We knew a time would come when quad-core SoCs would go mainstream; thing is, we didn’t expect it to happen this quickly. Micromax was the first to raise the bar when it announced the Canvas HD, a Rs. 15,000, quad-core handset. Cashing in on this new trend, we now have Karbonn Mobiles showing off its upcoming S1 Titanium. Bookings for this new handset seem to be open, but there’s no official announcement, tentative launch date or even a hint at the price available right now. The pricing should be very competitive with the Micromax Canvas HD A116, so we’re looking at anything between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 15,000. Let’s breakdown the specifications that we know of so far and see how it stacks up against the A116.
OS – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
It’s nice to see even smaller OEMs bundling Android Jelly Bean. This means you no longer have to compromise on the OS, even if you’re shopping in the budget section. Our biggest issue with all these manufacturers, however, is that OS updates almost never make it out, which means you’re sort of stuck with the OS that comes out-of-the-box. Unless the handset is also being sold by some other carrier in some other country under a different name, there are chances of getting custom ROMs, else, even that’s not possible.
Cellular network – Dual-SIM GSM and 3G
For whatever reason, the S1 is only a dual-SIM GSM handset and will support 3G on one of the SIM slots. The A21 was a tri-band handset so we wonder what made Karbonn ditch a quad-band radio for a dual-band.
Display – 4.5-inch qHD
Karbonn hasn’t mentioned whether the display is IPS. We guess not, else it would have certainly not left it out. The size of the display is also a lot smaller. It’s a 4.5-inch qHD of 960 x 540 resolution, which puts the pixel count at 244.7ppi. This is again quite less compared to the Canvas HD’s 1280 x 720 resolution on a 5-inch screen, raising the pixel count to 281.2ppi.
The 5MP shooter
Form factor and weight – 9.25 mm thin
Based on Karbonn’s specifications, the S1 will measure 9.2 mm in depth, which makes it slightly thinner than the Micromax Canvas 2 A110. There’s no mention about the weight of the device, but we expect it to be around 130 g.
Wi-Fi – 802.11 ‘n’
One of the highlights of the phone, the S1 titanium will feature 802.11 ‘n’ Wi-Fi, along with support for Draft b and g.
SoC– MediaTek MT6589 (quad-core)
Karbonn hasn’t stated this anywhere on its website, but we have a good feeling that the 1.2GHz quad-core SoC is the same MediaTek MT6589 chipset that’s used in the A116. It consists of a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and PowerVR Series5XT GPU. The SoC is built using the newer 28nm fabrication process, so it should do well in terms of power efficiency. There’s no mention of the media capabilities of the handset, but we wouldn’t rule out 1080p video recording and playback.
Storage – 4GB onboard with room for expansion
The S1 Titanium packs in 4GB of onboard memory with the option to expand via microSD card.
Primary Camera – 5MP sensor with LED flash
The main camera is a step down from the Canvas HD. Instead of an 8MP sensor, we have a 5MP sensor along with an LED flash. We don’t know if this is a regular sensor or a BSI one, although the latter would make up for the lack of resolution.
Front camera – VGA resolution
There’s a VGA front facing camera for video calls and self-portraits.
Sensors – Accelerometer, proximity
Apart from the usual suspects, it’s yet to be seen what other sensors will make it to the Karbonn S1.
We know that GPS will be present, but we’re yet to see one of the lower-end handsets to include the GLONASS chip as well.
Simple and bland design
Battery – Li-Ion 1600mAh
This seems to be the weakest link in an otherwise well-rounded spec sheet. A 1600mAh battery just won’t cut it, especially with a quad-core SoC onboard. Karbonn’s A21 had a larger 1800Ah battery and yet failed to deliver an impressive battery life. With the same screen size, similar resolution, two additional cores and a smaller battery, the results don’t look too promising.
The bottom line
Going by the specifications alone, the Karbonn S1 Titanium is shaping up to be a slightly tamer version of the Canvas HD A116 from Micromax. The smaller and lower resolution screen and 5MP camera all point to a slightly cheaper device, so we could be looking at a launch price of roughly Rs13,000. While this does seem tempting, the Canvas HD offers you a lot more for a slightly higher price. Plus, going by the press images alone, we must say that the S1’s design looks a little bland and bit blocky as compared to the Canvas HD. We’ll leave our final verdict for when we test both the handsets, but for now, we think the Micromax Canvas HD still maintains the lead as far as budget quad-core handsets go.