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Micromax A116 Canvas HD Review

on February 20, 2013 – 2:16 pmNo Comment


Hands down the most awaited handset in a while, the Micromax A116 Canvas HD is finally available. Hitting all the checkpoints in a modern Android handset, the Canvas HD is an extremely enticing handset. We’ve been playing with it over the past few days to get a good feel of the smartphone. Worth the hype ? Read on to find out!

Unboxing
The Micromax Canvas HD ships in a modest little box with all the basic accessories bundled in. Here’s a short video showing off the box contents.

The retail box contents include:
1. Micromax A116 Canvas HD
2. Earphones
3. AC Charger
4. USB Cable
5. Documentation

Video Review

Design
The Canvas HD capitalizes on the popularity of the phablet style handsets by offering similar capabilities at a fraction of the price point. Measuring 144x74x10.7mm, the dimensions are definitely pocketable. The handset weighs a mere 156 grams which is just fine for a smartphone of its size.

Micromax tends to put in more effort on whats inside the handset than spend time on the looks and this is quite evident here as well. The Micromax Canvas HD looks decidedly like the Canvas 2 and is essentially a play on the Samsung Galaxy S3′s design. The front is mostly just the 5 inch capacitive IPS LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 720 x 1280. Below the display are three capacitive keys while above it you can find a 2 megapixel front facing camera, notification light.

The left side sports just the volume rockers while the right hand side has the power key. Both keys are a bit flush with the handset and some users might find the feedback lacking.

Over at the top there’s a micro USB charging port as well as 3.5mm audio jack.

The back of the handset contrasts with the piano black front by being made of glassy white plastic. An 8MP camera module is placed right at the top with a dual LED flash below it. A MicroMax logo can be spotted right above the speaker grille. We’re not huge fans of the slippery glossy material used as it is prone to getting scratched up and attracts fingerprints too.

Performance

The Micromax Canvas HD runs on the most powerful unit from the MediaTek line of processors. Inside the handset you’ll find a 1.2Ghz Quad Core Cortex-A7 Mediatek MT6589 processor with a PowerVR SGX544MP graphics chip. There’s 1GB of RAM which should help keep things running smooth while multitasking. Inbuilt storage is restricted to 4GB which is understandable considering the budget positioning of the handset though you do get a microSD slot.

As you can see from the benchmarks, the Micromax A116 Canvas HD tops both the Quadrant and AnTuTu benchmarks when compared with the earlier Micromax handsets and other Android smartphones in the similar price range. Check the complete Micromax A116 Canvas HD Benchmarks here.

Micromax A116 Canvas HD Gaming Performance Demo

Camera

The camera on the Micromax Canvas HD is an 8 Megapixel auto focus unit with dual LED flash for low light shots.

The camera interface is a proprietary app which is a bit of a shame considering that it doesn’t have as many options as that on the stock Android camera. That said, all the essentials are covered.

Coming to the camera itself, focusing speed is definitely not it’s strong point and it struggles a lot with close up shots.

White balance too tends to be off. Images were noise free for the most part and image quality is above average but they definitely don’t stand out. The camera also suffers from blown highlights but this can be remedied by setting exposure levels a notch lower. We’ve seen much better image quality in a similar price range even from other Micromax handsets so we were a bit disappointed here.

Video can be recorded at up to 1080p resolution. The container format which it records in is 3GP which is more of an annoyance than a real issue. Video quality is average with loss of detail apparent.

Here is the 1080p HD video sample

Display
The screen on the Micromax Canvas HD is a stand out feature considering the price point. The first budget smartphone to be equipped with a 720p screen but is it any good ? In short, yes.

The resolution advantage is immediately apparent when compared to phones like the Canvas 2 which was equipped with a WVGA screeen stretched across 5 inches of screen real estate. Colors are great and viewing angles are quite decent too. The display brightness is more than sufficient and the screen is sufficiently legible even in direct sunlight. Our only gripe with the screen was the below average black levels and the lack of a Gorilla Glass layer on top but given the price point of the handset, we really can’t complain.

Software
The software package onboard the Micromax Canvas HD is a mostly stock build of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. There are some minor tweaks and a few applications have been replaced / added but the experience is quite clean.

As noted above, the camera app has been completely replaced. In the settings menu you’ll spot the multicolored text which is another addition that has been made by Micromax. Otherwise you get all the benefits of Android Jelly Bean like access to Google Now and expandable notifications.

Additional apps include some Micromax branded ones like M!Zone+ and M!Store which is a store front curated by Micromax to provide access to partner content. All said, the additions to the OS can be easily avoided and won’t get in your way during normal usage.

As mentioned earlier, Micromax has replaced the default camera app. Additionally, the phone dialer too has undergone some changes which we’re not too sure is for the better.

Connectivity
The phone has support for WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

The device is a Dual SIM phone and supports 3G connectivity as well. There is also a micro SD expansion slot.

Battery Life

Being equipped with just a 2000 mAh unit, we were quite skeptical about the battery life of the handset. Our fears were alleviated for the most part as the handset could survive a day of usage very easily but you’ll still need to charge it overnight.

Its not bad but Micromax could have done better by giving it a slightly beefier battery unit.

Conclusion
There’s no doubt that the Micromax Canvas HD is a fantastic handset given the price point of Rs. 13,999. It is arguably the best handset that you can get sub-Rs. 15,000 at the moment.

Clearly the users think so as well as it has been consistently selling out. Our main concern is that Micromax still doesn’t have a great after sales support network which makes service related issues a pain to deal with. If that is something you can overlook then you should totally go ahead with the Micromax Canvas HD.

Pros

  • Brilliant screen
  • Good hardware
  • Price

Cons

  • Average camera
  • Slippery, scratch prone back

 

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Dhruv Bhutani is a technology enthusiast who is always in sync with the latest and greatest in tech. He is currently using a Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC Butterfly S and whatever device he is reviewing at the moment. Suomirock ftw! . Catch him on Twitter @DhruvBhutani , you can also reach out on Facebook or .