Review: Micromax Dual 5 is no flagship killer but has some notable features
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After a long hiatus from the mid-range segment, Indian phone maker Micromax is taking another shot at it with the new Dual 5 smartphone. Priced at Rs24,999, the Dual 5 is trying to walk the premium path, with features that were previously not common in Micromax phones.
One good thing is that the new phone will be available at both online (Flipkart.com and Micromax e-store) and offline stores.
It is competing with the OnePlus 3T (Rs29,999 onwards) and the Xiaomi Mi5 (Rs22,999).
Design: Handy and stylish
The Dual 5 has been designed well. The metallic finish on the back and side panel looks good and also feels solid in the hands. The curved back design, matte finish and chamfered edges improve the grip quality. It comes in a single gold colour option which doesn’t look too blingy. In fact, it does bring back memories of the time HTC made the One M8 smartphone because the design lines are very similar.
At 164g, the Dual 5 weighs slightly more than its rivals with similar screen size, such as the OnePlus 3T which weighs 158g.
The two back cameras and the circular fingerprint sensor are aligned together in a single line to create a symmetrical look on the back. The front panel is wrapped in glass and the navigation keys are placed below the screen. The only issue here is that the icons representing the back and multi-tasking button look the same without any distinct labelling, resulting in the user pressing the other by mistake too often.
The volume and power buttons on the side are easy to press and well within reach. Micromax has added a third button which lies on the left side panel. It is a shortcut key which allows users to access flashlight, start audio recording and take a photo without even unlocking the phone.
Display: Big and bright screen
The Micromax smartphone has a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 1,920x1,080p. It is a bright looking display. Colours in games and videos look rich, without any particular colour standing out unnaturally. It is a bit reflective and that affects visibility in sunlight to a certain extent. However, with the Sunlight visible mode active, the display adjusts colours and brightness levels to improve visibility a bit more. Micromax has added a few display customisation options such as the eye protection mode and black and white mode, which would come in handy to reduce eye stress. The display comes with a layer of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3.
Software: Old Android with unique features
The smartphone runs on a slightly older Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with Micromax’s custom UI over it. There is no app drawer and it offers a few offline themes and pre-installed apps. There is a wallpaper shortcut app that changes the wallpaper every time you tap on it.
The phone also has a unique feature called Secure Vault which opens a second interface within the phone’s main interface. It can be unlocked with any finger other than the one used to unlock the phone’s primary interface. This Vault works just like any other interface but exists separately. You can make calls on it using the calling app, carry out WhatsApp chats, or click photos, yet none of the activity, chats or call logs will show on the main interface.
Performance: Steady and secure
Micromax has used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 652 octa-core chip to power the Dual 5 and clubbed it with 4GB RAM. Though a capable chipset, it is not in the same league as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 and Snapdragon 820 chip that run on OnePlus 3T and Xiaomi Mi5, respectively.
The phone can handle most tasks and games well without any signs of stutter or overheating on the back and side. The phone offers 128GB of internal storage which is a rarity at this price. The only other phones that offer that much storage are the Xiaomi Mi Max Prime and Asus ZenFone Zoom.
The biggest highlight is the phone’s separate security chip with encrypted storage for passwords built in the phone’s hardware. It is equivalent to military grade EAL 5+ security standard which makes it harder for anyone to hack or unlock the phone without the user’s authorisation. The fingerprint sensor is accurate and fast, which makes unlocking the phone or accessing the Secure vault a breeze. The phone is powered by a 3,200mAh battery but barely lasted a day on single charge.
Camera: Crisp and bright
The two 13-megapixel cameras are powered by Sony IMX258 sensors and have an aperture of f/2.0. The camera delivers high-quality shots by combining the output of the monochrome sensor, which takes black-and-white shots, with the output of the RGB sensor, which takes colour photos. Picture quality under daylight looks sharp and rich. In low-light shots it was able to muster a good amount of detail, but exaggerated colours a little for effect.
The camera offers plenty of handy modes and features such as macro, dual focus, slow stutter, black and white, time lapse, anti-haze, 3D video and full-fledged pro mode where you get options such as smart metering. The 13-megapixel front camera offers options like Beauty mode and can take good shots even in limited light.
If you are looking for a phone that offers hardware-level security and doesn’t miss out on other elements either, the Dual 5 is definitely worth a try. If you are looking for a more powerful device, the OnePlus 3T, despite its slightly higher price tag, runs the latest version of Android 7.1 with an uncomplicated interface, can handle high-end games much better and looks more stylish.