I moved over to android platform just 2 months ago with the Micromax Canvas A63. I had been using a basic Samsung Hero Music phone, I felt the need to migrate to a “smarter” platform, since most of the people [even my mom ] had moved over to android/windows/iOS and using “smart” apps.
I decided to write this review keeping in mind the difficulty I had to face while choosing a phone with all the bells and whistles, while still remaining in my strict budget of Rs. 6000. Mind you reader, that I was complete novice in the smartphone segment. I was overwhelmed with all the companies and their offerings. I had never been very interested in mobile phones, and didn’t bother to keep myself updated on the latest. Well, I was aware of the “flagship” models of various cos, but then, they are made for people with deep pockets, and mine was not.
You ask why a review of an entry level phone? Well, why not??
So when I went in, had to do a lot of, ahem, “research” on Google before jumping in. I visited various shops and bugged the crap out of the salespeople, made gsmarena my friend. I am that of person who likes to really know what he is buying, even if it’s a Rs. 10 deal. It has really paid me off.
If there is any singular reason that I settled with Micromax, it will be because they offer more than their competition in the same price bracket. I hear you asking why not other brands like Gionee etc.? Well, that’s because Micromax is an Indian company. Again, why not other Indian brands like Videocon, Karbonn and others in this list: Handset Companies in India[There are many non-Indian cos in that list; I don’t know who made that list, but consider only the true Indian start-ups]? Well that is because Micromax has a good presence from where I bought it. And also because I wanted to give Micromax, more importantly an Indian co a try, even after reading about horrible build and service qualities in various forums.
Enough of my blabbering. On with the review.
Figure 1: Courtesy of GSMArena
Appearance: Right away after taking the phone in my hand, I liked it. It was the perfect size. It’d fit in the palm of my hand and any pocket of my clothes. And it was light. The 4” screen was just the size I liked. With a 480 x 800 resolution the images and text were just the right kind of sharp.
Now there was one short coming, if one may call it that. In more popular Samsung[my Mom has a Sammy] phones, the volume buttons are on the left side, while the power button is on the right. In the A63 the power button and the volume button had their places interchanged as compared to Samsung. So I was a bit confused at the beginning; though after a couple of days, it settled in.
The body of the phone is full plastic, and kinda cheap. But I’m not complaining. I knew, that at my budget I have to make compromises somewhere.
My views: Now that I have been using the phone for over two months, I have a formed a fair view of the phone.
The phone was loaded with some Micromax bloatware, and the first thing I did was to disable them from the Application Manager in Settings. Apart from a bit of UI tweaks[involving changing the icons], Micromax has pretty much left the JB platform in its vanilla state. I like this. After disabling the bloatwares, the experience is close to vanilla JB
The two months I have been using it, never once has the phone hung/crashed. Its powered by an entry level Dual Core Cortex A7. But it runs pretty much fast. I have used iPhone4, Lumia 920/720, Samsung S4/Grand/Note 2[my friends are smart phone savvy]. I have found no noticeable lag in normal day to day operation, except maybe in open big files, large image galleries. Large PDFs take some time to load.
I play Subway Surfers, Offroad Legends, Jetpack Joyride without any lag or any noticeable load times. However, playing one game immediately after the other introduces noticeably extended load time, which I think, is due to the 512MB ram. If the application is off loaded from the recent apps, then the load time is again reduced. The small amount of ram also makes its presence felt when I have a large number of applications left running in background. However, a quick kill tasks with Clean Master [Memory Boost] makes it up and zippy again. Also, I have enabled the option for kill task on screen lock in Settings, so after sometime it kill the tasks and frees up ram. Also, killing unnecessary tasks stops battery drain.
The screen, as with all other mobiles in this price range is not awesome. Its good. For indoors. During daytime, outdoors, I have a pretty hard time viewing what is on the screen unless I crank up the brightness to high. However, I think that if one uses a non-reflective screen guard [if that is available for the A63], it will help a lot in outdoors. The problem is not there in any indoor conditions.
PS: if you are wondering, I still have the original screen guard that came with the mobile during unboxing. I do mean to change it pretty soon. I will update this when I do.
