With the recent onslaught of flagship killers, or for that matter flagship-grade spec smartphones in the sub-Rs. 25,000 price bracket, being a standout performer is not always easy. Hyderabad-based start-up Smartron is yet another Indian manufacturer trying to defy the odds with its latest offering, simply called the Smartron t.Phone. At first glance, it has the look and feel of a device where you simply want to dig in and know more. From its unconventional orange and grey color scheme to its super-thin frame and smooth edges, it’s certainly a case where curiosity gets the better of you.
As far as the manufacturer goes, Smartron is Hyderabad based startup whose investors include the likes of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. The t.Phone, probably wants to be the Sachin Tendulkar of smartphones, but coming from an Indian startup who has never ventured into the smartphone space — apprehension is bound to creep in. The t.Phone certainly has the looks to make you go ‘Wow’ – but is it a killer when it comes to performance and daily usage. Priced at Rs. 22,999, does it really justify the price tag, let’s find out?
- Smartron t.Phone
- USB Type-C charging cable
- 2 Pin Fast Charger
- SIM Ejector Pin
- Quick Start Guide
Build and Design
The Smartron t.Phone certainly hits the right chord when it comes to design. Much like the NextBit Robin, this one too can be easily spotted from far away. It looks like a candy bar of sorts with its orange and grey color scheme, with a touch of minimalist design which I like. The device feels lightweight and easy to carry around. Volume rockers and the power are seamlessly integrated on the right edge and are super responsive.
My only concern here is that the t.Phone feels a bit too wide, which might be the only thing going against it regarding ergonomics. Thus, making it a bit clunky for one-handed usage. And at just 6.98 mm thickness, the device is super slim which is a good thing, but I am not sure if the t.Phone has enough mettle to survive a few accidental drops.
Moreover, there’s no fingerprint scanner which is kind of a let down given the asking price. Apart from this, it’s a fabulous looking, intelligently designed device, though I wish it could have been a tad less wide.
The t.Phone packs a Full HD AMOLED panel with Apical’s Assertive Display technology which amounts to a pixel density of 401 ppi. All this sounds good on paper, but I am still not convinced with phone’s display quality. Whites appear a tad washed out, while Blacks levels aren’t that great either. The Apical Assertive display technology does offer improved legibility in well-lit conditions. However, the overall brightness and saturation levels can be a bit too overpowering at times. Thereby, making things appear a bit too strenuous on the eye.
Besides, the 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display is more than satisfactory for watching videos and playing games. Viewing angles are good, and the screen isn’t as reflective either.
Hardware and Performance
The Smartron t.Phone gets packs Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor bundled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of inbuilt storage a USB Type-C port, and even a 3.5 mm jack. All appears solid on paper but does it really deliver when it comes to performance?
Luckily the device arrived in our test lab around the same time when the company rolled out the new update, which is a good thing as quite often newly launched devices are usually riddled with bugs and need patch fixes. Before the update, navigating around the phone’s UI often felt glitchy. However, the latest update (pretty huge at 230MB) has certainly new injected new life in the t.Phone. Opening and switching between multiple apps are free of lags or stutters, and the overall experience of navigating around the phone’s UI feels pretty smooth. Same is the case while playing games like Fruit Ninja. It’s a jitter free experience for the most part with fast loading times.
Even while playing Mortal Kombat X – a pretty demanding game in itself, I did not come across any frame drops or stutters during gameplay or while navigating menus. Barring a few odd jitters here and there, the Smartron t.Phone is a solid performer. In our benchmark tests, the device racked up an Antutu score of 56,645. In GeekBench 3, it managed to pull off single and multi-core scores of 867 and 2857.
Juicing up the smartphone is a fairly chunky 3000mAh battery, which can last a whole day of moderate usage, might even stretch further for a light user. Though can be a let down for a heavy user, as it does drain pretty quickly while playing games or watching full HD videos. That said, it does charge fairly quickly reaching from 0-40 percent in just about 20 mins, which is pretty impressive. It also gets Quick Charge 2.0 support and comes bundled with a USB Type-C charger. Other connectivity options on the phone include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, LTE along with VoLTE on all 4G bands available in India.
The Smartron t.Phone gets a 13MP rear camera bundled with dual LED flash. On the front, there’s a 4MP shooter for taking selfies. Images taken from both cameras are just about passable. Photographs appear just about average, though far from what you’d call outstanding. The edges have a tendency to get pixelated while focusing on a subject also takes a lot of time. The phone’s camera algorithm certainly needs a lot of work, as there is a significant lag while continuous pictures snaps or during saving images.
The 4MP camera on the front is also just about average, but I would say the quality of selfies is pretty mediocre for the asking price. That said, it does perform well in very low-light conditions.
The t.Phone comes pre-installed with Android Marshmallow and retains most of the stock Android features, which is good. You get features such as Now on Tap and Doze. Barring a few tweaked icons, the UI is as close as it gets to stock Android. You do, however, get a dedicated tronX app which is essentially a bundle of services which include a t.store where you can buy accessories and other smartron devices. There’s also a t.Cloud storage, which offers unlimited cloud storage, along with customer care service called t.Care.
- Attractive design and colour scheme
- Solid performer
- No fingerprint scanner
- Mediocre camera
There’s no denying that Smarton t.Phone is one hell of a looker with its hipster-like dual-tone color scheme. The latest update has certainly fixed several performance issues, but the Rs. 22,999 asking price seems a bit too far-fetched. Besides, there are certain key areas that need to be addressed, for instance, the phone’s camera performance, the lack of fingerprint scanner – a severe letdown for the asking price which makes it a hard to recommend for any buyer. If you’re planning to spend over 20,000 bucks on a smartphone, there are far better alternatives available out there.
That said, being Smarton’s debut smartphone offering – the t.Phone is a rather solid attempt by the company. It performs well and looks awesome – only let down by a few a glaring shortcomings. I see what the company is striving for, but its still early days and there’s a long road ahead.