Overview
Introduction
Design
Display
Hardware
Software and apps
Camera
Audio and video
Performance
Battery life
Conclusion
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Lava Pixel V1 Review

This second attempt by Android One, leaves a sour after-taste
By Samir Makwana on 2015-09-03
Key Features
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • 5.5-inch HD display
  • 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 2GB of RAM
What we like
  • Smooth stock Android experience
  • Decent gaming experience
  • Good audio output
What we don't like
  • Washed out display
  • Underwhelming camera 
  • Average battery life
6.9
Our Score
Introduction

Ten months ago, Google launched an ambitious Android One program, under which stock Android would be available to affordable devices in emerging markets. Additionally, the devices running Android One would get priority software updates for two years as well. Having made its entry into the entry-level segment last year, the Android One program is slowly making its way to the mid-range segment, starting off with the Lava Pixel V1. 

The Lava Pixel V1 was the first smartphone that was announced as a part of Android One 2015 program, priced surprisingly at Rs.11,349. The Pixel V1 is a large screen smartphone (also known as a phablet), which competes with the likes of Lenovo K3 Note, YU Yureka Plus and the newly launched Motorola Moto G (3rd Generation). 

For the Pixel V1, Lava Mobiles worked closely with Google engineers to decide on the hardware that would go into it. We grabbed a unit of this device as soon as it was available on Flipkart to see how it fares in real-world usage. Here’s our account of using the Lava Pixel V1.

Design
7

Lava Pixel V1 Review - Design
The Lava Pixel V1 is a phablet with a tall and wide profile. Therefore, it can get slightly to use this device single-handedly, unless you have a big hands. The device boasts of approximate 76 percent screen-to-body ratio and measures 8.5mm thick and weighs 135g. Bearing a glossy metallic frame, this phablet is available in the widely used silver and white combination. With white bezels at the front side, the Pixel V1 looks a bit different than most other phablets. 

At the top on the front, the device has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, an earpiece, and a proximity sensor. At the back is a protruding 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash under it. Lava and Android One logos are printed in small grey font at the back. Under the Android One logo is the speaker mesh. The micro-USB port and the audio port are situated at the top, while the power key and the volume rocker keys rest on the right side of the frame. The left side is totally free. Removing the back panel gives access to the twin SIM slots, a dedicated microSD card slot and a removable battery. Overall, although the phone is slightly on the wider side, it still feels good in hand. However, single-handed usage is still likely to be cumbersome.

Display
6

For the Pixel V1, Lava uses a 5.5-inch IPS display that comes with full lamination properties and is made using Asahi DragonTrail Glass. By default, the display supports a resolution of 720x1280 pixel, which translates to a pixel density of 267 PPI (Pixels Per Inch). This display has been one of the key changes to be made in an Android One device, however, we felt that it did fall short of our expectations. Even though it was quite bright, it appeared washed out. Moreover, the blues looked dull. Legibility of the display in sunlight was very average, so you will have to max out the brightness in order to view the screen comfortably. 
Lava Pixel V1 Review - Display

Hardware
7

Lava packs a quad-core MediaTek MT6782 mobile chipset clocked at 1.3GHz along with an integrated Mali-400MP mobile chipset and 2GB of RAM. By default, the phone offers 32GB of built-in storage space, which is a huge leap from the 4GB or 8GB of data that these devices would usually bear. A memory card slot allows up to 32GB using a microSD card. Besides this, the Pixel V1 also supports the USB OTG (On the Go) function, but the dongle needs to be bought separately.

Lava Pixel V1 Review - Hardware
At the rear is the 8-megapixel camera which has been interpolated to shoot 13-megapixel quality images. The optics comprise of a 5P Largan lens and a blue filter to deliver great quality images. Capturing images in the 1.4 micron pixel size, the camera is also capable of shooting wider angle images thanks to the F/2.0 aperture. An LED flash sits just below the camera to aid during low light conditions. In the front is a 5-megapixel camera enhanced to shoot 8-megapixel images. 

This Dual SIM smartphone, that supports two Micro SIM modules, doesn’t offer support for 4G LTE network in India which surprised us, considering the fact that Google had planned to make this network available to the masses. Therefore, in terms of specifications, this phone offers a decent package of hardware, but barely anything to get excited about.

