Intex recently announced its Aqua smartphone series for the Indian market last month. The company launched Aqua Supreme+ along with Aqua 4.0 and Intex Aqua Crystal at a launch event back in Feb. All the smartphones from the series caters to the budget category.
Aqua Supreme+ comes with relatively powerful specs among the three smartphones launched with the highest price tag. Another important thing to note is that this smartphone is not looking to compete with the high-end or even mid-range smartphones. We extensively tested the smartphone, put it through its paces with benchmarks. Here is how Aqua Supreme+ fares in an already competitive market.
Build and Design: 5.5/10
Intex Aqua Supreme+ looks like any other budget smartphone from 2015 with nothing remarkable about its design or build quality. The entire body is made up of plastic and the phone feels okay to hold.
The smartphone is solid with no squeaking parts though I would not recommend anyone to do a bend test on this device.
One can mistake this smartphone to be of premium build quality and better plastic body but those misconceptions clear up when you realise that the plastic used is considerably cheap and the resulting material is a fingerprint and smudge magnet.
I was left wondering about why Intex did not invest more in the build quality and design of this smartphone, because the competition like Xiaomi is offering all metal devices in this range, while companies like Lenovo are offering much better phones in terms of build quality.
Intex Aqua Supreme+ features a 5-inch HD IPS oncell display panel with an effective resolution of 720x1280 and 223 PPI screen density, a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MTK 6737 processor. The device is 7.95 mm thick, 143 mm long and 72.3 mm wide with 133 gm of weight. Intex has packed a 13 MP camera module with f/2.0 aperture and Dual LED Flash on the back and a 5 MP front camera module with a f/2.2 aperture on the front for selfies.
Aqua Supreme+ packs 2 GB of RAM along with 16 GB of internal storage and the option to expand the storage by 128 GB using a microSD card. It comes with 4G-enabled dual micro-SIM slot where the second SIM slot is hybrid and you can only insert a micro-SIM or microSD card at any given time.
It runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0 out of the box and comes with other connectivity options that include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM Radio, 3.5mm headphone jack and micro USB 2.0.
Intex has also added sensors like gyroscope, light, proximity. It comes with a lithium-polymer battery with 3,000 mAh capacity. It comes packed with a screen guard, USB Adapter, USB Cable and earphones.
The Aqua Supreme+ packs a 5-inch IPS display with an HD resolution which gives a 223 PPI pixel density. Overall, the display was good along with options in the Settings menu to tweak the colours in the smartphone.The colour of photos and objects on the display were good with just acceptable viewing angles. But despite all that, the smartphone suffered when it came to readability under direct sunlight. It would have been better if the company focussed on higher-brightness mode for such situations.
Intex has partnered with Indus OS, a multi-lingual operating system based on Android. To be exact, the OS is an Android fork where the developers have taken the base code from AOSP (Android Open-Source Project) and added their own optimisations and new features to the operating system. The operating system is pegged to be 'World's first regional operating system' with support to 12 Indian languages.
The languages supported include Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Assamese, Gujarati, Malayalam, Odia, Tamil, Urdu. This is the first time I am using Indus OS and my first reaction was 'Why?'. Partly because I like the Vanilla treatment to Android where there is no bloat and everything is AOSP like without any added optimisations and partly because I didn't know what Indus OS brought to the table.
On deep diving, I realised that the Indus OS developers have customised and modelled the entire user experience according to the languages the users are using. They made this by making a record of how a user group living in a certain area with a certain language used the smartphone and what changes they wanted to make to the UI.
The company also focused on Indus Keyboard, the keyboard that gives users the flexibility to type in two different languages on the fly and switch between them using gestures. The keyboard did not fix to the conventional layout and instead collected user feedback on what should be the optimum keyboard layout.
The most interesting gesture was Indus Swipe which allowed the keyboard to translate or transliterate just by swiping to the right in the typing field along with usual word prediction features depending on the language and even 'mantra predictions' (auto-completing Hindi shlokas and mantras) and auto correct that is not limited to the English language. This feature is also present in Indus Messenger app that replaces the default SMS app on the smartphone.
