Micromax is back, but, is it In?


It is 3rd of November 2020, a date that will not go down in history. Why might you ask? Well, there is no important occasion apart from the US election results — but when one thinks of tech in India, it’s just that Micromax is back. While this is not an earth shattering piece of information, the folks on twitter are so excited that it almost sounds like a launch of a new iPhone. Jokes aside, the two devices that have launched seem interesting, with the Micromax in note 1 meant for the ₹11k segment and the cheaper in 1b aimed at the budget crowd with an attractive starting price. But the way Micromax has gone about launching this product is highly problematic.

For those of you unaware, the problem with the way this so-called comeback is happening is the use of the anti-China sentiment in India thanks to the border skirmishes and COVID19. While this is not wrong legally in any way, the one thing that irked me was the fact that the press invite was a glass that featured the words and I quote “Cheeni Kum” which was written on a glass, indicating to reduce sugar from tea, but, Cheeni is also the word used to describe chinese products and, it was a clever way of being racist towards chinese products. This is simply not something one is expected to do, that too in 2020, which has seen sad moments of racism taking place. That being said, the devices were launched today and here, I have good news.

First of all, Micromax launched two devices, namely the in Note 1 and the in 1B. While the former is priced cheaper than usual at just ₹11,000, the latter is priced relatively cheaper at just ₹6,999. But, what good is listing the price? Let us do a specification overview of the devices, which will help clear things up.

Micromax in Note 1

The premium device amongst the two new launches, the in Note 1 is a solid competitor to devices from Redmi and realme. Why do we say so? It is because the device features a 6.67-inch FHD+ panel, coupled with a punch-hole style notch to the top. The display is of a LCD variety, which is the same as other competitors. The device comes with a Helio G85, which is a capable processor, found on the likes of the Redmi Note 9 and the Narzo 20 from realme. To add to that, the device features storage of up to 128 GB with 4GB of RAM. Optically speaking, the device features a quad-camera setup with a 48-megapixel primary sensor coupled with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor and two other 2-megapixel sensors for depth and macro. As for the ports, the device features a 3.5-mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port for charging, which is a welcome addition for the price. These are decent specs for the price. Period. 

The design of the device is inspired from some other products. Basically, it seems like a OnePlus 8T and Honor 9X got together one night and viola, thus arrived on the Note 1. The camera module will surely remind you of OnePlus and realme devices and the design is quite similar to Honor devices, with the gradient panel reflecting off a pattern that is identical to Honor’s offering, the Honor 9X. Well, sad to say, it seems the ‘X’ factor is missing here.

A notable feature of this device is the software, which is stock Android instead of a skin on top. Micromax also states that they will provide two years of software updates, which should mean that the device will receive both Android 11 and 12 over the next two years, something that most devices do not offer. Though it should be noted that Android 11 is already out. 

The pricing for the Micromax in Note 1 is  ₹10,999 for the base 4+64 GB variant and ₹12,499 for the 4+128 GB variant. This pricing was quite surprising, considering competitors from realme and Redmi are priced around the ₹12,000 range and, in the budget segment, even a Rs ₹1000 difference is a sizable amount. All in all this is looking competitive which is something most expected not to be the case. 

Micromax in 1B

The second device to launch at the event, the 1B is simpler than the Note 1 and is toned down to some extent. The device features a 6.52-inch HD+ display, which is of the LCD variety. This is quite similar to devices from realme and especially Xiaomi in this segment. The performance too is the same, since the device features the now common Helio G35 processor, with either 2 or 4 GB of RAM with 32GB or 64GB of storage respectively. This is quite good and will be able to chew through most tasks and, considering how the devices from Redmi offer the G25 for similar pricing, the 1B is a bit better.

The design too is toned down. The panel still retains a gradient pattern, but this time it is much more subtle with no reflective gradients, since the gradient is present on the back itself, which is made of polycarbonate. One welcome addition is the inclusion of the Type-C port, which considering the price is currently present only on this device (Redmi had the 8A, but it is a generation old at this point). To sum it up, the design is good, but do not expect as good of a gradient finish as the Note 1.

The cameras are good as well, since the device features a dual camera setup, with a primary 13-megapixel sensor and a secondary 2-megapixel depth sensor. The selfie camera is an 8-megapixel sensor. 

One oddity with this device is the software of choice, since, the 2GB variant comes with Android Go, while the 4GB variant comes with Android 10. We assume this is because the device can run smoothly on Android Go with 2GB of RAM, however, with Android 10 it might struggle a bit. Meanwhile, 4GB of RAM is adequate for Android 10, hence the inclusion.

The 1B is priced at ₹6,999 for the 2+32 GB variant and ₹7,999 for the 4+64 GB variant. This is quite impressive pricing considering the specifications.

There is a lot of good in these phones on paper, however, the way Micromax has gone about promoting these phones is highly disappointing and unbecoming of an Indian to say the least. We hope the brand learns from the missteps of this launch and its previous glory which could perhaps cement it again as a regular on the smartphone market.