The first of the Android One devices is here. And we have been lucky enough to get our hands on the Micromax Canvas A1, one of the three smartphones launched by Indian manufacturers on the new Google platform. Here is what we thought of the new phone.
Specs: 4.5-inch (854x480p, 218ppi) capacitive touch screen | Mediatek 1.3 GHz quad core processor | 1GB RAM | 134mm height, 68mm width, 9.3mm depth and 140g weight | 2MP front and 5MP rear camera | 4GB internal memory with 32GB expandable slot | Wifi 802.11 b/g/n, 3G, 1700 mAh battery
Price: Rs 6,499
Design: As far as looks go, the A1 looks like a lot of other Micromax phones in the same price bracket. The big difference is the detailing around the camera, a brushed metal right that looks quite classy. There is an Android One logo towards the lower end of the rear flap, and I guess we will have to get used to seeing this more more devices in the near future. The phone is slim in a sturdy sort of way and feels a bit heavy in your hands. It is thinner than the new Moto G for instance and that is a good place to be. Another interesting feature is the rear speaker grille, which is something I have not encountered recently.
Display: I was a bit put off when I heard FWVGA when this phone’s screen specifications were being announced. But the 854x480p IPS display is anything but disappointing, especially at this price. The colours are vibrant and the icons sharp. Reading is not at all an issue. The screen sort of blends into the black bezel at the top and bottom and this seems like a good way to hide the hard edges that dominate many screens of affordable smartphones. The screen has good viewing angles and it is not such a problem using it in the sun.
Performance: This is what the Android One phones will be all about. I have used the phone only for a day, and this verdict is based on that 24-hour experience. But there is no doubt that the hardware and software gels wonderfully well on this phone. So there not even a semblance of a hesitation when you flip through the homescreen, open new apps or switch from one to another. This feels good.
Software: The OS is the purest form of Android. So there is nothing new for users who know their way around Android. All the Google apps come pre-loaded and you will enjoy using Google Now and maps on this phone. I have never seen Maps load so fast. Voice recognition also worked really well. One big difference in comparison to other Android phones is the Google Camera which replaces the native clicker. But you can start using it only when you have an SD card inserted. All photos are also backed up to Google Photos by default.
Storage: The phone has 4GB internal memory. The brand new out-of-the-box phone had 2GB available for use. It would be a good idea to invest on a 8GB card to start with, but then Amazon is offering it for free with A1 at the moment.
Camera: The native Google Camera app is something that sets this phone apart. The camera results are good, though far from being great.You can do everything you would on a regular camera app.
However, the fact that there is no gallery app and just Google photos can make it a bit confusing. Also, the phone does not save pictures on the device and you need an SD card for the camera to even start working.
Connectivity: I faced no issues with connectivity and got a good signal even in our basement office.
Verdict: The Micromax Canvas A1 and the entire Android One experience it offers is very good. The phone promises a kind of confidence not easily achievable in this price range. However, for users the tough choice will be in figuring out whether to opt for this phone or something else that offers similar or better specs at a slight different price.