As expected, Micromax on Wednesday took the wraps off its much-awaited "Canvas flagship" smartphone, the Canvas 5. The company has this time priced its premium new smartphone at Rs. 11,999, which is interestingly Rs. 6,000 less than the price its predecessor, the Canvas 4, was launched at. Buyers will also receive free double data on 4G for six months from Airtel on the purchase of the handset.
Arriving more than two years after the launch of its predecessor in 2013, the Canvas 5 is a definite upgrade. However, the specifications are not that ground-breaking by today's standards. The device is likely to appeal to media users more than power users, or those who wish for a superior smartphone camera at this budget level.
The Canvas 5 has its own pros and cons in each department, most of which we will discuss here. The 4G LTE-enabled Micromax Canvas 5 sports a 5.2-inch display. Above the screen, you have a speaker grille along with the front-facing camera on one side and the front-facing flash on the other. The volume buttons and the power button sit on the right side of the handset, while the headphone jack and the micro-USB port are placed the at top and bottom respectively. In our short time with the Slate Gray version of this phone, we found the volume and power buttons a bit uncomfortable to use as they are stiff and don't have much travel. We found ourselves looking at the display each time to confirm if the phone was locked or not.
The Canvas 5 has a removable textured plastic rear panel, which gives a good grip but doesn't feel premium in hand. It hides the two Micro-SIM slots and the MicroSD card slot. The 2900mAh battery however, stays in place and is non-removable.
The Micromax Canvas 5 runs near-stock Android 5.1 Lollipop out-of-the-box with minor changes to the native apps and interface, none of which should be a problem for most users. The lack of a custom UI skin on top of Android makes the handset interface clean and bloat-free. The company has also promised to bring out an Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for this phone.
As compared to the 5-inch HD (720x1280 pixels) resolution display of the Canvas 4, the Canvas 5 has a slightly larger 5.2-inch full-HD (1080x1920 pixels) display with a 2.5D curve and Gorilla Glass 3 coating. The display is crisp and bright and we were able to reach most parts of it with one thumb without changing our hand position. Typing with one hand is also possible. Since the screen delivers a pixel density of 423ppi, it was crisp even when looked at from different angles. Smart Wake gestures worked just about right.
Firing up several apps and switching between them was lag-free and quick. However, there was some stuttering in minor tasks such as changing the homepage scrolling effect. Under the hood, the Canvas 5 features an octa-core Mediatek MT6753 processor clocked at 1.3GHz with integrated Mali-T720 MP2 graphics, clubbed with 3GB of DDR3 RAM. Out of 3GB RAM, we noted around 1.8GB free, while the system and the pre-loaded apps used the rest. Our review unit had 16GB of inbuilt storage, of which roughly 9.5GB was available to use. However, this shouldn't be an issue as you have the option to add up to 32GB of space using a microSD card.
The Micromax Canvas 5 features a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera; common features for smartphones nowadays. While the cameras managed to capture decent images in daylight, they failed to impress us when used in a low-light environment. The camera not only relied on high ISO levels but sometimes even struggled to focus a subject for almost 2 seconds after pressing the shutter button before the shot was actually captured. HDR mode also took a couple of seconds to capture and process shots. While the colours were not that accurate in daylight images, the Canvas 5's camera is likely to satisfy most users at this price level.
A feature called 'Zero Shutter Delay' can be used to lock focus on subjects and take photos without wasting much time. However, there was a minor downgrade in image quality, which the majority of the users might not notice. The feature is deactivated by default. Other modes included are Panorama, Night, Professional, Dual View, Face Beauty and Sports. The interface is like that of many other handsets we've seen. The screen has controls for all the modes including the flash and front-facing camera on one side, while the video mode, shutter button and a shortcut to gallery are on the other. The front-facing 5-megapixel camera was satisfying except it has fewer available modes and settings. The Canvas 5 can capture videos in HD resolution at the most.
We were not able to test the life of the Micromax Canvas 5's 2900mAh battery during our limited time with it, but we will do so when we get our hands on a sample to conduct our full review.
The successor to the Micromax Canvas 4 seems like a fair deal at Rs. 11,999. However, it will be competing against some of the most popular devices in market, including the Moto G (Gen 3), Xiaomi Mi 4i, and Samsung Galaxy J5. Our initial impression of the Canvas 5 is a mix of both good and bad. On one hand you have the near-stock Android experience, octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM to handle multi-tasking, but on the other the camera is not up to the mark and the build is not very impressive either. So should you buy this phone? We will reserve that decision until the review is out. Stay tuned.