Micromax Canvas Knight A350 review: Offers good bragging rights to the uninformed but fails as a smartphone

Price

19,999

Tech2 Rating

6.5

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The Canvas Knight is packed to the gills with features but how does that translate in the real world?
25
By Roydon Cerejo /  30 Mar 2014 , 10:30:27

After spending a good two weeks with the Micromax Canvas Knight, one thing is certain – Micromax is certainly stepping up their game when it comes to choosing the right ODM (Original Device Manufacturer) for the flagship. The Canvas Knight A350 kicks it up a notch in terms of aesthetics and design. Like everything from Micromax, the Knight is all about cramming in the best specs and getting it under Rs 20,000. For the specification junkie out there, the Knight is like a, well, knight in shining armour.

So with such an amazing spec list, the Canvas Knight should automatically qualify for the ‘best smartphone’ in its price segment, right? If only it was that easy. As good as the phone might look; there are some pretty alarming chinks in the Knight’s armour which make you question if it’s worth investing in it.

A well-built handset from Micromax
A well-built handset

Design and Build
The Canvas Knight A350 is a handsome looking handset, a far cry from what we’ve seen from Micromax thus far. It looks a bit like a mash up of the iPhone 5 and the Xperia Z1, which is good since they’re both good looking handsets. You get the typical packaging from Micromax as well. The phone is a magnet for fingerprints, especially the back. Thankfully, the bundled cover should help keep it clean.

Looks sleek and well put together
Looks sleek and well put together

The primary chassis is made up of aluminium which adds to the solid build quality. The phone can also take a beating as accidental drops are absorbed well by the sides with no damage to the display. There are two micro-SIM slots on either side, but no microSD card slot. The buttons are ergonomically placed towards the middle but the issue here is that the power and volume rocker are placed too close to each other and are of the same size. This can get confusing when you’re unlocking the phone or need to adjust the volume. You get three capacitive buttons at the bottom which are backlit.

The aluminium chassis can sure take a beating
The aluminium chassis can sure take a beating

Around the back, we have the 16MP snapper from OmniVision and a dual LED flash. This is the same sensor we first saw in the Gionee Elife E7. The Canvas Knight is built by a Chinese ODM Tinno Mobile, who also happen to supply the same unit to the popular French smartphone company, Wiko. For a sub-Rs 20,000 handset, the Canvas Knight has excellent build and looks just as good as other handsets like the Lumia 720 or the Lava Iris Pro 30.

Features
The 5-inch Full HD display offers good colours and sharp visuals and is the perfect size to be used comfortably. We’re really glad Micromax didn’t get carried away and use a 5.5-inch display here. The software is pretty much stock 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with a sprinkle of Micromax apps and a few tweaks to the UI. The interface is very smooth without any hiccups and lags.

A simple and easy to use UI
A simple and easy to use UI

The phone is powered by MediaTek’s MT6592T octa-core CPU and there’s also 2GB of RAM onboard. The Knight can easily handle games with ease however we did experience intermittent lag and sluggishness even in simple games like ‘Where’s my water? 2’.

The phone also tends to heat up very quickly after a quick game of Ridiculous Fishing or snapping a few pictures. We also noticed the phone tends to get quite sluggish after playing a game. A couple of times, the game would just crash to the home screen. This happened again when streaming music over Bluetooth. The tracks would skip intermittently and distort quite a bit with an incoming notification. There doesn’t seem to be much optimisation done within the software to efficiently use the eight cores. The GPU onboard is also a mainstream one as its performance is only slightly better than the one used in a Snapdragon 400 chipset.

The Knight posts some good numbers but not good enough for eight cores
The Knight posts some good numbers but some benchmarks say otherwise

Media
The 25GB of usable space should be enough for most users. The audio and video player does a decent job of playing back popular formats. Audio quality is good with a good pair of IEMs. The Knight also features a Yamaha amplifier for boosting sound over the earphones and the speaker. The effect is present but isn’t very profound.

Media playback is good
Media playback is good

Connectivity
You get the usual set of connectivity options like dual-SIM, 3G, quad-band 2G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. NFC and GLONASS are still missing. You do get USB OTG support and our SanDisk 16GB Dual Drive was detected instantly.

Some handy third-party apps
Some handy third-party apps

Camera
The 16MP sensor from OmniVision coupled with the M8 Largan Lens manages to cpatures some pretty impressive pictures, both indoors and out. The focus speed is quick and time taken to capture is under two seconds. We were particularly impressed by the quality of the pictures taken indoors under ambient lighting. You get to play with some effects like GIF animation, 3D Panorama and Remove object, all of which work well.

The camera UI is well designed. A first for Micromax.
The camera UI is well designed. A first for Micromax

Shooting modes range from HDR, Smile shot to Auto scene detection. There’s also voice detection which didn’t work well all the time. You can limit the burst mode to 40 or 99 shots. The interface looks polished and all the settings are easy to get to.

Captures good details
Captures good detail
Handles dynanic range pretty well
Handles dynamic range pretty well
With HDR mode
With HDR mode
Indoor shots are detailed with very little noise
Indoor shots are detailed with very little noise

The front camera is an 8MP sensor, which produces good pictures for video calls or selfies. Sadly, video recording is limited to 720p.

Battery life
The 2350mAh battery is just unable to keep up with the amount of tech packed in to the Canvas Knight. The phone didn’t finish our 8-hour loop test and stopped just shy of 6-hours. Even with regular use, you will have to charge the phone by evening as it won’t last till the next morning. The battery life is below average and could be a major dealbreaker for many.

Battery life is the Achilles heel of the Knight
Battery life is the Achilles heel of the Knight

Verdict and Price in India
Only the white and gold versions seems to available at the time of writing this article and there’s no mention of when the other variants will be available in stock. At Rs 19,999, the Micromax Canvas Knight is the best Android phone if a good camera and solid build are you top priority. The octa-core CPU makes for some good bragging rights to the uninformed but in reality, it isn’t all that faster than a good quad-core CPU. Octa-cores will be a big deal the day Google drops one into their Nexus smartphone, optimising the OS for the eight cores. Till then, take the marketing hype with a pinch of salt.

As an overall Android phone, the Canvas Knight’s biggest failing is the below-average battery life. Add to that the heating issue and random freezes and slowdowns and it makes for a very unpredictable experience. If you care about the above issues then we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 or the Motorola Moto X for a little more money. Both handsets are very good all-rounders and you also have the added security of good after sales service and regular firmware updates.

Photography: Joshua Navalkar


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