Judging by the device’s name, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is a Gillette product. But it is the latest smartphone from Karbonn that was launched at a price of Rs 5,999 exclusively on Amazon India. Despite being priced so low, the smartphone comes with an 8 Megapixel camera at the back and a 5 Megapixel camera at the front, both of which have LED flashes to assist. Let’s take a look at the phone in detail to see whether the cameras are any good and whether the phone is good value for money overall.
Design, Materials and Build Quality
Being a touchscreen device, there is a limit to the kind of design innovations a manufacturer can do especially at such a low price point. But the MachFive manages to look quite fresh particularly in the White colour variant that comes with a Blue bezel running around the device. There is a Champagne (Gold) variant as well that has a Black bezel. That too looks good but perhaps looks a bit more serious than this in comparison. Feels like the White and Blue combination is aimed at youth while the Champagne and Black combination is aimed at a slightly more mature audience.
The device packs a 5 inch display so it is quite compact in today’s world where manufacturers are pushing the boundaries of what an ideal size for a smartphone should be. However, it isn’t as small as it could be due to the large bezels on all four sides. But Karbonn can be forgiven for that considering the price range that this device falls in. The device fits well into the hand thanks to the rounded back and the back panel has a nice textured pattern that improves grip and feels good to hold. In fact, the pattern is almost identical to the one found on the Huawei Honor 4C. It has a silky woven texture that has a matte finish of sorts and hence isn’t prone to fingerprints much. Despite having a plastic construction, build quality is also pretty sturdy apart from the back cover which does tend to bend inwards a bit when you press against it. But that’s just me being picky and I don’t really think anyone presses their phone when using it.
At the front, above the display, you have the front facing 5 Megapixel camera on the left along with the LED flash. At the centre is the earpiece, to the left of which is the LED notification light and to the right, you have the proximity and ambient light sensors.
Below the display, you have three capacitive keys for home, return and multi-tasking. The right side houses the volume rocker button and the power/lock key but there are no controls or ports on the left side. The keys provide good feedback and satisfying clicks when pressed.
At the bottom, you have the primary microphone and the microUSB port. At the top, there is a 3.5mm audio jack and surprisingly, the phone has an IR port as well. It’s quite ironical considering that Samsung have chosen to remove it from two of their flagship products, the S6 edge+ and Note5 but Karbonn have been able to add one into a smartphone that costs around 10% of what Samsung’s two flagships cost.
Moving over to the back, you have the 8 Megapixel camera long with LED flash at the top and the speaker grill at the bottom. The back panel is removable and so is the 2200mAh battery. Below the back panel is where you will find the dual SIM card slots as well as the microSD card slot.
For a phone in its category, the MachFive has a good display. The 5″ 720p display is good enough for most content, be it for reading or for media. The brightness is very good but the contrast is a bit poor at times. Nevertheless, the sunlight legibility is still good and the colours are vibrant as well. The viewing angles are also very good and there is no contrast fall off or colours getting washed out even if you look at the display at extreme angles. One complaint would be the annoying black bars on all sides of the display but after a while you get used to it. The black bars actually complement the Black bezel on the Champagne version so that could help you make your choice of colour in case you are still undecided.
However, on the flipside, the Champagne colour has one downside and that is the ability to see the capacitive keys clearly. It is clear on the White variant when the backlight is off but when backlighting gets turned on, it looks bad and almost blends in with the White. The backlighting is very dull and is uneven as well. On the Champagne variant, regardless of whether the backlight is off or not, the key symbols are hard to spot. But that’s more of an aesthetic than practical issue as you are bound to know what key stand for what and where they are positioned once you’ve used your phone for a couple of days.
There is a quick lock screen feature that allows you to double tap the screen when on the homescreen in order to lock your phone. Surprisingly, you can’t double tap the phone when it’s in sleep to wake it up. Instead, you have to click the power/lock key. We feel that if they could’ve implemented a double tap to lock, they could’ve included a double tap to unlock or wake as well. The notification LED is quite small but bright enough to notify you of notifications. You can choose to disable it from the display settings if it is not needed.
Calling and Messaging
The MachFive has good call quality and sufficient loudness over the earpiece however it lacks in terms of loudness over the speaker. It is too feeble for most environments. The dialer is just like any other Android phone. Simple layout and easy to use. You can dial a number directly or use the keypad to search within your contacts for quick access. Contacts app allows practically unlimited entries and you can choose to save it onto your phone, SIM or Google account. Apart from the usual names and phone numbers, users can also save information such as address, website, nickname, IM, notes etc.
The default keyboard on the device is the SwiftKey keyboard which has a good layout and is easy to use. But in our experience we found it to be really slow on this device especially after enabling SwiftKey Cloud. We found Google keyboard to be much faster in comparison and eventually switched to that for the remainder of the review process. The screen has sufficient screen estate to type on even for people with big fingers.
Software and UI
The MachFive runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box with a few customization from Karbonn. The phone has a very much close to stock Android UI and is quite smooth to navigate through. It supports scheduled power on and off as well as on screen gestures. It allows you to launch the messaging app by swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen with two fingers. A similar action done from top to the bottom launches the calling app. Note that both these functions only work when in the homescreen. It would be good if they can add the ability across all screens in a future firmware update.
