Chinese tech startup OnePlus has announced a buyback and exchange programme. Under the scheme, consumers can avail up to Rs. 16,000 off on exchange of their older smartphones for a newOnePlus One, OnePlus 2, or OnePlus X smartphone. OnePlus has partnered with ReGlobe and Amazon for the offer.
All you need to do is to order any of the three OnePlus smartphones from Amazon and note down the Order ID. On the mobile purchase page simply click on the “Mobile Buyback” scheme, click on “I Agree” after which the page will automatically redirect to the ReGlobe website.
There you can enter the details of the old smartphone you intend to exchange along with the Amazon Order ID to get the final quote of the OnePlus smartphone you ordered. You can then enter your contact details after which ReGlobe will get in touch with you to pick up the old smartphone. You will get the cash back directly from ReGlobe at the time of the pick up. OnePlus has teamed-up with ReGlobe previously for exchange offers as well.
Meanwhile, OnePlus appears to be already working on its OnePlus 3 smartphone. The OnePlus 3 isexpected to launch in the second quarter of this year according to Carl Pei, Co-Founder of OnePlus. Although Pei did not give a single detail about the upcoming handsets, he did mention the model will “captivate” users just as the company’s first handset, the OnePlus One, had. He added that the OnePlus 3 will feature a “new design” indirectly suggesting users not to expect anything on the similar tracks as the OnePlus 2.
Videocon on Wednesday launched two new budget smartphones, the Videocon Krypton V50DA and the Krypton V50DC – priced at Rs. 5,999 and Rs. 6,099 respectively. The Android 5.0 Lollipop-based dual-SIM handsets as per the company “line up to the brand’s mission of reaching out to the emerging smartphone users of the country who demand the best Android experience on affordable cost.”
The Videocon Krypton V50DA features a 5-inch FWVGA (854×480 pixels) resolution IPS display and is powered by a quad-core MediaTek MT6580 processor clocked at 1.3GHz, clubbed with 1GB of RAM. It houses 8GB of inbuilt storage, which can be expanded via microSD card (up to 32GB). Also included are a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
On the connectivity front, the Krypton V50DA supports 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Micro-USB, GPS, A-GPS, and FM radio. The smartphone is backed by a 3000mAh battery that is rated to deliver up to 280 hours of standby time and up to 7.5 hours of talk-time. It measures 146×74.5×10.2mm.
As for the Videocon Krypton V50DC (seen above), the smartphone features the same display size and resolution, battery capacity, inbuilt storage space, CPU, RAM, and connectivity options. However, it features an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.
“Videocon Mobile Phones is committed to take forward the power of smartphone mobility in the country. We are designing the smartphones, which are affordable and match with the needs of today’s dynamic consumers. As a consumer-first mobile brand, we will continue to bring the latest smartphone innovations at cost-effective pricing and reach out to mass markets in the country.By introducing consumer-focused devices like Videocon Krypton V50DA and Videocon Krypton V50DC, our focus is to introduce high on style smartphones on regular intervals to keep the momentum ongoing in Indian smartphone market,” said Jerold Pereira, Business Head, Videocon Mobile Phones.
HTC on Tuesday unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC 10. Unlike previous flagships – HTC One M8 and HTC One M9, the new HTC 10 doesn’t include the ‘One’ or ‘M’ series monikers.
In a press statement, HTC says that the new flagship will come two variants featuring different Qualcomm Snapdragon processors catering to different markets, the HTC 10 and HTC 10 Lifestyle. The variants however feature the same design, audio, camera, and display, with a similar software experience and battery life.
The unlocked HTC 10 edition will be available from the company’s official website at $699 (approximately Rs. 46,500). It will be available in Glacier Silver and Carbon Grey. The company says that the handset will start shipping in early May and will come with HTC’s Uh Oh Protection, which will offer users one replacement at no charge within the first 12 months for a cracked screen or water damage. We can expect the company to announce the pricing of the HTC 10 Lifestyle. Apart from the HTC 10, the company also unveiled the Ice View case with a semi-transparent cover for the handset. HTC has not announced the price details for the case so far.
The HTC 10 smartphone in the US will come with the Snapdragon 820 processor while the Indian version of the flagship listed as HTC 10 Lifestyle will pack the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor. There are a few differences in both the variants based on region including SoC, RAM, storage, and sapphire lens in the rear camera.
The US variant of the HTC 10 is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor clocked at 2.2GHz. It comes in two configurations – one featuring 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and another with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Both the models supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 2TB). The India variant of the HTC 10 is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor clocked at up to 1.8GHz and comes in 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage model.
For specifications, the HTC 10 features a 5.2-inch Quad HD (1440×2560 pixels) Super LCD 5 display with a pixel density of 564ppi. The smartphone also sports curved edge Gorilla Glass.
It comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense running on top and supports Nano-SIM. As touted in teasers, the HTC 10 sports a 12-UltraPixel laser autofocus camera with dual tone LED flash, BSI sensor and optical image stabilisation (OIS). It comes with f/1.8 aperture and Sapphire Lens (in some regions including India).
HTC says that the rear camera on the 10 is its new generation UltraPixels camera with 1.55 micron pixels. Other camera features include self-timer (up to 10 seconds), face detection, RAW format support, Auto HDR, and Hyperlapse. The new HTC 10 flagship also features Slow motion video with support for 720P at 120fps. There is a 5-megapixel front-facing camera as well featuring autofocus, BSI sensor, optical image stabilisation (OIS), and auto selfie (keep still or smile).
The HTC 10, as touted, features the BoomSound tech with the company claiming handset “engineered for audiophiles.” The BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition comes with Dolby Audio and three microphones with noise cancellation. The HTC 10 packs a 3000mAh battery which is rated to deliver a talk time of up to 21 hours on 3G networks and a standby time of up to 21 days on 3G. HTC adds that the 10 smartphone features Power saving mode as well as Extreme power saving mode. The HTC 10 also supports Quick Charge 3.0 with cool charge, which means improved thermal management. The company claims that the handset can be charged up to 50 percent in just 30 minutes.
The company in its official release stresses that it reduced the number of duplicative and pre-loaded apps as well as bloatware. With HTC 10, the company introduced a new Freestyle Layout, which will no longer have an on-screen grid. The company is leaving it to the users to choose their own set of apps by allowing dragging icons, stickers and widgets anywhere on the home screen.
Connectivity options on the HTC 10 include Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, GPRS/ EDGE, 3G, and 4G. The India listing of the HTC 10 Lifestyle confirms that the handset is compatible with 4G LTE bands in the country.
One surefire way to tempt people to buy your product is to offer it at a low price, and that is exactly what practically every Android phone maker in India has been doing over the past year or two. We’re now seeing smartphones at the Rs. 5,000 mark which we wouldn’t have imagined seeing selling for even twice as much a little while ago.
The lower prices go, the more potential first-time buyers will take a leap. That means there are willing and able customers out there who don’t necessarily fit the mould that manufacturers have been catering to. Sensing an opportunity that foreign companies will take time to capitalise on, Micromaxhas been pushing out low-end phones with specific tweaks that it thinks will cater to newbies – particularly non-urban, non-English-speaking ones who have only ever used voice and maybe SMS services until now.
The new Canvas Spark 3, priced at just Rs. 4,999, could be just the right product for a huge number of buyers who have never before had a viable computing device that they could afford and use. We’re all for digital inclusiveness, so we’re really eager to see whether Micromax has managed to implement these strategies well.
Look and feel
Surprisingly for a Rs. 5,000 phone, the Canvas Spark 3 looks and feels pretty good. It doesn’t seem cheap or poorly fabricated like low-cost devices used to. The front is plain, and only the camera and earpiece tell you which way is up – navigation buttons are on-screen rather than capacitive touch points below the display. There’s very little blank space to the left and right of the screen, making it relatively easy to stretch across it with one thumb.
You won’t find this phone too heavy, and its curves makes it pretty comfortable to hold and use. A metallic band runs around the sides. You’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right, the audio socket on top, and the Micro-USB port at the bottom.
The rear is a removable plastic panel with a matte texture which allows for a decent grip. The camera and flash are up top, with a Micromax logo beneath them. Towards the bottom is a fairly large speaker grille. The two Micro-SIM slots and the microSD slot are beneath the cover, and you’ll have to pop the battery out each time you want to swap a card.
The Canvas Spark 3 comes with a charger, USB cable, headset, adhesive screen protector, and even a little microfibre cloth to wipe off smudges and fingerprints. That’s a decent package considering the price.
The Canvas Spark 3 uses a processor from Spreadtrum, a lesser-known Chinese chip design outfit. The SC7731G is fairly bare-bones, with four ARM Cortex-A7 CPU cores running at 1.3GHz, and a Mali-400MP2 GPU. The phone can handle two Micro-SIMs but there’s no support for 4G, which makes it a bit of an outlier in today’s market.
There’s 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. However, the phone only reports 4.76 GB of usable space, of which quite a bit is already occupied by system files leaving barely anything for users. This is the first phone we’ve reviewed in a really long time that didn’t have enough space for all our benchmarking apps and files. You’ll need a microSD card for sure, and so it’s a further disappointment to see that official support only goes up to 32GB.
The 5.5-inch screen has a resolution of 720×1280, which is one of the few bright spots on the spec sheet. The primary camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and you also get a 5-megapixel front camera. However, video recording only goes up to 720p with the rear camera and 480p with the front one.
