Micromax have established themselves as makers of reasonably priced, feature-rich mobile phones that one would actually consider over a lower priced Nokia or Samsung. We were quite impressed with the Van Gogh X450 as it offers tremendous bang-for-buck given the features and the bundled Bluetooth headset. Today, we have the successor to their popular Q75 smartphone, the Q80. Let’s see if it manages to surpass its predecessor.
Micromax Q80 caught on video
Design and Build
Micromax has completely redesigned the phone from the ground up and is not merely a minor face lift. The upper half of the phone has a glossy black bezel, which covers the LCD screen. The size has remained the same at 2.4 inches with a 320×240 pixel resolution. The Q80 now supports 3G, so there is a front facing VGA camera for video calls. The trackball on the Q75 was quite annoying, which is why Micromax have replaced it with a optical trackpad. The sensitivity is good and you can adjust that in the settings.
Looks elegant and is built well
This next bit is what I really don’t like about this phone. All the menu, options, call and other shortcut buttons are placed in the single row and very close to each other with barely any spacing between them. This makes it quite difficult, not to mention confusing when you quickly want to answer a call or enter the menu. There’s so much unused space between the trackpad and the row of buttons which could have easily been used to separate the call keys from the rest of the shortcut buttons. The QWERTY keypad is relatively comfortable, however I’m not too fond of the finish of the keys. The feedback of the keys is good making it fairly easy to type quickly. I really like the brushed aluminium finish that Micromax have used for the lower half of the phone, it makes it looks stylish and presentable.
Keypad is evenly lit
The Q80 isn’t slim by any means and it does feel thicker compared to the Q75. The rear portion has the same matte finish, which doesn't attract finger prints at all. Other than the speaker grill and the camera, there’s nothing on the back. Oddly, even the volume rocker is missing. Micromax have taken a design cue from HTC this time for the battery and SIM card slot. Just like the Mozart, the battery is hidden by a plastic flap.
Place for the SIM and memory card, very similar to the HTC Flyer
The two GSM SIM and memory card slots are placed on the top. The phone only supports up to 8GB external storage and comes with 68 MB onboard. Finally, we have the 3.5mm headphone jack and micro-USB port placed on the top. Overall, the build and finish of the Q80 is very good, which is an improvement over the Q75. I just wish, they would have added a volume rocker and arranged the shortcut keys a bit better.
We are greeted with the same Java-based operating system we’ve seen on all their phones. The interface is quick and snappy and the new optical trackpad is a welcome improvement over the trackball. The response is a lot more accurate letting you quickly browse through the menu. The homescreen has a bar of shortcut icons for the menu, EZMail, Java apps, camera, messages and Wi-Fi.
The shortcut bar makes it easy to launch apps
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to change the shortcuts in the settings. Micromax has included a dedicated ‘Yahoo!’ folder which consists of weblinks for mail, sports, finance, news, search, etc. We also have a file manager, calendar tasks, alarm, world clock and notes. Office applications include calculator, unit converter, currency converter and a text reader.
The stock video player will only read MP4 and 3GP files up to a 720×480 resolution, anything above this and the video won't play. The quality of the video is not great though, primarily due to the screen. There’s a lot of banding seen in colours and the video appears a bit dim with low contrast.
The music quality is good but, I wish the volume would have been a little more
The audio playback list is also a bit limited to just MP3 and MIDI. The music player does have some nice sound enhancements like Bass enhancement, Equalizer, 3D sound and Reverb effect. The bass enhancement helps with punchier bass, but I found the max volume was a little less. The sound quality is decent, but nothing to shout about. Even with the EP630’s, I wasn't overly impressed. There’s FM radio present for those who care and there's a sound recorder app, as well.
The Q80 comes with full support for HSDPA 2100 (3G), as well as EDGE and GPRS. The phone only supports two bands unlike most phones that are at least tri or quad band. There’s also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi ‘n’, which is an upgrade from the Q75 only featuring b/g. Along with the stock WAP browser, Micromax have bundled along many Java apps like Opera Mini 4, Snaptu, Facebook, Bloomberg UTV Mobile, NewsHunt, ngpay and Nimbuzz. All these apps can be accessed very easily from the home screen itself.
The default WAP browser gets the job done if you have a slow connection
Plugging in the micro-USB cable gives you three options: Mass Storage, Webcam and Com port. The webcam feature is very handy as it lets you use the phone's main camera as a webcam. Mass storage mode gives you drag and drop functionality, which is nice. Micromax has implemented EZMail push mail service, but unfortunately it refused to work. I wasn’t able to sign up for an account on EDGE or Wi-Fi – it just kept giving me an error message asking me to check WAP settings despite having full Internet connectivity.
There are no real complaints about call quality. The earpiece volume is loud enough, even in noisy environments. I also didn’t face any dropped calls, which is good.
In addition to the Internet related apps, the Q80 also comes with Burnout, which refused to work (just my luck). You can also download and install any number of free apps available online.
The 3.1MP camera does not have an LED flash, so the indoor picture quality is not too great. In daylight, the picture looks a little better, but it still lacks quite a bit of detail and there's a lot of noise noticeable in darker areas.
Quite a few options to choose from
The video recording quality is actually decent and while the sensor finds it difficult to capture colours well enough, the frame rate is pretty smooth with very little to no stutter. You can record upto 720×480 resolution, which is DVD quality.
The sensor is not able to capture colours very well
There's also a whole bunch of video options to choose from like quality, effects, banding whereas for still shots we have different scene modes, exposure settings, timer and night mode.
The 1200mAh battery on the Q80 will last you a solid two days of regular use. However, I found that if you have Nimbuzz running in the background, which uses a constant GPRS connection, the battery life takes a dip and you end up with about a day and a half, maximum. According to Micromax, the Q80 will deliver upto 5hrs of talk time. I did run a music test, which involved playing back a set of tracks in a loop till the battery died out. I connected the stock earphones to the phone and managed to get a good 17hrs of battery life.
At Rs.4,999 as the market operating price (MOP), the Micromax Q80 offers good value and is a marked improvement over the Q75 in terms of design and build. For this price, you get 3G and Wi-Fi 'n' along with a good selection of bundled apps. It's not perfect though – the placement of the shortcut keys in the front are very awkward and not ergonomic at all. Also, the camera sensor is below average and the phone feels a little chunky.
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