Although users have the ability to move apps to the SD card when needed, they can also choose the preferred location for installing apps. They can set it to phone memory or microSD card or just let the system decide what to use. Peel Remote app comes bundled with the phone to make use of the built-in IR port for controlling TVs, set-top boxes etc. There is also an interesting widget called Float Dial that you can access by pulling down the notification bar. It is basically a dialer that floats above other apps and screens which allows you to make quick calls rather than having to return to the homescreen and opening up the dialer app.
Connectivity, Storage and Performance
The device has a dual SIM slot but it has support for only 3G HSPA+. That wouldn’t have been an issue normally for a phone at this price range but considering that the Lenovo A2010 comes with 4G LTE support and costs 1000 rupees lesser makes it a disadvantage for the MachFive. Another thing we found annoying was that the phone has one micro SIM and one regular sized miniSIM slot. Hardly anyone uses a regular sized SIM these days and although you can always use an adapter, it still is a hassle. Two microSIM slots would’ve been a more elegant solution even if they didn’t opt for nano SIM slots.
The device has 16GB of internal memory that is expandable by another 32GB using a microSD card. Luckily the card slot is hot-swappable unlike the sim trays so you don’t have to remove the battery to change microSD cards. Out of 16GB of memory, the user gets around 11.59GB of free space out of the box. The MachFive has a microUSB port, supports Bluetooth 4.0 as well as Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n.
It is powered by a quad-core Mediatek MT6582 processor that is clocked in at 1.3GHz with Mali 400 GPU and also has 2GB of RAM. Most phones in this price range don’t have 2GB of RAM and it is good that MachFive has it as it really helps it during multi-tasking. We never had any issues with the phone hanging or lagging as a result. The Lenovo A2010 that we mentioned earlier has just 1GB of RAM in comparison. So while the A2010 impresses with its 4G abilities, the MachFive wins the performance round.
Music Player and Audio Quality
The audio quality through speakers is decent but the loudness is very low. It is quite feeble even at the loudest volumes and unless you are in a quiet environment, you can’t really enjoy music over it. Not to mention that the position of the speaker is such that placing the phone on a surface will muffle it and ruin the experience further. Luckily, the acoustic experience on the phone isn’t all bad. The audio quality over the 3.5mm audio jack is quite good both in terms of clarity as well as loudness. It even has good dynamic range but does suffer from stereo cross-talk. Nevertheless it still is quite good and if they had put a better speaker as well would’ve been a great experience overall.
The built-in music player is quite basic but has everything you need. Users can sort it according to artists, albums, songs or playlists. There are a quick set of controls to seek/jump between tracks and to play/pause them when viewing the library. The now playing screen has album art as well as the artist, album and song title listed. There is the option of choosing to enable or disable shuffle and repeat and the song scrubber allows you to quickly seek or jump to any part of the track when needed. There is a built-in equalizer as well that allows the user to adjust the sound based on the type of song they are listening to. You can even choose a reverb effect based on the type of environment you want to emulate.
The FM Radio app works well too and you can use it by plugging in a pair of headphone or earphones that act as the antenna. That doesn’t meant that you’ve to listen to it only using the 3.5mm audio jack however as there is an option to route the sound through the speaker. You can also record the transmission from the radio and even save a few channels as favorites for quick access later on.
The MachFive has an 8 Megapixel camera at the back that performs very well for a phone in this price range. Its images have good detailing and colour reproduction although there is quite a bit of noise and low light shots have plenty of noise but hard to expect a low light stunner in this product category. The dynamic range is fairly decent too and the HDR mode takes care of situations where the camera cant handle the dynamic range in normal mode. The downside is the longer shutter speed and it is one of the slower phones we’ve tested when using HDR mode.
Images can be taken upto 8 Megapixel in 4:3 mode and up to 6 Megapixels in 16:9 mode. Although it is just a single LED at the back, the flash itself is pretty powerful and can provide enough light in a dark situation. Although, since it isn’t a dual tone flash the images don’t look as good when used with people but it gets the job done. The front facing 5 Megapixel camera too has a similar story to tell. good performance with good details and colours during daytime but noisy at night. Luckily there is a front facing flash as well and although it isn’t as powerful as the one behind, it is good enough to take a decent pic at night or in low lit situations.
To take a look at the full resolution samples, click the photos below. The ones on the left are HDR and the ones on the right are taken in normal mode.
The camera software is pretty much like other Mediatek powered phones. You have a bunch of quick toggles for flash, HDR, face detection and the camera switch toggle. There are shortcuts to the different modes on the left and you can choose between normal, panorama, beauty and live photo mode. There is also a level guage that helps you compose the shot. The UI allows you to adjust various properties of the image such as white balance, sharpness, hue, saturation etc.
The MachFive scored a one charge rating of 11 hours and 5 minutes in our battery tests. That is decent for a phone that has a 720p 5 inch display and a 2200 mAH battery. If you feel like you need more juice from your phone, you could always carry a spare battery and pop it in when the first one dies out. There is no fast charging as such but the battery does still fill up quite fast especially when paired with a 2A charger. Check out the complete set of battery tests here.
The Karbonn MachFive is overall quite a decent phone for the price. Its highlights are the screen, good build quality and decent battery life. The lack of 4G along with other negatives may bum a few people out but if you feel that those are negatives that you can live with then this is a phone that should give you good value for money.
- Good Display
- Good Audio Quality
- Decent Battery Life
- Good Build Quality
- Decent Camera Performance in Daylight
- Feeble Loudspeaker
- No 4G LTE Support
- One of the SIM Slots is a miniSIM slot
Srivatsan contributed to this review