Not long after Micromax announced the Canvas HD, Karbonn stepped up to the plate with the S1 Titanium. The handset boasted of a quad-core CPU as well, but was priced a lot more aggressively as compared to the Canvas A116. With a very similar feature set as Micromax’s offering, can the Titanium S1 prove to be a cheaper alternative to the A116? Let’s find out.
Design and build
The S1 has a solid build and doesn’t flex or creak under pressure. The chassis is very sturdy and can withstand a few bumps and falls of everyday use. What we absolutely detest is the hideous lacquer finish of the phone. The sides have a very tacky fake brushed metal design and the mirror finish for the rear panel stays pristine for just a few seconds after removing the rear protective film. The entire phone is one big finger print magnet and is very difficult to maintain.
Not much of a looker
We have a microUSB port at the bottom, a volume rocker on the side and the power and headphone jacks on the top. The power button would have been more ergonomic at the side since there’s quite a bit of excess bezel above and below the phone, making it longer than it has to be. Karbonn has also added four capacitive buttons but arranged them weirdly. The home button is placed not in the centre but to the extreme left, which can be confusing. The front also features an ambient light sensor and proximity sensor. Overall, the phone has good build quality, but the finish leaves a lot to be desired.
The S1 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play SoC comprising four ARM Cortex-A5 CPU cores running at 1.2GHz each and Adreno 203 for graphics. Compared to the MediaTek MT6589 chipset in the Canvas HD, the S4 Play isn’t very efficient. For starters, it still uses the older 45nm fabrication process instead of the 28nm process, and the CPU cores are based on the older Cortex-A5 architecture instead of the Cortex-A7 cores used in the MT6589 chipset. Even the GPU is older and only supports up to 720p video. You won’t notice much of a difference in simple apps and the UI in general, but the difference is apparent in stressful apps like games.
UI is quick and fluid
Coming to the 4.5-inch display, Karbonn says it’s an IPS panel, but we have a hard time believing them. The viewing angles and colours are very poor for an IPS panel and the screen sensitivity is not very good either. Colours feel oversaturated and the screen is not lit evenly, making the corners seem darker than the rest of the screen. There’s also very jarring colour shift, which happens when you tilt the screen even slightly in most directions.
Highly reflective back panel is a pain to maintain
The OS is stock Jelly Bean 4.1.2 with just minor tweaks here and there. You get toggle switches in the notification bar and a couple of extra settings for managing the two SIM cards. There’s no option for OTA updates nor an app to manage updates, so we doubt there will be any in the future.
Media is handled by the stock video and audio player. Audio quality is strictly average, but audio through the loudspeaker is pretty good. You also get an audio manager that lets you adjust the audio from the loudspeaker and headphones individually. You can adjust the bass and even apply equaliser settings for the overall audio. We couldn’t find a radio app, however. There’s a video streaming app called nexGTv pre-installed as well.
Decent audio management
The video player only supports MP4 files ad that too only up to 720p. Full HD 1080p videos do play but not without stutter. There’s 4GB of onboard memory, which can be expanded via the hot-swappable microSD card slot.