How big is too big? That's the base question with Micromax's new flagship device, also its most expensive till date. The Canvas Doodle 2 has big numbers: a mammoth 5.7-inch screen and a retail price of Rs. 20,000. Armed with a stylus and begging to be drawn on, it takes aim at the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. But while the Doodle 2 gets things right on paper, real-world usage is a different matter altogether.
What's It About?
The 5.7-inch IPS screen has 1280x720 pixels HD resolution, roughly 258 ppi. But there's one big miss -- no Gorilla Glass protection here, like with the Canvas 4. It's powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Mediatek MT6589 processor, 1GB RAM, and 16GB of internal memory, of which 12.64GB is available to the user. There's a 5-megapixel camera on the front, and the aluminium back features a 12-megapixel snapper. The phone boasts of an aluminium unibody, so you can't see the 2600mAh battery inside. Along with the Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean operating system, Micromax has thrown in the same software features we already reviewed in the Canvas 4, such as blow-to-unlock and flip-to-mute. There's also a new type of flip cover which doubles up as a phone stand. At a price of Rs. 20,000, it's not bad -- especially when you consider that some retailers are already selling it at Rs. 18,000, putting it on par with the Canvas 4.
Who's It For?
Someone with big hands, looking for a phone with a massive screen, and a stylus to have some fun with it. But you need to be okay with the trade-offs, like the lack of Gorilla Glass, the heavy weight and the substandard camera.
At first glance, the Canvas Doodle 2 is really impressive. The unibody design, the rounded corners, the glossy plastic, the aluminium back -- it's a striking phone.
But then the mistakes start showing up. First up is the aluminium back, which isn't really aluminium. The top and bottom are plastic, the middle has an aluminium plate with plastic edges. It's made to look like aluminium, but while you can fool the eyes, you can't fool the fingers.
The top of the back is the only part of the phone that comes off, and that's where you slot in your two SIM cards. There's no space for a microSD slot to expand your memory, so you're stuck with the 12.64 GB out of the box. And yeah, no way to swap the battery either.
The finishing on the phone is disappointing too. One side of the removable top part had a jutting edge and wasn't flush with the rest of the aluminium body -- it's irksome every time your finger touches that pointed edge. The speaker grill at the back was lopsided too.
And it doesn't even register pressure sensitivity. The guys at Micromax are kidding themselves if they think this is what a stylus on a modern smartphone is supposed to do.ut the biggest disappointment was the lack of a slot for the stylus. Micromax has packaged a standard stylus with the device, but you can't dock it into the phone. There's not even a lot for it in the bundled flip cover! How hard would it have been to make the flip cover's hinge have a space for the stylus? The company can claim it wants to get the attention of the creative types and wants people to draw on the large screen with the stylus, but are you really going to carry that little pen around with you? It can get lost easily, you'll have to fish in your pocket twice for your phone and your stylus, a
The sheer size and weight of the phone can be a deterrent for many. Don't go by reviews (even this one) or anyone else's word for it. Go to a store and try out the phone before you make a decision. As a crude rule to check whether it's going to be too big for you in daily usage, place the phone flat on your palm, your fingers held together and outstretched. If the phone is the same size or larger than the height or the width, it's too big. Move on...
Even with my large hands that were just about the same width as the phone, I found the Doodle 2 a little too big to use comfortably. And this is compounded by the weight. Make no mistake, you can feel those 220 grams, especially in a phone conversation that lasts over half an hour. If you talk on the phone a lot, you're going to develop some serious muscles with this heavyweight contender.
When using the stylus, I was glad that I could use the capacitive buttons with it. Some phones with a stylus don't allow for that, and it's quite idiotic to expect the user to change from the stylus to his fingers every time.
That said, the stylus and the M! Doodle app are just gimmicks and nothing more. There is no pressure sensitivity in the stylus, so whether you press down hard on the screen or just draw lightly, the type of line you will draw is the same thickness and colour. It's not a realistic drawing experience.
Still, credit where it's due: the stylus is fun to use when coupled with the preloaded Skitch app, especially to annotate photos and maps. But that's also the problem -- without a slot for the stylus, you aren't going to carry it around just because it's a fun gimmick. And so it quickly loses all meaning.