Software and apps
9

When it comes to Android One devices, the software is entirely Google’s ball game. The device delivers the promise of providing stock Android experience. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop smoothly without any lag or hiccup. A pretty standard set of Android features have been included alongside the usual bunch of Google Mobile Services. Apps such as Myntra and Flipkart are the only third-party preloaded apps on this system.

As always, Google avoids bundling a decent file explorer app for file management. Though the overall experience is fluid, some popular features are missing from this implementation. For instance, the ‘Double-tap to wake up’ feature which exists in almost every smartphone, does not feature on the Pixel V1, but is being launched this year. The Android 5.1 Lollipop, otherwise, is without any frills and simply a bliss to use on this device.

Camera
6

Google has formally axed the Gallery and is now promoting its own Photos app as the main app to view and edit images. The 8-megapixel rear camera makes use of software interpolation to shoot 13-megapixel images. The camera shoots images in 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel in 4:3 aspect ratio, while the 10-megapixel and 8-megapixel images are saved in 16:9 aspect ratio. Since the camera uses Google’s native camera app, it brings the usual set of features and capability to shoot in HDR mode. Images captured using the camera are decent enough to be shared over social networks. However, images also contain ample amount of visible noise.

Lava Pixel V1 Review - Camera

The imaging experience is marred by the super slow auto-focus and the slow capture. The images captured on the front-facing camera are terrible, and require some edits and filters, in case you want to share them over social networks. The primary camera can be used to record 1080p HD videos, but then again the slow autofocus makes it difficult to keep the subject in focus. It is fine if you have to upload videos to Vine or Instagram, but you cannot expect anything more. The front facing camera can be used to capture HD videos. Ultimately, while neither of the cameras work exceptionally, even with the software interpolation, the results are quite underwhelming. 

Audio and video
6

While Google Music comes in handy as a native music player, the lack of a decent video player is likely to irk many Indians who love to watch TV shows and movies on their phone. However, the phone still plays decent variety of audio-video file formats. In terms of video, although it manages to play Full HD videos, we recommend that you play HD videos so that battery life isn’t comprised. The absence of a dedicated sound equalizer and a video player is gravely felt.

Lava Pixel V1 Review - Audio and Video

Performance
7

In terms of real world usage, the Pixel V1 does just about fine. The stock Android experience is spiffy at its best and that’s just about it. We did not experience any kind of heating issues. In fact, graphic-intensive games such as Asphalt 8 and Godfire ran without any issues or lag. We did, however, face a minor lag while playing the Asphalt 8 at the highest graphic settings. As per the 3DMark benchmark test, the phone managed to score 1882, which was quite low for a device with such a price tag. For web browsing, Vellamo’s browser benchmark recorded the phone’s score at 1671 which thereby means that this phone was only quite average while using mobile internet. AnTuTu benchmark recorded a score of 19635 which slots it just below the Xiaomi Mi 2 and therefore wasn’t up to the mark.

Lava Pixel V1 Review - Performance

The call quality of the phone is strictly average with the person on the opposite side of the phone hearing us just fine. While the earpiece was loud enough, the proximity sensor would act up at times and keep the display on. When the phone has to be woken up from sleep mode, it takes a while to unlock and display the screen. All in all, we felt that the overall performance of the Pixel V1 was just slightly above average, so do not expect anything phenomenal from it.

Battery life
7

For a Dual SIM smartphone, the 2,650mAh battery is ideal to provide a decent battery life. On moderate usage comprising of voice calls that lasted up to an hour, playing videos for up to 30 minutes, web-browsing, messaging, using social network apps and listening to music, the phone barely managed to run for a day. There is no built-in power conservation mode to kick-in whenever battery reaches a certain percentage. Moreover, it takes more than 2 hours and 10 minutes for a complete charge from 0 to 100 percent.

Lava Pixel V1 Review - Battery life

Conclusion

Lava Pixel V1 is Google’s second attempt at delivering stock Android experience on standard hardware. While the vanilla hardware continues to be fluid, the hardware raises a lot of concerns. For somebody who is just interested in a cleaner and leaner mobile OS experience, the Pixel V1 could be one of the best options out there. However, the lack of a good camera app, popular features and an average battery life are what make us think twice about this device. When compared to device such as Lenovo K3 Note and Meizu M2 Note which is being offered at Rs 9999, the Pixel V1 still has a lot of ground to cover. The Pixel V1 shows potential to be a great entry-level device, however, it is only when slotted again bigger brands such as K3 Note and M2 Note that it pales in comparison.

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