March 6, 2013

MICROMAX Q5FB


We tested the Micromax Q7 recently, and while its compact profile and features, like Wi-fi, amazed us, the not-so-comfortable keyboard, weak build quality and absolute lack of any sort of multi-tasking kept us from dethroning our current favorite QWERTY phone under Rs. 5,000. Today, we take a look at its younger cousin, the Q5fb. It covers some of the flaws of the earlier model and also comes a grand cheaper. Is this a good inexpensive QWERTY to buy?

Design and Build

The Micromax Q5 isn't as thin and light as the Q7. But what it loses in leanness, it gains in brute strength and feel. For the price that you pay for this phone, it has got to be one of the best built phones I've seen till date. 



It feels nice and sturdy in the hand; there's a nice metallic rim covering the front face. The materials used to make the battery cover have a velvety premium feel. There's a 2.2-inch QVGA resolution screen but we feel the body could have occupied a slightly larger 2.4-inch one. The quality isn't much to speak of, but we're glad at least text is fairly readable. We think the Q7's display was a slightly better in quality than this one. Like the Q7, the Q5fb too has a trackball that we felt was a notch better than the Q7's, which was at times jumpy and would select unwanted adjacent selections. 


Below that is another treat; a well-sized and well-designed set of QWERTY keys. The buttons offer good tactility and are a pleasure to type on, even for people with big fingers. However, some of the illogical aspects of keyboard design found on all cheap phones we've seen still remains. For example, the full-stop does not have a dedicated button. But by now I've become adapted to using the alt+symbol key combination.




There's a miniUSB port and a 3.5mm earphone jack at the bottom. There are no volume buttons to the side, which is awkward, as you have to take the phone away from your ear to adjust the volume every time.  
Performance

The Q5's interface is more or less similar to the Q7's, so we're not going to talk about it again. What we are going to talk about is the pre-installed Facebook app, which is most probably one of the major reasons the Q5 "fb" got its name. It is pretty much crappy when you compare the experience to the app for Android or the iOS. The look is dull and what you can mainly do is update your status, view other peoples statuses and poke people.

Like the Q7, there's no multi-tasking at all, not even playing music in the background while browsing on Opera Mini. However, the presence of software like Opera and Nimbuzz make internet browsing and instant messaging a decent affair. But power users will not like the Java text input irritant, which we've been complaining about for a while now. One niggle we found with our test unit was the inability to change the ringtone. It would still ring this one preset tone despite us changing to any other option in the profile menu.

As a phone, the Q5fb is pretty decent. The call clarity is fair, the loudspeaker is fairly loud. The picture quality from the camera is just about average. The frame-rate while taking a picture lags quite a bit and it's better not to talk about the grainy video quality. But on the contrary, the presence of a 3.5mm jack allowed us to plug in our pair of Creative EP-630s that delivered audio quality that was acceptable to us.

Battery life is decent too. On one active SIM and heavy usage, I got an up-time of a day and a half. By heavy usage I mean at least 2 hours of music playback, and 3-4 hours of talk-time along with a little bit of internet usage.

Price and Verdict

The Micromax Q5fb is sold for as low as Rs. 3,500. This is a crazy price for a phone that has got most of the basics right; good build quality, good keyboard and a basic feature set to serve somebody who just wants to be online. And for three grand, we're ashamed to ask for anything more.

If you want a cheap QWERTY that will let you surf the net, chat with your friends and listen to music (though you can't do it simultaneously), then the Q5fb is hands-down a good buy. Just invest a few hundred more in a better pair of earphones. Trust me; the bundled pair gives you a fifth of quality that the phone can actually deliver. If you're looking at power usage, then we'd ask you to invest roughly Rs. 2,000 more and get the LG GW300 that supports juggling between more than one app at a time.

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