I also want to make a note of the lack of Gorilla Glass on the display. It was one of the reasons I liked the Canvas 4 so much, and it's very disappointing that the Doodle 2 doesn't feature it. If I'm forking over almost 20,000 rupees of my hard earned money, I don't want to put an ugly scratch guard on it, which registers the minutest of scratches and reduces the clarity. At this price, I expect a scratch-resistant screen, whether with Gorilla Glass, Dragontail, or some other. It makes a huge difference in how you will use your phone on a regular basis -- you shouldn't have that little nagging worry when spending so much money on a phone.
The Best Part
With that big HD screen and powerful processor, you would expect the Doodle 2 to run out of battery quickly. But that's not the case. I didn't mind the inability to swap batteries because the built-in 2600mAh one does a stellar job. On a day with 3.5 hours of calls, lots of gaming, half an hour of video, 3 hours of music, half an hour of GPS usage, and plenty of Whatsapp, IM and browsing, the Canvas Doodle 2 got me through 17 hours before dying out. It'll easily last you a day of average usage and perhaps even go beyond that at times.
What's the point of a huge screen if the software isn't customized for it? The Note 2 doesn't work just because it has a big screen -- it has the software to back it up, whether it's the one-handed keyboard or the multi-window view. Micromax has done nothing on that front, preloading apps that offer a poor experience out of the box and don't really maximize the use of that screen. Making a screen bigger is pointless if it doesn't add some utility. With the Doodle 2, Micromax seems to say, "It's a phone with a large screen because people are buying phones with large screens."
-The 720p HD screen has good viewing angles and is bright enough to be legible in direct sunlight. But the colours aren't fantastic. It's distinctly washed, especially noticeable when you try to watch a high-def movie on it with plenty of blacks, which end up looking almost grey. There are cheaper phones now with a FullHD display, but in my opinion, that shouldn't matter much. The difference between an HD and a FullHD screen at this size is barely discernible to the naked eye.
-Megapixels don't matter, folks, and if you need further proof, just take a look at the Doodle 2. Apart from bright sunlight, where phones half its price give you decent shots, the Canvas Doodle 2's camera is a disappointment. Images are noisy, there is blooming in every light source, and photos in a dark environment are practically unusable. You better have some good filter apps on this phone.
-The phone generally performs well, whether it's playing HD games or watching high-def movies. It slightly struggles with multi-tasking when you have two resource-intensive tasks on, such as a Chrome browser with lots of tabs and an HD game.
-The preloaded apps like blow to unlock are exactly like what you got on the Canvas 4 -- gimmicks with no real functionality. But to Micromax's credit, at least they don't have bugs any more and work as advertised.
-Music quality on the Doodle 2 is atrocious. And it's not the fault of the packaged flat-cable earbuds, which actually sound decent on other devices. The Doodle 2 itself can't deliver good audio, whether with wired or wireless headsets. The bass is non-existent and everything sounds flat -- there's no body to the music at all. If you like to listen to tunes on your phone, you're in for disappointment.
-The flip cover is tacky. Its plastic back ruins the aluminium-coated experience of the Doodle 2, while the front seems like material acquired by scavenging Samsung's rejected flip covers. The "prop up the phone with the flip cover" trick works only if you are doing it on a flat surface. If it's on your bed or in your lap, it topples over.
Should I buy it?
The Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 is too big to be used as a phone and too small to be used as a tablet. And that is its undoing. I didn't think .2 of an inch would make so much of a difference -- I thought the 5.5-inch Lenovo K900 or Galaxy Note 2 could be used as a phone, but not the 5.7-inch Doodle 2.
Part of the problem is also the software customization, or rather, the lack of it. What's the point of a huge screen if you are using it the same way as you would use a tinier screen, Micromax?
And not having Gorilla Glass or other scratch protection at this price point is silly, especially when the Canvas 4 has it.
Still, phone sizes are subjective and plenty of people seem to like these huge phones, so once again, I'd urge you to check it out in a store and see if the size is right for you.
So is the Canvas Doodle 2 worth it? Not in my books. You have to specifically want this huge screen without a need for the stylus or any productivity-enhancing apps, be all right with the possibility of a scratch (or invest in an ugly screen guard), make your peace with a lacklustre camera, and know that you can never again use your phone with a single hand (unless you're a big fella). Your money would be better spent on the Canvas 4 or the Wickedleak Wammy Passion Z+.
At the end of it, for Rs. 18,000, all you get with the Micromax Canvas Doodle 2 is the ability to say, "Mine's bigger."