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Are these cheap smartphones worth buying?

January 06, 2014 15:55 IST

Are these cheap smartphones worth buying?

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Agamoni Ghosh, Harsh Vardhan & Vipul Vivek

There has been a deluge of smartphones and the big brands are often out of reach for most buyers, constrained by budgets. 

We review some offerings from the lesser-known brands and see whether they live up to their claims of a smart experience without burning a hole in your pocket.

Maxx MSD7 3G AX50

No Dhoni magic

MAXX's MSD7 AX50 fails to recreate Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni's magic, the company's brand ambassador. Named after him, the dual SIM model (both GSM) is part of its MSD series.

The AX50 has decent looks but is too heavy at 182 gm. It boasts a mammoth five-inch screen but with a poor resolution of 400x800 pixels. The biggest disappointment is without a doubt the sloppy touchscreen.

Be ready for your fingers to put up a strong fight with the screen trying to operate the phone.

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Maxx MSD7 3G AX50

The processor is quite strong and despite the 512MB RAM, which might be considered ancient in today's smartphone market, rarely does the phone hang even when multitasking.

The AX50 comes with a 5MP rear camera with flash and 0.3MP front one with video recording. 

The camera utterly disappoints with substandard pictures lacking precision and clarity, mainly due to the absence of any autofocus option.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Maxx Mobiles
Tags: AX50 , RAM

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The phone could be a bargain for those fancying large screens without spending much, as it comes at Rs 6,262.

Display: 5 inches, 400x800 pixels

OS: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Processor: 1GHz dual-core

Camera: 5MP rear camera with flash and 0.3MP front camera

Battery: 2,000 mAh

RAM: 512MB

Storage: 4GB (internal); 32GB (expandable)

Price: Rs 6,262

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Photographs: Courtesy, Maxx Mobiles
Tags: RAM

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Josh Thunder

Where's the thunder?

In an already crowded smartphone market, here is another entrant, Josh Thunder. On paper, this one too boasts all the features that a regular smartphone user would ask for.

A massive 5.7-inch high-definition (HD) display, with decent clarity. The display type is IPS with better viewing angles and more brightness.

The gadget employs the Android 4.2.1 operating system and is powered by a 1.2GHz quadcore processor. 

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Image: Josh Thunder
Photographs: Courtesy, Josh Mobiles
Tags: IPS

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This one is a standard processor in this price range. The RAM is also standard at 1GB. The internal memory at 2 GB is very less. This implies that this phone won't come with many preloaded apps.

The internal memory can be extended up to 32GB using a microSD card. There is an 8MP autofocus primary rear camera with LED flash for low-light photography and is capable of 720-pixel HD recording.

The front camera comes with a 5MP sensor, in line with rivals in the price range. The battery capacity of 2,600 mAh will provide you with a talktime of only five hours. A let-down on performance, it has frequent lags, a really average gaming experience and a troubled touchscreen.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Josh Mobiles
Tags: LED , RAM

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All of this make me feel that spending Rs 15,999 on this is not at all a smart option.

Display: 5.7 inches, HD IPS

Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core

Memory: 2GB internal; expandable up to 32GB

Camera: 8MP rearcamera, 5MP front camera

OS: Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean

Battery: 2,600mAh

Price: Rs 15,999


Photographs: Courtesy, Josh Mobiles
Tags: HD IPS

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Celkon Mona Lisa ML-5

Spare Mona Lisa

What's in a name, you ask. I say a lot if it is Celkon's Mona Lisa we are talking about. Everything about it is average - touchscreen, resolution, storage, camera.

Nothing wrong with that since it is meant for the average Joe. But why this misplaced aesthetic branding? Da Vinci might have been interred centuries ago but I think I can still hear him groan.

ML-5 has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution of only 540x960 pixels. It runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. It's a dual SIM smartphone with a 1.2GHz quadcore processor and 1GB RAM. It comes with 1GB of phone storage and about 1.7 GB for apps but that can be expanded up to 32GB with a microSD card. 

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Photographs: Courtesy, Celkon

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The battery is run of the mill. The rear camera is 8MP and the front 2MP - but these numbers never really tell you anything.

Photos are grainy. Don't dream of a Mona Lisa snap on this one. 

At a maximum retail price of Rs 10,999, this is not the best offering.

Display: 4.5 inches, 540x960 pixels

Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core

Camera: 8MP rear, 2MP front

Battery: 1,800 mAh

OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean

Memory: 4GB (1.71GB for apps & 1GB for phone storage); expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card

RAM: 1GB

Price: Rs 10,999


Photographs: Courtesy, Celkon
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BSNL Penta Smart PS650

The budget phablet

Are you often confused about how big a phone you should buy? A tablet might be too big and a portable smartphone too small.

BSNL's Penta Smart PS650 might just be the thing for you, given its phablet form factor. While most tablets launched in India so far have been between seven and 10 inches, the PentaSmart PS650 is the first smartphone with a 6.5-inch screen.

The brick-shaped phone is pleasantly light and is comfortable to carry, unlike the bigger tablets or phones in the market. However, the major put-off for the phone is its shoddy resolution at 800x400 pixels. The touchscreen is pretty smooth and performs well.

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Image: BSNL Penta Smart PS650
Photographs: Courtesy, BSNL

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The phone is up to date with Android's 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core Cortex A7 processor with Mali 400MP GPU, which happens to be the highlight of the phone with a better than expected processor performance, given a RAM of just 512MB. Multitasking on this phone is a cakewalk.

The battery life is also impressive, lasting more than 20 hours even after heavy use.

The Penta Smart PS650's multimedia features, however, aren't worthy of boasting. The worst is the camera resolution of just 2MP for the rear camera (without flash) and a VGA front camera - both duds. Like most budget smartphones in India, the Penta features an FM radio, an integral consumer demand in the country, but the audio quality is below par.

The Penta PS650 is an impressive phone among the budget offerings, given it serves the purpose of a phone and a tablet at just Rs 7,999.

Display: 6.5 inches, 800x480 pixels

Processor: 1.2GHz dual-core cortex A7, with Mali 400 GPU

OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean

RAM: 512MB

Camera: 2MP rear, VGA front (no flash)

Memory: 4GB internal, expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card

Battery: 2,500mAh

Price: Rs 7,999


Photographs: Courtesy, BSNL

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