The A88 is another recent addition to the Micromax’s rapidly expanding portfolio. Called the Canvas Music, the A88 is targeted at the music aficionado as it comes bundled with JBL headphones as well as access to free downloadable music through their MLive online service. Backed up by reasonable pricing, let’s see if it’s worth the hype. 

Design and Build
Available in white or black, the A88 isn’t a very striking phone by any means. The handset looks like a miniaturised version of the Canvas 3D, which is not saying much. The glass front is a magnet for finger prints and is a pain to keep clean. The rubberised back extends a bit onto the sides as well, offering good grip. The power and volume buttons all line up and are quite ergonomically placed. Around the back, we have the 5MP camera with dual LED flash and a speaker grill at the bottom.

Micromax Canvas Music

Nothing much to talk about in terms of design

Beneath the rear cover, we have two regular-sized SIM slots and a microSD card slot that’s not hot swappable. Due to the smaller 4.5-inch screen, the A88 is very manageable in your hand and single-handed operation is done with ease. It’s also fairly light at 136g but a tad on the bulkier side.

Micromax Canvas Music

The JBL headphones are pretty decent

The bundled headphones are the JBL Tempo, which are worth roughly Rs 2,000. The headphones sit on your ear but with a good amount of pressure thanks to the metal band. There’s cushioning for your head and the ear cups, which make them comfortable even for long hours. The quality is not bad either as the 40mm drivers deliver good highs and lows with slightly weak mids. You also get the regular headset in the box but there’s no comparison when it comes to quality. 

The Canvas A88 runs on Jelly Bean and is powered by a dual-core MediaTek MT6577 SoC. There’s also 512MB of RAM onboard, which together makes for a relatively pain-free Android experience. The interface and customisation is just like any other Micromax handset so we won’t go into much detail here.

Micromax Canvas Music

Similar UI as seen in their other handsets

The display is of the regular TFT variety but even with just a 480 x 854 pixel resolution, images and text are quite sharp and clear with pretty good viewing angles; at least much better than what we saw on the Canvas 3D or even the Canvas 2.
You can download songs through MLive, which is Micromax’s online store for games, videos, etc. The available songs are mostly Bollywood and from other Indian genres. You can browse through the available songs and download them directly on your phone. There isn’t any DRM here so you can keep them for as long as you want or even share it.

The music player gets a slight facelift but underneath, it’s the same Jelly Bean music player. The quality of audio is strictly average even with a good pair of earphones. The rear speaker is quite loud so you won’t miss any of the alerts even in a noisy place. Video playback leaves a lot to be desired. MP4 files play well in the stock player but AVI, MKV, etc. have trouble playing back even in MX Player. On a slightly more positive note, the colour reproduction is pretty decent compared to Micromax’s other handsets in this same price range.

Micromax Canvas Music

Music player is just a slightly skinned stock player

The A88 only supports three bands for 2G and just one for 3G, which means you won’t be able to use this on all networks around the world. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v4.0 and USB plug-and-play support. Other than the Play Store, Micromax also bundles their M! Store and M!Zone for added content. The bundled apps include some games like TheDarkMan, Fruit Devil along with some productivity apps like File Manager, M! Buddy and HookUp.

Micromax Canvas Music

Connectivity apps

The Canvas Music gets a 5MP sensor on the back and just a VGA sensor upfront. The sensor is not the best and manages very average looking pictures for both, indoors and out. Take a look at the sample below.

Micromax Canvas Music

Camera quality is strictly average

Video recording maxes out at 720p. We did manage to play certain 1080p MP4 files but that depends of the type of codec used.

Battery Life
The 1800mAh battery managed to last our full 8-hour loop test with about 12 per cent battery to spare. This was with a SIM card, brightness turned down to medium and Wi-Fi enabled. This is pretty decent considering the specifications.

Verdict and Price in India
The Micromax A88 Canvas Music is priced at Rs 9,999 but you can find it online for as low as Rs 8,500. For the price, the addition of the JBL headphones may appear as a good bargain but the phone itself isn’t impressive enough. There aren’t any special audio enhancements in the phone either to make your listening experience better. The A88 is just another Android smartphone with no unique feature to make it stand out from the crowd. To top it off, the performance of the handset is strictly average as well in most respects which is why we recommend you give this a miss. 

Publish date: June 10, 2013 9:35 am| Modified date: December 19, 2013 11:58 am

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