"Which smartphone to buy" isn’t the easiest decision these days. The smartphone battles have really heated up- many brands, variety of operating systems, slew of handsets and the added confusion of single core Vs. Dual core processors make this decision extremely complicated. Needless to say, there are a lot of smartphpnes vying for your attention, and inevitably, your cash. Gone are the days when a Symbian based Nokia phone was the ultimate smartphone- no questions asked. Apple with the iPhone, Google’s Android OS, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7 and even the newer version of Symbian- the smartphone wars are bloodier than ever. For the consumer, the real positive to come out of it is the sheer variety on offer, and the fact that competition has seen prices get slashed more often than not.
To help you clear the confusion, we bring the best deals on smartphones above the price of Rs 20,000. After all, it isn’t healthy to fret about which phone to buy, particular when the heat is on!
Apple iPhone 4
Rs 34,500 (16GB) and Rs 40,900 (32GB)
Well, the iPhone 4 is finally here! The fact is, those who really wanted to buy the iPhone 4 bought one from online stores abroad or cajoled the relatives into getting one for this on the way back from abroad. Why it has arrived in India now is a bit perplexing, considering we are hearing rumors of the inevitable iPhone 5 launch. However, there are still lots of people who will want to buy the iPhone 4, simply because they may not have been able to order it from abroad or just wanted the extra assurance that the warranty will work in case of any issues. The good thing is, the new iPhone isn't locked on any networks, which means anyone on any network can enjoy the phone. However, Airtel and Aircel will be offering some special tariff packages if you buy the phone from them. While this doesn't have the dual core processor goodness, it isn't a slouch in any way whatsoever- has been gobbling up HD games all along, without any complaints. The Retina Display is one of the best we have seen across all smartphones, and the extremely high resolution really helps with the multimedia performance as well. If you are upgrading from a previous generation iPhone, want to shift to the iOS ecosystem or just interested in seeing what the hype is about, we would strongly urge you to check it out. And don't let the dual core argument sway your decision, since this phone isn't lagging in terms of performance in any way, whatsoever.
Why buy this: Sleek and sexy design, excellent Retina display
Why avoid this: The iPhone 5 may be announced soon
Samsung Galaxy S II
There is no other way of putting it- this one is a powerhouse. Dual Core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 4.3-inch display and the best Super AMOLED display we have seen. To know more about our initial verdict on the phone, you can read the detailed hands-on elsewhere on this website. Not to forget, the 8MP camera works very well even in low light conditions. While it is too early to say anything about the battery life (we reserve that verdict till a detailed review is done), the specifications and the performance combine to offer an extremely good package. We liked it a lot, in whatever little time we spent with it. If you had already made up your mind to buy the Galaxy S II, we suggest you pre-book on any of the shopping websites offering this service. Else, wait for it to arrive in stores next month and do check it out before making your smartphone purchase decision.
Why buy this: Very powerful specs, good performance, solid build, good display
Why avoid this: Touchwiz UI seems very drab
Read the Samsung Galaxy S II hands-on here.
Dell Venue Pro
Rs 30,000 approx price
Yet another Windows Phone 7 OS based smartphone, but very different from the HTC HD7. While the touchscreen capabilities exist, with the 4.1-inch display, there is a slide out QWERTY keypad as well. The WP7 interface is something which will be eye-catching, to say the least. The performance of the phone is very stable, and the interface seems pretty slick. However, we faced some weird issues like the inability to attach documents to an email- niggles that should be sorted in the next software update. The solid build quality impresses a lot. The price is a bit steep for most users, particularly when they may be spending on an OS which is completely new in the market and will need some updates to iron out the niggles. This is for someone who wants a WP7 phone, with a touchscreen and QWERTY combo and doesn’t mind paying a bit of a premium for all of that.
Why buy this: Slick interface, touch QWERTY
Why avoid this: Pricey, not enough apps for WP7 just yet
Check out our hands-on experience of the Dell Venue Pro here.
