India Weekly News Roundup

July 14, 2013
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In a weekly 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

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Indian device manufacturers are known for flooding the local market with numerous devices throughout the year. If you’ve been following the “Weekly News Roundup – India” series, you must have noticed that there is at least one new smartphone or tablet announcement every week. While there have been slow news weeks in the past, this week certainly isn’t one of them! With eight (!!) new smartphone announcements and various network provider news, there’s a LOT to talk about. Let’s get started!

Smartphone News

Spice announces Pinnacle FHD, a quad-core Full HD smartphone

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With competition in the smartphone market in India increasing at an exponential rate, local manufacturers are continuously raising the stakes in what has become an effort in one upmanship. While we’ve seen numerous budget-friendly quad-core devices with 720p resolution displays, Spice and iBerry (see below) have pushed the envelope even further, with the introduction of reasonably price Full HD smartphones.

Here is a quick look at the specifications of the Spice Pinnacle FHD –

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  • 5-inch display with 1920×1080 resolution
  • 1.5 Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • 2,100 mAh battery
  • dual-SIM support (3G + 3G)
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

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Keeping in the mind that displays with this kind of resolution are what we’ve come to expect from top of the line devices from international manufacturers, it’s great to see Indian companies stepping to provide consumers with a comparatively low-cost option as well. Like all other new Spice smartphone releases, the Pinnacle FHD also features the availability of 2GB free storage using Spice Cloud.

Subject to a more thorough hands-on review, I can’t find any reason to complain about the Spice Pinnacle FHD, at least on paper, considering the fact that the device is priced at just Rs 16,990 (~$292). The Spice Pinnacle FHD is currently up for pre-order from online retailer Saholic. You can also find out more about the device from the Spice Mobiles website here.

Spice Coolpad 2 Mi-496 now available online for Rs 9,499

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Spice has certainly changed things up with the Pinnacle FHD, but the company hasn’t ignored the sub-Rs 10,000 segment of the market either, with the release of the Spice Coolpad 2 Mi-496. Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the Spice Coolpad 2 Mi-496 –

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  • 4.5-inch display with 960×540 resolution
  • 1.2Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 5MP rear camera, no front camera
  • 1,700 mAh battery
  • dual-SIM support
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

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As you can see, the Spice Coolpad 2 isn’t nearly as impressive as the Pinnacle FHD, and isn’t meant to be either of course. The selling point of the Coolpad 2 is its Rs 9,499 (~$163) price. Unfortunately, the lack of a front camera is a little disappointing, even in this price range.
The Spice Coolpad 2 Mi-496 is available from online retailers Saholic, with customers receiving a 16GB microSD card for free. You can also find out more about the device here.

Nvidia Tega 3-powered Xolo Play now up for pre-order

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Xolo, a sub-brand of Lava International, is one of the first device manufacturers to introduce an Intel-powered smartphone, and has now become the company to offer the cheapest Nvidia Tegra 3-powered smartphone in India with the recently announced Xolo Play T1000. Let’s take a look at the specifications of this highly-anticipated smartphone –

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  • 4.7-inch display with 1280×720 resolution
  • 1.5Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

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If the specifications of the Xolo Play T1000 seem awfully familiar, that’s because it’s almost exactly the same as the HTC One X, apart from the lower internal storage. The low internal storage is also somewhat disappointing, since this is a device that is meant for HD gaming, with most games requiring a lot of free space, although the expandable memory does help.

The Xolo Play T1000 is definitely a steal at its Rs 15,999 (~$275), considering the fact that the HTC One X, which is quite similar as mentioned before, costs almost Rs 10,000 more. The Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC is also worlds apart from the quad-core MediaTek processor favored by most other domestic manufacturers, giving Xolo a really good chance to compete effectively in this market.

 The Xolo Play T1000 is now up for pre-order from online retailer Flipkart, with an estimated delivery in the third week of July. You can also find out more about the Xolo Play here.

IBerry Auxus Nuclea N1, featuring a 5-inch 1080p display, announced

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Before the Spice Pinnacle FHD was the launch of the iBerry Auxus Nuclea N1, technically the first budget-friendly Android smartphone to feature a 5-inch 1080p display. In this case, the display also uses OGS (One Glass Solution) for a slim and sleek form factor. Other specifications of the iBerry Auxus Nuclea N1 include –

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  • 5-inch IPS display with 1920×1080 resolution
  • 1.5 Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
  • 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • 2,800 mAh battery
  • Dual-SIM support (3G + 3G)
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

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Specifications-wise, the iBerry Auxus Nuclea N1 blows the competition out of the water. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a device with an 8MP front camera, and it’s hard to find a budget-friendly smartphone with 64GB of expandable memory supported. A beautiful 1080p display protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a 13MP rear camera, and the latest Android OS means that the Auxus Nuclea N1 is a great buy.

