State of Android: India Monthly Roundup (September 2013)

October 1, 2013
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In a monthly segment, I’ll be doing a roundup of the mobile technology news in India, including new device announcements and releases from Indian manufacturers, network carrier news, and anything else that captures the pulse of the Android scene in India

india-monthly-news Flickr: Esben T.

September has been an incredibly busy month for the Android scene in India, with the latest flagships from Samsung, LG, and Sony all releasing in India this month, following their announcement during IFA 2013 at the beginning of September. It’s great to see the Indian market being given a priority by these international OEMs, with the country being one of the first to receive all of these amazing smartphones.

Along with a host of smartphones and tablets released by local manufacturers, new Indian app releases, and some network carrier news, we have a lot to talk about. Let’s get started!

Smartphone News

HTC Butterfly S now available in India

mnri htc butterfly S

A few months after its official announcement, the HTC Butterfly S has finally made it to Indian shores earlier this month. A successor to the HTC Butterfly (or Droid DNA), the Butterfly S features an upgraded processor, and HTC’s new Ultrapixel camera technology, while keeping the design aesthetics of the current smartphone similar to its predecessor. Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the HTC Butterfly S -

  • 5-inch IPS LCD 3 display with 1920×1080 resolution
  • 1.9 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 4MP “UltraPixel” rear camera, 2.1MP front camera
  • 3,200 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

As you can see from the specifications, the HTC Butterfly S is a very impressive device, but would have done much better if it had released a few months back, considering the fact that the latest high-end releases feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Not helping is the fact that HTC seems to have got the pricing completely wrong.

The HTC Butterfly S was first spotted online priced at Rs 52,428 on Saholic (the listing has since been pulled), and now the smartphone can be picked up from online retailers Fadka for Rs 49,600, with another listing by Infibeam indicating a price tag of Rs 54,990. This price point is definitely not a good idea, since the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G2, Sony Xperia Z1, and other high-end flagships released earlier this year are all cheaper.


Micromax Canvas Ego A113 launched

micromax canvas ego a113

Continuing to add to its ever-growing smartphone portfolio (check out our complete guide here), Micromax has launched yet another budget-friendly quad-core smartphone, the Micromax Canvas Ego A113. Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the latest smartphone from the local manufacturer here -

  • 4.7-inch LCD display with 960×540 resolution
  • 1.2 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 8.1MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • dual-SIM support
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Compared to some other similar releases in India that feature MediaTek processors, the Canvas Ego A113 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset. The Canvas Ego is definitely a good buy at its price point, available from Rs 11,884 from Flipkart, and Rs 11,934 from Snapdeal.


Intex Aqua i7 and Aqua HD launched

mnri intex aqua i7

While popular local manufacturers like Micromax have shied away from Full HD devices to avoid high costs, lesser known OEMs such as WickedLeak and Intex have taken up the cause. This month, Intex announced the launch of the Intex Aqua i7, a 5-inch smartphone featuring a Full HD display, a quad-core processor, and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on-board. Here’s a look at the complete specifications of the Intex Aqua i7 -

  • 5-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution
  • 1.5 Ghz quad-core MediaTek processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage, no expandable memory
  • 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

As you can see, the Intex Aqua i7 is comparable to most high-end releases from international OEMs, at least on paper. Even though the device doesn’t feature a microSD slot, you also get access to free 5GB of storage on Intex cloud.

The Intex Aqua i7 is currently available for Rs 21,900 from online retailers Flipkart.

mnri intex aqua hd

Along with the Aqua i7, Intex also launched the Intex Aqua HD, another quad-core smartphone, but with more modest specifications compared to the Aqua i7. Let’s take a look -

  • 4.7-inch IPS display with 1280×720 resolution
  • 1.2Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • 1,800 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

While the specifications are quite standard (expect for the impressive camera), The 7.9 mm thick Aqua HD comes with a metal frame with a piano lacquer back cover and aluminum alloy keys, along with its 4-7-inch display featuring OGS (One Glass Solution).

The Intex Aqua HD is available from Snapdeal for Rs 14,463 and for Rs 15,900 from Flipkart.


Celkon Monalisa 5 now available for Rs 10,720

mnri celkon monalisa ml5

Another day, another budget-friendly quad-core smartphone. This time it’s a device from Celkon Mobile, the Monalisa ML5. Let’s take a look at the specifications of the device -

  • 4.5-inch OGS display (one glass solution) with 960×540 resolution
  • 1.2Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • 1,800 mAh battery
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

The Celkon Monalisa 5 is priced effectively to compete against the numerous smartphones currently available in the Indian market that boast similar specifications. You can pick up the Monalisa 5 from online retailers Snapdeal for Rs 10,720.


Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear officially released in India

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with Samsung Galaxy Gear

Following the official announcement of the device at a pre-IFA event, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has officially been released in India as well, making India one of the first markets to receive the highly-anticipated smartphone. India is also one of the countries to receive the Samsung Exynos 5420 octa-core version (1.9 Ghz quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 + 1.3 Ghz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7) of the smartphone. As a recap, here’s a quick look at the specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 -

  • 5.68-inch Super AMOLED display with 1920×1080 resolution
  • 1.9 Ghz octa-core Samsung Exynos 5420 processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
  • 13MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • 3,200 mAh battery
  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is currently available from various Samsung stores, the official Samsung eStore, and online retailers such as Flipkart for Rs 49,900. Snapdeal has the device on offer for a slightly cheaper Rs 49,229.

samsung galaxy gear aa 20

The smartwatch companion to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Gear, was also launched. As a reminder, the Galaxy Gear features a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display with 320×320 resolution, an 800MHz processor, and 512MB of RAM. Other features include a 1.9-megapixel BSI sensor on its strap, 4GB internal storage, and a 315mAh battery, which, according to Samsung, can last for “more than a day.”

The Galaxy Gear is currently available from the Samsung eStore for Rs 22,990.

Don’t forget to check out our hands-on and comparison videos of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear in action below -


Sony launches Xperia Z1, Smartwatch 2, QX10 and QX100 attachable camera lenses, and wireless speaker with NFC in India

sony xperia z1 aa 9

A day after the Samsung Note 3 launch, Sony held its own press event in Delhi during which not only was the Sony Xperia Z1 launched, but also featured the releases of the Sony Smartwatch 2, the Sony attachable camera lenses, and a new wireless speaker from the company that can connect to your smartphone or tablet via NFC.

Sony is a very popular OEM in India, and it’s no surprise that the Sony Xperia Z1 has made its way to the country so soon after its global announcement earlier this month. As a reminder, here’s a quick look at the specifications of the eagerly-awaited smartphone -

  • 5-inch Triluminos display with 1920×1080 resolution
  • 2.2 Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 20.7 MP rear camera with Sony G Lens and BIONZ image processing engine, 2MP front camera
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

The Sony Xperia Z1 is now available from various authorized Sony retail stores around the country for Rs 44,900, as well as for a slightly cheaper Rs 42,500 from Flipkart. If size doesn’t matter, that is, if you’re not adamant about picking up a Galaxy Note 3, and you’re looking for a high-end smartphone with a great camera, the Sony Xperia Z1 is definitely the best smartphone around.

Don’t forget to check out our hands-on and comparison videos of the Sony Xperia Z1 below -

sony_smartwatch_2_

Also launched with the Sony Xperia Z1 was the Sony Smartwatch 2. The new smartwatch from Sony packs a bigger 1.6-inch touchscreen display that offers a higher resolution (220 x 176 pixels) and improved screen brightness. The SmartWatch 2 features an aluminum body and stainless steel wristband. The device is water-resistant (IP57 certified) and offers NFC and Bluetooth support for pairing with Android smartphones and tablets that run Android 4.0 or higher. Unlike the Galaxy Gear, the watch works as a standalone wristwatch when a connection to an Android device is not present. However, users will be able to read previously downloaded emails even when the device is offline.

The Sony Smartwatch 2 is currently up for pre-order for Rs 14,990, with estimated 3rd week of November shipping date.

mnri sony wireless speaker

The Sony Smartwatch 2 is not the only NFC-totting accessory Sony announced during the event. The company also introduced a new wireless speaker, the GTK-N1BT, which can connect to your smartphone or tablet using NFC or Bluetooth. The speaker is quite portable sporting dimensions of 554x213x280mm and weighing in at 8.75kg. In terms of specifications, it offers 100W RMS of output, which includes a 60W sub-woofer. The Sony wireless speaker is available for Rs 16,990.

sony xperia z1 lens qx100 aa 10

Finally, also launched were the Sony QX10 and QX100 attachable camera lenses. In case you’re unaware of what these amazing lenses do, here is a quick look at what the devices have to offer -

  • The QX100 is 20.2MP while the QX10 is 18.2MP, with both featuring an Exmor RCMOS sensor.
  • Both come with Program Auto, Intelligent Auto, and Superior Auto functionality.
  • The QX100 comes with a wide aperture Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens with 3.6x optical zoom. The QX10 features a Sony G Lens with 10x optical zoom.
  • Uses Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app, which connects the lenses to any Android or iOS device via WiFi or NFC (if applicable).
  • Both come with a rechargeable battery, memory card slot, and a shutter release.

