If we had to pick a smartphone that really ruffled the feathers of the big ones this year, it would be the Micromax A116 Canvas HD. Micromax managed to drum up excitement about the device even before it was announced, and a slight delay in the availability meant fans were itching to get their hands on the device.
When it was finally launched at midnight on February 14 this year, over 9,000 units were booked within 24 hours. Compared to other big-name brands, such a number seems like a trifle, but this was the first time an Indian mobile phone company managed to create such a stir. Of course, it’s not all hype. The phone has a quad-core CPU, a 720p display and an 8-megapixel camera. With those specs and its Rs 13,990 price tag, it can compete with handsets far pricier. That makes it a winning package.
The Micromax Canvas HD is expected to receive an Android 4.2 update
However, it’s not all rosy for Micromax. One of the major criticisms against the company is the lack of Android updates for its devices. The ones launched with Ice Cream Sandwich, such as the Micromax A110 Canvas 2, are still awaiting a dose of Jelly Bean, while the Gingerbread handsets are lagging behind. The Canvas HD, thankfully, was launched with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which despite not being the latest version of the OS (that would be 4.2.2), at least brings some measure of smoothness to the OS.
Another pro in Micromax’s corner is that the UI is pretty much stock, except for some customisation in the form of notification toggles (which is a feature in Android 4.2) and some changes in the settings and app icons. However, this actually makes Micromax look worse, as other Android phone manufacturers have elaborate skins over stock Android. We can allow them some amount of leeway when updates are delayed, even taking into account the workforce and resources at the likes of Samsung and Sony. Of course, it could all just be a tactic to drive up sales of newer devices, especially considering the resale value of a used Micromax handset isn't that great.
No official Jelly Bean ROM for Canvas 2
We reached out to Micromax in the hope of getting an official word on the status of the updates. The company said while announcing it that the Canvas HD will be getting Android 4.2. However, we did not receive a response. Keep an eye on the site as we'll make sure to post an update as and when they get back to us.
Of course, it’s easy to say that if you can only afford a Micromax then you can forget updates. But that’s not entirely true. Micromax is not the only low-cost manufacturer out there. Secondly, its phones are not unique in terms of hardware. They share specifications with phones manufactured by other companies since they come from the same production line. So if you own a Canvas 2, then you can update from Ice Cream Sandwich using the Jelly Bean ROMs released by other manufacturers.
China's Mobistel is a company that uses the same production model as Micromax, in that their phones are assembled and shipped with the software from the production units. Their T2 Cynus smartphone is exactly the same as the Micromax A110 Canvas 2 in terms of specs. Mobistel has released an update for the Cynus, which works perfectly for the Canvas 2, according to this XDA Developers thread.
The Canvas 2 was launched with ICS and has not seen an update yet
That is certainly good news, but why should customers who have paid good money for their phones rely on unofficial updates, however well they might run? Besides, the phone’s warranty would be void if you flash unofficial updates, so it’s not a great idea if your phone is brand new. And it’s not like Micromax phones don’t have an update option built in. OTA updates are definitely possible. So why haven’t the popular Canvas 2 or the Pixel A90S received any updates?
Micromax has a lot going for it. They have released exciting phones at attractive price points. Believe it or not, there is a fan base for the brand and the build quality of their phones has improved with each generation. If and when it starts pushing out Android updates at a steady clip, Micromax is sure to have a leg up on the competition.
UPDATE: As promised, we followed up with Micromax on the status of the updates for the Canvas 2 and Canvas HD, and it turns out the Canvas 2 will be getting Android 4.1 Jelly Bean next week, while the Canvas HD will also receive a bump up to Android 4.2 soon.
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