Android One, Google’s ambitious programme to make stock Android smartphones more popular and affordable to reduce fragmentation in the system, is back. This time instead of entry-level smartphones, Android One will be on the mid-range Lava Pixel V1. In September 2014, when Android One was launched, Google had pushed its reference design to Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. But despite Google’s big push, Android One phones barely crossed a million units in sales in India.
The Lava Pixel V1 is priced at Rs 11,350 and offers, at least on paper, much higher specs than most other phones in the price range. But the big question is whether the Lava Pixel V1 can revive Google’s Android One in India? Read on:
Specs: 5.5-inch HD IPS Full Lamination Display with Dragon Trail glass | 1.3 GHz MediaTek quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 32GB storage (expandable via microSD to an extra 32 GB) | 13 MP rear camera (software enhanced 8 mp camera) + 8MP front camera (software enhanced 5 mp camera) | 2650 mAh battery| Android 5.1 Lollipop Stock
Price: Rs 11,350
Lava Pixel V1 is a fairly light device for its size and has a 73.6 per cent screen to body ratio with a 76.3mm wide body, which Lava says is one of the best in its segment. The chrome-finish back cover is removable along with the battery, which a lot of users in India might appreciate. Lava has kept the earphone jack and micro-USB port on the top of the phone. The side panel too has a metallic-coating that does not look too bad.
Lava Pixel V1 uses stock Android buttons on the screen and the volume and power on-off buttons are on the side. The phone’s design might not be radically new, and while this is a fairly wide screen, what works in its favour is that this is not a bulky device.
What is good?
The 5.5-inch screen is perhaps the USP of the smartphone. I watched full HD movies and TV shows on this phone, and used it as my primary multimedia-viewing device for a long-distance flight. The HD screen makes for excellent viewing in my opinion and so far the Dragon Trail Glass has ensured that the Pixel V1’s screen is scratch-free. The audio quality both for music and calls is fairly sharp on this device.
Couple this with 32GB storage space and you can download, store movies and TV shows without worrying about space. Lava Pixel V1 offers a little over 25 GB space when you start the phone, which is a lot of space when you look at the price. Plus, there is the extra space with a microSD card.
Battery is another strong feature of this smartphone. It lasted well over 10 hours with usage included gaming, calls, watching videos and browsing the web as well. The battery saver mode will ensure that your phone lasts that extra bit of hour as well which is an important feature for a smartphone at this price point.
What’s not that good?
The plain vanilla Android should have been the best thing about this phone, offering a smooth experience. But it is sadly not so. The notifications bar got stuck more than once and at times did not even show up. There were also times when Lava Pixel V1 just froze. Also, I encountered too many app crashes and am convinced that this is definitely not a device for heavy gaming, or even simple games like Temple Run 2.
Then this is one of those rare phones where the front camera has an edge over the rear one. When it comes to colour reproduction both cameras feel a little underwhelming. The wide 16:9 format with lesser megapixels delivered better shots than the native 4:3 and I cannot figure out why Lava decided to enhance the camera megapixels. The camera is by no means the fastest I’ve used in recent times.
Strangely, Google Play Music did not play any of the MP3 songs I had uploaded on the phone, even though the app indicated that the music was on and I could see the progress bar moving. In contrast, VLC played the songs just fine, so I’m not sure what the problem was with Google Play.
In a market where users have become quite discerning and want great performance at budget prices, Android One needs to offer a smooth performance without any lag or at least minimal app crashing. The only silver lining here is that this is a pure Google phone and that the both Lava and Google might consider a software update to rectify these issues soon.
Should you buy it?
It’s clear that Google desperately needs a win for Android One, but Lava Pixel V1 is just not it. In a market like India, it is hard to win consumers simply on the basis of a pure OS experience. The two big plus points in this phone are the big screen and extra space. But the performance is a let-down at times and you will need to keep that in mind when considering this.
If you don’t care about custom skins and gestures, then Lava Pixel V1 can be on your list. Let’s not forget that this phone will get regular software updates, which is not always possible in other mid-budget devices. Having said that, one can’t ignore that Lava Pixel V1 might just have a tough time beating a host of worthy contenders in India like Xiaomi Mi 4i, Lenovo K3 Note, Moto G.