If you took each smartphone launch from Micromax as a colour, the brand’s canvas would definitely turn out to be a piece of art with its own shades of immense success, some shadows from the failed attempts and some grey areas as well. And we’re pretty sure you’d agree when we say that the brightest hue on the canvas comes from a ‘Canvas’ itself. The Micromax Canvas 2 made the brand the in-house hero of the Indian smartphone market and since then the company has had its hold on the affordable half of the market. However, the scenarios have changed now. Other brands have improvised their strategies and the influx of Chinese smartphone companies has left the arena with some amazing competitors. The Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000 segment is dominated by smartphones like the Xiaomi Mi 4 (review | camera review), Motorola Moto G 3rd-gen (review | camera review) and ASUS ZenFone 2. And to reclaim its territory, Micromax decided to make an addition to nothing but the best of its series.
The newly-launched Canvas 5 comes as a flagship from Micromax, features loaded specifications and aims to take on the legacy of the Canvas 2, which got blurred with successive launches like the Canvas HD and Canvas 4. Does the smartphone ship with enough to paint another victory on the brand’s canvas? Read our review to find out.
Design: looks stylish, feels flimsy
Dimensions: 148 x 73.6 x 8.5 mm
Weight: 143 grams
Design is one of the best things about the new Canvas 5. There’s a faux leather back panel and a chrome trim running alongside the edges.
You will notice the vertical bezels are negligible but the 5.2-inch screen is flanked by thick bezels on the top and the bottom. Since the navigation keys come as a part of the software, the thick borders simple feel like wastage of real estate. Above the display, you’ll find the earpiece, the front camera and a few sensors. The button placement is standard with the volume rocker and the power key placed on the right edge of the smartphone. The top edge houses a 3.5mm audio jack and the bottom one carries the micro-USB port.
The flimsy part comes in when you turn the device over. The back panel sports the primary camera module, minimal Micromax branding and a loudspeaker grille. Although the leather finish on the back panel looks pleasing to the eyes, the panel when removed feels very fragile. This affects the phone’s build quality as well, which feels anything but solid. After a few sessions of removing the back panel and putting it back on, the panel started making crackling noises when pressed, most likely due to deformation or bad fit. Beneath the real panel you will find two micro-SIM slots and a microSD card slot. The battery is sealed and can’t be removed.
The device is looks and feels sleek and can be easily handled with one hand. The overall design of the phone is understated yet difficult to ignore and the 2.5D curved display only adds to the look.
Display: great if you avoid the sun, all day, everyday
Size: 5.2 Inch
Resolution: Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Display Type: IPS LCD
Pixel Density: 424 ppi
The 5.2-inch display of the Micromax Canvas 5 makes it an easy device to operate with one hand, while providing ample screen space to enjoy content nicely. The touchscreen is very responsive. Screen brightness won’t be an issue for you as long as you’re indoors. Colours just pop on the Canvas 5’s display and the texts and icons appear really crisp. However, the display looks washed out as soon as you step out into bright sunlight.
If you do not find the default colour settings pleasing, there’s MiraVision, to let you customise the display picture quality and colours. You can choose between Standard, Vivid and User modes. The User mode gives you control over the contrast, saturation, picture brightness, sharpness and colour temperature.
There’s also a preset option to improve contrast, called Dynamic Contrast. The mode does improve the colour quality dramatically.
Overall, the Canvas 5’s is a decent display and content consumption is a delight on the phone, save for the issues with sunlight legibility.
Camera: no saving grace here
Primary camera: 13 MP
Flash: LED Flash
Secondary camera: 5 MP
Since smartphone makers realise how pictures play a crucial role in getting your Instagram followers count up and henceforth in establishing your awesome social life, they cram up a lot of megapixels in the camera sensor. However, that does not necessarily translate into the expected picture quality. This is the case with the Canvas 5’s camera as well. 13-megapixel is the standard and it is exactly what the phone sports. However, pictures taken with the Micromax Canvas 5 were a tad disappointing.
The default camera app is pretty loaded. The viewfinder is flanked on the right with photo and video mode buttons. On the left you will find the regular set of option like camera settings, a bunch of shooting modes, flash options and front camera button. Shooting modes include a Pro mode which lets you manually tweak all the settings, HDR mode, Sport and Night mode.
