Last year, when Smartron was launched, backed by Sachin Tendulkar, we didn’t give it much of a thought. But then, we got a chance to try out the Smartron t.Book and we had an interaction with the Smartron family and we understood that we finally have an ‘Indian’ brand that can start a revolution. We used the Smartron t.Phone and we saw the immense potential that the design team has. Then we got to use the srt.phone for a long time, long long time. In fact, we go the phone back in July. If you want to read the review of the phone, head to this post. In this post though, we talk about how the phone is as a proper daily driver. This is the long-term review of the Smartron srt.phone.
Performance and Software
Smartron srt.phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 652, a highly capable chipset and it shows! Where other sub 15k phones start showing lag after using for two or three months, the srt.phone showed no signs of lag at all. There were few instances where apps crashes (very very few) and that happens on my Samsung Galaxy S7 too. Clean and stock Android 7.1.1 Nougat also plays a major part in keeping the phone snappy. Game load time has been reasonable throughout and gameplay has been smooth.
Here are few benchmarks if you want to see synthetic benchmarks
I only used the phone as a daily driver for few weeks and then gave it to my mom as she is more of an ideal user than myself. Earlier, my mother was using a Redmi 1S. Initially, she used to say that the 1S was better as it had better fit. Given that the 1S was nearing EOL (s/w issues, crashes and heating up), I wanted her to try a phone with 5.5″ display. Once she got used to the srt phone, there was no turning back. As she reads a bit (Facebook, Andhra Jyothi magazines) and plays few games like Candy Crush, the extra real estate was definitely helpful. The phone never overheats, the loudspeaker is loud enough and the signal reception has been solid. There is 64GB of storage onboard and that is more than enough for my mom’s requirement. She likes taking photos of her grandkids and she creates collages and photo books. The extra real estate helps again as the bigger display helps her create better photo books.
Once the phone is fully charged, for her usage, it would last a day or more. The best part is that, with bundled charger, the phone battery chargers at a rapid pace. It helps a lot when she has to make a couple of calls or go out and the battery is low. Sit for 10-15 minutes and the phone will not turn off for a couple of hours. One problem though is that USB Type-C is not widely used so when she goes to hometown, she has to carry the bundled USB cable and charger.
There were a couple of software updates that came in regularly. Few improved camera quality, few improved stability. We are not sure if there will be Oreo update. As of now, Nougat works pretty well.
Build quality and ergonomics
Given the price point, the build quality is above average. The srt.phone comes with a plastic body with changeable back covers. The plastic body is better to grip when compared to the smooth metal body that competing phones come with. I disabled physical navigation keys and enabled onscreen navigation as it lets her hold the phone using bottom bezel and when in landscape mode, she can hold the phone using top and bottom bezels. One big headache though is the power key placement. If you think that Galaxy S8 fingerprint placement is bad, you should try the power key.
There is a workaround though, as the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor placement is good and long press on the sensor can lock the phone. The sensor is as fast (as expected) as this generation fingerprint sensors. There was no problem whatsoever with all physical buttons.
This is the Achilles Heel of srt.phone. Actually, its bigger than Achilles Heel. Even though there were few updates that improved camera performance, the quality of photos is average at best. The low light performance is bad though. The problem is not with the sensor, it is with post-processing. We do hope that the future updates fixes the issues.
Should you buy it?
Absolutely! Performance of this phone is flawless! The phone does not crash or overheat. Battery backup is good enough for normal usage. Quick Charge 2.0 helps battery to charge at rapid pace. You may say that other brands are well set and established. Yes, Smartron is a new player in Indian smartphone market but these guys are far better than the ‘me too’ bunch of Indian smartphone brands and these guys can take the fight to the Chinese. Give them a chance by buying their products and we may get to see an Indian smartphone maker on the global stage. You may have doubts about phone’s reliability and performance. The unit that we are using had no issues in half a year and the phone is faster than Moto G5 Plus that costs more.
There will be questions regarding service and support. We never had the need to go to service centre and we will try to do a mock visit to Bangalore service centre soon. I liked the phone so much that I am soon going to buy a retail unit for my mother. After all, nothing pleases me better than buying a truly Indian smartphone. Priced at 9,999 INR (Amazon price), the Smartron srt.phone is perfect for the majority of Indians (well except those for whom a smartphone is a camera first and foremost) and it is solid value for money offering. At this price point, there is no competition.