Almost a year back, PCIPL’s sub-brand Centric marked its presence in the Indian smartphone market by releasing 4 new phones in the sub-10k price segment. Recently in November, the Centric A1 was launched which is an affordable phone featuring promising specifications like Snapdragon processor, Quick Charge 3.0 and a slim form-factor. While the Centric A1 priced at Rs. 10,999 managed to impress us, the newest entrant from the company is the Centric L3, a budget phone targeted at first time smartphone users. Despite being a budget offering, the Centric L3 doesn’t compromise on the essentials and tends to offer an impressive experience with the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor, 4G VoLTE support, HD display and Android 7.0 Nougat. Let us now share our initial impressions after using the L3 for a few days.
Sporting a 5-inch display, the L3 is a compact and pocket-friendly handset, unlike most 5.5-inch Android phones. This makes the device really comfortable to carry and makes single-handed usage easier. Moreover, the rounded corners and curved edges make up for good ergonomics. In terms of design, it’s neither interesting nor disappointing as the device has a basic design and is entirely made of plastic which is acceptable at this price point. The front is dominated by a 2.5D curved glass that feels nice to use and comes with a pre-applied screen protector. Unlike A1, the L3 features a slightly recessed front-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor that also acts as the home key. The sensor is accurate though isn’t very fast at unlocking. On-screen keys are present for navigation.
Talking of physical overview, the volume rocker and textured power key are on the right. The top houses the micro USB port and headphone jack while the speaker grille sits at the bottom. The plastic back cover with a semi-glossy finish is removable and doesn’t attract fingerprints. The antenna lines painted across the top and bottom of the back just gimmick other phones without serving any real purpose. Removing the cover using the provided indent reveals the slots for dual SIM card and a dedicated microSD card that supports storage expansion up to 256GB. The 3050mAh battery is sealed but seems easily replaceable.
We like the fact that the company bundles all the necessary accessories like an earphone, 1.5A charger, screen guard and a clear protective case, irrespective of the product pricing.
Moving to the display, it’s a 5-inch HD IPS Oncell display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and 500 nits of brightness. The display is reasonably sharp, bright and produces accurate colors without any oversaturation. The viewing angles are quite good and sunlight legibility is not an issue. We found the touch response to be fairly good as well.
The Centric L3 is powered by a 1.3GHz MediaTek MTK6737 Quad-core processor with Mali T720 MP2 GPU. This is a popular choice of chipset among budget phones such as the likes of Nokia 3, Moto E4 Plus and Asus ZenFone 3 Max (ZC520TL). There is 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Out of 16GB, the free space available for use is around 10.7GB. Connectivity options include 4G with VoLTE and ViLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and USB OTG. The sensors onboard include a proximity sensor, light sensor and accelerometer.
We like the fact that the phone runs on Android 7.0 Nougat and offers a near-stock Android experience. There is minimal bloatware such that apart from the usual Google apps suite, you’ll find duplicate apps for browser and music, few Microsoft apps, and third-party apps like Swiftkey and Top Doctors Online. Software customisations include features like HotKnot, DuraSpeed, System Motion and Wakeup Gesture. In our brief usage, we found navigating across the UI to be fluid and lag-free.
In terms of optics, the rear camera is a 13MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture, autofocus and LED flash. The camera app is rich in settings and offers shooting modes like HDR, Panorama, and Face beauty. Photos taken in daylight look fairly good with good amount of details and decent colour reproduction. However, it doesn’t handle the exposure well even when focussing manually, thereby resulting in blown highlights. There is also a slight shutter lag and the phone takes a good amount of time to process details when zooming into the captured shot. Indoor photos posses noticeable noise but are still usable. For selfies, there is a 5MP front camera that does a fair job but misses out on balanced exposure.
Attached are few camera samples for reference –
As of now, we couldn’t manage to test the battery life deeply but our brief usage hints towards a good standby time. The vibration feedback from the phone is poor though. In benchmark tests, the Centric L3 scored 29059 points in Antutu and 1484 in Geekbench 4 multi-core test.
For those interested, the Centric L3 has been launched in India today at a price of Rs. 6749.