Back in 2010, Apple’s iPhone 4 did wonders for smartphone design. It was a Rolls-Royce in a sea of me-too Hyundai’s. Even today, the design of the iPhone 4 can be considered the nicest seen on a phone. However, what happens after 5 years? Of course, Apple moved on. But it did “inspire” a legion of manufacturers. A latest example is Indian smartphone vendor Micromax, which admittedly is not known for its design finesse, but has come up with a phone that looks almost like an iPhone, has decent specifications, and costs under Rs 15,000.This phone is the Canvas Hue AQ5000. While it undoubtedly has good looks and decent hardware, at least in terms of specification sheet, it also faces formidable competition. So is it any good? Let’s find out.Design and build qualityAs we have already mentioned, the Canvas Hue is going to remind you a lot of the iPhone 4 or 4S. It sports a similar design, which combines glass on two sides, a metal frame subtly curved on edges and a classic candy-bar shape. Even the camera is placed on the top left corner with an LED flash almost exactly like the iPhone 4. The only major difference between the iPhone 4 and the Canvas Hue in terms of design is the presence of Android capacitive buttons instead of the usual Home button found in the iPhone. There is no doubt that the Canvas Hue is a looker. But the design is not original. Moreover, the fit and finish of the product cannot be compared to an iPhone 4. They are just not in the same league. For instance, the metal frame is painted in gold. Finish of the paint is not great and it looks cheap.advertisementFor the price segment, the Canvas Hue offers acceptable build quality. But then it is not something that you can’t get in other phones in the same price range. For example, phones like the Mi 3 (which unfortunately is not available for sale anymore) and the Moto G offer better build quality.The phone also appears to be thicker than most phones in the segment, though cleverly Micromax has not revealed its dimensions and weight.As was the case with the iPhone 4, ergonomics are not exactly great with Canvas Hue. If anything, they are poorer thanks to the larger 5-inch screen on it as compared to the 3.5-inch display of the iPhone. As the phone has straight lines on the sides and is flat on the back, holding the phone over long periods can be cumbersome. One-handed use is possible, but it is not without risk, as the glass back on the phone makes for a slippery grip and chances are you will drop the phone. We dropped it once; thankfully, the glass on the back did not shatter. It was merely scratched.We had a bone to pick with the volume and power rockers, which we found to be flush against the body of the phone, and were a little difficult to use. Lastly, the process of adding the SIM card is convoluted and we feel most people will struggle installing a SIM card on their own. You have to pry open the back of the phone in an awkward way. This also means the phone gives out the illusion of having an unibody design, but in reality its back cover can be removed. DisplayThe 5-inch AMOLED display is the star of the show on the Canvas Hue. It has a decent 720p resolution, which converts to 293 pixels per inch, but the real story is the quality of the panel itself.The colour and contrast reproduction of the display is superb. Of course, as it is an AMOLED display, the colours are very punchy and vibrant. They do not look true to life, but they do please the eye.Even the brightness levels and viewing angles of the display are good. Even outdoors, the display is usable for getting work done. Typically AMOLED displays struggle under direct sunlight, however, the Canvas Hue fares better.CameraOf late, Micromax has been putting an extra effort in the imaging capabilities of its smartphones. The 8-megapixel camera on the Canvas Hue is by no means a prop. In proper lightning, the phone can take nice photos with decent amount of detail. But by no means, the image quality rival that of the now defunct Xiaomi Mi 3. In fact, it even trails what the Asus ZenFone, the Xiaomi RedMi Note 4G or the Yu Yureka are capable of.The big problem is in day light as the phone struggles to deal with strong sunlight. It totally blows out areas of the frame that have lots of sunlight.advertisementAs for colour reproduction and contrast, the phone does a good job of keeping things natural. The phone also does well at macro shots.The bigger problem is the slow focusing. This means that there will be many times you will be trying to capture a moving object and you will fail to get a decent photo.In low-light the performance is poor. That being true, sometimes we managed usable shots that were decently lit, not blurred and had good colour and contrast ratios.The phone’s software offers a lot of control to the user and combines a