For years Micromax has enjoyed a decent share in the Indian offline market. The company's budget handsets especially the Canvas series was a runaway success that put the Micromax in the race of top Indian smartphone brands.
Yu Televentures, the sole venture of Micromax's founder Rahul Sharma was also quite an ambitious project but somehow didn't turn out to be a mainstream product. There were reports that Yu product line-up is soon going to be a thing of past but that's just not the case. We might see a capable Yu device very soon from the house of Micromax.
But Yu devices are not the topic of discussion today. It is the company's tie up with Flipkart to start a new inning in the Indian online space to gain back what it has lost to Chinese brands in the cut throat competition. The company will utilize Flipkart's insights to build an online-only brand "Evok" that has to fight the likes of Xiaomi Redmi series, Lenovo's K series, Huawei's Honor and sub Rs. 10k handsets from OPPO and Vivo.
The Evok series smartphones- Evok Note and Evok Power are designed for consumers who are looking for feature loaded Android smartphones at a pocket friendly price-point. The USP of the Evok series handsets are their big batteries (i.e. 4,000 mAh) and solid build quality.
Today we are going to talk about Evok Note, which is priced at Rs. 9,499 and sports a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 3GB of RAM and a fingerprint scanner. The smartphone has a lot on his shoulders as the price-point makes it a direct rival of Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, which comes at a starting price of Rs. 9,999 and is quite a performer.
So, let's find out what Micromax has to offer this time with Evok Note in the following review.
Design: Evok Note feels sturdy but fails to bring something new in terms of design
The design of Evok Note seems pretty much inspired from its Chinese counterparts, especially the handsets from Huawei and Xiaomi. The brushed metal finish at the rear panel reminds me of the Honor 5X and the centrally aligned camera module, flashlight and the Micromax logo seem to be taken from the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.
Evok Note is quite light in weight as it is made out of composite metal. There's metal at the rear panel and plastic at the corners. The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side and hybrid SIM card tray lies on the left side. A 3.5mm headphone jacks sits at top and you will find the microUSB charging port at the bottom of the smartphone.
The corners are round in shape for comfortable handling and the 2.5D curved glass covering the display seamlessly blends into the chrome frame giving a premium feel to the front fascia of the handset.
A clickable home button sits at the bottom of the display with fingerprint scanner fitted on it for additional security. The space on either side of the home button seems wasted as the back, multitasking and home keys are also provided on the display itself.
Overall, Evok Note looks premium and is comfortable to use; however it can be easily mistaken for any sub Rs. 10,000 Chinese handset.
Fingerprint scanner: It does more than just unlocking the handset
The fingerprint scanner on Evok Note does more than just unlocking the smartphone. It works in sync with Secure Vault, an app by Micromax that protects your pictures, documents and other data from unauthorized access. It's easy to customize and adds a secure layer to protect your sensitive data.
Display: The 5.5-inch FULL HD display is not quite vibrant
One of the highlight features of the Evok Note is its 5.5-inch Full HD screen. It is a neat trick to lure consumers as anything less than a 1080p panel is gradually becoming a deal breaker for buyers in the market. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 also offers a full HD display at a slightly higher price-point of Rs. 9,999 for the base variant.
The 5.5-inch full-HD display also gets a 2.5D curved glass on top to improve on viewing angles and to make the handset look premium.
The display offers a pixel density of 400ppi and is crisp to look at. The only problem seems to be the colour reproduction. The display does not seem vibrant as colours fail to pop out well. This hampers the overall viewing experience. The display on Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is more lively and colorful when compared to the screen on Micromax Evok Note.
Hardware: Not the best performer in its price-point
The smartphone world is mostly divided into two segments; one running the MediaTek chipsets and another backed by the Snapdragon CPUs. And this happens in all the price-points where we find Android handsets, the ones running the MediaTek SoCs trying to take on their particular Snapdragon rivals for speed and processing power.
The same can be said for Evok Note, which is backed by a MediaTek MT6753 octa-core chipset. This again starts a debate why Micromax did not go with the Snapdragon 430 CPU. While this needs to be answered by the smartphone maker itself, we can talk about the performance delivered by the MediaTek processor powering the Evok Note.
