Monday, 14 May 2012

Best Ultra Budget Phones

 Micromax, Lava, Ray, Fly, Intex and Karbonn are some of the companies producing phones at alluring price points. From multimedia phones to models that offer social networking, whatever the big guys can do, these phones can too, but at lower price points.

Price point apart, these phones have some things in common. They tend to use the same Java based UI, which needs to be made more user friendly. Most phones generally have good sound quality, with some units from Micromax actually topping out at exceptional. Most of these phones also provide decent to great FM reception and are ideal for use during long commutes. Camera quality, however, is generally low despite claimed resolutions upto 3.1 MP. Another interesting fact is most of these phones are dual SIM (GSM+GSM).

These we like to classify as Blackberry clones. In terms of feature sets the QWERTY phones range from basic ones for under Rs 3,000 (this would be good only to receive calls and send SMS) to advanced versions set up for browsing and social networking. Prices of these handsets top out at Rs 7,000 and for that amount you can get pretty good value for money.

Another interesting point about the clones is the overall design quality and look and feel. Manufacturers have ensured that these phones have good designs, one that you would be happy to tote around. Be it the candy phones or the QWERTY sets, these handsets generally do not look or even feel “cheap”.
A few LG, Samsung and Nokia phones also made the grade of under Rs 5000/- for candy bar phones. Interestingly these phones only have single SIM slots. Samsung’s Marine and a couple of touch screen phones also beat our price target, therefore ensuring almost every type of phone category could be covered.

By aggressively pursuing rich feature sets at affordable price points, these phones raise the bar for manufacturers across the board. The big brands will have to do more to continue to attract premium pricing for their handsets. Some have already announced plans to intro HD recording as standard in their next generation handsets. Others are looking at dropping price points. Again this replicates the early days of the PC market, where assemblers forced manufacturers to either provide more for the same price or compete aggressively on price. The result of that is a vibrant market with a plethora of choices for customers with varied needs and budgets. We are beginning to see a similar story play out across mobiles.

1)LG GM 200

LG's  GM200 phone has truly hit the sweet spot. This phone offers excellent value for money. It’s very tempting to think of it as a budget multimedia phone. The sound is very loud and clear, and it’s courtesy the Dolby Mobile engine, and speakers which include the 2.1-inch subwoofer. It’s so good, that you wouldn’t want to use the bundled earphones, which are quite decent too. You also have the option to use standard earphones, thanks to the 3.5mm jack. The phone has hotkeys, something uncommon in this range, for FM and music player, and has a dedicated volume control. You can even record FM and store files in the bundled 1 GB microSD card. For Internet connectivity, there’s EDGE/GPRS and WAP and for peer-to-peer connections, there’s Bluetooth. The 2 MP camera is average. It includes a timer, burst mode, color settings, and white balance. In daylight, the images are clear but since there’s no flash, don’t expect good results indoors.

Verdict: In this price we’d say it’s the best pick, especially for music lovers.
For: Excellent sound and FM reception, good ergonomics, battery life and voice clarity.
Against: Camera doesn’t impress and the navigation is slightly sluggish.

2)RAY M20

The M20 from RAY is an ultra-low budget phone which can playback your favorite MP3 tracks and FM radio apart from the basic “Hello Hello” in everyday life. This phone won the Best Value award plainly due ridiculosly low price. The phone has a very rugged build quality and rubber-finish keypad to withstand daily rough use. The presence of a mini-USB interface is only for charging via the bundled charger or a computer. The RAY M20 does not feature Bluetooth or any synchronizing software—backup or syncing music files is not possible. You would need a card reader to transfer your music to the microSD card. The performance of the phone, though average, is good enough for music and casual telephone conversations. The menu navigation is simple and easy but is very sluggish—
just good enough for first time mobile phone users. Overall, the RAY M20 is
just a phone with a built-in FM radio and an MP3 player and is best suited for those who want a telecommunication medium with a little bit of entertainment thrown in.

Verdict: The RAY M20 is a good choice for youngsters and elders who just need a little more than a phone.
For: Rugged build quality, economical
Against: Sluggish menu navigation.


Micromax’s Q5 is, on almost all counts, a really good device for the price. It may not be much to look at but it’s certainly got the others beat on functionality. Only the 2 MP camera was a bit of a disappointment and can be rated as average. Its keypad is well designed and manageable, in fact it seems like Micromax has focused on that particular aspect more than anything else. It has standardized connectivity options like a 3.5mm handsfree socket and mini USB port. The Q5 is equipped with a Yamaha sound engine that offers quite a few settings to enhance the overall audio quality. This was also the only handset that had no issues whatsoever with video playback. The only other issue with the ezpad Q5 is the slightly awkward LCD display that was a little hard to view unless held at an angle. Everything else, including the battery life are excellent value for the overall price.

Verdict: Micromax's ezpad Q5 is a well designed social networking handset with a couple of minor issues.
For: It has plenty of social networking features, it’s multimedia features work well and it has a good battery life.
Against: The Q5 display has a slightly awkward viewing angle and the camera quality isn’t too great.

4)OLIVE V-G8000

The Olive G8000, is designed is a basic handset, that has been designed with price as the primary factor. The QWERTY keypad, with its small keys does make typing a bit of chore but it’s possible to get used to the feel of it after frequent usage. For those with slender fingers, it shouldn’t be a problem. The handset offers no connectivity options as it has neither WAP capability nor Bluetooth or USB transfer either. However it’s primary design was to provide texting support and clarity on calls. It may not deliver the best possible performance on both but calls are clear. The only multimedia functionality is an FM radio which works quite well. The UI is easy to navigate but the display tends to flicker when keys are tapped. The main part of the handset’s weight comes from the 1500mAH battery. If you’re looking at a handset that can only be used for the most basic functions this is it.

Verdict: The Olive G8000 is an extremely simple handset that offers no more than the most basic of mobile functionality.
For: It offers a good battery life with pretty decent FM reception.
Against: The handset’s screen flickers when keypad is used and the keypad itself is a bit awkward.


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