The Sony QX10 is available for Rs 12,990, while the QX100 is priced at Rs 24,990. Check out our hands-on video of the attachable lenses below -


Panasonic launches P11, a 5-inch 720p display, quad-core smartphone in India

mnri panasonic p11

Panasonic announced its intention to compete in the already over-crowded Indian smartphone market with the launch of the P51 a few months back, and now adds to its portfolio with the Panasonic P11. Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the P11-

  • 5-inch IPS display with 1280×720 resolution
  • 1.2 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • dual-SIM support
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

The specifications of the Panasonic P11 are standard fare for devices in its price range, and should allow the company to compete against similar devices from Micromax, Karbonn, and others. The Panasonic P11 is currently available for Rs 15,149 from Snapdeal.


LG G2 officially launched in India

LG G2 Review

Closing out a spectacular month for Android fans in India, the LG G2 was officially launched in India earlier today. While not as prompt with an Indian release as Samsung or Sony, LG released its current flagship just in time to compete with the Galaxy Note 3 and the Xperia Z1. As a reminder, here’s a quick look at the specifications of the LG G2 -

  • 5.2-inch IPS  LCD display with 1920×1080 resolution
  • 2.3Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32GB internal storage, no expandable memory
  • 13MP rear camera with OIS (optical image stabilization), 2.1MP front camera
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Apart from the high-end specifications, what is truly unique about the LG G2 is the fact the the power button and volume rocker of the device are the back of the smartphone, along with the fact that the LG G2 boasts one of the thinnest bezels that can be seen on a smartphone.

The LG G2 will be available for Rs 41,500 for the 16GB version, with the 32GB version of the smartphone setting you back Rs 44,500. Don’t forget to check out our detailed review of the LG G2, along with comparisons between it and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Xperia Z1 below -


Tablet News

Xolo launches first tablet, the Xolo Tab for Rs 13,499

mnri xolo tab

While everyone is eagerly awaiting the Xolo tablet powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor which will be launched next month, Xolo’s first foray into the Android tablet market in India is with the budget-friendly Xolo Tab, which the company launched this month. Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the Xolo Tab -

  • 8-inch IPS LCD display with 1024×768 resolution
  • 1.2 Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8225Q processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Adreno 203 GPU
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 2MP rear camera, VGA front camera
  • 4,000 mAh battery
  • in-built 3G support and voice calling
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

While the MRP of the Xolo Tab is Rs 13,499, the tablet is currently available from online retailers Flipkart for Rs 12,300 and Snapdeal for Rs 11,610.


Micromax launches Canvas Tab P650

mnri micromax canvas tab p650

The Micromax Canvas smartphone series has a reputation for boasting amazing features at a reasonable price and are some of the most popular devices from the company. Hoping to cash in on that reputation, Micromax has launched its first tablet in the Canvas series, the Micromax Canvas Tab P650. Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the device -

  • 8-inch IPS LCD display with 1024×768 resolution
  • 1.2 Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 5MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • 4,800 mAh battery
  • in-built 3G support and voice calling
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (OTA updates for Android 4.3 soon)

While both the Micromax Canvas Tab P650 and the Xolo Tab feature the same display, that is where the similarity ends, with the former boasting a bigger battery, better cameras, and more internal storage. Which is enough to justify the more expensive Rs 16,500 price tag of the Micromax Canvas Tab. The tablet is currently available from various online retailers, including Flipkart.


Amazon India slashes price of the Kindle Fire HD

Kindle Fire HD

Likely in anticipation of the release of its latest tablets, Amazon India has slashed the price of the Kindle Fire HD. First, here’s a quick look at the specifications of the Kindle Fire HD -

  • 7-inch IPS LCD display with 1280×800 resolution
  • 1.2 Ghz dual-core OMAP4460 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16/32GB internal storage
  • 1.3MP front camera
  • 4,400 mAh battery
  • Android 4.o ICS
  • Dolby Audio with dual stereo speakers

The 16GB version of the Kindle Fire HD is now available for Rs 11,999 (previously Rs 15,999), with the 32GB version now selling for Rs 15,999 (previously Rs 18,999) from Amazon India.
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Nexus 7 (2012) price drops in India, or you can get a Nexus 7 (2013) for free by buying a Kitkat!

