Micromax is showing no sign of slowing down when it comes to the phablet onslaught, brought about by the Canvas 2 A110. The company has launched a high-end version dubbed the A116 Canvas HD, which raises the bar once again for mid-range Android, or simply smartphones in general. The A116 boasts of a higher definition screen and a more powerful quad-core CPU, something we’ve not seen in this price range till now. Its primary competition when it launches in the first week of February will be the WickedLeak Wammy Sensation around the same price point and the just launched Samsung Galaxy Grand. Let’s breakdown the specification of the Canvas HD A116 and see how it stacks up against the competition.
OS – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
The A116 will launch with 4.1 Jelly Bean right out of the box. This puts it ahead of the curb compared to other phones in this price range as well as well as some higher-end handsets. Jelly Bean brings with it Project Butter, which helps deliver a smooth UI experience as well as other enhancements like Google Now, a better camera interface etc.
Cellular network – Dual SIM GSM and 3G
The Canvas HD A116 will retain the dual SIM functionality and will support GSM and 3G networks. You should be able to use both SIMs simultaneously as well, although what’s not very clear at this point is whether or not it will support quad-band or even dual-band 3G.
Display – 5-inch HD IPS
Our major gripe with the Canvas 2 A110 has been addressed with the A116. Micromax has fitted the Canvas HD with a 720p IPS display, which brings the pixel count all the way up to 294ppi. This is the same pixel count as the first Galaxy Note. The Wammy Sensation has a slight edge over the A116 as it packs in the same resolution but on a smaller 4.7-inch display. The Galaxy Grand won’t be a very pretty sight since it only has a WVGA resolution at the same screen size. We’re not sure yet if the Canvas HD will have any scratch resistant glass fitted to it.
Form factor and weight – Will be a handful
With nothing but a picture to go, we don’t have the official dimensions and weight of the A116, but we can safely assume it won’t be too far off from the dimensions of the A110. It does appear to be slightly thicker than the A110, but it’s quite hard to tell based on one picture alone.
Wi-Fi – 802.11 ‘n’
It’s business as usual over here. We have Wi-Fi 802.11 ‘n’ for connectivity. It’s not dual-band, but still good enough for everyday use.
SoC– MediaTek MT6589 (quad-core)
This is one area where Micromax has completely blown away the competition. The A116 features MediaTek’s MT6589 SoC, which contains a quadc-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and PowerVR Series5XT GPU. While the CPU uses the slightly older architecture from ARM, the SoC is built using the newer 28nm fabrication process, so it should do well in terms of power efficiency. Micromax hasn’t detailed all the multimedia capabilities of the A116, but digging a little deeper in to the chipsets capabilities, we find support for 1080p video recording. Whether or not Micromax chooses to use this is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, the four cores should easily help in gaming and even the general responsiveness of the UI. Another noteworthy feature is the inclusion of 1GB of RAM, which is on par with the Wammy Sensation and the Galaxy Grand.
Storage – 4GB onboard with room for expansion
Onboard storage is not much; thankfully, you have the option to expand it via a microSD card slot.
Primary Camera – 8MP sensor with LED flash
The primary camera is an 8MP similar to the one used on the A110. Sadly, it’s not a BSI sensor like the one on the XOLO A800. We feel Micromax could have done a little better in this area. Still, we’ll have to wait and see how much of an improvement the camera on the A116 really is.
Front camera – VGA resolution
The front facing camera is only VGA, so don’t expect a whole lot for video calls or even self-portraits.
Sensors – Accelerometer, proximity
We don’t have any details on the sensors in the A116, but it’s safe to assume that it will have a accelerometer and a proximity sensor. We hope that the Canvas also features an ambient light sensor and if we’re lucky, a gyro and a compass as well.
GPS – GLONASS and GPS
Micromax has stuck with the good’ol GPS for the A116 as GLONASS is missing from the picture. We guess including that piece of hardware would have driven the cost up.
Battery – Li-Ion 2100mAh
The battery size is the same as the one on the Galaxy Grand, however, the quad-core CPU in the A116 might take a toll at the end of the day. A larger battery would have been nice, but we’re guessing that would have automatically increased the weight or the dimensions of the phone.
The bottom line
No matter how much we try and nit-pick, there’s no denying the fact that the Canvas HD is currently the best Android smartphone, at least on paper. We don’t know if there will be any competition to the A116 by the time it actually hits retail, but it’s safe to assume that it’s going to be really tough to beat. Some of the strong points that work in its favour include an HD IPS display, quad-core CPU and Jelly Bean support. The only real area of concern right now is the battery life.
While it's great to see such a powerful handset at a reasonable price, the real question is, will people be ready to shell out more than Rs.10,000 for a Micromax? The company has undoubtedly produced some very good handsets in the past few months, but they’ve all been around the Rs.10,000. When you come to the 15K to 20K price range, things like aesthetics, quality of materials used, updates etc. tend to matter. Samsung has just launched the Galaxy Grand for an MRP of 21,500, so assuming the street price is around Rs.18,000, unless you’re on a very tight budget, a typical user would cough up the extra dough for a product from a more established company. If you had to pick between the A116 and the Galaxy Grand, which one would you go for?
Check out our full review of the Canvas HD here.