 For a 10 day period starting today, the iBerry Auxus Nuclea N1 can be pre-ordered for Rs 15,999 (~$275), after which, the price will jump to Rs 18,000 (~$310), which isn’t that much more than the competition.

You can find out more, and pre-order, the Auxus Nuclea N1 from the official iBerry website here.

Micromax Canvas 4 arrives amid intense competition

wnri - canvas 4 bgr Image courtesy BGR India

Micromax aggressively advertised their latest release, the Canvas 4, on various social media platforms in the build up to the highly anticipated launch. Unfortunately for the company, this week also saw some other amazing releases, such as the Karbonn Titanium S9, the Spice Pinnacle FHD, and the iBerry Auxus Nuclea N1. Does the Micromax Canvas 4 live up to the hype? First, let’s take a look at the specifications -

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  • 5-inch IPS display with 1280×720 resolution
  • 1.2Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32GB
  • 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Dual-SIM support
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

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Micromax has got a lot right with the Canvas 4, including the beautiful and sleek design, increasing the available internal storage to 16GB, and a 13MP rear camera a 5-elements lens similar to iPhone 5. Unfortunately, the Canvas 4 launched at a time when 1080p displays are slowly being introduced in this price category, and the processor is certainly disappointing, with the 1.5Ghz quad-core MediaTek Turbo processor now available in the market.

That being said, the Micromax Canvas 4 does include some unique features, such as the ability to blow air at the device and unlock it, to call or answer a call simply by bringing the device close to your ear, and various other gesture controls. The specs aren’t bad, and these features could definitely be a big selling point.

The Micromax Canvas 4 is available for Rs 17,999 (~$310) here. You can also find out more about the device here.

Samsung officially launches Galaxy S4 Mini and Galaxy S4 Zoom in India

Galaxy S4 Mini

Soon after the official unveiling, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and the Galaxy S4 Zoom has made its way to Indian shores. Let’s take a quick look at the specifications of both devices below.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini specifications – 

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  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display with 960×540 resolution
  • 1.7Ghz dual-core processor
  • 1.5GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
  • 8MP rear camera, 1.9MP front camera
  • 1,900 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom specifications – 

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  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display with 960×540 resolution
  • 1.5Ghz dual-core processor
  • 1.5GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
  • 16MP backside illuminated CMOS sensor with 10x optical zoom camera, 1.9MP front camera
  • 2,330 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

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Galaxy S4 Zoom
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is obviously targeted towards a very specific consumer base. If you’re an avid amateur photographer, the Galaxy S4 Zoom is definitely the device for you. The Galaxy S4 Mini on the other hand is a great choice for anyone not looking to spend too much on a smartphone. Even though at this price range, devices from domestic companies feature better specifications, the Samsung brand name is more than enough to give the Galaxy S4 Mini a fighting chance.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is now up for pre-order from the official Samsung eStore here for Rs 27,990 (~$482). This includes an introductory offer from Reliance with 2GB of data per month free for the first three months. The Galaxy S4 Zoom is priced at Rs 29,990 (~$517).

Gionee ELife E5 launched in India

wnri gionee elife e5

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Gionee has slowly built a presence in the Indian market, and is hoping to continue its expansion with the launch of the ELife E5. Is it a worthy competitor to the numerous devices from local brands? First, let’s take a look at the specifications –

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  • 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 1280×720 resolution
  • 1.5Ghz quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

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As far as the specifications are concerned, the Gionee ELife E5 is at par, if not better, with most other smartphones currently available in the market. Along with that, the device also features a DTS and 3D surround sound system, a beautiful unibody design  and various camera software enhancements. Priced at Rs 19,999 (~$344), the competition is going to be stiff, but at least on paper, the Gionee ELife E5 is certainly a good choice.

Comparison table of latest smartphone releases

As you can see, there have been a lot of new smartphone releases this week, with some competing against each other, such as the iBerry Auxus Nuclea N1 and the Spice Pinnacle FHD, or the Micromax Canvas 4, Gionee ELife E5, and the Xolo Play T1000. To make it easier for you to see how these devices stack up against each other, check out the detailed comparison table below.

