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Phones for all tastes... in all sizes
 
Small is Big news on phone front

Will the 4-inch iPhone SE  start a   reverse trend  to smaller phones -- or does  size  still matter?
By Anand Parthasarathy
March 28 2016: The media  which attended Apple's annual mela  US last week with bated breath, was mostly  underwhelmed  by the  main  announcement: a new iPhone with  little  new to write about.  But they were not about to admit to any disappointment -- which is we why  have been subjected to much lofty speculation  about the reason why iPhone SE ( for Special Edition)  is at 4 inches,  much smaller than the last  few editions, with almost the same specs as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus ( OK, the front camera is better at 12 MP).  Analysts  suggest  it is meant to woo new customers  in markets like India and China-- or existing owners of the similarly sized  iPhone 5. 
The former argument turned out to be nonsense when Apple announced the SE's India price -- Rs 39,000 which is equal to $ 588 compared to the global price of $ 399.  Clearly Apple  doesn't want the business of  ordinary Indians -- and is willing to  keep prices here high  to maintain  an elite status.
Look at the phone being used by your bai, or the autoriksha driver  or the FlipKart delivery boy: Chances are, it is larger than your own phone.  For them, the phone is an all-in-one agni astra: a tool for  time-pass as much as for personal communication.   They are not bothered  about operating the phone with one hand. They are happy to use both hands or stick it conveniently on handle-bar or   dashboard, in the landscape mode,  to view movies.   And today they can get a  3G  5-inch  to 5.5 -inch phone    for  Rs 5000 or less.
Apple's Back to the Future march to a 4-inch form factor  is  seen by some,  not as a  brilliant marketing ploy -- but  as an amber  sign that innovation in phone hardware is slowly drying up. There is just so much you can do with the available RAM speeds, CPU power and battery capacity.   A recent  Digital Index study by Adobe found that demand for   both smaller phones and  tablet markets were slowing down as users  went for  phablets  which served multiple needs.  They are ready to put up with the inconvenience of  a   6-inch or larger  phablet rather than carrying two devices.   
The iPhone SE  is not available here till next week. Meanwhile,  we  look at three different phones launched in India recently  which  straddle all sizes and budgets, while slowly  narrowing the gap between phone and tablet.
Samsung Galaxy S7: More than Good Looks
Samsung recently updated  its flagship device in India. The Korean smart phone maker is known for its device aesthetics and just like its predecessor, the Galaxy S7 is a chic and stylish looking device. We got a hands-on the S7 and feel that it scores well in terms of design.... read our full review here
Canvas Fantabulet F666: Largest  phone screen
Another 0.2 inches and Micromax would have had to call this a tablet. But with a  720p HD IPS 6.98 -inch screen,  they can claim to make India's  largest  smartphone or phablet .  Fueled by a 1.3 GHz quad ship with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB of onboard storage, the Canvas Phantabulet   F666 offers  two SIM slots ( 3G + 3G),  an 8 MP rear and 2MP front camera. Dual speakers belt out enough sound to support the  video capabilities of the device,  while the  3000mAh battery ensures you can see a 3-hour movie  with one charge. It retails for Rs 7499.
Vivo Y51L: Need for speed
This is the first  major launch in 2016 from the Chinese brand. The Vivo  Y51L is  a 5-inch  dual SIM phone , with the custom Funtouch 2.5 OS sitting on top of  Android Lollipop.  The cameras  are about average -- 8 MP and 5 MP -- and  while the RAM is 2G, the storage of 16 GB can be expanded up to 128 GB with a micro SD card.  Video recording, however is full HD 1080p. Like most Vivo phones, this one   has very friendly camera features  which will allow us dummies to tweak  poor snaps into  good photos., while taking selfies with simple gestures.  Long chats  can be stored by capturing screenshots. Considering this is a 4G LTE-ready phone, the asking price of Rs 11,980 is very reasonable.

And what of the future?  Foldable phones? Read our story on Samsung's recent patent applications here

 

 

 




    


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