WHAT does an affordable Android device mean? A smaller screen, lower spec. processor and a resistive touchscreen, if one goes by Karbonn's first offering on the platform the A1, which runs Android 2.2 or Froyo.
Karbonn A1 - From the Outside
The device exudes class with its black matte finish and minimal buttons, but the dotted shell on the back does seem a bit jarring. The device seems solid and its curvy design provides a good grip.
The default Android buttons are placed just below the 2.8-inch screen, while the call and end buttons, along with the Dpad, make up the rest of the facia.
Karbonn A1 - From the Inside!
We switch on the phone and are greeted by Froyo's no-nonsense interface. Karbonn has kept it simple and not burdened the 600Mhz processor with a custom user interface. So far so good.
Then the struggle begins. A 2.8 inch resistive touchscreen is not the most friendly of interfaces, especially if you have chubby fingers and clipped fingernails.
I end up using the D-pad to navigate the menus.
Karbonn has bundled quite a few apps along a call Black List, a Documents To Go viewer, the Aldiko eBook reader and AccuWeather. Best of all, the A1 comes with Advanced Task Manager installed, so I could keep a check on the applications running in the background.
Music & Audio
Call quality is decent, but the moment I plug in the bundled earphones, the volume goes for a toss. I try increasing the volume with my thumb, only to be met with dead space.
The volume rocker is on the opposite side, meaning I'll have to use my index finger. But even that doesn't help. Also, the earphones aren't very comfortable, so you can rule out listening to music for extended periods.
Taking it out for a spin...
Soon I'm downloading apps from the Android Market. The phone gets sluggish. I'm surprised to find the review set didn't come with a bundled memory card and its 150MB onboard memory is almost over. I rush out to buy some memory.
I install Skype and connect to the network using Wi-fi, to make my first call. I'm floored.
Most apps work fine, if I'm not multitasking.
I try playing the installed Raging Thunder II and come away disappointed. While its fun to move the phone to steer the vehicle, there is a definite lag.
Also, whenever I flip the phone, the UI takes some time to be oriented in the right direction.
Next, I install Facebook and Twitter. Facebook works fine, albeit with quite a few false presses on the resistive screen. I notice that the Android default buttons are in fact more responsive than the resistive screen.
I launch the Twitter app and try typing Hello. After seven attempts, I give up. Small screen plus chubby fingers plus no stylus equals to disaster.
Messaging is no better. But Karbonn does implement Swype, but the experience leaves a lot to be desired, thanks to the resistive screen its weakest link. PHOTOS clicked with the 3.2 megapixel snapper in daylight are decent you can upload them to Facebook but won't be any threat to Atul Kasbekar. Videos are strictly so- so. As darkness falls, the camera loses its sheen the clicked photos look like scenes from a vintage Ramsay horror movie!
Video playback is okay, but it's a pain watching them on the minuscule screen. To it's credit, the phone plays lots of audio and video formats out of the box. And thanks to its micro- USB socket, getting files on the device is a cakewalk.
Browsing over a 3G connection is pretty fast, but again a pain becuse of the tiny screen. And like most Android devices, the battery would last through a day, if you don't use its multimedia capabilities. And thanks to Froyo, it can also be used as a Wi- fi hotspot.
The phone's MRP is INR 6999. You won't find too many Android devices running Froyo at this price point.
Review Credits: Mail Today