It seems Micromax has learnt from their past mistake which was the Canvas 4 by getting rule number one correct this time – choosing the right ODM. Micromax has ditched Blu Mobile for a French company called Wiko, specifically the Wiko DarkFull which is now the Canvas Turbo after a bit of nip and tuck. The biggest change is the Full HD display from Sharp and the aluminium chassis. But is this enough for Micromax’s flagship to take on looming threats from XOLO and Gionee? Let’s find out.
Design and build
After taking the phone out of its Apple-esque packaging, the Turbo comes across as well built and feels great to hold. The aluminium chassis feels durable and there isn’t any chrome to mess up the aesthetics. The upper and bottom sections around the back are plastic for the radios to work and these have the tendency to pop open from the sides if you drop the phone from waist height. It’s probably a good idea to have a cover on at all times. The buttons have a good tactile feedback but the area around the SIM slots have a crude finish and don’t sit flush with the phone.
A much better attempt compared to its predecessor
There are the usual slots all around the phone, including two micro-SIM slots. Memory expansion is sorely missed however as that’s something we’ve taken as a given in Chinese phones. Due to the aluminium chassis, the battery is also non-removable. Overall, we think Turbo is a marked improvement over the Canvas 4 in terms of aesthetics and build quality. We’ll still give a nod in Gionee’s direction for the E6 for aesthetics and attention to detail but that’s just our personal opinion.
The 13MP shooter
The Canvas Turbo uses Sharp’s Continuous Grain Silicon (CGS) technology which enables lower power consumption and more components like the display controller and LCD interface to be integrated into the panel. This reduces the need for extra components to be connected to the display which makes room for a more compact and slimmer phone. The Full HD resolution of the IPS panel also provides crisper text and sharper colours. The display is bright and sunlight legibility is pretty good as well. There doesn’t seem to be any scratch-resistant protection however which is a little worrying.
Some new handy features
The A250 uses stock Jelly Bean as much as possible apart from a different icon set and few of their own apps. The UI is smooth and not as laggy as Gionee’s offering but it’s still not ‘Project Butter’ smooth. Along with ‘Blow-to-Unlock’, we now have an app called ‘ifloat’ which lets you quickly access some apps no matter what you’re doing or which app you’re in. This app also enables a Facebook Chat Heads-style alert for missed calls and messages. You can reply directly from these pop-ups without having to switch apps, which is cool. There are also a whole bunch of gestures to play around with.
Coming to some of the specifications, the Turbo is powered by the MediaTek MT6589T quad-core chipset, running at 1.5GHz. There’s also 2GB of RAM onboard so performance in benchmarks is pretty much the same as we’ve already seen in the Elife E6.
Micromax hasn’t changed much in the audio and video department as it’s exactly the same as the Canvas 4. What we really liked is the volume level and quality of the loud speaker, which is very good.
Media playback is pretty good
We also get the Samsung-esque video player with oversized controls and features like ‘Look Away’ and the pop-out video player. 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. Out of the 16GB of internal memory, there’s 12.4GB that’s available for the end-user. While this may be an issue considering there’s no expandable memory, the iPhone 5 on iOS7 leaves you with about 13.1GB (16GB model) and we don’t see people complaining, so that’s that.
The A250 is a quad-band GSM handset with single-band 3G. Dual standby is an option for both the micro-SIMs as well. Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and DLNA. Features missing from the Canvas Turbo include GLONASS and NFC. Web browsing works well with the stock browser which also features the pop-up function like the video player. Productivity apps like M! Security, which features a virus scanner, anti-theft feature and lets you back up your contacts, are bundled along as well. The phone was pretty quick in triangulating our position despite the lack of GLONASS, which was not expected. Overall, the Turbo rarely heats up much even with heavy use of the camera or GPS.
Some of the pre-loaded apps
The 13MP snapper on the Turbo is good performer, even when lighting conditions aren’t ideal. We tested this against Gionee’s offering and the A250 came out as the overall winner thanks to its ability to capture details and colours better and better performance with flash. However, getting the camera to focus when and where you want can be tricky as it’s really slow in this respect even in broad daylight, which was an issue in their Canvas 4 as well. Micromax really needs to fix this problem as it’s very annoying when you’re trying to capture a shot quickly. Grab the full photo stream right here.
Extra features in the camera UI
Good at macros
Video recording is good and maxes out at 1080p on the rear camera. There are a couple of new modes added in the Turbo like 3D Panorama, GIF animation and Remove Object. The latter two are very similar to what Nokia had in the Lumia 920.
Just like the Gionee E6, the Canvas Turbo failed to complete our 8-hour loop test as it barely managed to finish 6-hours. This included 2-hours of calls, video and YouTube streaming. We didn’t get a chance to run our audio test. The 1080p display is a bit too demanding for the mere 2000mAh battery onboard.
Battery life aside, the Micromax Canvas Turbo is big improvement coming from the Canvas 4 and it’s easily one of the best MediaTek-based phones in that price range. Videos tend to drain the battery the quickest so if you’re not an avid movie watcher then the Turbo is a good buy in the sub-20K price bracket. Lack of expandable storage, weak battery life (for video playback) and the slow focusing speed of the camera are our main sore points. Other than this, the A250 is a good progressive attempt from Micromax and is what the Canvas 4 should have ideally been. We recommed this over the Gionee Elife E6 if you're contemplating between these two.
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Oct 2, 2014