There’s also a DualView mode which lets you capture from the front and the primary cam all at once. A smaller window, which you can choose from a bunch of shapes, features the image shot from the other camera, while the background image comes from the shooter mode you’re already in.
Be it long shots, macro shots or night shots, none of the images taken from the primary camera of the Micromax Canvas 5 can be described at sharp. However, in abundant lighting, the night images turned out usable. The flash works well in low-light conditions and doesn’t burn out the subject. The front camera on the Canvas 5 performs decently well though. 5 megapixels, the crazy beautification mode and the LED flash working together should be able to deliver Instagram-ready selfies.
Here are a few pictures clicked from the Micromax Canvas 5’s primary camera (right click and open in new tab to view in full size).
Here’s a look at the front camera performance.
Software: nothing extraordinary
Operating System: Android
OS Version: 5.1, Lollipop
The Canvas 5 ships with Android Lollipop v5.1 with Micromax’s custom skin running on top. As a result, you don’t get an app drawer and all the apps come scattered over a bunch of home screens. The Canvas 5 comes crazily loaded with pre installed apps like Scandid, Quikr, hike, Chaatz, Citrus Cube, hotstar, Amazon’s Kindle, Saavn, Snapdeal and Amazon, along with all apps from Google. The Micromax browser looks crowded with a great deal of ads and a bunch of download links to some apps.
There’s nothing special about the software, apart from a few screen-off gestures. You can double tap to wake the phone from standby, and also launch the camera directly by drawing the letter ‘c’ on the screen. Drawing ‘m’ launches the music player and drawing ‘o’ turns on the flashlight.
The UI is pretty simple and looks like what you’d find in any other smartphone. The only downside is the plethora of preloaded apps.
Performance and Battery: the former is great, the latter not so much
CPU: Octa core, 1.3 GHz, MediaTek …
GPU: Mali-T720 MP3
RAM: 3 GB
Memory: 16 GB + Up to 64 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Battery: 2900 mAH
With 2GB of RAM fast becoming the standard on most smartphones (barring the entry-level ones), regular usage on any phone is smooth and stutter free. The engines can really only be tested when stressed however. We chose heavy games like Dead Trigger 2 and Riptide GP2 as the testing hurdles and the Micromax Canvas 5 came out with flying colours.
Even on the maximum graphics quality, there were no jitters whatsoever. Performance was one of the most delightful things about the smartphone during the whole review period. The device used either one core at the highest clock frequency, which is 1.3GHz or a couple of cores clocked at 300MHz during regular usage, while the number jumped up to five or six during heavy browsing or game play. There was slight heating as well. While it might not get you worrying about the device, it was not easy to ignore either.
As much as the processing capabilities of the Micromax Canvas 5 are impressive, the battery nullifies the experience. Although, the smartphone comes with a hefty battery for a 5-incher, the battery drains pretty fast. With mixed usage, the Canvas 5 somehow managed to last us through the day, but you will have to go running to look for a charger by evening if your treat yourself to long gaming or browsing sessions. On our standard battery test, which involves running a 720p video on loop, with brightness and volume set to 50 percent, till the battery drains completely from full to zero, we recorded a video playback time of eight hours, which is just about average.
Capacity: 2900 mAH, Li-Polymer, Non removable
Talktime: Up to 10 Hours (2G)
Standby Time: Up to 275 Hours (2G)
Storage on the Micromax Canvas 5 is rated at 16GB, out of which you get about 9.5GB to store your personal content or download more apps. You can make use of the microSD card slot to further expand the storage. Additionally, the phone supports USB OTG, so you can plug in your flash drives as well. Other connectivity options are standard, along with supports for 4G LTE bands.
The Canvas 5 checks all the boxes when it comes to specifications in this price segment. Apart from the camera, which could have been better, the phone performs impressively in most departments. The Canvas 5’s biggest rival is the Moto G 3rd-gen which is a complete all-rounder and offers solid build quality, great battery life, stock android and a better performing camera. The Xiaomi Mi4i (review) also beats the Canvas 5 with its brilliant display, capable cameras and impressive battery life. If you can go up a bit in terms of pricing, the Xiaomi Mi4 stands as another strong contender with unbeatable battery life, display, cameras and performance in this price bracket, with its only negative being lack of 4G support.
Over all, the Canvas 5 comes across as a tempting option in the Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000 segment. However, it only gets a half-hearted recommendation from us because of its sub-par camera quality and average battery life.
Photos by Raj Rout