Joining the VR bandwagon, home-grown smartphone maker Intex launched its first virtual-reality handset Aqua View that comes with a compatible headset. Priced at Rs 8,999 for the complete kit, we find out what makes this affordable smartphone special.
In terms of appearance, the Intex Aqua View seems inspired by the premium range of Apple iPhones with circular home button with metal ring and familiar speaker grill at the bottom. The phone comes with a decent 5-inch HD 2.5D Glass touchscreen display that is bright and responsive though there are times it might seem too bright for normal use even when at a moderate level.
With the volume controllers and power button on the right, the left is free of distractions making the slim phone easy to hold. Contrary to the current standard of unibody design, the Intex Aqua View comes with a removable battery. Beneath the rear panel also sit three separate slots for two SIM cards and one microSD card for memory expansion.
At an affordable price, the phone also comes with a fingerprint sensor that is layered beneath the home button. The LED-based sensor lights up if the fingerprint input is incorrect which is helpful and helps avoid too many wrong inputs out of carelessness.
The Android Lollipop-powered phone comes with a 64-bit quad-core processor with only 2 GB of RAM while devices priced lesser like the Coolpad Note 3 Lite come with 3 GB of RAM. Nonetheless, the phone did not suffer lags or app crashes during the review period.
Highlight of the device is that it is VR ready. The Intex EyeLet is the company’s first VR Cardboard headset which lets you experience semi-immersive content. The headset bundled with the smartphone is basic and there are instances when you have to struggle a bit to get the virtual pointer right on the desired option. Users need to note that the VR device is the basic Google Cardboard-like headset and does not offer high-end immersive experience. Also, if you want to capture a place using the Cardboard camera app, you need to be really stable with the camera handling.
What’s Not So Cool
While there are evident design inspirations, Intex could have polished the looks of the device to make the rear appear slightly more premium and have a stronger removable back panel than the current flimsy one in plastic.
One of the disappointments with the Intex Aqua View is its 8 megapixel rear, and 5 megapixel front camera. The results are slightly grainy and lack true colour reproduction. Also, the rear camera unit bears resemblance to the Nexus 6P-like horizontal band. If you want a phone under Rs 10K with better camera configuration or more customisation options, you could consider the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 that comes with a 16 megapixel rear camera.
The phone is powered by a 2200mAh Li-ion battery that is only sufficient for basic users. If you are more into gaming or video streaming you might want to consider a device that packs in more power like the Lenovo K3 Note or Panasonic Eluga A2.
At a sub-Rs 10K price, the Intex Aqua View with 4G VoLTE support competes with a host of budget smartphones which promise better features and functionality. For example, the Meizu M3 Note at Rs 1,000 more for 32 GB comes with a better camera while the Panasonic Eluga A2 packs a mammoth battery. If you are looking for a device which isn’t an iPhone lookalike then Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Coolpad Note 3 can be considered.
The USP of the phone is that it is VR-ready, but one needs to take it with a pinch of salt. The Intex Eyelet though bundled with the phone at no cost doesn’t quite qualify as a sturdy VR headset because it is inspired by the basic Google Cardboard and offers only a semi-immersive experience. In terms of features, the phone is offering what is expected out of an affordable device. Pros also include expandable storage over base 16 GB ROM and biometric security. On the downside, Intex isn’t offering anything extraordinary than the free headset. So, if you are looking for a budget smartphone with better camera or more battery, there are plenty of options available.