Homegrown brand Micromax once ruled the roost when it came to budget smartphones in India: it was in fact the go-to brand for budget-conscious buyers long before the likes of Xiaomi and Honor came into existence, long before Nokia made its big comeback with Android. Look how the tables have turned now. While Xiaomi, Honor and Nokia have grown at a phenomenal rate ever since, Micromax has had a tough time catching up. But not for the lack of trying.
Micromax does not launch devices by the dozen anymore. But that’s good actually, at least that's what Micromax believes now. Taking some time out (before launches) gives it time to study the market (and competition) and respond accordingly. The newly launched Infinity N12 is a classic example.
It has every ingredient in the book that has become sort of synonymous with a budget smartphone in 2018. A glossy body, a tall display, a capable processor with decent amounts of RAM and storage, a triple card slot, dual 4G, near stock Android software, dual rear cameras, plenty of megapixels in the selfie department, and a massive battery. While a majority of Micromax phones in the past were notorious for cutting corners — a lot of corners — to accommodate their budget credentials, the Infinity N12 tries to pack almost everything inside its sleek and slender body.
That sleek and slender body is, of course, the headlining feature of the Infinity N12. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that the Infinity N12 is Micromax’s best-looking budget smartphone yet. Period.
This year has been all about the design for smartphone makers, gradient colours, glass back, notch et al. What I really like about the Infinity N12 though is that Micromax has tried to play the balancing act here by launching it in a choice of three attractive colours. There’s the too-out-there-for-its-own-good velvet red, a classier blue lagoon and a more sophisticated viola or black options available. While all the three options are glossy and fingerprint magnets, it’s nice to see Micromax doing its bit to offer more variety, a little something for everybody if you may. This is something that you’d normally not associate with a budget device — let alone a Micromax device — say a year or two ago. That’s how the budget smartphone segment in India is, as of this moment.
Just like fancy colour schemes have seemingly become the new industry trend, a notch display is also something that is trickling down to more and more affordable devices now. The Infinity N12 is Micromax’s first smartphone to feature an iPhone X-style notch upfront. Just like the reds and blues and blacks, having a notch on the display is also a subjective affair. Some may like it, some may not. It would all narrow down to whether or not you find it personally appealing. And it is a big notch in the case of the Infinity N12, to say the least, something on the lines of the Poco F1. And you can’t hide the notch, at least not right now. So, that’s that.
The Infinity N12 has its ups when it comes to design, but it also has a few downs. For one, it is a 6.2-inch smartphone which can be tad too big for some. It has a smaller footprint than conventional 6.2-inch phones due to its rather unconventional 18.9:9 aspect ratio, but it’s still big enough to require both your hands at all times for day-to-day usage. The Infinity N12, secondly, is built entirely out of plastic even though its looks may have you believe that it’s carved out of glass. That’s a major turn-off when you consider phones like the Xiaomi Redmi 6. The Infinity N12 may look good, but it’s certainly not as premium in build-quality as Xiaomi’s phone. Also, because the screen of the Infinity N12 is part of a raised structure, it is left exposed to wear and tear at all times which means a protective case/screen guard is a must when you’re buying it. Micromax does not ship a case in the box.
Let’s take a quick look at the phone’s specs now. The Infinity N12 comes with a 6.2-inch IPS LCD display with a 720p+ resolution. The display is pretty good for the price with decent colour reproduction, brightness and viewing angles, but competition like the Redmi 6 offers a crisper 1080p+ screen resolution. The Infinity N12, like the Redmi 6, is also powered by MediaTek’s 12nm-based Helio P22 processor. Focus lies on both performance and efficiency. While I am still to comprehensively test the Infinity N12 in this regard, I have had absolutely no trouble so far in carrying out basic day-to-day tasks on it. This includes basic usage, like phone calls, messaging, social networking and some light gaming: which is what this phone is designed to do at the end of the day. The phone ships with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage which is expandable via a dedicated micro-SD card slot.
While it’s nice to see Micromax deploying a near stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo in the Infinity N12, it would also have been nice had it cut down some more on bloat or unwanted apps. A silver lining or something to look forward to is that Micromax has promised that the phone will be updated to Android Pie in the next 45 days.
On the optics front, the Infinity N12 sport a dual rear camera setup consisting of one 13MP sensor and another 5MP sensor for depth sensing. Micromax claims the cameras on the Infinity N12 are backed by artificial intelligence so they will be able to recognize scenes and adjust photographic parameters accordingly to entail in better photos.
Elsewhere, biometric authentication features like fingerprint scanner and face unlock, that have now become standard in the industry, come pre-loaded on Micromax’s new phone. The Infinity N1 further packs a sizeable 4,000mAh battery inside and is claimed to offer up to 30 hours of talk-time on single charge.
The Infinity N12 will be available in 3GB RAM and 32GB storage configuration for Rs 9,999. Clearly, it tries to check all the right boxes of a budget offering and even though competition (still) offers more bells and whistles (like metal build and 1080p+ screen resolution), the Infinity N12 is the first Micromax phone in a long time to serve as a viable alternative. At least on paper. Watch this space for our full review of the Micromax Infinity N12 in the days to come.