Innovator, Trendsetter, Trailblazer… there was a time when these words were associated with the Indian smartphone maker Micromax. The brand pioneered several phone functionalities which have become staple features nowadays, be it dual-SIM support or long-lasting batteries on its feature phones. Even its smartphones – first launched in 2010 – were able to give international manufacturers like Samsung and HTC a run for their money. Micromax even had the foresight to think out of the box to avoid being disrupted by the competition. It did that by introducing a digital-only sub-brand YU in December 2014. However, all this was before the Chinese wave took over the Indian market, and was able to beat Micromax in its own specs and pricing game.
But after being relatively silent for months, the company has now awaken from slumber and launched a new lineup led by the Dual 5. On paper, the Micromax Dual 5 comes across as a compelling offering. We’ve been using the phone since the few days, and now it’s time to find out whether the iconic homegrown manufacturer has been able to compete with the fierce rivals or is simply playing catch-up.
Specs at a glance
|Resolution||Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)|
|CPU||Quad core, 1.8 GHz + Quad core, 1.2 GHz, Snapdragon 652|
|Internal memory||128 GB|
|External memory||Up to 128 GB|
|Capacity||3200 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable|
|Primary camera||13 MP|
|Secondary camera||13 MP|
|Network support||Dual SIM 4G|
|Other options||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS|
|Operating system||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
Camera: seeing double
Primary camera: 13 MP
Flash: Dual-color LED Flash
Secondary camera: 13 MP
The indigenous company is betting big on the rise of dual camera smartphones, which is why it’s decided to launch the Dual series. So let’s begin with the camera capabilities of the Micromax Dual 5. It comes equipped with two 13-megapixel sensors at the back, with one of them capturing images in the normal RGB mode, and the other one capturing them in monochrome. The camera viewfinder is feature-rich with various options such as Photo, Video, Beauty, and of course, Dual to harness the potential of the twin shooters. You also get the HDR and professional mode, among others.
Dual 5’s implementation of the two rear cameras ensures enhanced colour reproduction (as they can capture up to four times more light), and we’re quite impressed by the vibrant images it captures. The device also nails the details, which remain sharp even when zoomed in. The camera does justice to landscapes as well as close-ups. However, the HDR mode doesn’t seem as effective in all the situations. You also get a depth-of-field effect with the option called Blurry (we know, it doesn’t sound like a name of a feature). The effect works really well, and delivers pleasing results, though you might notice softening of edges around the blurred areas. Another mode offered by dual cameras is Night, and that seems to be quite powerful when compared to images taken in street light normally. Talking about low-light, the dual-tone LED flash does come in handy by illuminating the scene. While the device can lock the focus quickly thanks to PDAF support, it takes the time to process HDR or dual-camera modes. Let’s take a peek at the images clicked by the Micromax Dual 5.
Here’s a demonstration of Micromax Dual 5’s DOF capabilities.
If you’re a selfie enthusiast, then the Micromax Dual 5 has got you covered, as it has a 13-meg snapper at the front. The selfies offer a good amount of sharpness and are quite vivid too. You also get varying levels of Beauty modes with the handset. For dim settings, it gets assistance from a soft LED flash. For videos, the primary camera can record up to 4k or time-lapse and slow-mo videos, whereas the front shooter captures in 1080p.
Design and display: following the metallic herd
Size: 5.5 Inch
Resolution: Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Display Type: AMOLED
Pixel Density: 401 ppi
Micromax is pitching the Dual 5 as a premium offering (especially, when compared to its previous offerings), and that starts with its design philosophy itself. Clad in metal, the smartphone certainly seems classy and also feels quite sturdy. It has rounded corners and dual curves at the rear allowing one to hold it ergonomically. While it might not be the slimmest or lightest phone around, it does offer a solid in-hand feel. The design is anything but original, yet we’re glad that the company has moved towards an all-metal body for its latest flagship.
The fascia of the Micromax Dual 5 is dominated by the display, which is flanked by an earpiece, a front-facing snapper and a couple of sensors above and row of capacitive keys below. These buttons follow minimal design aesthetics but stick to the Android’s navigation guidelines.