Nexus 7

Amazon isn’t the only company that is slashing prices in anticipation of its upcoming releases. Since the Nexus 7 (2013) has been confirmed to be releasing in India by the end of the year, the previous iteration, the Nexus 7 (2012) has received a price cut as well. Granted, this drop is available only from Flipkart and is not reflected on the Indian Google Play Store yet, but that should also change quite soon.

As a reminder, the ASUS-made Nexus 7 (2012) features a 7-inch display with 1280×800 resolution, quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB RAM, 1.2MP front facing camera, 16/32GB internal storage, and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on-board.

Considering the specs, the Google tablet is an absolute steal at just Rs 9,999 for the 16GB, WiFi-only version of the device. The 32GB, WiFi-only version is now available for just Rs 12,999, while the 32GB, 3G-supported version will set you back Rs 15,999.

Of course, there’s also an opportunity for you to pick up the Nexus 7 (2013) for free. Well, not completely free, but at the cost of a Kitkat. After announcing its partnership with the popular chocolate brand, the Android edition of Kitkat is now also available in India. All you have to do is look for a Kitkat with the Android bot on it. Inside the wrapper is an 8-digit code, which needs to be sent either via SMS or by entering it on Android’s website. Don’t forget that the wrapper needs to be in your possession to claim the prize.

Nestle will randomly pick out 1,000 codes and the people who sent them will win a Nexus 7 (2013). The contest ends on November 15.


App News

Sygic India GPS Navigation app now available for free

wnri sygic india gps navigation

Sygic India and MapMyIndia announced that their offline GPS Navigation app, earlier priced at Rs 1,399, is now available from the Google Play Store for free. The app is one of the best navigation apps available for Indian roads, and the free availability will only serve to make it even more popular.

Some of the key features of the Sygic India GPS Navigation app include -

  •  Works with GPS only, internet is not needed
  • 3D cities and landscapes
  • Turn-by-Turn voice guided navigation
  • Drag and Drop for simple route editing
  • Spoken Street Names to focus on the road (in American and British English)
  • Three Alternative Routes to choose from
  • Sharp Curve Warnings for added safety
  • Notification of Upcoming Speed Limit Change
  • Avoid Toll Roads on part or on entire route

You can download the Sygic India GPS Navigation app from the Google Play Store here.


Notion Ink releases “I’m Shakti” emergency alert app

mnri im shakti app

Notion Ink, well known for its Adam range of Android tablets, has now released a safety-related Android app, which is essentially to help someone get out of a difficult situation by notifying your friends, family, and anyone else you choose to include. The “I’m Shakti” app (Shakti = Strength) will notify all your emergency contacts by sending an SMS, which will include a preset message and your location, if you press your power button at least 5 times (in 2 seconds).

The way the notification works is as follows -

  • All you have to do is set some emergency contacts and your phone will send them an Emergency Text Message (SMS) with a preset message. Your location will always be a part of your Emergency SMS, whether or not your GPS or Internet is on.
  • If neither your GPS or Internet are turned on, the Emergency SMS will include your approximate latitude and longitude from your mobile operator network.
  • If your GPS is on while your Internet is turned off, your latitude and longitude will be more refined.
  • If your Internet is on, the latitude and longitude from your mobile operator network or from the GPS is translated into a street address.

The app also features a battery saver option, for the not-so-sinister emergency situation, that is, you running out of battery while needing to contact someone, and you can also send an emergency SMS from the app itself if required.

You can download the Notion Ink “I’m Shakti” app from the Google Play Store here.


Network Carrier News

Aircel launches ebook store “Aircel BookMate”

mnri aircel bookmate

Aircel released an e-book store called “Aircel BookMate” for its customers that will allow them to download ebooks on to their smartphones, tablets, or PCs. Users can browse, store, download, and read books, magazines, and comics, from a comprehensive catalogue which are available to purchase or for free. Books in English as well as various regional Indian languages will be available.

