Monday, June 18, 2012

Which Phone to Buy Right Now - June 2012

Welcome to my monthly round of eligible bachelors in the phone world. This also happens to be my birthday month, so - hint, hint, nudge, nudge, WINK.

Let's begin with the basics.


Are you getting tired yet? The X2 is the little phone that could. This little guy has overcome my hatred of Nokia, as well as its own instability, to remain my budget champion for the third month running. Every month I lament its shortfalls then find a new way to love it. What is it this month? Sound! See, modern smartphones come equipped with frankly wussy speakers. X2 is an alpha male in this regard and speaks in an authoritative baritone that will wake up the dead. The dead, in this case, being the likes of me who need to get up in the morning for prayers and office. The X2 is a star performer in this regard and added to its other virtues, comes across as quite a capable performer. 


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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. The one drawback is how the screen sometimes fails to turn off when you put it to your ear - and that results in missed calls. But then, it might be some software or hardware defect in my own set. 

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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. 


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 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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