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A Little Bit of Everything at a Budget: Review- Intex Cloud String V2.0

We recently penned down our initial thoughts around the Intex Cloud String V2.0, a super-budget Android smartphone that comes with a fingerprint scanner. There are a few handful phones under the price point of Rs 10,000 that come with a fingerprint scanner, but to have one at the price point of just Rs 6,000, the Cloud String V2.0 stands proudly as the cheapest smartphone today that comes with the additional security of a fingerprint scanner. Having spent beyond a week with the smartphone, we feel we are in a good position to pass a judgement on the phone and what we felt about the device in our time of owning it.

Box, Packaging and Availability

The Intex Cloud String V2.0 is available at a price of Rs 5,999 and can be picked from Flipkart. We did ask a few high-end retail stores like Croma and Reliance Digital, but the phone was not available there. However, a couple of independent shops did have a stock, so you should be able to pick the phone without much of a problem. As for the variants, you get the Cloud String V2.0 in Champagne and Silver colours. The unit that we picked up for the review is the silver variant and was bought from Flipkart.

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The box of the phone comes with the device itself, a micro-USB to USB cable, a charging brick with 1A charging brick, a plastic back case and earphones with in-line microphone. There is also a screen guard included in the box, with some documentations. It is a fairly goody-full box and you would not need to invest in accessories once you pick the phone, which is good. The box is made out of fairly decent quality of cardboard, though as expected it is not the most premium build.

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The battery of the device is removable, so it is no surprise that it is packed separately, so you need to insert the same before you plan to turn the phone on and use it.

Design and Construction

The design of the Intex Cloud String V2.0, is as bland and regular as you can wish for. The phone is a slab of the touchscreen on the front and plastic on the back. The touchscreen has a hard plastic-rubbery material perimeter, which ensures that screen does not move about a lot when the phone is used roughly. The front of the phone has a 5 inch HD display which is followed by three capacitive buttons, the button for multi-tasking, home and back. The keys do not have a backlight so you will be better off memorising the keys if you want to use the phone in the dark. Top of the display has a rather loud earpiece with the 5MP selfie camera next to it. Impressively, there is both proximity sensor as well as an ambient light sensor on the top.

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Turn the phone back and you are greeted by what is a design that can really divide more opinion than the performance of Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister of India. The phone features a plastic back shell with concentric circles that reflect light virtually in every possible and impossible angle. The plastic shell itself is not very dense and therefore it picks up scratches and dents easily. No wonder, the phone, even with battery is super light at 150 grams. The finishing at the back of the device leaves a lot to be desired as the shell has a lot of gaps when it sits on top of the back of the phone, clearly a QC issue.

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Beyond the ill fitted back shell, the phone has an 8MP sensor at the back, which is followed by a mirror resembling fingerprint scanner. Since the scanner is a black slab of glass, it picks up fingerprints like no tomorrow and makes the back look shabby. The dual LED flash is towards the left side while the Intex branding is just a tab above the midway on the back of the phone. The speakers on the phone are towards the left bottom of the device and have a shade bit raised grille in order to ensure the sound can travel loud and clear when the phone is placed on a surface facing the back-down. The right flank of the phone has a volume rocker with the power button on top. While both the buttons have very decent feedback, there were times where we had to trigger the power button a couple of times before the screen would come on. The bottom lip of the phone has a micro USB port as well as a microphone. The top of the phone features a 3.5mm headphone jack and nothing else. Since the back is removable, there is little surprise that the dual SIM cards and the micro SD card slots are accessible only after you have removed the battery, which means the SIM cards are not hot swappable.

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The back cover in itself is really flimsy, so everytime you pop the back panel off you get a feeling that the back will just snap off or one of the hinge fixtures will break.

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Overall, thanks to 72.5 x 144.5 x 8.7 mm dimensions, the phone feels good and light in the hand, even if the construction or design is not the most inspiring feature of the phone. At the price point, you will not have much to complain though so that is where the argument draws to a close.

Screen on the Device

The Intex Cloud String V2.0 comes with a 5 inch 720P IPS display, which gives the phone a pixel density of 294PPI. The display comes with a 2.5D curved glass on top, so overall, scrolling and swiping on the screen is a very good experience. The colours are bright and crisp and even though, you can see pixels if you look closely. Viewing angles are average and the colours at certain angles do turn blue, especially at really obtuse angles. The Screen is adequately bright and even at the brightest under direct sunlight, text is readable. The major issue is that the display is really reflective and a total sucker for the fingerprints. Due to lack of any sort of coating or protection, the screen picks up a ton of marks and therefore you need to be extra careful to not drop the phone as it would lead to a shatter fairly easily.

The phone does have adaptive brightness, and also there are a ton of gestures that you can use when the display is off including double tap to wake, slide over to change music etc. You can add gestures on the device, so overall even though the display is not the neatest it gets the task done and pretty much everything that you could ask of it, in this price range is present.