The camera: It just gets the task done. Thats about it. In the same price range, Samsung does indeed have better camera on their android phones. The pictures from the A63 have too much noise in almost all light conditions; pictures taken in bright light come out as too sharp. Also, the dynamic range of the sensor is very narrow, so any area having bright light is blown out. In low light conditions its better not to take pictures at all. There is an LED flash, buts its just there for the namesake. The only use I make of the LED flash is as a torch during power outages. Moving on from the picture quality, the camera is about as much laggy as other mobile cameras in the price range. I have never used the video mode [nor do I intend to use after using the camera], so I wont say anything about the video quality.
The front facing camera does the job of video chatting on Skype quite well. Still, the sensor is not well equipped and you'd be well off video chatting when there is more light.
Music: The phone will never be my primary music player, because I have a rockbox-ed Sansa Clip. Still, for the sake of it I will state my views. I used the default android player, n7 player, PowerAmp, Rockbox android. But what can a piece of software do if the hardware itself is not good? Whenever I play any kind of sound through my headphones [SignatureAcoustics C12, Soundmagic ES18/PL11] there is a very slight hissing sound. The sound comes just before and after the sound/music has been played. I believe the DAC is to be blamed. I am very particular in what I listen to, and how I listen to it, and this mobile is certainly not how I would listen to music. Add to it, the inability to play FLACs without transcoding, thanks, but no.
Pardon me, I am being very critical. The Sansa Clip has an extraordinarily good DAC and it has molded my taste to a certain level of excellence[yeah.. :swag: ]. Usually, I am very choosy where music is concerned. For the regular music listeners, this is good. I even asked a few of my friends and my roommates to listen to some popular bollywood tracks through the A63 and they didn't notice anything.
For calling and stuff, it has dual SIM. Dual SIM is an absolute must for me. The A63 gives quite good performance in voice calling and SMS. When moving from a region with no signal to a region with signal, it picks up the signal very fast. The UI during call is very neat and intuitive. Also, the SIM port 1 has 3G enabled, so make sure you put your 3G SIM in the first port. The speaker is loud and crisp, and the voice quality is good.
Sensors: The A63 is equipped with A-GPS, an accelerometer, and a proximity sensor. The A-GPS only works with WiFi/data, and is quite fast and gives nice accuracy. The proximity sensor cuts off the screen when you move the phone towards your ear during a call. Its threshold is around 5cm. The accelerometer help in screen rotation and various games, blah blah... No gyro, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, gesture... Price, compromises, remember? IMO, in for a regular guy in daily life, those latter sensors are hardly required.
Battery: The battery is rated 3.7V, 5500mWh. That equals to 1486.5mAh, or roughly 1500mAh. On a normal day of of usage with some sparse gaming, 1-2 hours of calls, 3-4 hrs of browsing/messaging on WiFi, it lasts for about one and a half day after a full charge. I have to put it on charge every morning.
On data usage, the battery drains very, very fast. Every time I have used 3G service on my BSNL, the battery drains at the approximate rate of about 2-3% every 10mins. So, except in emergencies, I refrain from using data. And I would advice the same to the other users too.
General usage: People often complain that their smartphones become slow over time. I have observed that these people have a huge number of apps installed on their phones. They do not run any kind of maintenance for clean up of redundant data, or uninstall unwanted apps.
Some may argue that two months of usage is not enough to judge the long term performance of a phone. That is true. But we have to keep in mind that this is not a flagship phone with latest hardware. Without the requisite amount of care, it will, in the course of time become slow. In view of this, while I have been yapping about how fast and zippy the phone is, you have to keep in mind that I do not have the habit of installing any and every app, and I run regular maintenance and clean up though Clean Master. This applies for any and every digital gadget. The less the garbage files, the better the performance.
Final verdict: I think the Micromax Canvas A63 is a pretty good spend at Rs. 6000. Locally it will be even less. I am happy with it. This phone was my first as an android. I started off using Android 4.2.2, and till now it has been a very good experience for me. It is good for everyday tasks. It helps keep me connected better, and syncs my contacts immediately. Yeah, it stands up well to its tag as a smartphone.
Oh and I should also mention this.... when I first bough the phone and took it home, I didnt know much about screen orientation and stuff. I mean, I was aware of it, but didnt know about this phone. My cousin was fiddling around with it the a couple of days later, and he told me that the screen rotation function didn't work even when it was on. Turned out the accelerometer's Z-axis didnt sense and acceleration at all. I took it to the shop from where I bought it. They called up the Micromax service center in Kolkata and asked them what to do. The blessed guys at the service center told them to replace the set on spot. Yeah. On Spot, after two days of purchase.
Micromax, you have won my gratitude..