Monday, May 29, 2017

Micromax Dual 5 review

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Not many will argue that 2016 was a bad year for Micromax. From being the second largest smartphone vendor in India, behind the global behemoth Samsung, Micromax was ousted from the top five as Chinese players took over the market as well as mindshare.


The company’s dominance in the budget segment took a hit with devices from other brands that offered more value-for-money or stepped on the gas in innovation or undercut pricing with the online-only model.


However, after an unusual quiet period, Micromax is back with Dual 5 – a comeback device with an aim to bring Micromax back in the game and establish its credentials in the mid-range segment – an unfamiliar territory for the company.


On paper, the Micromax Dual 5 packs in a punch and according to the company’s claims, it sports the best-in-class camera. Can it live up to the hype and the expectations? Let’s find out in our comprehensive review.


Design



The Micromax Dual 5 feels solid right away as you take it in your hand and with a unibody metal design, it looks premium too.


The all-metal body of Dual 5 is accentuated with the chamfered edges and antenna bands running across the top and bottom on the rear. I quite liked the minimal branding at the bottom with just the Micromax logo. There are two IMEI numbers too, not to my liking, but they aren’t an eyesore either.



With a curved a 2.5D glass on the top and curved edges, the Dual 5 offers fantastic grip and the phone fits comfortably in your palm even though it sports a 5.5-inch display. At 164 grams, it’s not very light, yet it’s very ergonomic and is pleasant to hold and use for extended periods of time.


Overall, the Micromax Dual 5 looks rad, and is definitely one of the best-looking smartphones to have come from the Indian smartphone maker. There’s nothing that we’ve not seen before, but the workmanship on this one is impressive.


Display



The Dual 5 sports a 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and an effective pixel density of 401ppi. The display comes with a layer of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3.


It’s a bright and vivid display that offers rich colors and sharp text. The contrast and color depth are impressive too and the vibrancy associated with AMOLED displays shines through here as well – although the colors might be too over-saturated for some people. The viewing angles are pretty good too. However, it is a tad reflective to my liking and while it is a problem in sunlight as is, the sunlight mode adjusts the display and brightness level to improve visibility.


Performance



Powered by the Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 652 processor, the Dual 5 packs in 4 GB of RAM and a very generous 128GB of internal storage.


The 652 is a very capable mid-ranger, and the Dual 5 runs through everyday paces very well. In my two weeks of usage, I didn’t face any lag while web browsing or navigating between the apps. Multi-tasking is a breeze too (the 4 GB RAM helps) and you can jump from one app to the other without any stuttering or significant delay. There’s no frame drops while playing graphic-intensive games like Dead Trigger 2 or Asphalt 8 or streaming HD videos. However, it does go warm when stressed. I had Google Maps open for navigation for an hour-long commute, and the phone got quite warm during the same.


A lot of people still use phones for calling (d’oh!), and the Dual 5 actually does well in that primary but often overlooked department. While the call quality on the Dual 5 is excellent, the company claims that the smartphone is equipped with stereoscopic antennas for three times better signal reception. Well, the claim holds true as far as practical, real-world observation goes. Even in areas with weak signals, the Dual 5 did manage to latch on to the network better than other devices I had on me at that moment.


The 3200mAh battery on the Dual 5 lasts a full day on moderate usage. It’s decent, but nothing special. However, the Quick Charge 3.0 support is a good addition, and it allows you to get from zero to around 40 percent in just 20 minutes and about an hour to fully charge the battery. That’s quite neat, really.


The Dual 5 can take whatever you throw at it, reasonably of course. This one is no 8xx chip by any measure, but packs in a decent punch.


Hardware



Micromax Dual 5 has capacitive buttons for navigation right below the display. It’s a shame they aren’t backlit; disappointing at this price point.


While the Dual 5 packs in a volume rocker and the power button on the right side, there’s a third button on the left side, dubbed ‘Smart Key’, which can be configured to perform different functions using the SmartKey app. There’s an infrared sensor as well that can help you control your home appliances without needing individual remote controls for each.