Key features of Aircel BookMate include -

  • Flip Feature allows users to “flip” through pages on the touchscreen, creating a “book-like” experience.
  • Font size and style, and background color adjustment.
  • Users can bookmark a page and navigate. Last read page is automatically bookmarked and opened.
  • The app comes with a zoom feature, allowing you to zoom into a particular phrase or text.
  • Users can easily search for specific text in downloaded eBooks rather to look for manually. Search options include In this Page, In this Chapter, and In the Whole Text.
  • Books read frequently are placed on top of Home tab section.
  • Users can review and read book reviews from other users of ebooks that are available in the store.
  • Users can purchase points (to buy books) by using Aircel operator billing.

Since this is limited to Aircel subscribers only, you will need to have a valid Aircel mobile number to which an authentication code will be sent when you sign up. You can access the ebook store from the web, or download the app from the Google Play Store here.


Idea Cellular offers 3G data plans at 2G tariffs

wnri idea logo

Joining the growing list of network operators that are readjusting their 3G data tariffs and plans is Idea Cellular. After slashing their 3G prices by up to 70% earlier, the company has now announced data and voice packs that are even cheaper, and should do a lot to boost 3G data use among Idea Cellular subscribers.

The plans start from Rs 128, which includes 1GB of free data, or Rs 247 plan which gives 2GB of free data and local calls (Idea to Idea) at 20p/minute. Both plans are valid for 30 days. On crossing the free data limit, data will be charged at 2p/10kb. If you’re looking for a longer validity period, packs priced at Rs 297 and Rs 746 with 60 days and 150 days validity respectively. Both these offers feature 1GB of free data per month, along with local call tariffs at 20p/minute. Even more long term is the Rs 1,296 pack, which also features 1.5GB of data plus 200MB of facebook usage per month, along with the same local call rate as the other plans.

For Idea Cellular subscribers who use 3G services via USB dongle, the plans are a lot more clear cut and simple. Rs 175 gets you 1GB of data, Rs 177 gets you 3GB, and Rs 496 gets you 10GB of 3G data. All dongle packs are valid for 30 days.


Aircel reduces local call tariffs in Delhi by as much as 90% with two new special rate schemes

mnri aircel logo

Aircel has reduced its local calling tariffs by as much as 90% in Delhi, bringing them down to as low as 10p/minute, with the launch of two special schemes, priced at Rs 27 and Rs 11.

The Rs 27 calling scheme will feature 100 minutes of local calls at 10p/minute after which, the charges will go up to 40p/minute. This pack will be valid for 21 days from the day of activation. The second scheme, for Rs 11, is applicable only for local Aircel to Aircel calls. All calls made between two local Aircel numbers will be charged at 10p/minute. This scheme is valid for 15 days from the date of activation.


Aircel announces partnership with Micromax and introduces special bundled offers

mnri micromax aircel Image courtesy NDTV Gadgets

Micromax and Aircel announced a strategic partnership to promote data usage and drive data growth among their users. The companies have comes together to launch new reverse handset bundling offers for up to Rs 12,000 per month for a new Aircel subscriber using Micromax handset.

As per the offer, new Micromax smartphone owners who subscribe to the Aircel network will be given benefits worth Rs 12,000 for the first three months after SIM activation. Local call rates for both 2G and 3G users will reduce to 30p/minute, with STD calls being charged at 60p/minute. This offer also includes 2GB of free data per month, as well as up to Rs 10,000 worth of WAP content for free. 3G users will get access to the Internet TV app, and Micromax dongle users on Aircel’s 3G network will get 500MB of free data as well. All the mentioned offers are valid for the first three months only.


What are your thoughts on the numerous smartphone and tablet announcements this month? What other news/information would you like to see on the India Monthly News Roundups? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments

  • Hysen Parampil

    Good article.. One stop shop for all news related to India

  • Adarsh Krishnan

    Hey..

    Cellular offers 3G data plans at 2G tariffs
    Rs 175 gets you 1GB of data, Rs 177 gets you 3GB

    Are you sure? Two rupee will get you two more GBs?

    • Ankit Banerjee

      I was as surprised as you are, but that’s what the press info said……the website doesn’t reflect the new prices yet, so I’m thinking they might have made a mistake, and 3GB will cost Rs 277 or 377. Will update the post when I get a confirmation.

      • Adarsh Krishnan

        Thanks bro. And can you make a post showing the current tariff of 3G offered by different cellular companies.?

  • APai

    good roundup ankit!

    intex aqua i7 seems interesting.
    the Idea tariff slashing is also good news, so there will be another round of boost in 3g usage. this price is truly affordable to everyone.