Android phones are getting cheaper by the day with a Micromax here and a Karbonn there ensuring that users don’t really have to pay big bucks to enjoy the Android experience. Earlier, we reviewed the Micromax A70 smartphone and that phone did impress us. Now, Karbonn has come up with their new entry level A1 Android smartphone and it’s even cheaper than the A70. But, is it worth your money? Let’s have a look.
The Karbonn A1 - quite cheap!
Design and Build Quality
The Karbonn A1 comes in an all-black candy bar form factor. The edges are rounded off and they fit nicely into your palm. The phone does appear quite small and light at 105 grams. As part of the design, there is a matrix of white dots that runs across the back. The phone feels like it’s made out of plastic, but the build is quite sturdy and strong. The 3.5mm jack is located at the top, with the volume rocker on the left and the speaker and 3.2 MP shooter at the back of the device. The A1 has a directional keypad, as well as call and end buttons below the 2.8-inch (240 x 320 pixels) capacitive touch screen.
Directional keypad could have made way for a bigger screen
Considering the Android OS has more of a touch-based interface, navigating using the keypad is much slower than just tapping on the screen. Also, there are three capacitive buttons for home, option and back. So, we have a separate back and an end button, which does make your thumb naturally press the end button to go back to the main screen. But, that bit locks the screen straightaway and it will take a little time to get used to. The microSD card is housed under the back panel and hence hot swapping is available. The phone has motion sensor, but there’s no ambient light sensor or proximity sensor. The build of the A1 is pretty good, but we’re not big fans of the directional keypad.
A side view
The Karbonn A1 runs on Android 2.2.2 and currently there’s no news on whether a Gingerbread update is available for the phone, yet. It has Android’s stock interface and navigation is a little sluggish on the 600 MHz processor. The phone starts hanging a little if around 4-5 applications are running in the background. But give it a second or two and things get back on track again. As far as typing is concerned, the screen is a little small to type smoothly using the QWERTY keyboard, but Karbonn have got a Swype-styled method of input that does help whilst typing with one hand.
The home screen - stock Android
An annoying thing we noticed is that the microSD removal message just sticks to the notification bar once you mount the card. There’s absolutely no way to get rid of the message. Also, every now and then the card will automatically unmount itself or will not be recognized. It seemed more like a software issue, as the Micromax Andro A60 had a similar problem. As far as benchmarks are concerned, AnTuTu gave a score of 872, while the phone scored 7.47 points in Linpack’s single thread benchmark test, which is a little lower than the Micromax A70.
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