Both the volume rocker and the power toggle can be found on the right, whereas the left edge sports an ejectable tray along with another button – referred to as a smart button – we’ll talk more about it in the next section. The Micromax Dual 5 also comes with an IR blaster, available up top, along side the 3.5mm audio socket. The base gets a USB-Type C port for charging and data transfers, which is sandwiched between two precision grilled holes. However, it must be noted that only the ones on the right hide the speaker.
The back panel gets the dual rear cameras, which are accompanied by a fingerprint scanner. The reader works really quickly and thanks to the 360-degree authentication, it’s able to recognise the finger in any orientation. The phone is available in classy colour option of gold rear with white fascia. One thing worth mentioning is that while the Dual 5 has a smooth texture at the back, it doesn’t feel slippery.
The Micromax Canvas Dual 5’s window to the world is a 5.5-inch 2.5D display. The AMOLED panel flaunts a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, and it’s able to ensure sharp and crisp text as well as images. The colours are also vibrant, and viewing angles are sufficient too. While brightness levels are impressive, the display does turn slightly reflective under direct sunlight. Acting as a layer of protection against scratches is Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3.
Software: promising a 360-degree experience
Operating System: Android
OS Version: 6.0, Marshmallow
If there’s one aspect where Micromax hasn’t been able to make strides in – it’s the software. From using stock Android to using custom icons along with a few preinstalled apps, and from offering Indus OS (on its budget offerings) to the highly-customisable CyanogenMod OS (with the YU smartphones) – the company has tried it all. The experiment continues with the Dual 5 too, as it comes with 360 OS – featured on QiKU Q Terra, launched in 2016. QiKU has now changed names to 360, and we won’t be surprised if Micromax’s latest offering is rebranded version of a phone from 360’s portfolio in China.
And if we were to go by our experience, then this experiment bears mixed results. Our review unit of the Micromax Dual 5 failed to sign in to Google initially, and failed to connect to Google servers. We were able to sign in afterwards, but then Gmail never synced because of issues with Play Services. However this might just be a specific issue with our model, and we’ve reached out to the company for a fresh unit – and we’ll update this review accordingly.
As mentioned in our review of QiKU Q Terra, 360 OS is filled to the brim with options. This is noticeable as soon as you unlock the phone, thanks to the custom theme and icons (which may not be too pleasing, though it’s a matter of personal preference), three home screens offering a number of apps. While there’s no preloaded bloatware, you do get apps from the 360 OS itself such as 360 Security, 360 CLONE, etc. An app called Heat Source shows the temperature of the Dual 5 along with naming the apps that might cause it to heat up.
The 360 Security is a tuneup app which lets you boost the phone’s performance, check for the apps that are sucking the battery life, clean junk files, etc. The 360 Health Guard is an interesting app… if you feel like you’re addicted to your phone, then this will show you the data to highlight the same by mentioning how many times you’ve locked and unlocked your phone along with the timings, so that you know the frequency too. It also displays the apps you’re using the most.
The Micromax Dual 5 also supports gestures, both when the screen is on as well as when it’s off. For the smart key, the same concept exists, i.e. when the device is locked, then you get options to enable the torch (the torch gets displayed on the lock screen, and then you have to turn it on yourself) or start voice recording. In the unlocked state, you can use the key to close all the apps and use it as a shutter button while using the camera. The key is quite useful, though we think its implementation could’ve been even better. For instance, it doesn’t help if we’ve to toggle the flash even after pressing the key. We’d have also liked the ability to quickly launch some apps with this button.
Another weird issue we found on our unit was that it required the location to always be enabled. The Dual 5 would keep giving us prompts from time to time for the same, but it became hard-to-ignore whenever we opened the camera app. Even after pressing OK, the prompt would come back, and didn’t even allow us to capture photos.
With the Dual 5, Micromax is also betting on the security quotient. The phone comes with a standalone chipset for storing passwords and fingerprints. As per the company, the device utilises military-grade EAL 5+ security, which is much better than the EAL 2 certification adopted by other phones. Then there are apps like SecureVault which lets you hide your personal files with your fingerprint. There’s an anti-theft functionality as well, which prompts the user as soon as the SIM card is removed and if the phone isn’t unlocked, the data is remotely wiped.
