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Micromax Dual 5 Review: A good smartphone that falls short on the price and low light photography front

Price 24,999
Tech2 Rating 7

Micromax Dual 5 Review: A good smartphone that falls short on the price and low light photography front

Micromax Dual 5 Review: A good smartphone that falls short on the price and low light photography front

By Rehan Hooda / 21 Apr 2017, 18:33

Micromax announced the launch of Dual 5 on 29 March 2017. This was the first smartphone launch by the company in about 6-7 months that aimed to move towards the mid-tier to premium-tier smartphones instead of the usual entry level or budget smartphones for the company. Earlier launches by the company include Micromax Canvas Mega 2 Plus, Micromax Vdeo, Micromax Canvas Spark 4G, and Micromax Canvas Amaze 2.

Micromax Dual 5

The Dual 5, however, is the most expensive smartphone that Micromax has ever launched in the market. The smartphone aims to elevate Micromax into the premium segment and compete with Chinese players in the market like Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo. The major reason for this is the financial loss and loss in market share that the company had to weather after the decision of demonetisation.

Micromax Dual 5

The Micromax Dual 5 is also the first smartphone by the company with a dual camera setup designed to improve camera performance. Can this new, premium and expensive smartphone help Micromax gain the ground it lost to competition? Let’s find out in this comprehensive review of the Micromax Dual 5.

Build and Design: 7/10

The first thing that you will notice as soon as you pick up this smartphone is the fact that it looks and feels solid and premium. The phone feels great in hand and the 2.5D glass along with the curved back make the device pleasant to hold and use for extended periods of time.

The smartphone sports a unibody metal design.

Micromax Dual 5

The front and back fuse almost seamlessly on the sides. One thing to note here is that the smartphone does not come with backlit navigation keys on the front despite Micromax opting for physical navigation keys. The top side on the front of the smartphone houses the speaker grill along with proximity sensor and front facing camera.

Micromax Dual 5

The back side of the Dual 5 sports the dual camera array at the top-center area of the smartphone, along with an LED flash immediately below both of the camera modules. Micromax has placed the fingerprint sensor immediately below the LED flash module on the back. The design comes with antenna bands running on the top and bottom sides of the smartphone along with a Micromax logo on the lower-middle portion of the back, where IMEI codes are inscribed.

Micromax Dual 5

The smartphone comes with the volume rocker and the power button on the right side of the device. The left side sports a ‘Smart Key’ along with the SIM tray. The ‘Smart Key’ can be configured to perform different functions in the ‘SmartKey’ app. The bottom of the smartphone packs in the USB Type-C port for charging along with a speaker grill on both sides of the USB port.

Micromax Dual 5

Last but not least, the top of the smartphone houses a 3.5 mm headphone jack along with an Infrared sensor to control electronics around your house or office.

Features: 6.5/10

The Micromax Dual 5 comes equipped with a 5.5-inch Full HD Amoled display with an effective resolution of 1080×1920 pixels and about 401 ppi pixel density. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and the smartphone is powered by an Octa-core Qualcomm MSM 8976 Snapdragon 652 processor with Adreno 510 GPU. Micromax decided to throw in 4 GB RAM and a massive 128 GB internal storage along with an expandable storage slot that supports cards up to 128 GB in capacity.

Micromax Dual 5

The smartphone packs a dual-camera unit at the back. Each camera has a 13 MP resolution. You also get phase detection autofocus, and a dual tone dual-LED flash on the back of the device. Like Huawei’s Leica-branded camera system, one camera module captures monochrome imaging data while the second captures RGB data. It comes with an f/1.8 aperture which is impressive. There are also other camera features like the slow shutter, night mode, HDR and a manual mode, which completes the camera-centric package for Micromax Dual 5. The smartphone is equipped with a 13 MP camera module with an f/1.8 aperture on the front as well, for selfies.

Micromax Dual 5

The Dual 5 comes with dual 4G-enabled micro SIM slots where the second SIM slot is a hybrid slot working both as a SIM tray as well as microSD card tray. You can only use either one of the two at any given time. The company has incorporated fingerprint, accelerometer, proximity and compass sensors in the smartphone. Wi-Fi, hotspot, USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, Infrared sensor, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS, and radio are the available connectivity options.

Micromax Dual 5

One thing to note here is that the Dual 5 comes preloaded with a skinned version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 out of the box which looks eerily similar to Qiku’s software and also comes with a 360 Security software. Micromax has said that the Qiku is the ODM for the Dual 5, hence the similarities. The company has added a USB Type-C port at the bottom that supports Quick Charge 3.0 for the 3,200 mAh battery inside.

Display: 7/10

The Dual 5 packs an impressive display with really good viewing angles. The 5.5-inch Amoled display performs well in direct sunlight, though you have to crank the brightness all the way to the top.

Micromax Dual 5

The FHD display panel has vibrant colour reproduction along with a good pixel density. I was glad that the display was not dull and could hold its own against the competition.

