Smartphones are a rectangular slab of electronics that are responsible for shrinking the world, connecting people. There isn’t really much you can do to make it look good. Yet, in the past we have seen some brilliant designs like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Mi MIX. While these smartphones are in the higher end of the market, even the lower ones are getting better. There are phones like the Xiaomi Redmi 3s and the Lenovo Vibe K5 that offer a metallic body. Talking about the low-end phones, Intex is now pushing the Aqua Crystal as a smartphone that is designed for the fashion conscious. Should it be your first choice for a pretty phone under Rs 10,000? We find out.
The budget smartphones in the market mostly have a plastic build. Yes, there are a few exceptions now, but the Aqua Crystal is among the rare ones to have a glass back. It looks like the phone uses a plastic frame sandwiched between glass. It reminds me of the Xperia Z, among the first to have a design of this sort. The smartphone comes in two color options, and while our review unit was white, I’ll highly recommend getting the black one. The white variant gets a gold frame that is gaudy for my taste.
While the front and back are made of glass, there is no mention of any sort of protection. The glass on the back also makes it slippery when kept on an inclined surface. Be careful where you keep the device because it does not look like it can survive a drop. Thankfully, Intex has added a plastic case in the box. The phone is comfortable to hold, and the screen size makes the entire display accessible for one-handed use. The edges are curved and don’t dig into the palm while using the device. The power and volume buttons are well within reach and offer good tactile feedback. Since the back cover isn’t removable, the phone has a SIM slot on the side.
The small dimension of the phone means there is only room for a 5-inch display. It sports a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels which is good for a phone this size. The output from the IPS panel is good indoors, but it falls short when used under the sun. Watching content on the phone is a good experience backed by good viewing angles and an above average loudspeaker. Yes, the position of it isn’t the best and is quite easy to mute accidentally.
The performance of the phone is nothing to write home about. It checks all the boxes when it comes to a strict budget smartphone. The MediaTek MT6737 keeps things going while clocked at 1.2GHz. While the processor is decent, it seems to be heavily restricted by the 1GB of RAM onboard. As a result, multitasking suffers big time. We tried shuffling between no more than 3 apps, and the phone had to launch the first one from scratch. The downside with just 1GB of RAM is that the phone has to constantly kill apps in the background to keep it from slowing down. When we checked, it only had around 200MB of RAM free, and that isn’t a good thing. If you keep shuffling between different apps, then this won’t be a pleasant experience. There are alternatives like the Micromax Canvas Mega 4G and the LYF Water 11 that offer 3GB RAM for a slightly higher price. There is the Xiaomi Redmi 3s as well, but I do agree that the phone is a little hard to get. More RAM would’ve definitely helped the Crystal Aqua’s case here.
While testing, we put the phone through some benchmarking apps and here are the results. The Aqua managed to score 29,376 in the Antutu Benchmark. Next was the Nenamark graphics benchmarking test in which the phone managed a decent 49.8 FPS. This means the phone is capable of running low-medium graphics games without dropping a lot of frames. I played Temple Run 2, and while the phone ran the game well, it was warm to the touch.
The Aqua Crystal runs stock Android with a few apps that come pre-loaded. And this is where things really start going south. The Intex Service app keeps pushing notifications that get highly annoying. The app simply lists Intex service centres in the country but in the background works pretty much like an adware. Not cool Intex! The phone runs on still relevant Android Marshmallow, which is good because it is unlikely to get an update to Nougat. The Crystal has 8GB of internal storage out of which 6.49GB is available to the user. The storage is expandable via a MicroSD card slot up to 32GB, and if you are a heavy user, you will need it. The hybrid 2nd slot plays spoilsport forcing you to choose between the second SIM and expandable storage. Choose wisely!
The camera on the Aqua Crystal is an 8-megapixel unit that sits flush with the body alongside the dual LED flash. The output of the camera is decent for the price. The app interface is simple, and the photos turn out well when you keep your hand sturdy. These images are good for the social networks, and that’s about it. There is beautify mode for the rear camera as well along with Fashin and Vistoro apps like we found on the Supreme+. At the front, it has a 5-megapixel camera that performs well, and the output looks better than the primary camera, indoors.
The Aqua Crystal has a 2100mAh battery that is sealed shut. The smartphone manages to go on for one working day (12 hrs) with moderate usage. I observed that the battery drained rapidly when watching video on the YouTube App. To top, the phone up it takes a little over 2 hours with the provided charger (5V 1A). Intex could’ve popped in a powerful 2A charger to reduce the charging time.
In terms of connectivity, the Aqua Crystal gets Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi. It has support for 4G and VoLTE. I tested the phone on Vodafone and Reliance Jio, and it performed as expected. The call quality is good, and the phone is capable of HD calls on the Jio network.
The Intex Aqua Crystal is priced around Rs 7,000 and is the only phone in this price to sport a glass back panel. Yes, the phone is better looking than most of the competition, and that is where it ends. It could’ve had better hardware to match the looks but what it gets is sort of a letdown. The main culprit has to be low RAM that dampens the whole experience. Smartphones like Xiaomi Redmi 3S and the LYF Water 11 have the significantly better hardware for a small bump in price. If your usage is pretty basic and a good looking phone is the only requirement, this phone fits the bill. As for the others, Intex, can we have an Intex Aqua Crystal+?