The processor has the capacity to manage basic tasks like camera, calling, social networking apps, even some photo editing applications, etc. with no major performance issues. And when combined with 3GB of RAM, multitasking performance is also good.
The problem starts when you run strenuous tasks such as using camera app for longer durations, heavy gaming, too many apps running at the same, etc. which makes the handset quite sluggish.
Thereafter I also noticed stutters in basic screen navigation and app switching. Besides, the screen animations suffer big time if you switch on the monochrome mode from the quick settings panel. The mode turns the screen into black and white; a feature seen in Apple devices. I also noticed lags and frame drops while playing videos in MX player, recording videos and using multiple tabs in Google Chrome.
To sum up all, Evok Note's computing performance is not something that you would expect from a smartphone of this price-point. Other smartphones in same price bracket have better processing performance.
Coming on to the storage, Evok Note has 32GB of internal storage that can be further expanded via a microSD card. So storage will not be a problem on the handset. For connectivity, the smartphone has Bluetooth, FM, Wi-Fi, dual SIM and VoLTE.
Micromax Evok Note runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is rather disappointing. The almost stock Android user interface did make me believe for a while that it will work just fine. However, it's the Micromax's Yu 'Android on Steroids' (AOS) launcher that comes with a heavy dose of pre-loaded apps.
This include Amazon Kindle, Gaana, Opera Mini, Oyo, number of games and even an app of our PM Narendra Modi that provides latest news, events and quotes said by the Prime Minister. You have the option to uninstall most of the bloatwares in case you don't need them.
Besides, Micromax's 'Around' content aggregator and service app is also provided which is a nifty addition to execute day to day tasks such as booking a cab, movie tickets, restaurant, etc. You also get a 'Secure Vault' feature which makes it possible to encrypt and hide sensitive data such as applications, pictures, videos and documents. It works in sync with the fingerprint sensor.
Camera: Decent camera hardware but sluggish camera app
Micromax is offering a 13MP rear shooter and a 5MP front camera. The rear camera has smile detection, HDR, gesture capture, panorama, and a total of 9 filters to experiment with the images you capture. Besides, you also get several scene modes- Auto, Night, Sunset, party, Portrait, Theatre, Beach, etc. to further enhance the mobile photography experience.
The 13MP rear camera is good at capturing images but its performance is marred by the sluggish camera app, especially when the HDR mode is activated. There's a definite lag in taking and processing the images shot in HDR mode and camera takes its sweet time to get ready for the next shot.
As far as image quality is concerned, the pictures shot in daylight have good colour contrast and decent detailing. However, a slight movement can result in blurry images as the sensor is not very fast to capture the scene. Overall, the camera performance is not the highlight feature of the Evok Note.
Battery: It easily lasts a day
With a large 4,000 mAh battery running the show, the Evok Note easily lasts a day on a single charge. The battery can handle good workload and does not disappoint in everyday use.
In my typical usage pattern that involves music playback, high camera usage, casual gaming, YouTube streaming on Wi-Fi, navigation, calling, social networking apps and photo editing, the Evok Note lasted for a day and I had to plug it in next morning to recharge the battery unit.
This is pretty good but still not the best in its class as some handsets come with even higher battery capacities in the similar price-point and surpasses the one day mark on similar usage patterns.
With Evok Note, Micromax had a good opportunity to tap the online smartphone market in India but it seems the handset is not the best bet in its respective price-point. While the smartphone tries to offer the best of everything on papers such as a Full HD screen, a big battery, capable camera hardware, etc. it fails to deliver on the same in real-life performance.
The average processing speed, mediocre camera, sluggish software performance makes it lose the online battle where Chinese tech giants such as Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei, etc. manages to have an upper hand in delivering a good overall product.
But considering the fact that this is just the starting of Micromax's online game and more handsets will join the Evok series in the coming months, we hope Micromax will work on the respective performance parameters to make a mark in the online segment.