Software, Performance and Fingerprint Scanner

When you look at the Cloud String V2.0, you could be excused for thinking that the phone runs stock Android. While the look and feel is very much like stock Android, Intex has made a ton of changes. There are a lot of add-ons, here, including an app that prompts you which third-party applications you must install even before you begin. You can choose to install all apps you like or none at all too.

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Despite this, there are a few apps that come pre-installed, and while some of these can be deleted, there are a few pre-installed apps that you cannot do away with.

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Out of the 16GB space that is given for the internal memory, a user gets about 11.5GB out of the box, which is reasonably okay. You do have a MicroSD card expansion slot available too. While the dialer and messaging app are the default Google ones here, Intex has customised pretty much every icon, to a rather funny looking square icons.

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Some third party apps’ icons look really tedious and bad, and we would much rather, had Intex left the icons to their default view.

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The keyboard too is the AOSP keyboard, though you do have an option of switching to the Swalekh keyboard which supports about 20 odd regional languages. The default keyboard is decent, though there is no swipe typing available by default. For this, you need to install a third-party keyboard.

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The phone comes with a bunch of added settings including definable Audio Profiles, Emergency Rescue that basically alerts those who select if you are in an emergency, an auto off/on schedule for your phone and more. The major drawback here is that Intex has decided to word these settings weirdly. For example, setting to store your fingerprints is called Finger manager, while that for turning your phone on/off automatically is called Timer Switch Machine.

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The fingerprint scanner is decent at this price point, but there is only so much you can expect from it. Other than a few hiccups, when you run a ton of applications, the phone gets the job done and even if does not send the benchmark scores flying out of the pan, it is reasonable. The phone teaches you the virtue of patience well. For just under Rs 6,000, the phone has a packed set of features, even if they are not most polished while delivering a very reasonable performance. Phone calls were clear and data speeds were consistent with other phones. The speaker to its credit is really loud.

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It gets the job done, but can take a good three seconds or so to wake the phone from sleep. The phone comes inbuilt with apps like FM Radio and Auto Call Record that are fairly useful. But other than this, there are also apps like Inmobi Services, which throw several ads on your lockscreen, and there is nothing you can really do about them. Unfortunately, you cannot uninstall these so you have to live with these ads. The gallery and music app get the job done, though we would recommend sticking with Google Photos and Google Play Music.

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The device handles Dual SIM as well as any dual SIM phones, and you can either select a preferred SIM to call or just pick a default calling SIM. The lockscreen is the typical Android Kitkat one, as the phone comes with Android 5.1 out of the box. This is obviously not the latest Android and would be asking too much for updates, but who doesn’t like surprises?

Camera and Battery

The rear camera on the Intex Cloud String V2.0 comes with an 8MP sensor and a 5MP front facing snapper. There is also a Dual LED flashlight at the back of the phone, which once again is a feature you would not expect in a phone at this cost. The rear camera is an Auto Focus camera and even though there is a substantial shutter lag, can take a few decent shots especially in good lighting. Do not expect good action shots or even bright low light shots. We did get a few decent macros, and that was that. The front facing camera is decent for a selfie to be shared on social network, but that is that.

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Shots taken from the rear camera came with a shade of blur and loss in details. Against direct sunlight, the lens really fails to pick up any detail at all, as demonstrated in one of the shots we took, with the sun behind the tree. In all honesty, without sounding too critical, the camera is a write-off, other than for some really basic shots. Worth noting though, is that at the price, this is pretty much as good as you can expect and we cannot even say we are unhappy with what Intex has done, because they had to cut corners somewhere. The camera app in itself is fairly simple, and you can change things like resolution or even modes to shoot Pano shots or record videos in 1080P.

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The battery on the other hand, is reasonable on standby. We lost about 8% over a period of 15 hours with WiFi on and the battery lasted about 30 hours on an average usage with 3 hours of screen on time, with WiFi. This will obviously go down on 3G or 4G as the device is VoLTE enabled. Note we ran only one Google account on always Sync-On, when we tested the device. With the 1A charger provided, the phone does take a while to charge and it took us about 3 hours to get from 0 to 90%, which was a lot considering that the battery size is just 2200 mAh.

Conclusion

The Intex Cloud String V2.0 is as good and featureful device as you can get at the price point of Rs 5,999. It really does punch above its weight, especially with a Full HD display and a fingerprint scanner. You have to live with a very average camera, battery life and a ton of bloated ads, but it is a decent give and take. You might as well save a couple of more thousand Rupees and pick a Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus if you want a more polished device. But since in this price range, the budget is always a constraint, the Intex Cloud String V2.0 is a very decent feature packed smartphone. For its price and some really daring add-ons by Intex, we give the phone a thumbs up.

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Arpit Verma

When not admiring flying metallic birds and the science behind them, Arpit is seen scribbling with his keyboard, voicing an opinion or two about personal technology. He is currently using a Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s Plus as his mobile devices.

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