Latest smartphone releases compared

 
Spice Pinnacle FHD
Micromax Canvas 4
IBerry Auxus Nuclea N1
Gionee ELife E5
Xolo Play
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
Spice Coolpad 2
Size
5-inch5-inch5-inch4.8-inch4.7-inch4.3-inch4.3-inch4.5-inch
Resolution1920x10801280x7201920x10801280x7201280x720960x540960x540960x540
Processor1.5 Ghz quad-core1.2 Ghz quad-core1.5 Ghz quad-core1.5 Ghz quad-core1.5 Ghz quad-core 1.7 Ghz dual-core1.5 Ghz dual-core1.2 Ghz quad-core
RAM1GB1GB1GB1GB1GB1.5GB1.5GB1GB
Internal Storage8GB16GB4GB16GB4GB8GB8GB4GB
Expandable MemoryYes, up to 32GBYes, up to 32GBYes, up to 64GBYesYes, up to 32GBYes, up to 64GBYes, up to 64GBYes, up to 32GB
Rear camera8MP13MP13MP8MP8MP8MP16MP5MP
Front camera2MP5MP8MP5MP2MP1.9MP1.9MPNo
Battery2,100 mAh 2,000 mAh2,800 mAh2,000 mAh2,000 mAh1,900 mAh2,330 mAh battery1,700 mAh
OS versionAndroid 4.2 Android 4.2Android 4.2Android 4.2Android 4.2Android 4.2Android 4.2Android 4.1
PriceRs 16,990Rs 17,999Rs 15,999Rs 19,999Rs 15,999Rs 27,990Rs 29,990Rs 9,499

Network Carrier News

BSNL introduces special national roaming plans

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Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular announced new national roaming plans last week, and now BSNL has joined the rest as well. The plans are quite similar to what the other network providers are offering. Here are the details –

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  • Prepaid – Prepaid customers can subscribe to a Rs 5 daily plan or a Rs 69 monthly plan. With both plans, local and national incoming calls are free. Both local and national outgoing plans will be charged at 1.5p per second.
  • Postpaid – Postpaid customers can subscribe to plans priced at Rs. 145 and Rs. 625, and include services such as free SMS and calls. Two more roaming tariff plans priced at Rs 149 and Rs 825 provide free unlimited incoming calls for a month.

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Almost every network carrier has now jumped on the national roaming bandwagon, which means that the practice of owning multiple SIM cards by frequent travelers might slowly come to an end.

Idea Cellular launches “Choice Recharge”

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In a first-of-its-kind offer, Idea Cellular is now giving subscribers the chance to choose from multiple packs depending on your requirements, at the same price.

For example, if you recharge your phone for Rs 25, you can now choose between 40 Local/STD minutes, 150 Local Idea Night minutes, 45 Local Mobile minutes, or 250 Local/STD SMS. Of course, if you’re interested in more than one option, you can do another recharge for the same amount, but pick a different option this time around.

This offer is currently available to Idea customers only in the Delhi circle, with a similar package also available in Tamil Nadu priced at Rs 15. Hopefully, this scheme will soon be available to all subscribers throughout the country.

Vodafone introduces new student-friendly “Campus” packs in Delhi-NCR

vodafone logo Credit: JonOakley/Flickr

It’s a difficult time of the year for the millions of graduating students around the country, as they begin to move away from home to college. At least for those who are heading to Delhi, Vodafone has now introduced student-friendly “Campus” packs, making it much easier to stay connected to home and friends.

Two packs, worth Rs 149 and Rs 275, will let users enjoy STD calls at just 40p/minute, which currently costs more than double. Subscribing to these packs will also give you 100 free local and national SMS for a period of 28 days. The Rs 149 pack also includes 1GB of 2G data services, while the Rs 275 pack features 1GB of 3G data.

Current Vodafone users can call 111 to find out more and subscribe to these packs. You can also find out more at the Vodafone website here, as well as in various Vodafone retail stores around Delhi.

Other

Samsung leads Indian smartphone sales in Q1 2013

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According a recent study by Cyber Media Research, Samsung topped the smartphone sales charts in Q1 2013 in India, with over 4 million smartphones sold. This led to Samsung retaining its market share lead by capturing over 40% of the Indian smartphone market.

Overall, smartphone sales have seen a 167% growth from last year, with over 10 million smartphones sold. While Samsung holds a big piece of the pie, the massive overall growth is also in part due to better products, availability, and distribution channels from local smartphone manufacturers such as Micromax, Karbonn, Spice, and the numerous others.

This news follows in the heels of another report of India becoming the third largest smartphone market globally, taking over from Japan. While this is definitely impressive, smartphone sales in India pale in comparison to how well feature phones are still doing, with over 64 million feature phones being sold in the first quarter of this year.

What are your thoughts on the numerous smartphone announcements this week? Is the smartphone comparison table, or a similar table with the top smartphones of the week from Indian manufacturers something you’d like to see? What other news/information would you like to see on the Indian Weekly News Roundups? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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