multitude of modes like exposure, colour effect, scenes, and white balance. Users can also enable zero shutter lag and there’s a decent HDR mode to boot.The front facing 2-megapixel camera is useful for selfies and the odd video call. However, the image quality is very disappointing. It also struggles to lock focus consistently.The phone shoots only 720p video. Generally, the quality of videos is inconsistent and it struggles to automatically adjust focus with movement. On many occasions we found the audio captured along with video was garbled.Check the following image samples to get an idea of Micromax Canvas Hue Camera performance: Sample 1, Sample 2, Sample 3, Sample 4, Sample 5, Sample 6, Sample 7, Sample 8. SoftwareOne of the most unique things about the Canvas Hue is the fact that it is a vessel for Micromax’s new user interface. The new UI is similar to Android skins we have seen on phones by Chinese manufacturers as there is no dedicated app drawer, but just an iPhone like springboard that is home of apps and widgets. Like most phones, it runs on Android 4.4 KitKat; however, the heavy customization to Android may result in slow OS updates.Like the MiUI on Xiaomi phones, Micromax’s UI has provisions for themes. At the time of testing there were a handful of themes.In use, this UI is simple to use, however it feels slow in operation. When replaced with something like the Google Now launcher, the phone felt vastly more responsive. So dear Micromax, “Thanks, but no thanks”.The phone also comes with a number of preloaded apps. Some apps like a SwiftKey keyboard, TrueCaller and Skype are regular stables on any Android phone. However, things like Where’s My Perry, Dr Safety, Hitout Hero’s, Grow Away and a bunch of M! branded apps just ruin the experience by being wasteful and non-removable additions.PerformanceIn terms of hardware, the Canvas Hue is a rather ‘run of the mill’ Android smartphone. It is powered by quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor. It runs at 1.3GHz SoC. The phone has 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory, and a microSD card slot. For basic tasks like messaging, making calls, emails, and a bit of productivity, the phone is fine. It is just not a fast phone by any metric. In fact, cheaper Android One phones feel faster than it. Installing Google Now launcher improves the performance. But even with a new launcher the Hue can’t match the Moto G (2nd gen), the Asus ZenFone 5 or the Xiaomi Mi 3. Compared to these devices, the Canvas Hue feels inferior.advertisementThe story is the same while gaming. When we tested graphically intensive games like the Dead Trigger 2, and Asphalt 8, the phone showed signs of frame rate drops. Not that other phones do not suffer from frame rates issues, but the Canvas Hue suffered from these problems more often. The call quality of the phone was not outstanding, but it got the job done. Rarely did we face dropped calls. We tested the phone on a Vodafone network in Delhi NCR. In addition to this, the quality of the loudspeaker was average at best, and at times when we pumped metal music at max levels, the sound quality degraded and was distorted.Battery life While the display of the Canvas Hue impresses a lot, its biggest calling card is its mammoth 3,000mAh battery. In the week we tested the phone, on an average, the phone lasted between 20-22 hours. This is solid performance for something that costs below Rs 15,000. At times, the phone lasted a day and a half on a single charge with frugal usage and the super power mode enabled.The phone lasted 4 hours and 55 minutes on the PC Mark’s battery benchmark, which is not stellar, but in regular usage, the performance of the phone was certainly better. Perhaps, this is one area where the lack of a powerful processor helps the Canvas Hue over phones like the Asus ZenFone, the Xiaomi Mi 3, and the Moto G.Our usage consisted of 2 hours of calls, 45 minutes of music streaming, two social media accounts, two email accounts, a bit of gaming, 15-20 photos shot on a daily basis and streaming videos from YouTube.Should you buy it?There are multiple ways to look at the Canvas Hue. It can be seen either as an attractive low-cost phone or an iPhone doppelganger or perhaps as an underpowered phone for its price. The underpowered bit is the most pertinent of the lot.While, the Canvas Hue is a handsome, yet unoriginal phone, there is no escaping from its limitations as a smartphone. Micromax’s software customizations make matters worse and it certainly feels inferior to phones like the discontinued Mi 3, the cheaper ZenFones and the Moto G.If you are going to spend Rs 10,999 on your next smartphone, you can do a lot better than the Canvas Hue. In fact, if you want to buy a Micromax phone, get the company’s Yureka. It is cheaper and much better.