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Targeting the 500 million feature phone users in India, Micromax recently launched the Bharat-1 feature phone in partnership with state-owned BSNL at Rs 2,200. The dual-SIM feature phone with 4G LTE network connectivity is a direct rival to Reliance JioPhone, until recently the first feature phone to support 4G LTE connection. The Micromax Bharat-1, the only network-unlocked feature phone to support 4G LTE and voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE), could easily be referred to as the only phone without competition. Micromax has not made any mistake of launch the Bharat-1 feature phone bundled with the BSNL connection, which has a strong user base and network coverage in rural India. Even for non-BSNL subscribers, the network-unlocked Bharat-1 supports all other available networks and, therefore, is compatible to use on any network of the user’s choice – including Reliance Jio. Business Standard reviewed the device and here is how it fared: The Bharat-1 looks similar to any of the Chinese phones that once dominated India’s feature phone market. The phone is thick and has relatively small buttons for someone with fat fingers. The grainy texture and subtly curved sides add some character to the durable build of the feature phone. While the outside appearance may not be as chic as what other feature phones offer, the Bharat-1 is somewhat better-looking than direct competitor Reliance JioPhone. Coming to features, the phone uses heavily customised and trimmed down version of Google’s Android operating system. The OS is customised to run using minimum hardware resources. Most of the apps are pre-configured by Micromax and there is no provision to download new apps – there is no Play Store available. Also, the option to side install the apps using their APKs has been disabled by the manufacturer. The phone comes pre-installed with WhatsApp and Facebook Lite app.
YouTube is also pre-configured in the form of web browser widget instead of an app.Coming to imaging, the feature phone sports a camera on front and back. The 2-megapixel primary camera and VGA selfie camera offers satisfactory image quality for a feature phone. With 4G LTE-enabled, the Bharat-1 feels swift and performs all the tasks in a breeze. It takes some time to adjust with the physical keypad navigation as most of the keys play dual roles – power key to lock the screen, asterisk key to delete the character etc. The app works fine and the multimedia playback using apps or online services are also satisfactory. One thing that may not go well with the users who seek to watch YouTube videos on this phone is that there is no provision to rotate the screen. The already small 2.4-inch screen relatively feels smaller while watching video content in vertical format. The phone has good network reception and great call quality. Even with one single bar of a network, the call quality does not deteriorate. Talking about the battery, the 2,000 mAh battery provides ample run time to keep the show running. Even after using the phone exhaustively, the battery keeps running for at least 2-3 days. Verdict For a feature phone, the Micromax Bharat-1 is a solid contender with a sturdy build, powerful battery life, 4G LTE support and a customised version of Android. At Rs 2,200, the phone is a performer with all the ingredients one needs in their first internet-enabled phone.