Every day, we see hundreds of new smartphone launches, but only a few of them are worth making a note of or rather you can say look forward to. No offence to the other manufacturers as well, but the smartphone market has grown immensely over the past few years, and there is no place for mainstream devices here. So taking about new companies, the t.phone which we have here today is also among them. This device is the first smartphone by a new manufacturer called Smartron.
There was a time when OnePlus was also new to this market, and people were sceptical about their first device which was the OnePlus One. But the device was well received by the market, and they soon became one of the pioneers in this category. This goes to say that, when you are new to the industry then you have to leave an impression which would last forever as a benchmark for others to follow up. With that being said, let’s find out what this new device has to offer us.
The Smartron t.phone is retailing at about 25,000 INR and with this price point and the specs it offers, the company is touting that it has the potential to compete with other smartphones like the OnePlus 2, Xiaomi Mi 5, etc. Keeping all that in mind, the only thing to look forward to from this device is its performance and day-to-day experience. There are no gimmicky features or in fact, it even lacks the basic hardware feature like the fingerprint scanner. Yes, I said it’s basic because nowadays, every other smartphone comes with one, at this price bracket. So let’s talk about those points and see where it stands.
When it comes to design, there is nothing much to talk about here. It has a very basic design, but it is worth noting that it is a well-built device. It feels nice in the hand, and it is built like an absolute tank. No quality issues here whatsoever like bending etc. even though it is a tall device. It has a very basic rectangular body with rounded edges. It fits perfectly in the hand, but it ‘s hard to use it with one hand. As mentioned it is a tall device, and you will often see yourself using both the hands to use it if you want to reach out to the top of the screen to pull down the notification bar, etc. This is not a deal breaker by any means but definitely worth considering if you have a small to medium sized hand. The device comes in four different colour options, and all of them looks nice and vibrant and gives a unique feel to it.
Taking it out of the box, you will be greeted with a 5.5-inch FHD AMOLED display which is absolutely gorgeous. I personally love AMOLED screens, and this is no exception. It has excellent viewing angles and has vibrant colours. It also has a bottom firing speakers which is good enough and gets pretty loud. So overall it’s a good device for media consumption. At the back, we have the camera module and the secondary noise-cancelling microphones at the top and the bottom along with the company branding. Overall the design is pretty good, and there are no complaints whatsoever.
Talking about hardware specs, it is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC which is an octa-core processor clocked at 2.0 GHz and packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to 128GB. As far as the camera is concerned, we have a 13-megapxiel sensor at the back and a 4-mgeapixel camera for the front. We will discuss the camera later but now let’s focus on the device performance.
So when we come to performance, this is where things start falling apart. As we all know, that the Snapdragon 810 was in the news for quite some time for its heating issues and what not. Even though the company claims that this device is using the 2.0 version of the chipset, it was not doing any good. The heating issues were still very well present here and yes, it was noticeable. I was surprised to see that it used to get hot even when it is simply sitting idle. Not sure if it was the chipset or any other app which was eating up the battery. But upon inspection, no apps were running in the background. However, thanks to the software update which I just received recently before publishing this review. Now using the device for a few days after it got updated, it is safe to say that it is better than before.
But still, it gets noticeably hot with a few minutes of YouTube streaming or playing games. A lot of devices gets hot in these scenarios, but it is definitely worth noting again. With that being said most of the thermal throttling issues and various other bugs have been fixed now with an update so the performance has gotten better as compared to what it was initially taking it out of the box. Do make a note that this is a replacement unit which the company sent, as the unit which we got initially had a lot of chipset level issues and many features like hotspot, etc.
On the software side, it is running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. As mentioned, the performance is better since the recent update. There are no crazy skins on top of the stock Android, but there are a couple of apps that comes pre-installed with the device. But again it should not be an issue since they can be disabled from the settings menu. So when it comes to overall device performance, it is better, but it all depends on how frequently the company pushes the update for the device that keeps it stable.
Camera and Battery
On the camera side, we are looking at a 13-megapixel sensor at the back and a 4-megapixel camera for selfies. As much as I want to talk something good about the camera, I am afraid that is not possible here. In fact, one of the areas where this device lags majorly is the camera. Having used the HTC 10 for a while now, it will be unfair to expect a great performance from this one as well, as we are looking at a significant price difference. But still, even when it is compared to other devices in this price point, this one stands nowhere near them. The camera is fairly simple to launch with the double press on the power button. Once launched, you will be looking at a relatively simple UI for the same. But the image quality is not all that great.
Most of the times, it fails to focus on the subject, and it is hard to get it to focus on the right one. But when it does manage to focus properly, it takes fairly decent images. But don’t expect anything above average here. Even under natural light, it will produce decent images only, so there is no point talking about the artificial lighting or its low-light performance. It also shoots 4k resolution videos at 30 fps, but the lack of OIS or EIS makes it looks below average with shaky footage. Check out the camera samples below –
The front camera is also not great. So if you are a person who takes a lot of selfies, then this may not be the one for you. The camera application also crashed a couple of times, and the device started lagging when the camera is used within apps like Snapchat, etc. But do make a note that, the company informed us that a software update is on its way which will improve the camera performance. So if in case we receive an update, then this post will be updated accordingly. But as of now, the camera is a huge let down for this device.
The device packs a 3,000 mAh battery and initially the battery backup was extremely poor. I was barely able to make it through half of my day with moderate usage. Most of that issue was because of the processor I suppose because it has improved with the same software update. Now it last through an entire day with moderate usage with about 3.5 to 4 hours of screen on time. So battery should not be an issue if that’s what you are looking for on this device. It uses a USB Type-C port for charging and supports Quick Charge 2.0.
Considering that fact that this is the first smartphone from the manufacturer, there is a lot of room for improvement. Yes, it is a decent device with good hardware for the price point, but the initial impressions with both the software and the hardware were not commendable. And we all know that initial impressions matter a lot when it comes to this kind of new devices from a new player in the market. It builds a base for customer satisfaction when it is done right. With that being said, it is not a bad device by any means. Indeed, the camera needs a lot of improvement, but most of it can be resolved with a software update hopefully or the least they can do is try making it better.
So if Smartron stays consistent with those updates, then the t.phone will keep getting better with each one of them. Maybe Smartron can learn from their mistakes here and come up with a better device next time. But meanwhile, if you are in the market for a budget smartphone around the same price then it is safe to look into other offerings as well, before making a final call here.