The mobile industry saw a substantial rise in budget ‘smartphones’ as the demand for ‘heavy on the features’ handsets made quite an impact. 2011 saw companies that have been focused on Java-based feature phones like Spice, Micromax, Lava and even Karbonn taking the Android route. The ‘smartphone’ is now available at an affordable rate and is functional enough (in some cases) to deliver on all that one can expect from, in that price tag.
Please keep in mind though, that the criteria for our selection is based strictly on handsets that were sent to our labs for review, their overall tech2 scores and value for money quotient. These are also handsets that we would recommend to our readers, should they be looking for mobiles in this budget. There are plenty of other devices out there that may very well be just as good as some of these, however, if we haven’t had the opportunity to test them ourselves; they won’t be there on our list. So, here are our nominees for 2011’s best mobile handsets under Rs. 15,000.
Motorola Quench XT-5
Motorola came back with a vengeance in 2011, launching smartphones like the Quench XT-5 all over the place. Not all of them survived the cruel competition, but the XT-5 was one of the victors. In its simple form with a trackball for navigation and a pretty decent battery life, this FroYo running handset had quite a bit of functionality offered at an affordable price.
Qunech XT-5, simple and tasetful
While the S12 might not really be international grade, it does pretty well for itself back home. Its design from comes off as sleek and yet somewhat elegant with a leather-like finish at the rear. The 600mAh process manages to make the best of the overall running on FroYo. The 3D UI is both colorful and quite well laid out. It stands in our list simply because as far as affordable smartphones go, the S12 made quite a hit in our labs, especially in the battery department.
The HTC Explorer is a neat little smartphone that’s designed to be comfortable to use and thanks to Sense UI and a 600mAh processor with an Adreno GPU, it does that quite well. With plenty of connectivity, handy preloaded apps, SRS WOW audio enhancement technology, an above average 3.15 MP camera and a pretty decent battery life the Explorer comes off as quite a good deal for your money.
At the price the A70 is available for, Micromax has ensured that their latest smartphone offering delivers to its full potential. It features a front-facing camera, 3G support, 600mAh processor that’s perfectly optimized for the handset's capabilities. It even fared quite well in our battery tests. On the design front it’s simple, has a responsive touchscreen and is quite comfortable for toting around without hassles.
Micromax A70, not a bad deal
In the touch and type smartphone segment, the HTC ChaCha fared well in our test labs. Dubbed the ‘Facebook Phone’ or at least the first one, thanks to its tight FB integration and dedicated button, the ChaCha proved to be a well-designed device with a comfortable to use UI and well-spaced keypad. The Handset, with its 5MP auto focus camera and quick access and sharing on one of the world's most popular social networks makes it quite a real contender for the Gadget of the Year title.
Samsung performed well enough in our tests to make it to this list. With a whole bunch of handy features and equipped with their DNSe audio engine, Samsung’s Galaxy Fit was a good deal for the price. The 5 megapixel camera is of the auto focus variety and further enhances the handsets media capabilities.
Micromax X450 Van Gogh
One of Micromax’s more innovative devices to make it out this year was the Van Gogh. Its curved shape, for one, made it easy to grip and its lightweight design made it quite portable. But what was truly unique about the handset was the fact that it features a mono Bluetooth headset that had its very own cradle in the rear of the handset. It made it easy to store and use when necessary without hampering the design or comfort level of the handset. The cradle also served as a charger for this Dual SIM headset. The X450’s battery life also performed quite well ensuring its place in our Gadget of the Year listing.
The Van Gogh, innovative design
iBall Senior Aasaan
iBall launched a series of new handsets this year and the Aasaan was one of their simplest models, ever. As far as handsets go, it was a pleasure to just go back to the old days of simplistic devices that offered decent battery lives, no complications, and still had a few features like an FM radio to add value. The Aasaan incorporates all of these features and adds a large keypad, torch light LED and an SOS function as well. Designed for the elderly and those who just want to stick to the basics, the Aasaan is the best choice at the price it came at.
One of the funkiest handsets that Nokia launched this year was the X3-02 under their Touch and Type range of Symbian devices. Not only did the device look and feel good for use, it was well equipped for media as well as overall functionality. The X3-02 offered users a responsive touchscreen with large comfortable to use keypad and shortcuts keys for regularly used features. It’s still available in some jazzy colors and it’s battery life also managed to work out in its favor.
X3-02, a funky new design concept
Nokia’s budget handsets made a big splash this year with the likes of the X2-01 that was designed to cater to those who weren’t looking for anything too complicated or heavy on the features they wouldn’t use. The QWERTY toting handset is quite basic, but manages to offer users everything they need in a small budget.
That’s it for our nominees just ‘turn the page’ to see our winner.