Review: Intex Aqua 5.5 VR impresses with its display

Intex’s new smartphone does well with the basics, but misses out on the final punch


Intex’s new phone Aqua 5.5 VR.
Intex’s new phone Aqua 5.5 VR.

Indian phonemakers have been facing serious competition from Chinese counterparts. A recent report by Singapore-based research agency Canalys shows that Chinese phone makers Lenovo and Xiaomi have moved up the ladder in terms of smartphone shipments in Q3. Intex’s new phone Aqua 5.5 VR, priced at Rs.5,099, is their latest gambit to take on the Chinese rivals.

The surprise addition is the dedicated alert button similar to the one seen in Apple iPhones.
The surprise addition is the dedicated alert button similar to the one seen in Apple iPhones.

Design: Good looking but feels bulky

Intex Aqua 5.5 VR is a big-screen phone and it reflects in the phone’s design right away. There seems to have been no extra effort to keep the phone’s size or thickness in check by keeping the bezels slimmer. The phone weighs 176g, is 153mm tall and 9.9thick. While it looks good, the glossy back makes it a bit slippery. The navigation keys are placed outside of the screen which means you get to use the whole 5.5-inch display all the time. The volume and power button are placed on the right side and are well within reach. The surprise addition is the dedicated alert button similar to the one seen in Apple iPhones, which allows users to prioritize notification alerts without unlocking the phone.

Display: Bright and big

The smartphone’s big 5.5-inch display has a screen resolution of 1,280x720p only. Technically it isn’t much, but to our surprise, the display doesn’t feel inferior to a full HD display for the most part. Colours in HD movies and photos look rich and visibility from wide angles is flawless. The lack of crispness is more visible in games. Intex has added the option to modify the colour of the screen and switch between the warmer looking standard mode and the richer looking vivid mode. The other option available on the phone is the VR capabilities. Intex is bundling a card board-based virtual reality (VR) headset with the phone, and will work with the VR apps available on the Google Play Store.

There is an ad-free auto call recorder app and an app for backup and restore.
There is an ad-free auto call recorder app and an app for backup and restore.

Software: Clean Android looks good

Intex hasn’t gone for anything flashy with the UI. It runs Android 6.0 with a plain Android interface over it. This brings in a sense of familiarity and ease of use that is often missing in phones with custom UIs. Intex has added a few third-party Reliance Jio apps and the Opera Mini app. There is an ad-free auto call recorder app and an app for backup and restore. One of the highlights of the phone is the Emergency rescue feature which sends out text messages to numbers configured as emergency contact in the phone if the user presses and holds the volume up and down key together for three seconds.

Performance: Lags when stressed

The phone ruins on MediaTek’s MT6737 quad-core processor with just 1GB RAM in tow. Despite the clean Android, the phone’s overall performance is far from smooth. While it can handle individual tasks well, the phone feels sluggish with 5-6 apps running in the background. It can handle minor games like the Temple Run 2 very well, though. It offers just 8GB as internal storage and allows users to add another 32GB via microSD cards. The 2,800mAh battery can last a whole day of modest use on single charge. The other notable element in the phone is that it supports 4G networks.

The camera app is basic and has very few modes to keep the user busy.
The camera app is basic and has very few modes to keep the user busy.

Camera: Mediocre even in daytime

Camera is not one of its strong points. The 5-megapixel camera is poor and struggles even in daytime. Colours look washed out and the overall image looks blurry. You also need steady hands to get a good shot out of it. Low-light shots look noise-ridden and fail to illuminate darker areas properly. The camera app is basic and has very few modes to keep the user busy.

Verdict

Intex Aqua 5.5 VR is not meant for a power user, but for a basic user who needs a good-looking display for watching movies and the daily dose of news, ebooks and Facebook posts. At its current price, it faces competition from the Coolpad Mega 2.5d (Rs.6,999), which costs a little more but is a lot more powerful (with 3GB RAM), has a better 8-megapixel camera and offers twice as much storage (16GB) as the Aqua 5.5 VR.

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