The Dual 5 includes a hybrid dual SIM tray which is despised by a set of users who want the ability to use two SIMs as well as a microSD card. It’s no showstopper if you aren’t one of them.


The Dual 5 packs in an independent security chip for storing passwords and fingerprints, and uses EAL 5+ military-grade security. It’s a unique proposition, though lost on most users.


Camera



Of course, the highlight of Micromax Dual 5 is its dual camera setup. The dual 13-megapixel cameras at the back capture photos simultaneously, capturing focus and depth-of-field information. Similar to the camera setup we saw on Huawei P9, one camera module captures monochrome imaging data while the second one captures RGB data.


Both cameras have f/1.8 apertures and support phase detection autofocus (PDAF). Yes, you can achieve a bokeh effect, a feature that is one of the most popular pitches for a dual camera setup these days.


In well-lit conditions, the Dual 5 captures some fantastic photos. I was surprisingly impressed with the color reproduction and the details it manages to capture. The camera focuses very quickly, but it takes quite a while to process the images. It’s actually annoying waiting for several long seconds after tapping the camera shutter button to move to the next one.


In low light or indoors, some of the shots come out great with great colors and texture. In some cases though, a lot of noise creeps in – quite noticeable when you zoom in.


On the front, there’s another 13-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture…. Pretty much why the phone is marketed as one with ‘13 + 13 + 13 camera’. Outdoors in daylight, the Dual 5 can take some pretty good selfies although the ones in night are just average. There’s also a SmartBeauty mode to enhance your selfies if vanity is your thing.


The camera app offers a host of options and supports recording slow-motion and time lapse videos along with GIFs. There are different shooting modes and a few filters available too to snap on to your photos.


Software



If camera is the biggest highlight of the Dual 5, the biggest disappointment is that it ships with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. It’s 2017, and there’s no excuse for a flagship device to not have Android Nougat out of the box or at least share a clear timeline for an upgrade.


The Dual 5 runs Micromax’s new UI on top of Android which is similar to the one by Qiku. Qiku is the ODM for this device and hence the similarity in hardware and software from the one released by Qiku. App icons, notification shade, and the Settings app all have received a makeover – and there’s no app drawer.


The Dual 5 also includes a suite of apps by 360 Security for optimization and maintenance.



There are few handy addition as well. There’s a SafeSwitch feature that prevents anyone to shut down your phone without a password. My Pixel XL was recently stolen, and I would really like to see this feature in more smartphones. Also, if one attempts to pull out the SIM without unlocking the phone, the picture of the person will be automatically sent to a pre-configured account. There’s also a SecureVault app that offers a secure space that can be accessed only with fingerprint authentication and helps you keep apps and content hidden from plain sight.





SecureVault app from Micromax helps you hide your apps and private content


April 18, 2017



Specifications




















Operating SystemAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Display5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) AMOLED | 2.5D curved glass | Corning Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 652 Octa Core 1.8 GHz | Adreno 510 GPU
RAM4 GB
Internal Storage128 GB; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
Front Camera13 MP | f/2.0 aperture
Rear Camera13 MP (f/1.8 aperture) + 13 MP (f/1.8 aperture) | PDAF | Dual LED flash
Battery3,200 mAh
Weight164 grams

Gallery


Pricing and final thoughts



The Micromax Dual 5 delivers what it promises, and comes in a pretty nice looking chassis. It delivers good performance and manages to take some great photos.


The Micromax Dual 5 delivers what it promises, and comes in a pretty nice looking chassis.



There’s also one-year free replacement warranty, which is a segment first, and a nice proposition.


I would’ve liked if it came with Android Nougat out of the box, but apart from that, there’s hardly anything to complain. Overall, the Dual 5 is a nice package and Micromax should be happy withby what they’ve brought to the table to kindle their resurgence.

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