There was a time when smartphones were accessories for chief executives, business leaders and people who wanted to remain connected. But, in the age of social networking and WiFi connectivity, these devices have moved beyond the elite realm. A mobile survey conducted by IPSOS and Google in 2011 revealed that 36 per cent of smartphone users were in the 18-29 age group. That most of them were students meant they couldn’t afford to spend too much on phone. There are a host of inexpensive smartphones available in the market, depending on the purpose for which one wants the device. In most cases, the purpose is social networking, watching videos and staying connected 24x7. We look at three such devices that are priced under Rs 5,000:
At first glance, the A50 from Micromax platform is not one of the best-looking phones. But then, Micromax’s clinching factor has more or less always been the price. On that count, at Rs 4,999 the A50 is value-for-money. It comes with a voice assistant — just like Apple’s Siri — called Aisha which Micromax is hoping will be a differentiator in the clutter of cheap Android handsets. Aisha’s only downside is you need internet connectivity to use it, and once you are connected, it is pretty responsive. It understands the accent easily and is efficient.
The downside of the A50 is the 2-megapixel camera — most pictures come out grainy. So, if you want to click photos and upload on social networking sites, it’s not the ideal phone. This dual SIM phone offers 3G – but only on the first SIM – as well as wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The touch screen’s performance is average and the visibility is quite poor when it is operated outside under the sun. A50 comes with only 135MB of internal storage, but the memory can be expanded up to 32 GB, using a micro SD card.
The processor (650MHz) is a bit slow, and playing games on the phone is quite a cumbersome task. Browsing on the phone is quite decent, but watching videos is not exactly a pleasant experience because of the poor screen resolution. It’s the price of the phone combined with the features which makes the A50 a good buy for users who want to possess a smartphone without burning a hole in their pockets.
Samsung Chat 527
This is the third phone in Samsung’s Chat series after the 222 and 322. A Qwerty phone, the 527 has a 2.4-inch LCD screen and comes with the Push Mail service and has pre-loaded apps like Facebook, Twitter and Gtalk. The optical track pad on the phone is handy and makes navigation extremely easy.
At Rs 4,200, this handset packs in a lot of features. The 2MP camera, however, is a disappointment though the phone does have a front camera as well. Browsing on the phone is decent, and the screen resolution is above average. The multimedia functions of the phone support most music and video players, and the device has an FM radio as well.
For social networking and listening to music, this is a good phone, especially for those who are not comfortable operating with touch screen devices.
When it was first launched in August 2011, it was priced at Rs 7,000. At that price point, we aren’t sure if this was the ideal smartphone, but at Rs 4,500, it, certainly, is a phone which demands a second glance. Another Android (what else!) touch-screen phone, it is similar to Micromax’s touch-screen phones. A curvy phone with a 2.8-inch screen, it runs on Android 2.2. It comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows you to use your wireless connection via Wi-Fi with other devices as well.
The touch screen is a disappointment, and sending texts on this phone can be a frustrating task. Since it has a 600 MHZ processor, it means that you can forget multi-tasking, as the phone slows down considerably. The 3.2MP camera is much better than the other smartphones in this category, but during night, the pictures come out quite bad. You can download various apps from the Android Marketplace, but avoid downloading apps which have high graphic content.
The A1 is a decent bargain at the price at which it is available.