Left your festival gifting too late? You can't go wrong with a smart phone: there's one for every budget
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, November 9 2015: When it comes to planning gifts -- for weddings, birthdays or festivals -- we Indians are like that only. Most of us think in the box. Shaadi: Pressure cooker/Non-stick tawa. Diwali? dried fruit box /diya set (traditional or LED).
If you feel a bit more generous but left it too late this year, take the advice of this ageing pro: You can't go wrong with a smartphone -- or something connected with it. There are three advantages: Nobody says no to a second phone, so duplication is not an issue. Most of my suggestions can be ordered online -- so even if the gift doesn't reach by Diwali, an-email bringing the glad tidings will. Lastly, no other category has such a huge price bandwidth: the ideas on this page range from around Rs 300 to Rs 17,000.
One Plus X: Sense and Sensibility
Everything about this 4G phone shouts stylish sensibility -- starting with its metal-edged , black glass body to its flat USB cable -- coupled with sense: 2 slots for nano SIMs. One of them can be used extend micro SD storage to a total 128 GB ( the internal storage is 16 GB with 3GB RAM). The cameras are a faster-than-usual 13 MP rear and an 8 MP front. The 5 inch LED screen display displays the full HD resolution that the phone can shoot. It wakes up automatically when the phone is pulled out of purse or pocket.
One Plus X has overlaid its OxygenOS over the Android Lollipop and this lets you customise your gestures as shortcuts. The phone's built-in Radio lets you broadcast music from FM stations without using WiFi or consuming data. In recent days, OnePlus has launched an interesting photography app, Reflexion , as well as 4 wallpapers based on works of well known modern Indian artists. At Rs 16,999 this mid range 4G phone is a class act.
Coolpad Note 3: Ungli chaap!
We have come full circle! Time was, when a thumb impression was the only way the learning-challenged could identify themselves without having to sign their names. Now many of us think a digital ungli chaap is both cool and convenient. The 4G dual SIM Coolpad Note 3 encourages this new trend. It is one of the first and most affordable of smart phones in India that offer a built-in fingerprint scanner to unlock the handset. With a 5.5 inch TFT IPS screen displaying 720 p HD, it is almost large enough to be called a phablet. Indeed, its 64-bit Cortex Octa core is a solid task master.
Internal RAM of 3 GB is as good as many portable PCs and the 16 GB storage can be expanded to 64 GB. The cameras --13 MP rear and 5 MP front -- are fairly standard for this class of phone, but I was happy to see that the makers have not compromised on the battery size to make the product ultra slim: so this is slightly chunky device (partly due to the strong aluminium frame) promises about 15 hours of talk time from a 3000 mAh battery. For many on-the-go owners that might be a key plus point. Good value at Rs 8990.
Swipe Elite 2: Jawaani josh!
Swipe is an interesting company whose mantra seems to be 'forever young'! Fuelled by desi enterprise, the average age of its creative team in Pune is 26. Just 3 years old, it has won a clutch of awards for innovation, after it stormed the India scene with the first ever 3-D tablet. Within weeks of launching its first, aggressively priced smart phone, Elite, the company has launched Swipe Elite 2 this week, arguably the cheapest 4G phone in India at Rs 4666, something the young will appreciate.
The 4.5 inch phone is fuelled by a quad core 64-bit chip, with 8GB on board storage expandable to 32 GB. To keep the price down, they have limited the RAM of this dual SIM Android Lollipop to 1 GB and I'm not sure if in this age of galloping apps, this is the right trade-off. The battery too, is just 1900 mAh, but they say have done some very clear things with software power management a to make this more this more than adequate while assuring a very quick charge cycle.
The cameras are fairly standard -- 8MP rear and 5 MP front. What Ido like, is Swipe's overlay on Lollipop 5.1, called Freedom OS: It offers hundreds of theme pix, customizable gestures, search shortcuts and what is both clever and sneaky -- a 100 GB SwipeBox free storage which they achieve by aggregating all your cloud storage services into one!
Footnote: The phone brands reviewed above have one common strand: All have announced plans to manufacture in India!
(with inputs from V. Sudhakshina and Vishnu Anand)