Saturday, June 28, 2014

The week: Google Android One and lightest WP device from XOLO

This week has been great for those of us who look for premium affordable as the way. Google kicked off its Google I/O 2014 with a keynote from Sundar Pichai. I watched the keynote live (I am fortunate enough to have watched the other recent keynotes from Microsoft and Apple), and the one thing that I felt most important was the announcement of Android One. Well yes, there was a smartwatch (every one seem to be wearing one on stage), there  was the next Android - L, home automation and Google fit, but only Android One has ability to impact the next billion people on this planet.

Google Android One

Google announce on stage at Google I/O 2014 that it will partner with Indian OEMs (Micromax, Karbonn and Spice) to launch an all Google supported phone. This program termed Android One, will see Google help build the reference hardware, and provide full software support (including updates) - much like the way the top of the class Google Play devices or Nexus receive the software updates - a good thing in terms of keeping people on current OS.

With the expect price tag of these devices to be around $100, this will probably take over from where the Moto E has accomplished in terms pricing and quality.


XOLO bring the lightest WP smartphone @ only 100g

Yes, the Indian manufacturer today announced their first WP device, it is only 100g and it is no 'low end' device. By specs, the XOLO Win Q900s, is quite decent and is priced very competitively (see https://www.xolo.in/Q900s). And heck, it is 12 grams lighter than iPhone 5s, and costs 1/5 of the price. That is surely what a premium affordable is. I am impressed by what an Indian manufacturer has come up with, though a final judgment is reserved until I can review this unit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Celkon Campus A35K : Kitkat @ 3K

Yes, you read it right. Celkon Campus A35K is a Kitkat phone at only 3000 INR. That is well within what I expect from a smartphone to be sold in India. No wonder then that it is out of stock on snapdeal.com where it is sold (http://www.snapdeal.com/product/celkon-campus-a35k-blue/1806783118). How does this cheap phone perform? I cannot say till I use one. Although the Kitkat minimum requirement is 512MB of RAM, this device has got only 256MB of RAM, and the internal storage is a paltry 512MB. The internal storage is said to be expandable, but the real question would be if all the apps could be moved to the external storage.

Is this a premium affordable? Not sure, will depend on the experience of using the device.

Finally, if you observe the budget as well as premium smartphone segment, one would notice that the internal RAM as well as the internal flash storage seems to be what actually cuts down or pushes up the cost substantially. For me this is an interesting observation. It is not the camera or other parts, probably not even the processor and the screen that cost a lot, it is the RAM and internal storage that is expensive.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Karbonn A50s : resets the base smartphone specs

Karbonn A50s launched exclusively on Flipkart defines what a base smartphone specs and price would be. It is below 3K INR, well to be precise it is 2790 INR. And that is super affordable. I am not sure about the performance aspects of the phone, but the specs look great on paper. I may evaluate this phone once I get hold of it. The only sore point I have about the phone is the Android OS version is not Kitkat, but Jellybean.
On and just so as to 'rub it on' Moto E, this piece has got an front facing camera as well as a flash for the the main camera.
There were recent reports of Firefox OS finally entering Indian markets, but with a product like Karbonn A50s, Mozilla will have to keep the price tags on their mobiles to something like 1.5K to actually make any dent. Point is A50s is a full Android phone, where as Firefox OS is relatively new, and has quite immature ecosystem.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Moto E : camera samples

My first impression of the Moto E camera was not great, primarily because of the missing auto focus functionality. However, after some trials, I feel that the photos are OK, if you are not taking closeups. Closeup of objects like flowers is not exactly good (they are actually bad). Here are some samples of both indoor and outdoor shot using the Moto E. Color reproduction is OK, towards being acceptable. You also need to have steady hands to have reasonable clarity of the pictures taken. You can not take any reliable action shots (except you can long press to take burst mode, which I found to be hit and miss), as you can with Lumia 520.
















The video quality is acceptable, again, it requires quite a steady hand and enough light. The camera on Moto E is not great, if you think of taking actual prints of these shots. However, for most social networking needs these may be good enough. Although, these may not be good for photo sharing sites like Flickr, where quality of the image is revered. Here is a quick video sample (indoor, but day time shot):

video

Sunday, June 1, 2014

XOLO Q600s : Moto E is soon loosing its USP

Moto E's USP is to provide a premium smartphone experience at affordable price. The bar of what a premium affordable is changing by day. The newest entrant is XOLO Q600s that is now exclusively available via snapdeal.com (http://www.xolo.in/Q600s), at an introductory price tag of 7.5 K INR.

All of this is a very good sign. Probably, something that Google and Motorola wanted to kickoff with Moto E.