Sunday, July 27, 2014

10 Smartphones you can buy under 5K now (via Gizbot)

Gizbot has a compilation of 10 smartphones you can buy under 5K in India right now (see: It is an interesting list. My personal favorite from the list is Karbonn Smart A11 Star.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lumia 530 : the new affordable WP from Microsoft

Microsoft today announced single and dual sim version of Lumia 530 ( It would be priced at about $115 (6800 INR), and will be available in India in August 2014. If Microsoft actually prices this near 6K and towards 5K, this device will be a hit like Lumia 520, and would be a tough competitor for Moto E. But at a price that is closer to Moto E, it is difficult to recommend Lumia 530 over the earlier.

Nokia (err .. Microsoft) thinks they have a winner:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Spice Smart Pulse : The watch that I am actually liking, and it is 'smart'

I have been using the Spice Smart Pulse (available on HomeShop18) for 4 days now. After I have switched to using a smartphone, I have never regularly used a wristwatch. And the last time I started to use a wrist watch, I gave up in a day, it was too clunky, and hardly did anything than tell me the time. I have used a watchphone though. That was about 4 years ago, and was from an un-branded Chinese manufacturer. That watch was pretty heavy, almost 100 grams, had a lousy touch screen (needed a stylus to operate), and a worse sound quality. Worst of all it had an unregistered IMEI number. So when I came back to India, that watch was pretty useless. And soon enough it stopped working completely.

So when Spice, a much unknown brand to me, but one that have good presence as a mobile phone company, announced Spice Smart Pulse, I was quite skeptical. With a bit of hunch, I anyway placed the order on HomeShop18 on the launch day it self. I guess I was lucky, as the device almost immediately sold out, and seems to be now listed for a pre-order. The device arrived, few days later. And my first impression has been anything but positive.

This is not the first time a watchphone (or smartwatch, the way you look at it) has been introduced, but Spice has done a good job in executing this. The quality shows off in every aspect of the product, right from the packaging : which is very parallel to how a watch is packed. The build quality of the device (although made of plastic - which is high quality), is pretty good, if not stellar. I was even more impressed with the finish of the device : there are no rough corners or lose plastic, it feels sturdy and a very well made device.

The in-box accessories also seem of high quality. There is a charger + a USB data cable, a Bluetooth head set + charging cable, 2 extra pairs of watch strap, 4 additional pins for the watch strap, and a wired headset.

Biggest advantages:

1. Battery
The watch comes  with a rechargeable 420mAH battery, that lasted for more than 48 hours with a single active SIM card for me. I find that the battery life is pretty good, given that other so called smartwatches have to be charged every day. The charging time is also less: about 1/2 hour. However, since I do not use an Android phone on regular basis, I have not really tested the phone with Bluetooth pairing.

2. Light weight
This one is about 52 grams. And is quite lite to wear. I never had a feeling that I was wearing something strange on my hands. In fact, this is the only watch so far that I actually feel like wearing, unlike others.

3. A secondary phone
Yes, I find this feature of secondary phone extremely useful. Given the battery live advantage over the smartphones in your pocket, this one is a good companion on a travel.

4. The flash
The watch has got a very basic VGA camera, whose quality is quite sub-par. But the most important feature is the flash, which can be used as torch as well. I find this very useful while walking down on dark roads or would be a good tool during night time treks.

5. Capacitive touch screen
The touch response of the watch is extremely good as it uses a Capacitive touch screen. The UI elements are also well designed to provide a reasonably good experience.

6. Pair with Android phones to get notifications
I do not use this feature much, but it works as advertised. The only issue is, there does not seem to be a list or notification I can see. Also there is no way to respond to any notification. There are however other features like remote playlist (fetch the music from your smartphone), and remote capture (control the smartphone camera using the watch). These are basic controls, but they work as advertised.

7. Expandable storage via Micro SD card (upto 8GB)


1. The screen is not scratch proof glass (I think). So you need to be careful. Although, I have not actually experienced any issue till now of continuous usage.

2. No apps. It uses some proprietary OS and does not seem to be third party programmable.

Wish list:

1. It should have had a pedometer and a heart rate sensor.

2. GPS + Compass and Maps could have been really good addition.

Update 1: The watch connects to iPhone and WP devices. Though with either of these, the notifications do not come on the watch, except the call notifications, the contacts can be synced.

Update 2: I have been using this watch with my iPhone for quite a few days now. Even with the SIM and bluetooth on, the device is giving about 2 days of usage. Good thing is that iPhone battery life is not noticeably affected. I am basically using this to get call notifications and of course check time while on move. It is far better to use this against pulling your phone from your jeans pocket.

Update 3: I don't have much to say about sun light readability of the screen. Although the time is readable with full brightness for the display. Now I feel that it should have had an ambient light sensor as well.

Update 4: There is a cool new feature in the watch, which you can use to auto poweroff the device at night and poweron in the morning. This further elongates the battery of the device to about 3 days. Overall I am still liking the device. Finally, I would highly recommend this device if you have an Android phone.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Asus Zenfone : Intel Inside afforadables

Intel has been trying hard to put its x86 chips on smartphones, albeit with pretty less success. With the introduction of Asus Zenfones, they might have a winner. The Zenfone 4 and 5, are both priced below 10K. Where as Zenfone 4 competes directly with Moto E, the Zenfone 5 offeres premium features like 8MB camera, and 2GB RAM at an affordable price range. If you are interested in buying these, head to Flipkart (Zenfone 4 and Zenfone 5)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wearables are getting affordable

Well if you consider Spice Smart Pulse (see: and to be smartwatches then yes they are getting affordable. Spice has taken quite a different direction than what I think a smart watch should be (see, but then what Spice offers could be the only thing that you want to have, if you are not really worried about apps. For me Spice smart pulse is nothing but a watch phone, which could be used independently of any smartphone. It also offers connectivity to most Android smartphones (that is the claim), but how well the notifications work is a thing  to be tested.

On the price front however, Spice is in the right direction as opposed to recently released Google Wearable devices. If you consider the least expensive of those lot (from LG), it is double the cost of Moto E, and offering absolutely no value other than serving as a notification screen. The problem with all the currently available wearable devices, including the Android wear, is that there is not significant value addition when compared to what a smatphone does. Over the top, they are pretty much cumbersome to actually use it, defeating the whole purpose. Probably when iWatch comes out, Apple can show others how it is done right.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Moto E with the Jolla launcher

I keep trying things on moto e. The latest one is the launcher from Jolla - with the intention of trying out some of the UI features sailfish OS. So far things are going fine and I am quite linking the single handed operations. Only problem is that none of the android apps have the same gesture based UI. As a result there is large in congruency when actually going deeper in the apps, in fact the difference in the UI is quite jarring once you go beyond the start screen. 

In terms of stability things look quite fine, but then this is an apha version, so issues are expected. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Random reboots in Android

When I started using Moto E over a month ago as a secondary device, I had a pleasant feeling. It did not lag, moreover the software felt super stable. That was until today when it did a random reboot. This random reboot (frequently occurring) has been one of the prime reasons I switched away from Android as my primary device about 3 years ago. Seems that issue still lingers on. 

New affordable mobile from Karbonn @ Flipkart

With the success of Moto E, every one seems to like exclusivity. This time it is Karbonn and they are launching four smartphones on Flipkart, all well below 5K. What is good is two of these come with latest Android Kitkat OS. Check out this link to purchase from Flipkart.