Approx Price- Rs 28,000
This is the Windows Phone 7 big screen warrior from the HTC stable. The new OS from Microsoft feels much more modern than the predecessor. The HD7 has a 4.3-inch screen, which either makes it too bulky or extremely comfortable to use the on screen keypad, depending on how you look at it. A 1GHz processor coupled with 512MB of RAM makes this a pretty slick performer. The completely overhauled interface is a delight to use, but does take some time getting used to. The phone has 16GB built-in storage, 5MP camera and an integrated Kickstand (for propping it up while watching movies/videos). If you don’t want an Android phone and the Blackberry is too boring for you, just check this one out.
Why buy this: Zippy performance, big screen phone experience, 16GB storage
Why avoid this: WP7 app ecosystem will take time to grow
Read our review of the HTC HD7 here.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
Rs 27,000 approx price
There is absolutely no doubting this- the Xperia Arc is a looker. The extremely slim form factor, coupled with pretty okay specs makes this phone definitely worth a checkout. The Qualcomm MSM8255 processor clocking at 1GHz is a very capable performer, 4.2-inch screen, 8.1MP camera with 720p HD video and Android 2.3 preinstalled. Despite a powerful processor, the Arc doesn’t feel very nimble interface wise, which we believe is due to the TimeScape UI not being properly optimized. The Arc does seem like a very good deal, now that the prices have come down below the Rs 30,000 mark. This phone is priced slightly on the higher side, and that is premium you pay for the stunning looks.
Why buy this: Stunning looks, already on Android 2.3
Why avoid this: Timescape UI slows down performance
Read our review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc here.
LG Optimus 2X P990
Approx Price- Rs 26,990
Dual core goodness- do we really need to say anything else! This one I powered by the ARM Cortex A9 dual core processor clocking at 1GHz (with 512MB RAM). Add a 4-inch IPS LCD display to it, 8GB built-in storage, 8MP camera and Android 2.2 loaded. Under un-stressed usage, the phone feels just like any single core 1GHz phone though, but the dual core power shows, when multiple apps are open or you are playing a 3D intensive game. This is the phone to have if you want a dual core phone now, with the added benefit of the bragging rights!
Why buy this: Dual core power, showing off!
Why avoid this: For a flagship phone this is still stuck on Android 2.2
Read about the LG Optimus 2X when it was first announced back in Dec 2010, here.
Samsung Google Nexus S
Approx Price- Rs 26,900
Flagship phone, quicker OS updates and Android 2.3 pre-installed- the main highlights of the Nexus S. The Nexus S has a lot going in its favor, though. The 4-inch S-LCD display is good, the phone has 16GB built-in storage 5MP camera and is powered by the ARM Cortex A8 processor clocking at 1GHz. However, we are sure the promise of quicker updates will entice you enough to buy this phone! What goes against it is that it feels plasticky, which does take some sheen off an otherwise good package. Buy this if you want to be among the first to try out the next Android update!
Why buy this: Expected to be the first phone to receive any Android update
Why avoid this: Doesn’t offer much else
Read about the launch of the Samsung Google Nexus S here.
HTC Incredible S
Approx Price- Rs 26,500
While the dual core phones are gathering all the attentions, HTC released the Incredible S, with a 1GHz single core processor. But the critical point is the 768MB of RAM, which makes the phone feel much faster under normal usage conditions. This phone comes with Android 2.2 preloaded, and the Android 2.3 update is expected soon. The 8MP camera is a pretty consistent clicker. The real cherry on the cake is the 4-inch S-LCD display, which offers crisp performance, even though the contrast could have been better. Buy this one if you want a very capable phone, with equally subtly good looks to boot.
Why buy this: Good performance, extra RAM has a positive impact
Why avoid this: Still stuck on Android 2.2
Read our review of the HTC Incredible S here.