You get Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. The phone appears to lack an ambient light sensor, so brightness always has to be adjusted manually. The removable battery has a rated capacity of 2500mAh.
Micromax’s software choices are a bit confusing – the company seems to be targeting first-time Android users with the highly simplistic multi-language Indus launcher, but then there are some overly complicated apps and a whole bunch of features that would overwhelm any non-tech-savvy user.
First of all, the phone runs Android 5.1 but when you boot it up, you’ll see the custom Indus home screen with seven giant icons for basic functions. There’s a second home screen to the left, for no apparent reason, and sliding to the right takes you to the equivalent of a separate app drawer with its own pages that you scroll through horizontally. Each time you exit an app, you’re taken back to the leftmost home screen, so you have to swipe multiple times to get back to the page you were on, which is really slow. It’s a confusing navigation scheme, but at least app icons have a place to stay.
Support for home screen widgets seems to have been eliminated altogether. There’s an iOS-style dock with four oversized icons on the app drawer pages, but neither this nor the home screen layout can be customised at all. What’s most disappointing is that they just take you to the standard Android dialler, contacts, camera and messaging apps – the extent of UI simplification is literally only that the icons have been enlarged and pinned in place.
You can easily get to the Indus launcher settings, where you can select languages and tweak other basic settings, but the main Android settings icon has been hidden. You’ll have to pull down the notifications shade, pull down again to show quick shortcuts, and then use the Settings icon there. The Google Settings icon is still shown with the other apps, as if things weren’t confusing enough. Interestingly, there’s also an option in the Indus settings to switch to the stock AOSP launcher, which is a huge relief.
Local-language support is basically implemented the same way as we saw on the Micromax Unite 2(Review | Pictures) almost two years ago, except that the list has been pruned from 21 languages to 10. UI localisation is still spotty, with some labels changing language and others staying in English no matter what. You can select two primary languages and toggle between them quickly. The Indus keyboard is a little crude, but gets its job done.
Micromax has preloaded quite a lot of software, some of which is of little use and redundant. There’s the Indus app store, another one called App Center, and Micromax’s own M!Games and M!Live storefronts. There are also a few common apps and games: Amazon Shopping, OLX, Ixigo Cabs, Snapdeal, Hike, Quickr, Scandid, Opera Mini, Gaana, Clean Master, CM Security, CM Locker, and M Travel. Luckily, the third-party ones are all removable to reclaim space.
CM Locker replaces the standard lock screen with a far more complicated, interactive one. You’ll be prompted to give it permissions to handle notifications and other things. You can see detailed weather information if you swipe to the left, and there’s an iOS-lookalike shortcuts panel if you swipe upwards. There are also app shortcuts and little bits of information about charging status. It even has its own settings panel from which you can choose security settings and find themes, though these throw up a message saying they won’t work unless you install CM Launcher, which is bound to confuse users. There are also ads, which seems like a running theme across Micromax’s software selection.
CM Locker displays ads on your lock screen, but what’s worse though is that some of the other preloaded apps constantly spam you with ads in the form of system notifications. We received around 10 such alerts each day, pushing app downloads and offering “services” such as Bollywood gossip and dating tips – all for monthly fees. At one point we were “challenged” to earn prizes by turning on a battery saving mode and then share that “achievement” to social media.
Clean Master and CM Security also send notifications about things like purging apps from RAM, which will unnecessarily worry users. CM Security has some useful features like grabbing photos of people who try to guess your passcode, but is also blatantly misleading in some ways, with a “Wi-Fi Security” module that did nothing but run a speed test (over 3G, no less) and then suggest that we download unrelated apps listed as “recommended features”. Yeesh.
First of all, this phone lags a lot. Popping out of an app to the home screen can sometimes take a few seconds. A lot of apps struggle to function even in basic tasks, such as swiping through the photo gallery. This might be partly because of the CM Security app which runs in the background and seems to interact with running processes – we ran the pre-installed Snapdeal app and it threw up a message warning us that it was malicious and “may lead to financial losses and privacy leakage”.
The phone’s display is pretty low-quality. Dark scenes in videos look artificial, and viewing angles are extremely poor. That said, at least the 720×1280 resolution ensures that things aren’t too grainy, and we’re glad to have at least that much on a phone this affordable. The built-in speaker gets surprisingly loud. Sound quality leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s good enough for games and voices in videos, if not music.
Benchmark tests showed that the Canvas Spark 3’s hardware is just barely able to keep things running. We got 21,603 points in AnTuTu and 5,023 overall in Quadrant. 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme just about managed to run, with a very weak result of 1,768 points, and GFXBench managed only 6fps. 3D gaming is simply out of the question – you really shouldn’t expect to do anything beyond the most basic things with this phone.
