Smartron tphone P Price starts at Rs. 7,999.
Having met one of the founders of Smartron, it’s amply evident that this is a company run by technology enthusiasts and not bean counters. That also explains why it made the mistake of skipping right past the budget segment and positioning its maiden smartphone in the upper mid-range segment replete with a generation old flagship processor. The Smartron t.phone clearly was a mistake, but the company then delivered with a lot more sensibly priced srt.phone. The Indian smartphone and IoT expert, however, is decidedly more grounded for its third mobile outing and is going straight for Xiaomi’s jugular.
Design and Build Quality
Priced at ₹7999 the Smartron t.phone P competes directly with the wildly popular Redmi 4, albeit by offering similar hardware specifications as the Redmi 4 for a grand less, while also bumping up the battery capacity by almost as much at 5000mAh. On paper, the t.phone P sounds terrific, with a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 435 octa-core processor, 3GB RAM, and 32GB of internal storage that can be further expanded up to 128GB. Unlike the rather poorly built original t.phone, the third iteration has been put together quite well – that is, by the Chinese smartphone maker ZTE, who’s the manufacturing partner for Smartron. Not surprisingly, the ZTE Blade A6 shares its looks and most of its specs with the t.phone P.
That’s also why Smartron’s budget phone also feels solidly built, with a metal back design replete with plastic bits at each end for antenna separation. With a sturdy aluminium frame and a heft of 160 grammes thanks to the 5000mAh battery, this phone is solid enough to be used as a blunt weapon. The large battery also ensures that the phone isn’t slim either, clocking in at a thickness of 8.9mm. Nevertheless, the tastefully rounded corners and the 5.2-inch display with 2.5D glass ensures that the phone nestles comfortable in your hand.
The rest of the design is pretty straightforward with a headphone jack at the top edge and speaker grilles symmetrically flanking a micro-USB port. The left edge houses a hybrid dual-SIM slot, with the opposite edge holding a volume rocker on top of a nicely textured power button. At the rear you’ll find a fingerprint scanner that isn’t nearly a fast as the competition, but it’s at least placed intuitively within reach, with the 13-megapixel camera and single LED flash modules situated at the top-left corner. The front has a 3-megapixel snapper and status LED on opposite sides of the top edge, with the bottom edge housing backlit capacitive buttons for Home, Back, and Recents functions.
To be brutally honest, the 5.2-inch LCD display sports a resolution of 720x1280 pixels and is pretty cheap even when you consider the t.phone P’s budget underpinnings. The LCD panel isn’t sufficiently bright, which leads to poor sunlight legibility. Viewing angles are narrow, with some serious colour and gamma shift evident even with minor deviation from the sweet spot. Colour saturation is equally mediocre. The Redmi 4’s display, for that matter, looks significantly better when viewed side-by-side with the t.phone P.
The device’s 13-megapixel camera doesn’t fare any better, but that hardly comes as a surprise as Smartron’s camera game has traditionally been weak. Despite the presence of phase-detection autofocus, the camera takes way too long to focus and acquire a shot. The worst part is that the entire shot is ruined if you jump the gun and tap the shutter button before the camera has taken its sweet time to attain focus. The white balance and exposure seem to be slightly off for daylight shots, which lead to artificial and inaccurate shots that tend to look overexposed.
Things are a lot better indoors, though. The snaps are also devoid of much detail compared to its competition such as the Redmi 4. Night shots might not have sufficient detail, but the noise levels are kept competently low. However, it’s even harder for the phone to focus in low light, so you need steady hands to snap a blur-free photograph. The 5-megapixel front camera is par for the course for budget phones, which means its firmly lodged in the mediocre territory. However, the beauty modes, front LED flash, and wide selfie feature that stitches three snaps together come in handy to improve things by a bit.
Unfortunately, this is as good as the Smartron t.phone P gets and it’s all downhill from here. Despite four ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz and another four at 1.1GHz, all backed by healthy 3GB of RAM, the real world performance of the t.phone P leaves a lot to be desired. Navigating through the UI was marred by stuttering animations and ample lag evident when switching between and launching apps. Mind you, this isn’t and indictment of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chipset, because the exact same SoC goes through the UI and app in a buttery smooth fashion in the Xiaomi Redmi 4. This dismal performance showing is down to Smartron’s lack of software optimization, which is ironic since the phone’s UI is closer to stock Android with a few minor tweaks.
The synthetic benchmarks too confirm this performance gap, pegging the Smartron t.phone P’s single and multi-core performance at 475 and 1337 points, which is roughly half of the average scores recorded by the Xiaomi Redmi 4 equipped with the same Qualcomm chipset. The t.phone P also recorded a poor AnTuTu benchmark score of 38,570 points, which is a far cry from the Redmi 4’s 57,621 points. Heavy videogames such as Asphalt 8: Airborne and Modern Combat 5 were marred by low framerates, with demanding apps such as Facebook and Instagram too showing signs of excessive lag. In fact, the overall sluggishness being evident even while navigating the UI and through the touch response as well. We had found the same optimization issues despite the then flagship-grade specifications of the first t.phone, and history seems to have repeated itself with the t.phone P. We hope Smartron is able to fix these glaring issues through a future update.
Reception and call quality was another major bugbear with the Smartron, with both my Airtel and Vodafone connections frequently dropping calls and messing up call quality to the extent that it was quite difficult to hold a telephonic conversation. While, both carriers tend have some call quality issues all over Hyderabad, this cannot be blamed solely on Airtel or Vodafone since the problem was resolved the moment I switched to the Redmi 4 and OnePlus 5T. What’s more, the proximity sensor on the t.phone P doesn’t work as intended and keeps waking the display up even when its stuck your head during calls. This leads to inadvertent touchscreen inputs, which more often than not, puts the phone in the airplane mode.
The t.phone P’s massive 5000mAh battery is both a blessing and a curse. While it’s a monstrosity that can charge other devices connected to it through and USB OTG cable, the 10-watt bundled charger needs a whopping 90 minutes to charge the battery to 50 percent. It takes more than three hours to charge the battery completely. What’s more, even with mediocre usage, I could only eke out 8 hours of screen-on time spread over one and a half day, with moderate gaming and 4G usage bringing it down further.
To put this into perspective, the Redmi 4 delivers better battery backup despite its 4100mAh battery and similar hardware specifications. The original Xiaomi Mi Max, on the other hand, could manage more than 10 hours of screen-on-time with is 4850mAh battery despite running a power-hungry chipset. Again, the t.phone P’s lack of optimization is the reason behind its poor battery performance.
It’s not hard to see why it’s hard to recommend the Smartron t.phone P over the Redmi 4 3GB/32GB version, although the Smartron is cheaper by a grand at ₹7999. In fact, you can actually save a grand over the Smartron if you go for the cheaper 2GB/16GB variant of the Redmi 4 (₹6999), because it will still be faster. The lack of optimisation pretty much prevents the t.phone P from attaining its true potential, not only by rendering the performance sluggish, but by also reducing battery backup. Until Smartron manages to fix the optimisation gremlins through a future software update, it just doesn’t make sense to choose it over the vastly superior Xaiomi Redmi 4.
|Display Type||IPS LCD|
|Size (in inches)||5.2|
|Pixel Density||296 pixels per inch (ppi)|
|Color Reproduction||16M Colors|
|Screen to body percentage||71.4 %|
|Operating System||Android OS, v7.1.1 (Nougat)|
|Wi-Fi||Yes with hotspot|
|Voice Over LTE (VoLTE)||Yes|
|SIM Configuration||Dual SIM|
|No of Cores||8 (Octa Core)|