Hardware: delivers high-octane performance
CPU: Quad core, 1.8 GHz + Quad cor…
GPU: Adreno 510
RAM: 4 GB
Memory: 128 GB + Up to 128 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Battery: 3200 mAH
While Micromax might have flirted with MediaTek chipsets more often than not, this time around, it has chosen to go the Qualcomm way. At the heart of the Dual 5 lies the Snapdragon 652 SoC, which is available in an octa-core configuration comprising of two quad-core processors running at 1.8GHz and 1.2GHz respectively. The chipset has proved its worth in quite a few smartphones, and we found it to be quite efficient in case of the Dual 5 too. There was nary an instance of lag, and to ensure smooth multitasking, there’s 4-gigs of RAM. The Adreno 510 graphics unit takes care of the graphics rendering, and we loved the impressive graphics while racing in Asphalt Nitro or playing as a first person shooter in Modern Combat 5.
The phone’s heat dissipation issues come to the fore when it’s used for extended periods. It gets hot at the rear, and the metal body makes it more noticeable.
The Micromax Dual 5 promises to take care of all your storage needs, as it comes with 128GB of flash memory on board. After accounting for the OS and other resources, you’ll get around 109GB – which should be more than sufficient for heavy apps and games along with videos and songs. If not, then you can make use of the expansion slot to top it up further up to 128GB. Sadly though, you’d need to sacrifice on the dual-SIM functionality as the Dual 5 features a hybrid secondary slot. The primary SIM slot supports a nano-SIM, while the secondary one can accept either a micro-SIM or a microSD card. You do get 4G VoLTE compatibility, along with the usual connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
Tasked with keeping the Micromax Dual 5 alive is a 3,200mAh embedded battery. While the capacity might seem less, the battery life isn’t. We were easily able to eke out up to a day and a half worth of backup with the moderate usage of listening to music via Bluetooth, playing some games and internet surfing. Even with strenuous usage, it should be able to last you an entire working day. The testament to that is our battery test, wherein we play a 720p video on loop with both the brightness and volume set at 50 percent and only cellular network enabled, since the Dual 5 was able to continue for roughly 16 hours before running out of juice. It also comes with Quick Charge 3.0 support, which claims to fully charge the Dual 5 in 45 minutes.
Verdict: worth a double take?
The Micromax Dual 5 ticks all the checkboxes for a modern daily driver. While it might not be innovative and is following the footsteps of the rivals – which is apparent from both its outards as well as innards – it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Additionally, the phablet comes with one-year replacement policy, even after a broken screen or any other damage. In fact, we won’t mind recommending the Dual 5 to anyone, especially because it’ll be available in the offline retail stores too… but that’s until we bring its pricing in the equation. Priced at Rs 24,999 – the most expensive smartphone from Micromax’s stable till date (though the YU Yutopia also carried the same sticker price)– it sits in the upper mid-range territory which is a hotbed of powerful rivals.
The OnePlus 3 (review) comes first to the mind, which might be slightly old, yet seems to be a worthy flagship killer with its price tag of Rs 27,999. There’s the modular Moto Z Play (review) too which has a marathon battery life, along with the ASUS ZenFone 3 (review). If dual cameras are what excites you, then the Honor 8 (review) also poses a stiff challenge to the Micromax Dual 5. Even in the offline segment, it seems that Micromax’s effort is a little too late, considering brands like OPPO and vivo are ruling it. In fact, the vivo V5 Plus (review) boasts a similar spec sheet – although with dual sensors at the front, instead of the back.
(Related read: Micromax Dual 5 vs Honor 8)
If the price of Micromax Dual 5 was lower by Rs 3,000 to 4,000, then it’d have been a decent buy. But as of now, it’s not the only option to go for under Rs 25,000, unless you want to take the offline route.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Solid metal build
- Gorgeous display
- Powerful specs with 128GB storage
- Impressive battery backup
- Software issues
- Pricing on the higher side
- Doesn’t stand apart from the competition
Photos by Pratik Vyas