Flipkart-offshoot Billion’s maiden attempt at making a smartphone tailored to the online Indian customer is commendable, but left me asking for more. The phone ticks all the boxes, but it’s just not the best out there.
Flipkart Billion Capture Plus 4GB Rating
The Billion Capture+ is a dependable mid-range phone, but can be easily passed over for a popular option as it gives nothing more than what everyone already does. The mid-range segment is hot with cutthroat competition and it all boils down to who offers the best value for money. This is where the Billion Capture+ fails to capture the essence of the “billions” of customers it aims for – A well-rounded, reliable smartphone.
- Affordable price
- Decent image quality
- Clunky, uninspiring design
Flipkart Billion Capture Plus 4GB: Detailed Review
The Billion Capture+ comes in at interesting times. Xiaomi just became the most popular phone maker in the country, at par with Samsung, in terms of market share. We witnessed the resurgence of Nokia. Stock Android and dual cameras became more common across price points and there is an ongoing migration towards bezel-less and 18:9 displays.
In a segment where phones win or lose based on compromises made, Flipkart’s Billion Capture+ offers a lot. A full HD display, the year’s most popular mid-range processor and dual cameras. The Capture+, which is the first smartphone to come out of the stables of Flipkart’s private label is key to the company’s ongoing pivot towards making consumer electronics. At its core is Flipkart’s understanding of what the customer wants out of a phone. The Capture+ apparently is made after analysing customer reviews on Flipkart. So ideally, this phone should be the master of all trades, jack of none.
In the face of such cutthroat competition, the Capture+ does tick off all the boxes which is standard across offerings from most phone makers, including Xiaomi, Motorola, Lenovo and more, at a budget price of Rs 12,999. However, while Chinese incumbents like Lenovo and Motorola have mastered the Android experience, tailoring the hardware and the software to sing in harmony, Billion’s Capture+ still has a long way to go.
As I stated earlier, at the budget segment, it all boils down to how less are companies willing to compromise. Does the Billion Capture+ offer everything a customer wants out of a phone within a budget? At what cost?
Design and Build: Reliable but uninspiring
Once you take the Billion Capture+ and cradle it in your palms, you will know how the money was saved. While on paper, the Capture+ offers everything you can ask from a phone at this price, the quality of the offerings isn’t very high. The very first giveaway is the milled aluminium body fitted with a plastic back panel. Flipkart’s advertising doesn’t mention the plastic build. But having said that, the build quality of the phone looks solid. At 176 grams, it is quite hefty which adds to the grip and at 8.5mm, it is by no means, thin. The back is curved around the edges while the corners are rounded, and the phone rests sturdily in your palms. The fingerprint sensor is also mounted on the upper central column of the back where the finger can easily reach. The volume rockers and power button are located where they usually are and for a right-handed user, all the buttons can be easily accessed by the thumb without having to move the phone up or down.
All this proves the Billion Capture+ is a reliable phone built to work from the get go. But what it’s missing is a little inspiration. It may be argued that the design of Flipkart’s debut phone is clunky, basic and ends up being a me-too in the face of competition. And that’s understandable, because by their own admission, Flipkart took inputs from users and made a phone that addresses almost everything the users want. Yet, considering almost everything about the Billion Capture+ is identical to Xiaomi’s Mi A1 (review), which we have rated as the best performing budget smartphone, Flipkart’s choice of design and using cheaper materials could make users pass it over for the Mi A1.
Display: Nothing dazzling
The Billion Capture+ houses a 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel of 1080×1920 pixels resolution and 401 ppi pixel density. Smartphone enthusiasts will immediately tell you that’s the average display quality expected in this range and there is nothing that really dazzles here. It is 2017 now and phones have started to shave off the bezels around the sides of the display as well as adopt a taller 18:9 aspect ratio that provides more screen real estate to multi-task and watch videos more immersively. The Flipkart Billion Capture+ however, sticks to the 16:9 display that was common last year.
