Indian handset maker Micromax on 8 July launched its latest smartphone, the Canvas 4, which will be available in stores from this weekend for Rs.17,999. The Canvas handsets have been highly successful for the company, and early interest in the Canvas 4 also seems to be high—the company announced a pre-booking scheme on 28 June where people could pay Rs.5,000 to be amongst the first to own the device; without knowing either the final price or the features of the phone.
The company said on Monday that 4,000 people signed up on the first day, and by the time the pre-booking scheme closed, the company had 11,500 people on board, without having been given any details of the phone.
The specifications revealed on Monday don’t show may changes from the third Canvas phone, the Canvas HD. The Canvas 4 uses the same Mediatek Cortex A7 based quadcore CPU, running at 1.2GHz, and 1GB of RAM. The phone comes with a 5-inch screen running at 1280X720 pixels.
The real difference in hardware seems to be the cameras. The Canvas 4 comes with a 13MP camera, and a 5MP front camera, which sounds good. We weren’t able to try out the camera in a variety of lighting situations at the launch, though more detail should come in our review of the phone which will happen soon. At first glance though, the image quality doesn’t seem to be bad though it’s hard to say with just a short trial.
The touchscreen has also been given an overhaul, and is supposed to be much more sensitive, and will even work if you are wearing gloves.
Otherwise, the big change in hardware is in overall design and build quality—the new phone looks better, and feels like a higher priced device than it actually is. There is a nice looking aluminium band that wraps around the rim, and works as an antenna for the phone which is supposed to give better call quality, though that’s another fact we weren’t able to check right now.
In terms of software, meanwhile, there are some big changes. For one thing, Micromax has brought in a much needed feature with the Canvas 43over-the-air updates. This means that when there’s a new Android version available, it can be sent to your phone over the Internet, and the update can be carried out by your phone alone. With earlier models, you would have to use desktop software or take the phone to a Micromax customer care center for an update to get new Android features, which was not a very convenient option.
The camera app also has a lot of extra features such as a 99-shot burst mode, vertical panorama photos, and filters to tweak your pictures before uploading them. Meanwhile, other new features include blowing into the microphone to unlock the phone, looking away from a video to pause it, or having a pop-out video that plays while you’re in other apps.
You can also pick up the phone to answer it, and put the phone face down to mute an incoming call. These are all useful features to have, even if they do feel heavily “inspired” by Samsung’s new phones. The “blow to unlock” feature caused a few eyes to roll as well, and Twitter wits kept putting up jokes; one tweet by @stupidusmaximus says it’s the first device to be designed by a Lokhandwala producer. Another user, @b00gieMAndroid joked that future updates would add Fart to Charge, and @Wahiyat_PJs tweeted that Canvas 5 will have lick to unlock.
Overall, it feels like Micromax is focusing on building out the user experience, instead of just putting together a device with better specifications. The improved build quality and software tweaks sound promising, but on paper at least, the jump between the Canvas 4 and the Canvas HD is very small3the big change is, as noted above, the camera and design. In contrast, the Canvas HD added a lot to the Canvas 2; it moved from a dual-core to a quad-core processor, and went from 512MB RAM to 1GB; and of course, the big change was moving to an HD display, up from 854X480 pixels.
Given that the Canvas HD is still available for around Rs.13,000, on paper at least, it sounds like a better option. Of course, a lot depends on the overall user experience—it’s been argued for a while now that simply increasing the power of your phone doesn’t lead to a better experience anymore; we’ll be able to give a more definite answer soon, in our full review of the Canvas 4.