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In the last 15 months or so, Lava has shown what brands should focus on: crafting handsets packed with features, all while keeping the budget-conscious folks in mind. For example, its Agni series has been a game-changer for the brand. It has taken those seemingly invincible Chinese smartphone giants here in India head on. Similarly, the Blaze line-up is also hot. It has garnered significant eyeballs for offering a pretty cool package in the affordable segment. Fast forward, they dropped the Lava Storm 5G towards the end of December, and lucky me, the device reached me just in time. Though, I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit tardy in getting this review out. So, I figured, why not give you a comprehensive long-term review instead? Now, having spent over a month with this device, here’s my take on it.

Design: Lava decided less is more with the Storm, and adopted a simple and minimalist design this time. The back panel looks as elegant as it can get in any budget phone. Imagine three vertically-aligned circles placed gracefully on the top left, two of them cradling cameras in their embrace. The third one houses an LED flash. Then, drift your eyes to the bottom left where there’s the Lava branding, subtly making a statement. Apart from these touches, the glass back remains unadorned but looks elegant. That said, the Storm 5G does present a small caveat in its otherwise stellar design – its weight. Weighing 214 grams, it’s on a heavier side, something that might not sit well with everyone. The phone offers you a microSD card slot for expandable storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and dual nano SIM card slots that are both 5G-ready.

Display: Turn the phone, and you gaze at a 6.78-inch Full HD+ screen that looks beautiful. The IPS LCD panel is quite bright, offering a good viewing experience for the price. I have reviewed the Redmi 13 5G, and I must say that the Storm 5G’s screen takes the lead in colour reproduction. It avoids the pitfall of overly softened tones. Unlike some budget phones that might dial down the vibrancy of colours, the Storm 5G keeps things balanced, offering a good viewing experience for the price. A higher 120Hz refresh rate further assists in smoother animation playback and enhances the gaming experience. Also, the sunlight legibility is very good. I found all the text and content clearly visible on its screen when outside.

Camera: What I would appreciate about Lava this time around is that they’ve sidestepped the whole craze of adding those almost indispensable 2MP depth and macro sensors. You know, the ones many brands seem to throw in just to bump up their camera count. You might have seen some budget phones or even pricier mid-rangers skimping on the ultrawide lens, Lava isn’t cutting any corners there. That’s a pretty solid thing if you ask me. The dual rear camera setup on the Storm 5G houses a 50MP primary sensor paired with an 8MP ultrawide lens. Given the price range, the photos turn out pretty impressive. Daylight shots I took come out really well, offering plenty of details and capturing colours accurately. The edge detection in portrait shots was also good. That said, I noticed a bit of softness in the images, especially when the lighting gets slightly dim. The ultrawide lens doesn’t disappoint either, capturing pictures with good detail. Even when you zoom in, the details remain largely intact.

Performance: When it comes to performance, let’s be real, a lot of entry-level mid-rangers sometimes drop the ball. The Lava Storm 5G, however, has laced up its boots well. As my daily driver for routine stuff, it kept everything smooth and in order. The reason for this is that at the heart of the Lava Storm 5G’s performance is the MediaTek Dimensity 6080, which keeps the phone running smoothly across most tasks save the high-end gaming. I took it for a spin with titles like BGMI and COD: Mobile, along with a few other games, and could play them smoothly in HD settings. The Lava Storm 5G remains cool even during extended gaming sessions, which is rare for a phone in this price segment. Also, the handset is bloatware free, and the clean Android experience enhances the overall user experience. It comes with Android 13, and they’ve promised an Android 14 update and two years of security updates. The phone comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

Battery: The Lava Storm 5G packs a 5000mAh battery with 33-watt fast charge support. On moderate usage, it easily makes it through a day and a half on a single charge.  And, even when you’re pushing it hard, it’s got your back from dawn till dusk. Lava’s put some thought into optimising battery life, and it shows.

Verdict: For budget-conscious consumers looking for a dependable daily driver, the Lava Storm 5G, priced at Rs. 13,499, stands out as a worthy contender. Its elegant design, coupled with a bright display and more than decent camera performance, sets a solid foundation for a budget phone that doesn’t just aim to tick boxes but to lead the segment.