees lesser and it would have been tough to beat. Those looking for alternatives can go for the Spice Pinnacle FHD featuring a full-HD display and comes for Rs. 16,990. But if you can shell out more and want an even bigger display, then can consider the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 which comes at a higher price than the Canvas Doodle 2.


Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 in pictures


Price: Rs. 19,990

  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Decent build quality
  • Battery lasts for long
  • A number of preloaded apps
  • Bad
  • Non-expandable storage
  • Stylus implementation not impressive
  • Slightly overpriced
  • A bit heavy

Display

5.70-inch

Processor

1.2GHz

Front Camera

 5-megapixel

Resolution

 720x1280 pixels

RAM

 1GB

OS

 Android 4.2

Storage

12GB

Rear Camera

12-megapixel

Battery capacity

2600mAh

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