Indian budget smartphone market is crowded with Android phones, both from international OEMs like Moto, Xiaomi, Asus and local manufacturers like Lava, Karbonn, Micromax and Intex. Ever since Motorola announced the Moto E in India with decent hardware and more importantly, running the latest Android 4.4 KitKat, we have seen plethora of Android KitKat based devices priced below $100. Intex Aqua Style is one such device.
Intex had previously launched a similarly named device back in 2013 which featured a 5.9-inch display. The new one has no discernible relation to the older model, but simply confuses people who have been following the offerings from Intex. The Aqua Style 4.0 competes with the likes of Xiaomi Redmi 1S, Motorola Moto E, Micromax Unite and Lava Iris X1. Does it have enough stuff to give a tough fight? We find out.
Design & Hardware
The Intex Aqua Style comes in a 4-inch form factor which is extremely easy to hold and work with one hand. Looking at the circular home key on the front, it’s obvious where the design inspiration has come from. The whole body is made of plastic with a silver faux chrome plastic running across the sides. The button placements are ideal and provide good tactile feedback. The plastic back is made of glossy plastic and is a fingerprint magnet. Thankfully, Intex is providing a matte finished back cover for free which has Nexus 4 like design and looks much better than the default back.
The back panel is removable and it houses a 1400mAh battery along with two SIM slots and a microSD slot for expandable memory. One of the SIM slot takes in a normal (mini) SIM, while the other requires a micro SIM card.
The 4-inch IPS LCD display offers WVGA 800×480 pixel resolution. The display looks bright and vibrant for most part and thanks to a small screen size, it looks sharp as well. Viewing angles are decent as well, but starts to lose colors on tilting.
The circular home key also acts as a LED notification but has just one color (white) at its disposal. The Aqua Style 4.0 is powered by a 1.3 GHz MT6582M Quad-core processor from Mediatek and has 1GB of RAM. It comes with just 4GB of inbuilt storage, which is further expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB).
Intex Aqua Style is running the near stock Android 4.4.2 KitKat. There are few additional built-in apps like Intex Zone which provides extra features like option to record calls automatically, battery charging info and birthday reminders. Other pre-loaded apps include Bookmyshow, Clik It, Backup & Restore, File Manager, Intex Games Club, MX Player, OLX, Real Football 2014, Saavn, WeChat, ToDo, Zapak and Xender. That’s a hell lot of bloatware for a phone which comes with just 4GB of internal storage. There’s just 1.75GB of space available for user out of the box, which is just ridiculous.
Thanks to KitKat, the phone feels smooth to navigate. The touch screen experience is very good. If you like stock Android, you will like the iconography and fonts on Intex Style Aqua as well. There’s an in-built Theme manager app which allows you to choose 1 of the 6 different themes which basically change the iconography and wallpaper.
On paper, Intex Aqua Style comes with a decent 5 MP rear camera with LED flash which isn’t too bad for a smartphone in this price range. The problem however is in its execution. The auto-focus hardly works and you will have a tough time if the lighting isn’t the best. Tap as much as you want, the camera will decide what it wants to focus and when. In bright sunlight though, it manages to click some decent pictures with good color reproduction.
The camera UI has modes like Panorama, HDR and Continuous shot and also lets you set the exposure level for an image, change the color effect, and even offer different scene modes. All these are great to have at your disposal, but only when the camera takes decent pictures in all lighting conditions. Sadly, camera is one of the weakest points of this device, much like the Moto E.
With a quad-core processor and 1GB RAM, Intex Aqua Style 4.0 performs pretty well in most scenarios. If you are a casual smartphone user who mostly use the browser, email, whatsapp and social media apps, you will be hard pressed to find anything not to like about this device. KiTkat ensures that the performance is smooth for running simple apps and games like Angry Birds, Subway Surfers etc.
But if you like to run graphics intensive games like Asphalt 8, Shadow Gun etc., then this phone is not for you. 1GB RAM and Mediatek CPU struggle to handle resource intensive games and apps. In comparison, Moto E, Redmi 1S and Asus Zenfone 4 perform much better. Call quality is decent and we didn’t experience any call drops as such.
The real issue is with 4GB of internal storage. Yes, you can expand the storage via microSD card, but with just 1.75GB of usable storage out of the box, you are bound to see “unable to install app due to lack of storage” errors, which is pretty much what we saw on Moto E as well.
The unique selling point of Intex Aqua Style is that it’s running the latest Android 4.4 KitKat, and sadly that’s about it. At 4-inches it’s nice to hold in hands, but the competition offers bigger and better screen at this price point. The camera is its weakest link. Performance is smooth in most parts, but starts to struggle when you have multiple apps open and/or running a resource intensive game. If this was early 2014, we’d have blindly recommended this phone, but at this point of time, there are much better alternatives like Redmi 1S, Asus Zenfone 4 and Moto E which offers more value for bucks you spend. Sadly, most of those phones have supply issues and aren;t available offline. That makes Intex Aqua Style a decent alternative at Rs.5999 (available for Rs.5500).