Micromax Dual 5 Display options

The screen does tend to reflect sunlight when directly under it and you may need to orient yourself in such a way to block the reflection. Overall, the screen was a pleasant experience, however. The Amoled display was bright enough to blind me if I accidentally unlocked and used the smartphone in the middle or the night.

Software: 7.5/10

The Dual 5 runs a skinned version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 out of the box and just like any other skinned version of Android, it comes with some bloatware and built-in themes.

Micromax Dual 5

Before diving into the apps on the device, let’s talk about the OS itself. The Operating system has been heavily modified with almost no sign of ‘Vanilla Android’ or ‘Stock Android’ to be seen. The home screen has been changed, there is no app drawer, the settings have been rearranged and skinned. One significant change that I noticed was the fact that the ‘Phone’, ‘Contacts’ and ‘Message’ apps have been integrated into one single app with all the three different sections appearing as tabs in the same app.

You get three separate icons for these functions and each takes you to the right tab in the app.

Micromax Dual 5 Merged apps

The Dual 5 comes with a ‘SecureVault’ which is almost like a sandboxed version of Android. What sandbox really means is that ‘SecureVault’ is a separate portion of the operating system within the Android OS with its own ‘Private files’, ‘Private camera’, ‘Private video’, ‘Private picture’, ‘Private contacts’ Private SMS’, ‘Call record’ and ‘Avatar Master’ which allows one to run two instances of any app.

The theory is that since these apps are isolated from the OS, the data within them is more secure. It comes baked in with Qihoo 360 security app which takes care of the security aspects of the phone.

Micromax Dual 5 Secure Vault

For instance, you can use two WhatsApp accounts on the same smartphone using the ‘Avatar Master’. The SecureVault also gives you an option to ‘Add apps’ in the vault with their own profiles. The default way to access this vault is using the Fingerprint scanner. Every time you unlock using the phone with the fingerprint scanner, the phone directly launches ‘SecureVault’.

Micromax Dual 5 Themes

The interesting thing that I noticed was the I actually liked this skinned OS despite my affinity towards stock Android. I used the ‘Aqua’ theme out of the six built-in themes and fell in love with how clean and consistent it felt. The first thing to note here is that the ‘Theme’ section allows you to change the font, wallpaper, ringtone and the overall theme of your Dual 5. The major reason why I liked this skinned Android version was because there was no major lag.

Micromax Dual 5 Developer Settings

Minor apparent slowdowns happened but I could not figure out if they were slowdowns or part of the system animations. To check that I enabled the developer options and then changed the ‘Drawing’ animation scale in the settings. To my surprise, the perceived slowdowns were really animations and the overall performance did not suffer because of the skin, unlike on many other smartphones.

Micromax Dual 5 3D Widget

The second thing that impressed me was, of all things, that large, central ‘Widget’ on the home screen and the fluidity in the animations of the widget and even its Time, Weather, VIP Mode and Eye Mode functions that the widget can provide, making it more functional than your average widget.

Micromax Dual 5 Bloat

Moving back to the apps, Micromax has added a ‘Freezer’ app to essentially disable any app without uninstalling it. This essentially locks the app down and prevents it from doing anything or consuming resources. You can use the app to freeze most of the system and all the user-installed apps except 360 Security.

Micromax Dual 5 System Apps

The operating system comes with built-in music and video players, a ‘Recording’ app, ‘Calculator’, ‘AppLock’, Compass, FM Radio, ‘Heath Guard’, ‘SmartKey’ app, ‘Heat Source’, ‘Anti theft’, ‘Cloud Service’ and ‘Permission manager’. The OS also comes with two ‘app-toggles’, as I like to call them, because they appear like app shortcuts. But instead of launching the app, they seem to work like toggles, functioning as desired with some cool animations.

Micromax Dual 5 Icon-Toggles

The ‘app-toggles’ that come with the OS are ‘Speedup’ and ‘Wallpaper’, which clean the memory of the OS and randomize the background wallpaper.

Micromax Dual 5 Lock screen ads

However, one thing that stood out was the ‘Lock Screen’ ads that come as part of ‘Power Master’, which claims to ‘increase the charging experience’ (By adding ads on the lock screen along with a snazzy animation?).

Performance: 7/10

The device bore me through my normal work day with ease. My usage, which includes 1-2 hours of YouTube videos, constant WhatsApp and Telegram messages, Push notifications on 4 email accounts, clicking 15-20 images, streaming music on Google Play Music for an hour or so and 30-40 minutes of gaming, wasn’t much of an issue for the device.

Micromax Dual 5 Benchmarks

There was some minor lag while in the multitasking view or when switching from heavy games to apps. But overall, the experience was smooth and without any major slowdowns.

Micromax Dual 5 Gaming Modern Combat 5

The phone did tend to heat up a little after 8-15 minutes of heavy gaming with titles like Modern Combat 5 or DeadTrigger 2, but it cooled down relatively fast because of the metal frame on the back. The temperatures reached about 45 degrees Celsius on the back plate around the rear camera but the area cooled rapidly after the gaming session.

Micromax Dual 5 Benchmarks

The smartphone did admirably well in the performance sections, matching the expectations from the processor.

Camera: 7/10

Being the first smartphone by Micromax with a dual-camera setup, I was expecting good things. To be honest, it fell flat on some of those expectations — specially low light photographs. It’s not that the camera quality of the smartphone is bad or horrible, but it’s not over the moon either.

Micromax Dual 5 Camera UI

The photos taken during the daylight or blue hour were great, with good colour reproduction and a vibrancy of colours. In our test shots, even the details in the shadow region were well reproduced. The photos don’t look dull and it’s a good thing for Micromax Dual 5. If you are the kind of shooter who loves to shoot in bright outdoors — this is good camera-phone to have. Photos shot indoors did have some amount of noise creeping in.

Micromax Dual 5

The Dual 5’s camera mode uses both sensors to capture images, and I have to admit, the colours are quite decent and, in fact, even beat those on the OnePlus 3 in some situations. The idea is simple — one sensor captures colour information and the other captures monochrome details (to ensure sharpness). After an image is shot, the image processing in the background merges the two images to give one composite image. I did notice some lag when using this mode though. Micromax definitely needs to reduce it in a future update.

There is a Dual mode which adds in some tilt-shift effect to the image. The image size, in terms of resolution, was comparatively a bit smaller when shot in Dual mode than in the normal photo mode. It is not a very impressive mode, but if you like having that dreamy framing, it works.

While daylight images were good, I did find some noticeable noise in indoor shots and low light photographs. In fact the low light photographs showed a marked loss in detail and grainy images.

The camera software on the Dual 5 comes with a lot of options starting with ‘Video’, ‘Photo’, ‘Beauty’ and ‘Dual’ mode. You can select HDR mode, Composition mode (gridlines), Timer, Tap to Shoot, Shutter Sound and change Photo Settings’ in the adjustment menu on the top. The filters menu gives 9 options.

Micromax Dual 5

The camera software provides additional modes in the ‘Modes’ button on the lower right corner of the smartphone. The ‘Photo’ section gives us the option to shoot a ‘PANO’, ‘PRO’ with manual control on all the settings, ‘Black and White’, ‘Slow Shutter’, ‘Anti-Haze’, and ‘Macro’ mode. The ‘Video’ section gives you the option to shoot ‘Time-lapse’, ‘GIF’, ‘Slow Motion’, ‘MV’, and ‘3D Video’. The ‘Beauty’ section only comes with one option that is ‘Face’s age’.

Micromax Dual 5

Battery: 7/10

The Micromax Dual 5 gives a decent battery backup and one can expect the phone to last a normal work day in a typical usage scenario as mentioned in the Performance section above.

Micromax Dual 5 Battery Benchmark

Apologies for the complicated code, but for whatever reason, the Dual 5 couldn’t render the results of our battery test. These are the raw results taken from the phone. In English, that code is essentially saying that the phone lasted 6 hours and 23 minutes in our battery test.

I would classify work days as medium to light usage for me, and the Dual 5 gave about 6.5-7.5 hours of battery backup on heavy usage days (generally the weekends). I was expecting more battery backup from the device considering that the smartphone does not have the top of the line processor and a Snapdragon 652 normally provides good battery backup. The device lasted for 6 hours and 23 minutes in the PCMark Battery benchmark.

Verdict and Pricing in India

There were a lot of preconceived notions about the Micromax Dual 5 before I started reviewing the smartphone, but most of my concerns were unfounded in the end. The Micromax Dual 5 is a really well designed smartphone, despite the skinned OS, and provides a decent experience for its users. I was expecting the smartphone to provide exceptional quality in terms of camera performance because of the Dual-camera modules but the camera performance was underwhelming when it came to low light photography. Hopefully this can be corrected in a future update.

Micromax Dual 5

The Dual 5 is available on Flipkart for Rs 24,999 and it becomes difficult to recommend the Dual 5 at this price point if one looks at the competition around. If you are loyal to Micromax and want the best smartphone by the company then, this is definitely it. If you are open to other brands, and are seeking a better value proposition then there are other alternatives like the Vivo V5 Plus or Huawei Honor 8 or Xiaomi Mi 5 around this budget. The Huawei Honor 8, which also employs a dual-camera module is a good example of a dual-camera done right. Just head to a Flickr album of its photos here, to see the quality.

Micromax has certainly started off on the premium segment path with a good overall offering. But the Dual 5 needs some work on the image processing front for low light photography. Micromax has plans to make the ‘Dual’ into a whole segment of dual-camera sporting smartphones across the price range.

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