The Intex Aqua Y2: the Rs 8,999/= Smartphone

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In a country largely populated by brands such as Samsung, LG, Sony and even Xiaomi, Intex is a relatively unheard of smartphone brand. Headquartered in New Delhi, Delhi, India, you’re more likely to hear about them if you are on the lookout for home appliances. However, the company has a mobile manufacturing operation – for example, they’re the ones behind India’s first Firefox OS powered mobile phone, the Intex Cloud FX.

As for Sri Lanka, Intex is marketed through Singer. A few models caught our attention, mainly the Intex Aqua Y2 and the Intex Mini Curve. Priced at Rs. 8,999/- and available at all Singer showrooms islandwide, The Aqua Y2 is literally one of the cheapest Android handsets we’ve ever seen on the local market.

Y2 Insides

Opening the package feels a bit like Christmas. The phone is wrapped up in a white plastic-esque pouch and the accessories for it are located under a false floor made of cardboard. Accessories are surprisingly plentiful: the Aqua Y2 has a standard micro USB cable for charging and data transfer, earplugs for music and phone calls and travel adapter, a screen protector even a protective housing. Pretty thoughtful – you usually end up spending around Rs 2000/= for this stuff anyway, The rest of the packaging is a user manual, warranty card complete with details of e-waste collection centers if you want to recycle your old phone (although this only applies to residents of India), a special apps manual (more on that later), and a small fold out paper explaining the use of the pre-loaded OLX app.

Now that we got all that out of the way, let’s get down to the Aqua Y2 itself.

Composed entirely of white (also ships in black and blue) plastic, the Aqua Y2 is a somewhat chunky (134.2 x 63 x 10.6mm, LxWxD), rectangular smartphone that weighs in at a comfortable 120g. The top of the device consists of the loudspeaker, front camera and ambient light sensor at the top. The bottom consists of hardware navigation (Recents, Home, Back) keys and the microphone. The sides of the device have a black strip on either side to help promote its aesthetics and also house the power/lock button and volume rocker. The top and bottom of the phone house a 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port respectively.

The body as a whole feels solid in build quality, but the glossy plastoc doesn’t offer a strong grip, which may be a problem for those with sweaty palms. This is where the protective back cover comes in – but it does tend to add a bit to the overall bulk of the device. The screen in question is 4” WVGA (480×854 pixels) IPS touch screen that Intex claims a spectrum of 16M colors. From a network and connectivity point of view, the Aqua Y2 has slots for 2 SIM cards (if you have multiple connections) and has the basics covered – 3G support, WiFi, up to 32GB storage via MicroSD card.

Y2

All this on a sub 10k phone? Sounds impossible?

Switching on the phone, we are greeted with a somewhat animated boot screen and warm and surprisingly vibrant colors.

Despite the low pixel density, text is clear and readable at both full brightness and when set to auto. This is clearly the work of the IPS display.  However, photos and video playback are not crystal clear – we found it acceptable given the price, but don’t expect razor sharpness and contrasts. The capacitive screen responds adequately to gestures and has multi touch for upto two fingers. By no means does it have a Gorilla glassed display, but again, with its IPS certification, the screen does its job nicely.

Y22The phone, not surprisingly, has a number of apps pre-installed. Among them is Google Now Launcher. Being the Android fan that I am, I proceeded to replace the stock launcher with the Google launcher and even managed to get Google Cards working (one small step for man, one giant leap for me).

Other apps include a plethora of games such as NFS: The Run, Real Football and Intex’s own game zone called “Intex Games Club”. It also has WhatsApp installed. Clearly Intex wants people to be up and about as soon as they switch the device on. Despite the sheer number of preinstalled apps though, it would have been nice if a simple file manager was included.

In terms of entertainment, the Aqua Y2 has an FM Radio. Sound quality – MP3 playback, that is – is run of the mill at best; you can tweak it with the inbuilt equalizer or you can download a 3rd party app like PowerAMP, but let’s just say that if you have expensive earphones, this is probably not what you’re looking for. The loudspeaker is not loud per se, but is just enough for you to hear it notify you of incoming calls or messages.

Y2 All

At the heart of the Aqua Y2 beats a 1.2 GHz dual core processor with 512MB of RAM. Android 4.4 KitKat is known for its smoothness and fluidity, even on low end devices, and the Aqua Y2 does a good job of it. Homescreen switching is fast and smooth and navigating within the app drawer is equally fast. Opening multiple apps however is the breaking point as the device tends to lag – especially when apps such as Facebook and Messenger run in the background.

To offer a solution to this, Clean Master, an app popular amongst the low end smartphone users, is also preloaded. The app scans available memory and kills unwanted app in the hope of making the device faster and conserving battery. Most of the time it just ends up making the device lag further, so you may want to take it off. If however, you are a mild to moderate user with a bit of WhatsApp, a touch of Facebook and a pinch of YouTube, then the device should work without any issues. Again this is provided that there are no memory and CPU hogging processes in the background.

The Aqua Y2 has a 5MP camera with an LED flash in the rear and a 1.3MP front facing camera. Photo quality is not that great. The live view of the camera appears a tad on the muddy side. It improves a bit during daylight, leading us to believe that any picture taken with this should only happen outside in sunlight. One drawback we found was the lack of an auto focus feature – this means that close-up shots are next to impossible to take and there will be a certain amount of blur present. Oddly enough, the camera has a HDR mode and even a face/smile detection feature. As for video, you’re stuck at 640*480 – again relative to the price paid. There is a LED flashlight there for the rescue.

Overall, in terms of media: not a performer. Don’t expect the next gorgeous travel sunset photo to come out of this.

What good is a review without any benchmarks?

We fired up Antutu and waited patiently for the results. The entire test took around 5 minutes to complete. When it got to the point of the 3D benchmark, surprisingly, the device managed to keep its cool even though the 3D benchmark got only around 2.9-5.5FPS. In the end, the score were not much to drool over.

Aqua Y2

On the plus side, it didn’t really heat up.

The battery is another key element of a smartphone. A 1500MAh battery like the one in the Aqua should theoretically give you around a day of usage given the low screen resolution and pixel density of the display – we have a Vodafone on Gingerbread that clocks two days. Our tests – 1½ hours of screen on time, running with YouTube videos and some browsing on WiFi – didn’t quite get the device to 24 hours, but passed the 12 hour boundary. Again, the actual usage depends on factors such as screen on time, network signal quality and how much you actually use the phone and its apps – without video, we expect to hit a solid 20 hours on WiFi, perhaps 12 with 3G active and message services like Whatsapp and Facebook buzzing hard.

Overall,for the price, we can’t really complain about the Aqua Y2.

Considering the elements such as the IPS display, dual core performance and Android 4.4 KitKat, there are few devices that match up to this in terms of price-to-performance.  By the standards of our age it’s a poor performer, but provides great value for money. Overall, if you’re looking for a affordable smartphone to use or even as a secondary device, you really should check out the Intex Aqua Y2.

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