A year back,very few buyers of high-end phones would have considered a Micromax. In a segment where products sell by the brand,Micromax was relatively a new player (started selling phones in 2008) with hardly any snob value. That may not be true any morein what speaks volumes of how well the company has done,the brand is now being seen as an option by buyers looking at entry Nokia Lumia and Samsung Galaxy models. The closest comparison off my mind is Samsungjust as the Galaxy family has expanded with multiple models,so has Micromax built the Canvas brand with a variety of Android OS-based smartphones. And it would be foolish to take them lightly,they are good phones that come at a bargain price.
I recently got my hands on one of the latest addition to Micromaxs range,the Canvas Music A88. First impressions were definitely a thumbs up,for a price of R8,500 the phone packs quite a punch. The screen is decent though a little less responsive than I would have liked,though the phone looks well
designed in its form factor. A lot of phones today have a glossy plastic back,something that I never liked because they keep slipping,so the best thing on the A88 is the rubberised back that gives a good grip. It also fits well in my palm,making it easy to operate and keeping my other hand free.
The screen size is 4.5-inch and the resolution is again averagesomething that I feel the Nokia Lumia 520 beats it at. The phone also packs a 5 MP camera at back with HD recording and dual-LEDs which frankly I found quite average. There is a VGA camera at front too for video calls,while the phone supports most modern day technologies like 3G,Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi. The battery is good enough for a day on average usage,while the dual-SIM might be a big benefit to someone.
Just so that you take the Music bit seriously,Micromax has also included a pair of JBL headphones inside the pack (apart from earphones),which if you bought separately would have set you back by about R1,500. The JBL pair definitely sounds good,especially with a clear low-end that you rarely hear on standard earphones. So there is definitely
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oodles of value.
Additionally,Micromax also gives you free access to over 3 lakh songs through its pre-loaded Mlive app. The bug here is that access to free music is limited to 90 days and I did not find a lot of Western music,especially in the rock,electronica genre. But if all you are bothered about is the latest Western pop,hip hop and Bollywood tunes,this will suit you just fine.
What I did not like was the build quality. While I am definitely not a big fan of Samsung phones in terms of buildI prefer Nokia,HTC and BlackBerry in this regard,the Micromax was definitely a segment behind in its finishing. Most will not notice this,but this makes a big difference in terms of the life of the phone. Like I said before the screen lacks a bit in responsiveness,which at times is a problem when typing messages or mails on the on-screen keyboard. There are small niggles in the software as well,like how the message screen does not move up when the keyboard comes on the screen.
Finally,if you look at the price,you have a decent deal,but the competition is catching up. The phone is sure to give closely priced rivals like the Sony Xperia E,Nokia Lumia 520 and Samsung Galaxy Ace something to worry about. But with Micromax,I would have expected something even better to tilt the scales in its favour.