Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Which Phone to Buy Right Now - May 2012

Welcome to my monthly round of eligible bachelors in the phone world. Let's begin with the basics.


No, my prediction didn't pan out - X2-02 is STILL my budget phone of choice. See, after all, Nokia is Nokia - you can't beat an offering from a reputable company with one from the b-grade manufacturers. The phone has stabilized somewhat but that might be solely because I use it mostly as my wireless music transmitter in the car. That, along with the general 'tick all boxes' nature of the S40 interface, remain strong points in favor of this little guy. 


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This phone is facing stiff competition in desirability stakes from Samsung Galaxy Y/Duos/Pro as well as HTC's own Wildfire S which has now become quite cheap. However, at Rs12k this feature set is unbeatable. The Galaxy Y series does have the better processor but it suffers from the very limiting QVGA display. But wait...there's ANOTHER new player in town. Behold the HTC Cha Cha.

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At Rs15k, Cha Cha is one hell of a phone. It has an excellent QWERTY keyboard and a good-ish screen. I have used it and found that it performs all basic functions quite admirably. 

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This month I am dropping HTC Radar from the, er, Radar of prospective buyers because One V's price has come down to Rs26k and it truly is an excellent package for that price.  Why not Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V? Because Neo slows down over time. It still remains a good bargain, but there should be no compromise on the speed of a set at any price. Neo V has received it's ICS update and it makes it a very compelling solution but I have discovered that the problem of slowness of contacts and messaging apps remains. 


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At Rs 25k, HTC Radar is an excellent Windows Phone 7 set. As I mentioned in a previous post, WP7 doesn't have the power or flexibility of Android, but it is noticeably ahead of iOS in those aspects. Arguably, WP7 is the best-looking interface on phones today. The phone is fluid, fast, and has good specs. The only drawback I can think of is that since WP7's future is far from certain, this set's resale might be questionable.


So the Nexus retains its perch. In the intervening time, I have had the chance to use the HTC One X which is being billed as the best Android handset on the planet right now. However, I cannot recommend a set with hard physical buttons and tiny, non-user-replaceable battery despite all its other merits. Additionally, I will take vanilla Android 4.0 any day over HTC's Sense, but that's a personal preference and nothing else, since Sense has its own advantages. 

Right now I am also not recommending the Galaxy S 3 since at launch it is too expensive. Over time it MIGHT conquer the Nexus but that will take a few weeks. You cannot argue with the power of quad-core processors found in One X and Galaxy S3, or with their superior cameras and multimedia capabilities. However, we are after the best mobile phone in terms of value of money, si
nce last month, the set's price has fallen to Rs35k. It is astounding to see the local market's gross underestimation of the handset's capabilities, and their perceptions are dictated by the 5 MP camera. However, this ignorance means that the Galaxy Nexus has now become a bargain. Let them be fooled. 


The hottest phone in local market at the moment. I recently traded it in for my Galaxy Nexus and flashed Android 4.0 on it, and with that software there is no other phone on the PLANET that comes close to the Note. It's price has also fallen to Rs45k, at which it is a downright bargain. 

Note is the SAME as Galaxy S2, with three differences: 5-inch screen with an HD resolution (same as Galaxy Nexus), larger battery and stylus capability. The only negative points I can think of are debatable pocketability, Samsung's horrible TouchWiz UI over Android 2.3 (though an Android 4.0 update is due in a month or so) and difficulty in reaching the corners of the screen due to large size. If you can live with these shortcomings, get ready to be blown away by the games and movies on this device as nothing else comes close to in those respects (except to some extent, the Galaxy Nexus). 

The only reason it still inhabits the 'adventurous' category is because (a) it is humongous in size and (b) you have to hack it in order to flash Android 4.0, in order to make it useful. With Samsung's TouchWiz skin, the attraction of the set reduces slightly. However, it remains an excellent device. 

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