With phones like LG Q6 and even the Micromax Infinity in the market, it will be hard to pick up the Billion Capture+ over the others, not only because it fails to follow the latest trend, but also the display itself doesn’t come off to be that good. The screen has a lot of glare and poor sunlight legibility. That’s mainly because the display reaches a maximum luminance of 454 lux which isn’t that high. The colours are not as punchy as one would expect from an AMOLED panel, but for the price, it just about does its job and leaves you asking for more.
Camera: Two doesn’t always tango
The rear camera on the Capture+ is the phone’s marquee feature with most of the branding hyping the phone’s imaging prowess. Flipkart saw dual cameras on phones grow by a whopping 123 percent in the first half of 2017. Starting from the Honor 6X, dual cameras increasingly started trickling down to the budget range and the Billion Capture+ is no exception. The phone features a stack of two 13-megapixel cameras on the back with f/2.0 aperture. The primary sensor shoots in RGB while the secondary sensor takes in monochrome data. The phone relies on the Snapdragon 625’s Spectra ISP to process the data from the two sensors to offer images that are sharply detailed and well-lit, of course under optimal circumstances. The Billion Capture+ doesn’t offer best in class images, but it’s reliable at the least, if not a bit unpredictable.
Shot using the portrait mode
Flipkart’s application of the portrait mode is a combination of hardware and software, but mostly software. The phone leverages the two cameras on the back to acquire depth information and then uses software to blur the edges. The application, as you will see in the sample shot is not perfect. The edges around the subject are blurred non-uniformly. Moreover, the blur itself looks quite artificial and the resulting image looks like it was Photoshopped. The photo itself takes an awfully long time to get processed. We have seen better application of the portrait mode, especially from the Stereo Mode in the Xiaomi Mi A1. However, the portrait mode here is not restricted by poor lighting and neither does it crop the image while taking a portrait shot.
Unlike the OnePlus 5 or the Mi A1, the secondary camera on the Capture+ doesn’t have a telephoto lens. As a result, the phone does not have the 2X optical zoom which is one of Mi A1’s USPs. If you have to take a closeup shot of a subject, you have to zoom in digitally, which basically crops the frame, resulting in loss of detail, which is standard across all phones that zooms into photos digitally as loss of detail is imminent.
Closeup shot taken in daylight (left); 100% Crop of the photo (right)
The camera on the Capture+ however performs like the ones on any other good budget smartphones provided the light is optimal. Under natural sunlight, the photos come out sharp and well-detailed. The colours are faithful to the original scene and the white balance is quite accurate. The Capture+ handles colours really well. It can reproduce the colours with vibrance and while they don’t really pop out of the screen, it is nearly faithful to the original frame. The sky in the sample below is a testament to that.
Landscape photo shot in the day
More than the daylight landscapes, the Capture+ camera can take macro shots of well-lit subjects really well. This is where the quality is at par with most of its competition. In the photo of the plant we used in the sample, the green leaves pop out of the frame and even a 100 percent crop of the photo doesn’t distort the details much.
Macro shot taken in the day (left); 100% crop of the photo (right)
Switching to incandescent lighting, photos shot by the Capture+ are sharply detailed and well-lit. However, the white balance comes out a bit off as the camera fails to adapt to the warm tones in the frame. In the sample, the Buddha statue glows warmly against the lamp light, but the photo reduces the warmth forcibly. The camera manages to capture the details in the books in the second photo well.
Shot under indoor lighting
Shot under indoor lighting
Under low light though, the camera on the Capture+ is once again at par with the competition, but not in a good way. Like most budget phones, the Capture+ too fails when the lighting is not proper. Low light landscape photos lose out on sharpness and details, and noise creeps in. However, if phones like the Moto G5 Plus and the Xiaomi Mi A1 can improve on the low light photography immensely, I don’t see why the Capture+ also can’t. There is also significant shutter lag and even a minor shake of the hand results in a blurred out photo. But that’s quite in line with how most other budget smartphones fail at capturing low light. Partly lit frames, however are ambitiously produced. The camera notches the ISO up the highest to capture as much light as it could to get the details right, letting a lot of noise creep in the edges.
