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Handsets for surfing at 3G speeds

Priyanka Joshi  |  Mumbai 

If you live in New Delhi or Mumbai and have a BSNL or MTNL mobile third generation (3G) connection, you may be among the 1,650,000 users who can brag about knowing what 3G is all about — in terms of data speeds. We tested some top-of-the-line 3G handsets on an MTNL prepaid connection in Mumbai and were pleasantly surprised with an average speed of 256 Kbps (for downloads) and 128 Kbps (while uploading data). Not exactly the typical 3G speed, but it was definitely faster than existing data connections with MTNL charging just Rs 2 per MB (pulse rate is 2 paise/10KB). Although MTNL claims to deliver broadband speeds of up to 2 Mbps, what is actually delivered is not entirely unacceptable. INQ CHAT 3G
Price: Rs 7,599

Hutchison-owned INQ has launched very affordable 3G handsets in the market. INQ Chat 3G adopts a BlackBerry-like form-factor that includes a Qwerty keyboard to support a host of social messaging capabilities, including ‘push’ email (via Gmail), Facebook access, instant messaging through Windows Live Messenger, Skype and a Twitter app that provides ‘always-on’ connectivity to the micro-messaging social network, so that updates are pushed straight to the home screen.

We tried voice chats and video calls on INQ Chat 3G, and it was a delightful experience. There is a web browser, too. However, it was definitely not the fastest we have seen, but at least it allows for surfing the web.

As with other handsets, we found that social networking phones, like INQ, are by default larger power drawers due to almost constant data accessing for Facebook and Twitter updates. INQ Chat 3G delivers a battery performance of about five hours (on 3G). This is a phone that will get you connected quickly and cheaply to 3G networks. NOKIA 6700c
Price: Rs 12,000 The 6700c is an extension of Nokia’s Classic series — with no touch screen and just a 2.2-inch display. Yes, it is not a high-end phone, yet it manages to look very dapper.

We tried Nokia’s pre-bundled Maps and also installed Google Maps. We tried to use location-based services on 3G network, and the end result was satisfactory (with speeds averaging between 100 Kbps and 166 Kbps).

It does not have a front video camera (although the main camera is a good 5-megapixel one). So, there was no way to have video calls. Wi-fi connectivity is missing too.

Battery life lasts up to five hours, depending on how often you access 3G services like downloads or web access. The 6700 Classic is ideal for those who don’t want to switch to a new user interface but would like to experience 3G networks.

MICROMAX H360
Price: Rs 5,500

One of the first things we tried on Micromax H360 was video calls — it has a front-facing camera (and a 3- megapixel main camera unit on the back, too). While the sound seemed a little weak, we had little complaints during the video call. The phone has 52-MB internal memory that can be expanded to 8 GB with microSD card. Additional memory comes handy, as you tend to download a lot of music, images and videos to your mobile in a 3G environment, at least initially.

MTNL has pre-bundled a 3G SIM card for users in Mumbai and Delhi along with Micromax H360, which turns this entry-level phone into a great buy. The mobile TV application on H360 looks very basic, but it does have videos and songs, TV soaps (very limited choice) that stream on to the mobile handset in real time. We recorded average data speeds of about 200 Kbps during our review, which made video downloads and streaming look natural on the H360. The immediate drawback is a battery support of just four hours.

The Micromax H360 is a fitting purchase for all pockets (ideal for teenagers who fancy video and multimedia features on 3G networks). SAMSUNG CORBY PRO
Price: Rs 12,500 This 3G-ready Corby Pro is definitely for those who have to have instant access to social networking sites without needing to go through all the complexities of accessing the web on the mobile phone. Samsung Corby Pro has an easy-to-use 2.8-inch touchscreen, and a 3.2-megapixel camera that can take both videos and images. Social Networking is one of Corby’s forte. Hence, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube apps come preloaded. It took less than 30 seconds to upload an image on Facebook and streaming internet radio on the handset was near perfect. The sound output seemed a little insufficient. We even streamed user video clips on social networking sites and, although it needed to buffer before it could run, it took about two minutes. Despite heavy multimedia usage, the battery lasted for up to five hours.

The Corby Pro comes with 100 MB of internal memory and, if that seems insufficient, then the user can add an external memory card that can hold up to 16GB of data. The Corby pro will make a good purchase for those who want hassle-free connections to websites.

HTC HD MINI
Price: Rs 23,490

HTC’s HD Mini is a Windows Mobile 6.5.3 device, complete with drag and drop icons in the start menu. A 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen and five touch-sensitive buttons complete the clean look.

A preloaded Opera browser, HTC’s GPS photo-tagging app and a Twitter client make up for the Windows Mobile’s otherwise unattractive menu. HTC preloads an excellent Wi-Fi router app, which allows you to share the phone’s 3G connection with Wi-Fi enabled devices like a netbook, but be warned that this draws extra battery power, too. We uploaded photos (taken from the phone’s camera) to Flickr using the HTC HD Mini on a 3G connection, but downloading heavy presentations or spreadsheets (which came as email attachments) took considerable time. Still, this is a good buy for those who want familiar-looking Windows mobile and a closer connect with their corporate emails.

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First Published: Mon, May 31 2010. 00:46 IST
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