Though the specs, ergonomics and visual elements leave little to change, Lava’s big bet with the unique warranty proposition may give the Agni 2 a distinct advantage Indian smartphone brands, admittedly, haven’t delivered as was expected. Despite the push towards smartphone and mobile manufacturing in India, with Make in India a development unfolding in parallel, Indian phone brands themselves haven’t been able to break the stronghold of phone makers that originally emerged out of China (though they all make phones in India now). At least as far as the market share is concerned. That may change now, and there’s no hesitation in predicting this. That is, if phone maker Lava’s Agni 2 5G smartphone is a barometer, for refinement and performance. The Lava Agni 2 is priced at ₹21,999 though there are some discounts you can snare, which effectively brings the price to ₹19,999. Therefore, if you’re already considering the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 5G (this costs ₹16,999 onwards) or the Realm 10 Pro 5G (this is priced ₹18,999 onwards) or even the significantly inferior Samsung Galaxy A14 for some reason (it costs around ₹18,999), you may want to pause for a moment and reconsider. Amidst the larger picture, we must first broach upon an issue that a lot of Android phone users talk about (though some phone makers may wish to brush this aside), and that is the software itself. In case of the Agni 2, it is Android and just Android. There is no interface ‘skin’ or attempts at visual overlays. A far cry from the extremely cluttered and often unrefined MIUI that Xiaomi, Xiaomi’s Redmi and Paco phones deploy. Or even what Samsung attempts with One UI, something that absolutely doesn’t work as it should on less than powerful phones (which the Galaxy A14 is too). Secondly, you’ll find absolutely no preloaded third-party apps on the phone as you set up the Agni 2. No Facebook. No dodgy third-party app stores. No games. It is just Google’s own apps, albeit with some tweaks to the camera interface. To take Samsung’s Galaxy phones as a reference point here, you’ll not end up with two calendar apps or two web browsers, in the Agni 2. We also didn’t encounter any instances of attempts of siphoning off user data and information Xiaomi’s MIUI, for instance, want a third-party to collect your data in exchange for customizing your phone’s lock screen. It is these little things that add up in a collective sense, and Lava have done well to stay away from any such monetization tactics. It mustn’t have been an easy business decision though.

Performance: Unchartered Territory And Gains From Risk

The Agni 2 becomes the first smartphone in India, running the MediaTek Density 7050 chip. It otherwise wouldn’t be a big deal, but the segment this phone is sitting in, any increments to performance are very noticeable. This is MediaTek’s response to Qualcomm’s latest line-up of Snapdragon chips for the mid and upper-mid range Android phones. It is akin to a risk for Lava, to bank on an as-yet unknown quantity for their most premium phone. But then again, this is one of the reasons why the Agni 2 stands out in a price band that is bursting at its seams with choice for buyers – some phones quite good, some not as much, as we’ve illustrated earlier. Results are impressive, particularly with how this chip holds the performance level. One of the reasons for that would be how well the cooling architecture has been deployed, something the lack of any apparent heating on the back panel, also testifies to. That isn’t to say the Agni 2 remains unnaturally cool all the time – some heating is more than apparent after a 30-minute gaming session or when using the camera extensively to record videos. That said, even as the temperatures tick upwards, there are no dropped frames or interface jitters visible. Rest of the time, the Agni 2 can handle multi-tasking with absolute ease. The clean Android approach means there is precious little wastage of processor and RAM resources for other apps and elements, and the resulting performance stability is worth noting. This phone doesn’t feel stressed when you push the limits with many apps running simultaneously, nor does it slow down. Yet, for what’s essentially a powerful mid-range Android phone, Lava has done a fairly good job of giving the Agni 2 enough tools for the performance battle. There is 8GB RAM as standard, with the option of drawing up to 8GB more from the 256GB storage. This is one Android phone that feels more powerful than the segment it is priced in, which is always good news for longevity. Lava may need to do some work in terms of battery optimization. The 4700mAh battery pack has all the goodies one would expect in this era – 66-watt fast charging and a charger in the box. But we noticed inconsistently higher battery usage at certain times (it didn’t necessarily have to do with apps in use; happens in standby too). While you’ll get through a day of use quite easily without having to reach for the charger, but battery frugality must be fixed in one of the upcoming updates.

Refinements and the remaining checklist

It is easy to recognize the most premium design (and indeed usability) element of the Lava Agni 2, which is the curved display. There are gentle curves either side of the screen, something no other phone in this category as yet offers. Almost flagship-sequel positioning here, which is also perhaps a testament to the confidence Lava has in their new phone. This is a bright screen, in fact brighter than most of the competition phones, which comes in quite handy outdoors, on a bright summer day. Secondly, the 50-megapixel camera leading the quad camera setup is a good foundation to build with. Particularly because we wouldn’t recommend attempting to spend too much time using the 8-megapixel ultrawide, or any of the 2-megapixel macro (or depth) sensors for photos. At least in good lighting, be it indoors or outdoors, this camera takes well detailed and dynamic photos. The 1-inch sensor would bring forth the expectation of detailed low light photos as well, but for some reason, that doesn’t at all seem to be the case. Our suspicion is, the image processing algorithms need a rework to be able to fully utilise the data this sensor collects. A combined factor of this camera and the screen, which we noticed, is the inability to detect a false touch on the screen when the camera app is open. It often means you must reposition the way you’re holding the phone, before the shutter button can be tapped. The edges of the screen are likely detecting some skin contact from the palm, and thereby registering it as a proper touch on one part of the screen.

How do you define the value of a smartphone?

This is a unique proposition. Lava insists that within the one-year warranty period, if the phone exhibits any hardware issues, it’ll simply be replaced. And the service will be provided at the user’s home, negating the need to embark on a journey to the service center. This may just prove to be worth its weight in gold, if it comes to that with your Agni 2 phone. Even without this service warranty assurance, the Lava Agni 2 is ticking off the boxes. Enough, for competition to be worried. It’s built well, with the curved screen adding a distinct premium element. Performance leaves nothing on the table, and this is matching (and in many cases, surpassing) rivals in this price band. The camera needs some work and battery frugality may need a patch or two. But as most things stand, Lava’s efforts with the Agni 2 seem to have paid off. Could this finally usher in an era of dominance for an Indian smartphone brand, in a specific segment in the Android phone space? One would hope, it does.