With the budget smartphone segment currently being dominated by Chinese vendors, it’s a tough job for Indian manufactures to make a mark. In the sub-Rs.10,000 price range, we currently have the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime ruling the roost thanks to a good blend of features and performance.
Intex wants to take on this competition with its newly introduced Aqua S7 smartphone, which looks pretty appealing on paper. It’s one of the few phones in its class to ship with Android Marshmallow, and it boasts of features such as scratch-resistant glass and 3GB of RAM.
Intex Aqua S7 design and build
Most Indian smartphone manufacturers have upped their game when it comes to design and choosing better materials to build their phones out of. The Aqua S7 looks and feels very well put-together and is on par with what companies like Lenovo and LeEco offer. If you look at it straight on from the front, the iPhone resemblance is unmistakable. However, we like the fact that there are no sharp edges, no matter which way you hold it. This is partly thanks to the curved back and rounded glass that tapers over the side frame.
Despite its all-plastic body, the Aqua S7 doesn’t feel cheap in any way. The 5-inch IPS display has a HD resolution and Dragontrail glass for scratch protection. The form factor is suitable for single-handed usage while commuting, and the display quality is good enough for text and media content. Brightness levels aren’t the best and we struggled a bit under direct sunlight, but apart from that, you won’t have many complaints.
You can take off the back cover to access the SIM and microSD card slots but the battery is sealed. This isn't really a big issue as you would probably switch to another phone long before the battery gives up. The camera sensor and LED flash are neatly clustered together above the fingerprint sensor, which just shows that Intex has paid attention to these little aesthetics cues.
If design is one of the key factors in your buying decision, then the Intex Aqua S7 should be on your radar. It’s one of the nicer looking phones in this segment and dodges the pitfall of looking like just another budget Android clone. That said, we could have used a notification LED or some sort of visual element to alert us of missed notifications. The phone ships with a screen guard, silicon case, headset, data cable, and charger.
Intex Aqua S7 specifications and features
Intex has gone the MediaTek route for the Aqua S7. Inside, there’s the quad-core MT6735 SoC along with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. We would have preferred something with a bit more grunt like the Helio X10.
Performance is decent and certainly vastly superior to that of any Spreadtrum chip, which are commonly seen in this segment. We got 34,303 points in AnTuTu and 15fps in GFXbench’s graphics test.
For connectivity, we have Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, USB OTG, FM radio, and 4G LTE with VoLTE support on bands 3, 5, and 40. Internal storage is expandable up to 64GB using the dedicated microSD slot. The phone ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the only changes being to the icons and added features including SOS mode.
Intex has also worked in some local language integration to make the phone more appealing. The phone ships with freely available apps from Reverie Language Technologies including Indic Keyboard Swalekh and Multilingual Phonebook. The Indic keyboard lets you transliterate text similar to what Micromax offers with the Indus-OS-powered Unite 4 Pro (Reivew).
Another neat feature called Turbo Download essentially uses Wi-Fi and cellular data together when downloading files larger than 20MB. There are also a ton of pre-installed apps, some of which cannot be uninstalled. There’s an app store and lock screen widget from InMobi services, Fillr to autofill forms, Opera Mini, Oxigen Wallet, Saavn, Sony LIV, and UC browser.
Intex Aqua S7 performance
Thanks to its reasonably powerful components, the Aqua S7 runs Android Marshmallow well, including features like Now on Tap. Other than occasional intermittent lag which creeps in, we didn’t have any issues. If we had to nitpick, we would point out that the screen takes a second longer than it should to switch on and off.
The fingerprint sensor works well and you can also use it to perform tasks such as snapping a picture, navigating through the home screen, answering a call, etc. Call quality is good and the mono speaker can get quite loud, which works for conference calls and media playback.
The stock music player is from older Android versions, and isn’t very good in terms of design and functionality. The same goes for the video player. This being Android, you can always get better alternatives like MX Player and Google Play Music for a better experience. Full-HD videos play just fine, and the IPS display’s good colour reproduction and viewing angles are put to good use here. We like the flat cables of the bundled headset as they are less easy to tangle . However, the fit and audio quality are both just strictly okay.
The Aqua S7 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera, both capable of full-HD video recording. The camera app is the same one we’ve seen on countless other budget phones. You get filters, picture-in-picture mode, and panorama along with options to enable software stabilisation.
Image quality for close-up shots is decent, even when zoomed in. However, detail is severely lacking in landscapes shots, and HDR mode tends to make photos look quite unnatural. Focusing speed isn’t good and you’ll have to be really still to get a proper sharp shot. The front camera is okay for selfies but only in good lighting. Video quality is alright at the highest resolution during the day but gets noisy in low light.
The 3200mAh battery lasted for 11 hours and 16 minutes of video playback, which is pretty good. Charging it all the way does take a couple of hours though. With regular usage, we could get up to a day’s worth of battery life.
The Intex Aqua S7 costs Rs. 9,499, which is not bad, but Intex could have been a bit more aggressive in order to really make a mark in this segment. Still, the overall package is certainly a step in the right direction, which makes the phone well worth considering.
The Aqua S7 gets a lot of things right, including ergonomic design, a good display, a decently quick fingerprint sensor, and Android Marshmallow out-of-the-box. Battery life is also a plus. The rear camera is pretty much the only major sore point holding this phone back. We would have preferred leaner software with fewer pre-installed apps too.
Our recommendation in this segment continues to be the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime, and even the LeEco Le1s Eco is a great option. The Intex Aqua S7 is a good alternative for those who don’t need to bank on the camera too much.