Low light landscape
Low light indoor shot
Performance: Not the raging bull
The Billion Capture+ is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, which is this year’s most popular mid-range processor, and for good reason. Qualcomm has built the Snapdragon 625 on a 14nm FinFet process and uses two quad-core clusters of Cortex A53 cores with clock speed peaking at 2.0GHz. Thanks to the FinFet transistors, the Snapdragon 625 is also more power efficient than its predecessors. Then again, does the Billion Capture+ make use of the extra firepower and efficiency optimally?
Billion Capture+ Benchmark Scores
We received the 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant for review. There is also a 3GB+32GB variant, for which the performance results may be different.
However, real world performance is in line with most other budget smartphones on the market. We played Injustice 2 on the phone and while the graphics and gameplay were decent, it did take some time to load. Multi-tasking seemed fine and apps in split-screen ran smooth. Thankfully, the phone didn’t heat up abnormally when recording a video or while gaming.
There were occasional stutters while using the phone, with apps randomly crashing from time to time. The phone also froze a couple of times. The camera app, that is proprietary to Billion, lagged a bit, especially while taking portrait shots. The photo took too long to process, with the app even showing a countdown icon.
Software: Goodness of pure, stock Android
Flipkart’s choice to not meddle with Google’s stock Android shows it listened to customer feedback of the competition intently. The Capture+ runs on Android 7.1.2 Nougat, bringing features like split-screen and a two-pane notification panel on the table. There is no additional layer of animation or UI elements to tax the processor and use up RAM. As a result, day-to-day operations on the phone are lag free and smooth.
Flipkart does promise an update to Android 8.0 Oreo, although it didn’t give a timeline. At the time of testing, the device was still on the August security patch, which could be an indicator that the update will take its own sweet time to arrive. At this point, phones should have Oreo out of the box anyway.
The phone also offers unlimited cloud storage for files, photos and videos. The Capture+ relies on Smartron’s TronX cloud infrastructure to provide the feature. It allows users to sync their files, contacts, messages, call logs, photos and videos to the cloud. The TronX app is exclusive to Flipkart phones and can’t be accessed through a third party app on another smartphone which could be problematic as the data is basically locked down to one device only which beats the point of having unlimited cloud storage in the first place.
There is also the case of bloatware in the phone. But that’s hardly surprising as this is a phone by an e-commerce giant. So expectedly, the Flipkart app, Myntra, as well as the company’s peer-to-peer payment app PhonePe are there, along with SonyLiv, a video streaming app from Sony, and an action arcade game named Shadow Fight. Barring Shadow Fight, none of the other apps can be uninstalled and will take up storage space.
Battery: Will take you through the day
The Billion Capture+ is powered by a 3,500mAh battery with fast charging. Flipkart promises 7 hours with 15 minutes of charging, but that is debatable. In our testing, the phone charged up to 60 percent in an hour, which isn’t really the fast charging standard as most fast charging-enabled phone can charge the device to its capacity in an hour. The battery however doesn’t last a full work day. It will deliver three to four hours of screen-on time with social media, gaming and photography. This means you have to charge this once in the evening to make the most of it. When left overnight, the phone lost two percent charge in six hours with the Wi-Fi on and emails and social media notifications incoming.
The Billion Capture+ is a sturdy performer that packs almost every punch available in the mid-range segment. But while it does that on the spec-sheet, its real world usage is quite different. The phone will be reliable to use on most days. It is a good phone nonetheless, but it’s just not the best. As far as dual cameras go, it’s best to pitch a little more money to get the Xiaomi Mi A1. At its highest price of Rs 12,999, the Billion Capture+ can be passed over for a 64GB Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 or if it can be stretched a little higher, the 32GB Moto G5 Plus is available at Rs 13,999, which is quite the value for money.