The OS comes with preloaded apps like the 'App Bazaar', a regional take on the Google Play Store which prompts users to install apps using regular notifications. This is because first-time smartphone users are not familiar with what apps to use and they have a hard time figuring things around the operating system and quality apps to choose from.
They can be easily duped or confused into downloading fake or rogue apps that may use the same logo or description.
Other preloaded apps include NewsPoint, Gaana, Amazon India Shopping, Auto Call Recorder, Bubble Bash 3, Chillx, Dailyhunt, Fashin, FreeCharge, GAME STORE, OxigenWallet, miFon, QRCamera, UC Mini, Vdioplay, Vistoso. These apps try to cover all the basic functions that any user may require ranging from news, gaming, online shopping, digital transactions, download music, vidoes, call recording or phone tracking in case your smartphone is lost.
The performance of this smartphone is not stellar and it works just fine for light work. The device felt a bit sluggish while multi-tasking when I was actively switching between 4-5 apps with just half a second or one second delay for the system to resume the app states, was irritating.
The device scored 564 in Single core and 1455 in Multi-core benchmarks on Geekbench 4. Supreme+ also scored 12040 in the Quadrant benchmark, 29856 in the AnTutu Benchmark test and 3174 in the PCMark 'Work Performance 1.0' test. These scores point out at the weak performance displayed by the smartphone.
The device also started heating when I was using it in direct sunlight, charging or heavy gaming but because the device is made of plastic, the heat was never uncomfortable or out of control. It also cooled down rapidly after heating up. The audio and voice quality while calling was clear and without any echo.
Functions like Indus Swipe were a bit sluggish but that maybe because of the lack of powerful processor in the smartphone. One odd thing was that the home screen also took almost a second to load immediately after a reboot or boot.
The gaming experience was decent with some irritating lags sprinkled around the gameplay in Modern Warfare. Games like Asphalt 8 worked fine but the minor lag kicked in when I knocked out multiple cars in a row. Apart from that, it was all okay.
The camera quality of the smartphone was probably the most disappointing. Despite the camera software being relatively feature packed in comparison to the camera software bundled with other smartphones that I have tested in recent past, the quality of photos was extremely sad.
The photos shot in ample sunlight were dull and the details were washed out in highlights. You can check the photos in the Flickr photo gallery added below to check the camera performance for yourself.
The camera had a lot of issues with focusing in anything less than ideal lighting conditions. The low-light photos were not possible if you wanted to snap something quickly while walking. Despite stopping and waiting for the camera to properly focus, the images were a blurry and grainy mess lacking details.
Battery life is not impressive with Aqua Supreme+ achieving about 6 hours and 47 minutes. The device gave me about 6.5-7 hours on most days. The battery dropped to about 4.5-5 hours on weekends where I used the smartphone quite extensively with 40-50 minutes of gaming, 1-1.5 hour of YouTube streaming, emails and calls.
The more significant problem for me was the lack of quick charge and a microUSB 2.0 port. Even though lack to reversible USB Type-C port is not really important and I can ignore it for the price point, still quick charge is something essential for a smartphone in 2017. I can't wait for 2 hours and 35 minutes for the battery to be charged from 0 to 100 percent.
Verdict and Pricing in India
Intex Aqua Supreme+ is an ordinary smartphone with a stellar software offering for first-time smartphone users. However, even for the price of Rs 9,490, I can't recommend this smartphone because the competition offers better smartphones at similar price point. Unless you are sold on the regional Indus OS, which I believe there is a significant market for, you will find better alternatives in the Rs 9000 plus price range.
The bad quality of photos, somewhat laggy performance and unremarkable build quality are things that go against the smartphone. Instead of this, I would recommend potential buyers to go with Redmi Note 4, Redmi 3S Prime or Lenovo K6 Power for the better build quality, better photo quality and longer battery life.
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