HTC Desire Z
Rs 24,800 approx price
Carrying on with the point we had touched upon when talking about the Blackberry Bold 3- a physical QWERTY keypad. There are hardly any Android phones out there that offer a QWERTY keypad (or any physical keypad, for that matter) along with the touchscreen. The HTC Desire Z is one such rare option, for those who want the combined goodness of Android and a keypad. An 800MHz processor keeps the performance honest, and the 3.7-inch is combined with a side slide-out keypad. Inevitably, the phone feels a bit bulky, but then again, that’s a compromise for the additional functionality. The solid build is let down some extent by the drab looks. The Desire Z will come with Android 2.2 preloaded, and we expect the Android 2.3 update sooner rather than later.
Why buy this: Rare combo of touchscreen and QWERTY with Android OS
Why avoid this: Drab looks, not a very powerful phone
Read our review of the HTC Desire Z here.
Rs 25,000 approx price
Yes! The Communicator rises again! Those who want to buy a business phone (read, Blackberry) have an option now. The E7 is based on the Symbian 3 OS, and offers a 4-inch AMOLED display with a complete slide out QWERTY keypad. Despite being a business phone, at least some specs are pretty impressive- 8MP camera, with 720p HD videos, 16GB built-in storage and Mail for Exchange capability. However, the 680MHz ARM11 processor isn’t anywhere in the league of the 1GHz monsters out there. And we know that Symbian 3 isn’t the slickest smartphone OS out there. But then again, those who swear that the Nokia Communicator was the best phone they ever used, may just want to check this one out.
Why buy this: Touchscreen QWERTY combo with Symbian OS, 8MP camera, 16GB built-in storage space
Why avoid this: Symbian 3 needs an update to iron out quirks, not a very powerful processor
Read about the launch of the Nokia E7 here.
Blackberry Bold 3 9780
Rs 22,000 approx price
The recent price change has seen the Blackberry Bold 9780 drop from the Rs 26,000 mark to Rs 22,000. At this price, the Bold 3 comes with the Blackberry OS6, the familiarity of a physical QWERTY keypad, marginally better performance than the 9700 (256MB more RAM than the 9700) and a 2.44-inch display. The form factor remains exactly the same as the Bold 9700, though. The new OS has resulted in better battery life, and the 5MP camera is a major improvement over the predecessors. However, despite the OS updates, the Bold 3 still is a ‘serious’ phone, appealing to two kinds of users- the Blackberry loyalists and/or those who need a physical QWERTY keypad for texts and emails. Others may want to buy an Android phone, or even an Apple iPhone.
Why buy this: OS6 refresh offers interface improvements, the king among business phones, good camera
Why avoid this: Serious phone image- won’t appeal to everyone, limited variety of apps on App World
Read our review of the Blackberry Bold 3 9780 here.
Rs 21,000 approx price
Want to stick with the familiarity of the Symbian interface? Tried other phones, but want to return to the aforementioned familiarity of Symbian? This may be the phone to buy. The N8 is very solidly built, so much so that you can actually see the screws holding it together- real rugged aura! The 3.5-inch AMOLED display is a slight disadvantage when compared to the more comfortable to use 4-inch rivals. The 12MP camera with Xenon flash and 720p HD video recording, and some users swear by the quality of this snapper. Some unique features of the N8 include the ability to connect to a USB drive and copy content to and from it. Also, you can play back .mkv video files natively on the device, and also when connected to a HD TV, thanks to the HDMI video out. The phone has its share of quirks. The performance is sluggish, which is partly the OS’s fault and partly because the 680MHz processor isn’t in the “fast league”. The widgets have a weird size limitation. Nokia will roll out a major OS update soon, which should solve some performance issues and update the interface.
Why Buy this: Familiarity with Symbian, Good 12MP camera, USB host capability
Why avoid this: Sluggish performance, size limitation kills social networking widgets
Read more about the Nokia N8 and the latest Symbian 3 update here.
This listing is arranged according to price, in descending order. The last few days- the arrival of the iPhone 4 and the launch of the much awaited Samsung Galaxy S II has infused some fresh blood into the smartphone range available to you.