Domestic information technology (IT) start-up Smartron, which counts Indian cricket legend Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and former Motorola Mobility Chief Executive Sanjay Jha among its investors, recently launched the srt.phone smartphone, “inspired by the dependable traits of Tendulkar”.
At the launch of srt.phone, the company claimed that the smartphone used the best antennas and other security features that made it an all-rounder. Indeed, Smartron has pleased investors with its manoeuvres to deliver solutions ranging from internet of things (IoT) to smartphones built specifically for Indian consumers. But how does the srt.phone fare against the claims of dependability and the inspiration it apparently draws from one of the tallest role models for India in recent times?
To find out, Business Standard took the device for a spin and tested its real-life performance. Here is an in-depth review of the srt.phone:
Watch the hands-on review here
The srt.phone offers a no-frills design, with rounded edges and curved sides. The smartphone might look appealing, but its polycarbonate built with metallic finish seems to somewhat spoil the experience. The plastic built is not loose or creaky – it fits perfectly on all sides and the matte touch adds to the aesthetics – but the pseudo metallic look was not necessary; it is way too prominent even at the first glance.
The front of the srt.phone is dominated by a 5.5-inch full-HD display protected with Gorilla Glass 3. There are three capacitive keys below the display, but these are without any sign or icon, just three flat dots. These dots acts are the home button and navigation keys. The earpiece along with sensors are placed neatly on the top, next to the front camera.
The fingerprint scanner is placed in the centre-top on the rear of the smartphone. The primary camera is placed on top left at the back, along with LED flash and microphone. The camera sits nicely within the frame and there is almost no bulge around the camera frame. Its orange antenna line seems to lift the otherwise regular looks of the device. The back cover, which needs to be removed for access to the SIM card slot, is another loose point in the overall design of the device.
The speaker is placed at the bottom, along with the primary microphone. There is a USB type-C port at the centre, with grills on each side. While one set of grills covers the bottom firing speaker, the other carries the primary microphone.
One thing that caught our attention while using the srt.phone is the placement of the power key. While the volume rockers are on the right side of the device, the power key-cum-screen locker is moved to the top of the device. The placement of the power key makes locking/unlocking the device rather inconvenient.
The srt.phone boast a 5.5-inch IPS full-HD screen, protected with Gorilla Glass 3. The screen is bright and crisp but fails to render vivid colours.
For an IPS unit, the screen does not do justice to the colours, contrast ration and side-viewing angles, as the colours look washed out and the blacks are not deep enough. The only factor where the screen seems to perform very well is the sunlight legibility. The screen boosts the brightness to make it perfectly readable under direct sunlight.
Hardware and Software
The smartphone offers the best hardware combination in its league. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, an octa-core SoC running at a maximum frequency of 1.8 GHz. And, it also has a 64 GB internal memory and 4 GB RAM.
The hardware’s prowess is evident while using the device; the smartphone runs without any hiccups or lag and feels smooth.
The real superiority of the hardware is seen in the way it complements the software. The srt.phone boots Android Nougat v7.1.1 out of the box, which runs smooth and keeps the device in an optimal working condition. While the operating system is almost stock, some installed bloatware actually adds to the overall utility of the smartphone. The device features tronx launcher, which changes the icons and adds services like tstore, tcloud, tcare and forum.
The tstore is Smartron’s online store, where you can purchase smartphones and accessories. The tcare allows easy access to customer care at any time and forum is where you can go and check what people are discussing. Most important among all these services is tcloud, which offers an unlimited cloud storage to srt.phone users. While you cannot enhance the internal storage, which is fixed at 64 GB, the online cloud-based storage to save data is a good option.
Another important addition to the software is the Microsoft Office Suite, which offers access to Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
Camera is one department where the srt.phone lags miserably. The smartphone sports a 13-megapixel (MP) rear camera with bright f/2.0 aperture and LED flash. The camera fails to capture optimal details in the shot and struggles to find the right exposure. The camera algorithms might need some rework and a future update to fix the issue.
The 5 MP selfie camera at the front also fails the test. The camera needs very steady hands for clicking decent selfies; even the slightest movement causes ‘ghosting’ effects in the picture.
The srt.phone sports a 3,000 mAh battery that requires refills quite frequently. This is worrisome, as we have seen smartphones with bigger display and powerful innards running smoothly on 3,000 mAh and still offering exceptional battery life. But srt.phone fails to keep battery juices for long and asks for recharge more often.
The phone stays up for a full day only if you use it for voice calls and messaging. Once you start using the device for games, internet and social media, the phone runs out of battery in a little more than half a day.
The srt.phone in its present form is marred by software glitches. Imaging capabilities, battery life and screen colours are a few things that should be addressed with software optimisation, and we hope Smartron will push software updates for these. The issues seriously dent the overall device performance, despite powerful innards.
At Rs 13,999, the srt.phone is not really a deal, unless you are an avid fan of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar.