Micromax has had its fair share of limelight in the entry-level smartphone segment for quite some time, until XOLO came along and shook things up. Tired of playing the old cat and mouse game, Micromax has finally decided to look beyond the sub-Rs 15,000 bubble and attempt a mid-range droid which means competing with the big boys like Samsung, HTC, etc. We had our doubts if Micromax could afford to have a phone priced at Rs 20,000 (or above) after having developed a reputation for low-cost smartphones. The Canvas 4 A210 is their first gamble at a mid-range smartphone, which at first glance appears to be an amalgamation of a bunch of popular phones (Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5). Let’s see if this mash up pays off in the end.
Design and Build
The Canvas 4 looks suspiciously similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4 and that’s no coincidence. Even the two capacitive buttons on either end are identical to Samsung’s. Unlike the S4 however, the A210 feels a lot sturdier and is easily the best-built (and looking) Micromax to date. The 5-inch IPS panel is protected by Gorilla Glass, which is a step up and on the top, we have the front-facing 5MP camera and proximity and ambient light sensor. The first highlight you’ll notice is the anodised aluminium chassis that lends the phone a sturdy feel. The aluminium side has a chamfered edge much like the iPhone 5 and helps boost the radio signal. The battery is covered by a simple, removable plastic cover. Underneath lie the two SIM slots and the microSD card slots (not hot-swappable). Last, but not the least, we have a 13MP camera sensor courtesy Sony and a single LED flash.
The best built Micromax to date
Buttons and ports are similar to most smartphones these days. We have a power/sleep button, volume rocker, microUSB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The buttons are also milled out of the same anodised aluminium so the finish and tactile feel is superb. Overall, the fit and finish of the Canvas 4 is unlike any other Micromax we’ve seen so far and there’s a good reason for this. You see, the A210 is a slightly tweaked variant of the Blu Life One, a popular phone announced this March in the US. Micromax has tweaked the original design a little but internally, it’s essentially the same phone. Re-branding a popular handset is a smart move by Micromax as it will always have a better development community behind it. Remember how popular the ZTE Blade was? It came to India branded as the Dell XCD35 which became quite popular despite being terrible in every way.
Not the most attractive rear end but passable
The Canvas 4 is powered by MediaTek’s tried and tested MTK6589 SoC. This is the standard variant that’s clocked at 1.2GHz. Coupled with 1GB of RAM, you’re in for a very smooth Android (4.2.1) experience. The interface is incredibly snappy and HD IPS display reproduces very rich and vibrant colours. There is a slight bluish tinge which is more apparent at lower brightness levels. We didn’t face much of an issue out doors as well but then again, we have been subjected to some pretty gloomy weather here so we can’t say for sure. The UI is not skinned in the typical Micromax fashion and this is first visible with the absence of toggle switches in the notification bar.
A very familiar interface with new gesture controls
The A210 features some new gestures that make use of the front camera and the proximity sensor. ‘Smart Gesture’ can be enabled in the settings menu offering you gestures like-flip the phone to silence or activate loudspeaker, answer the phone automatically when placed near the ear or even dial a number by simply choosing a contact and holding the phone to your ear. These are very similar to gestures we’ve seen in Samsung handsets since the Galaxy S3. Also available are a bunch of M! apps bundled along. The M! Live App lets you buy games via SMS, M! Zone and M! Unlock. The latter (which is now available for free on the Play Store) lets you blow on your screen to unlock it. It’s quite gimmicky at best but it’s still something unique to Micromax.
The music player is an overhauled stock Jelly Bean player with a fancy new skin. You can sort your music via Albums, Artists, etc. and there’s even an option for Micromax’s Online Music store. The ‘Now Playing’ screen is nicely designed with the album art taking up the full screen and controls in the foreground. We miss the lock screen widget though and apart from the standard visualiser and EQ presets, there’s nothing really special here. Audio quality is good via the loudspeaker but the sound gets muffled when placed on a desk. It’s not very loud either so you may miss alerts in a noisy environment.
The revamped music player
The Canvas 4 also debuts a very Samsung-esque video player. The oversized controls are easy to use and you can lock the controls, preview other videos while watching one, adjust the aspect ratio, take a screenshot or simply move ahead one frame at a time. The two new features are ‘Look Away’ and the pop-out video player. The former is similar to Samsung’s Smart Pause and works well too, provided the lighting conditions are ideal. The pop-out video player works in a similar fashion as Samsung’s implementation. We easily managed to play a 1080p video while chatting on Whatsapp in the background without any discernable lag. The default video player managed to read most video formats with ease from MOV to MKV. FM radio is also present.
The tweaked video player is a lot more funtional than before
There’s 16GB of internal memory out of which 10GB is available for user data and roughly 2.4GB is available for apps. The good thing is you can move bigger apps like games to the internal storage if you need to.