Battery life was fairly decent, at 7 hours, 13 minutes in our video loop test. The screen is by far the biggest drain on the battery, and so with regular usage, we found that the phone lasted through a full day with no complaints – not that we did any gaming or anything intense during that time.(Tap to see full-sized images)
The phone’s cameras were not quite as bad as we had expected. Focusing takes a while and there is significant shutter lag as well, so forget about spontaneous shots. On the other hand, quality is okay in the daytime. We needed steady hands and relatively even lighting to avoid complicated exposures, but at least colours were okay and there wasn’t too much artificial compression. Low-light capabilities are practically non-existent, and you’ll need direct illumination in order to be able to make anything out. Video was a bit grainy, which was to be expected.
We have to keep in mind that a huge proportion of the potential market for the Canvas Spark 3 has not only never used a smartphone before, but might never have used any kind of computer. While it certainly is remarkable that we can now buy a device of this kind for less than Rs. 5,000, the reality is that there’s a lot that this phone cannot do – and we don’t mean just its weak performance.
The messy software will not help anyone that it is targeted at, namely first-time users and those who aren’t comfortable with English. There’s so much more needed to make this experience than just a couple of fonts and oversized buttons. The Micromax Canvas Spark 3 could have been a much better product if just a little more thought had been put into things like identifying and catering to the needs of its target audience, rather than trying to cram in as much adware as possible.
Those who already have at least a passing familiarity with Android and just want a really low-cost phone will find the Micromax Canvas Spark 3 adequate. It can do the basics, has a serviceable camera, and doesn’t seem like it will fall apart soon after being bought. That said, models priced even at Rs. 7,000-8,000 offer a whole lot more bang for the buck.
It is no secret that HTC will be launching the HTC 10 flagship smartphone on April 12, based on the invitations sent last week. However, a new rumour now hints at when the smartphone will be hitting retail shelves. Some leaked live images have also reached the Web showing the smartphone in close-up shots along with its metal chassis. In the meanwhile, an online listing said to be that of the upcoming smartphone’s replacement shell has also been spotted on a Chinese e-commerce website.
Starting with the release date rumour, the HTC 10 is now said to be available starting April 15, which is three days after the scheduled April 12 launch. The rumoured release date however, is only for Taiwan. Of course, there is no official confirmation from the company. However, tipster @evleaks last month said the handset’s US launch is set for the second week of May.
As for the leaks, the HTC 10 has this time leaked in a set of live images coming from Nowwherelse, a French tech website. There is nothing new to talk about the images showing the HTC 10 as the smartphone design stays the same as seen in past leaks. The live shots besides showing the broad chamfered edges also show the metal clad HTC 10 to sport a physical home button below the display along with two capacitive buttons for moving back and accessing multi window options. The slightly protruding rear camera with dual-LED flash is visible along with two antennas running at the top and bottom of the back panel.
Additionally, an online listing of the alleged HTC 10 replacement shell on Taobao, a Chinese e-commerce website, has also been spotted. The shells are seen available in Gray and Black, and cost around CNY 190 (roughly Rs. 2,000). Nothing more is mentioned on the listing page.
Panasonic has launched a new Eluga-series smartphone, the Eluga Arc, priced at Rs. 12,490.
The biggest highlight of the Eluga Arc is it features 4G LTE as well as voice over LTE (VoLTE), which means it should allow voice calls via mobile data on supporting networks. It also packs inbuilt IR sensor to control IR based smart home electronic appliances. The company is also targeting the new Eluga Arc to on-the-go professionals as the handset is enabled with Android for Work support.
As for the specifications, the Panasonic Eluga Arc features a 4.7-inch IPS 2.5D curved HD (720×1280 pixels) display. It is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC clocked at 1.2GHz with Adreno 306 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage which can be expanded using a microSD card (up to 32GB).
Other features of the handset include an 8-megapixel rear-camera with LED flash, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and 1800mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 1.0 support. The dual-SIM capable smartphone supports 4G Indian LTE bands, 3G HSPA+, Wi-FI 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and other standard connectivity options. The company notes that the Panasonic Eluga Arc will support 4G on only one SIM. On the software front, the handset runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The handset comes in only Black colour option.
Commenting on the launch, Pankaj Rana, Business Head, Mobility Division, Panasonic India, said, “For smartphone users, a major concern is the confidentiality and security of the highly volatile data, with cloud storage usage growing rapidly across segments. This control-sensitive device, which achieves complex tasks with a single fingerprint is personalized for the user and protects the smartphone investment. Our first curved display device in the 4G/LTE series, the Arc is rich in technology innovation, including an inbuilt sensor to operate home automated appliances.”