Micromax A116 Canvas HD is a beast of a smartphone – at least on paper. Priced at a sumptuous Rs. 14,999, one would expect a mid-range device, but Micromax has a way of surprising customers and throwing curveballs at the market.

At under 15k, you will get a 5-inch IPS 720p display powered by a MediaTek MT6589 quad core Cortex-A7 processor clocked at 1.2GHz, with 1GB of RAM and a PowerVR Series 5XT GPU. It boots Android Jelly Bean 4.1 and comes equipped with a 2100mAh battery that should be enough to get you through the day and a little more. The 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash should be more than capable of holding its own and a microSD card slot allows for memory expansion.

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The Micromax A116 Canvas HD

Considering all this, it seems like a bargain to pick up this phone. Of course, we will reserve all final judgements till we have had some time to test the device, but there’s no doubt that there isn’t a smartphone available in India (officially or otherwise) that can match up to the specs of this device and compete at the same price point.

Just consider this: The A116’s screen is of the IPS variety, which is the same as the LG Optimus 4X HD, and it has the same resolution as the LG handset, the Samsung Galaxy S3, the HTC One X and X+. But it is priced much, much lower than that group. Admittedly, the Mediatek MT6589 processor seems decidedly last generation, when considering the likes of Tegra 4, Snapdragon S4 Pro and Exynos 4 series. But the processor is more than capable of handling all basic tasks, playing HD games and watching high definition multimedia content. Besides, initial impressions and hands-on videos see the phone fly through tasks. That could be in part due to the Jelly Bean and Project Butter experience, something even the Optimus 4X HD cannot boast of (well, not officially at least).

These are obviously big-name, big-ticket handsets that have a premium price and Micromax certainly does not have the same headaches of multiple products and multiple international variants that some of the big OEMS go through. But even among low-cost manufacturers, the A116 Canvas HD is still king when it comes to a spec-by-spec comparison.

Unsurprisingly, the quad-core phones cheaper than the latest Micromax handset are by and large Chinese manufactured. The Amoi Neptune V5, which is manufactured by Deovo and branded by Chinese search giant Qihoo, is cheaper than the A116 but does not have any real takers except for in its homeland. Besides, it’s powered by an ageing Tegra 3 processor. The Huawei Honor II has Huawei’s homegrown quad-core processor K3V2, which has topped benchmark charts, but otherwise brings the same sort of build quality that one can expect from Micromax. It is also a good deal more expensive than the A116 with its estimated price tag of Rs 17000, which does not include shipping charges (the phone isn’t officially available in India yet). The Chinese startup Xiaomi also has a cheap quad-core phone in the M2, but again the Micromax smartphone brings a bigger screen and, of course, its low price to the table. Then there are the really cheap quad-core phones like the Beidou Little Pepper or the ZTE U950. Neither is officially available in India and even if they were, the 800 x 480 resolution of the Pepper and the highly dubious build quality of both are soundly beaten out by the Micromax smartphone.

With no real challengers, there’s no doubt that the A116 Canvas HD is so far the phone of the year, as far as India is concerned.

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