If you thought Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 was big, what would you say about Karbonn’s latest phablet Karbonn A30, which comes with a 5.9 inch screen? The phone is really big, though in the hand it does fit as well as the Note 2.
However, at Rs 11,500 it is really something to look out for. So when we got a chance to get an exclusive hands on of the phone we couldn’t refuse the offer. The device, incidentally, is available at Saholic.com.
Karbonn A30 is based on Android 4.0 and offers dual SIM connectivity and all the sensors that you normally expect from an Android phone. Here is what we felt about the device after spending a couple of hours with it.
The phone is big, though it’s not a 7 inch tablet and can still be used like a phone without being an embarrassment. It measures 165 x 90 x 10 mm, which makes it not very bulky.
It is just about 10 mm wider than Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and about 0.6 mm thicker and 14 mm longer. However, the downside is its weight, which, at approximately 260 grams, makes it the heaviest phone in the market. The device comes with a very fine textured leather case, though it is white in colour, which makes it easy to soil.
However, it looks elegant and not very flashy. The USB port is at the bottom and there is a 3.5 mm jack on top. The power/lock button is located on the right side, which makes it easier to operate.
The button would have been difficult to reach had it been at the top as the phone is quite a bit longer than its nearest rival. The volume rocker is placed on the left side. The back cover gets a matte finish (in case of a leather cover it is finished in aluminium,) making it easier to grip. When you put on the leather cover, you can hold the phone like a small book, making it really easy to hold with one hand and operate with the other.
A large size, however, means that single-handed operation is not a good option. Inside the cover you have the battery, two SIM slots and a micro SD card slot, for which you do not need to remove the battery. The quality of the plastic is good, with just the right amount of flex to avoid cracks in case the phone is dropped (we did not drop it, and therefore can’t testify to this).
Karbonn has used a WVGA (800 x 480 pixel) resolution screen, which is fairly standard across budget tablets and phablets with very few exceptions getting higher resolution. The display’s brightness is good and so is the colour reproduction and sharpness, and though it is not the best it is certainly not something that we can complain about, given the kind of screen real estate it offers at such a remarkable price.
Karbonn has also stated that it has used a toughened glass that is scratch resistant, though it is not Gorilla Glass.
The tablet has a 1 GHz dual core processor coupled with 512 MB of RAM. The processor offers decent speeds, although a 1 GB RAM would have done better justice to the processor’s power. We played Temple Run on the phone and it worked just great, with no lag at all. However, the device we used was a new one and was not yet loaded with apps and user data, which means that the RAM was still mostly free.
Once the user starts to load the phone with apps, the RAM will tend to run out faster, slowing down the device. There are very few phones in the budget category that offer anything more than 512 MB RAM and therefore it doesn’t take away anything from this phone. A smart user who chooses apps well and deletes useless apps regularly will be able to get decent performance from the phone.
Karbonn has put in an 8 megapixel camera along with a single LED flash at the back, and a 1.3 megapixel camera in the front. The camera, though, gets grainy while used in low light when you zoom into a picture. Other than that the picture quality of the phone was above average as compared with phones like Micromax Canvas 2 A110 and other budget phones with 8 megapixel shooters.
The colour reproduction and sharpness levels were good and in small rooms the flash worked well so that even in low light the pictures were reasonably good. The front camera is good for video calls and for taking self portraits to be used on Facebook etc, though they would be unfit for printing.
The phone gets a 2500 mAh battery, which is required given its large display. We tried to drain the battery in the two hours that we had the phone for, and we managed to drain only about 10 per cent, which indicates an average battery life of one and a half days.
However, we will wait to get the phone for a longer period to better assess its battery life.
In the limited time we had the phone for we were impressed with Karbonn’s effort. It is a pocketable device that offers a tablet-like screen. The phone is price well and offers all the bells and whistles that you expect from an Android phone, with connectivity features like 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and micro USB. You get 2 GB usable internal memory and 32 GB expandable memory. The quality of the product is also good.
On the downside the phone is slightly heavy, and would have been better if it had slightly more RAM. Even with these two drawbacks the phone is well worth considering, but do first take the dummy in your hand and decide if it fits well in your palm before you buy the phone.
We will publish a full review once we get the phone in our office. In the meantime we can only say it feels good, though long term performance is something we still need to access. If you want to buy this phone you can do so at Saholic.com.
Samsung has added another 5-inch screen phone to its Galaxy line-up, introducing a new device with a mid-range price.
The South Korean company announced the Galaxy Grand early Tuesday morning. The phone is similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the company’s 5.5-inch-screen phone that is available from most U.S. carriers for $300 on a new contract.
Samsung declined to say how the device would be priced, but mid-range smartphones typically sell for about $100 to $150 with a contract.
Although the Galaxy Grand has a large display, many of its specifications fall short compared with the Galaxy Note II, as one would expect with a mid-range phone.
For starters, the phone’s WVGA display isn’t HD, with just an 800-by-480-pixel resolution. The Galaxy Grand’s 1.2 GHz dual-core processor is also less powerful than the Galaxy Note II’s, and the Galaxy Grand doesn’t come with the S Pen stylus.
The phone, however, does run on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and it features an 8-megapixel rear camera. Additionally, the Galaxy Grand has 8 GB of storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card.
Samsung did not provide details regarding when the phone might come to the U.S. or which network will carry it.
Here in the U.S., Android was front and center early in the week as five carriers announced they would be selling Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Verizon, Sprint, ATT, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular are all prepping pre-orders or hyping their launch dates for Samsung’s flagship phone. Some may start selling this month, while others will deliver the goods in July. Either way, this launch differs greatly from last year’s Galaxy S model, which first launched overseas in May but didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 4 to 6 months later, depending the carrier.
Perhaps more interesting is Samsung’s “one phone for all” approach. Instead of multiple Galaxy S III models with slight carrier tweaks, Samsung has taking an Apple-like approach and created one singular design for the phone.
That means, for example, that the U.S. models will have the same hardware button on the front as the international versions. The only differences for the U.S. are the chip that powers the phone and the amount of memory. Since Samsung’s quad-core Exynos processor doesn’t yet have LTE integration, the company is using Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon S4 for all U.S. Galaxy S III handsets and boosting the RAM from 1 GB to 2 GB. I haven’t yet used a U.S. version of the Galaxy S III, but I expect this combo to be similar in performance to the international version.
Samsung has been in Apple’s sights in the courts lately — Cupertino is already trying to stop the Galaxy S III from being sold in the U.S. — but the bigger target seems to be HTC and its Android phones. Last month, Apple’s legal efforts were enough to hold up shipments of various HTC One models in the U.S., which forced HTC to make a change to its software. That change was enough to get shipments flowing again, but this week, Apple said that’s still not enough to solve the problem. This entire situation is worth watching because the alleged patent infringement — as I read it, that is — could apply to any Android hardware maker. In some sense, Apple is indirectly fighting with Google by aiming at the smaller targets: The handset makers themselves.
Just as the week came to a close, I received a review unit of Toshiba’s Excite 7.7 tablet; one of the few that ships with Android 4.0. The device is a Wi-Fi-only model, which may disappoint some, but the positive is that there’s no monthly bill for mobile broadband. The Excite 7.7 is physically very similar to the Galaxy Tab 7.7 I purchased earlier this year and has the same 1280 x 800 resolution using what Toshiba calls a “Pixel Pure AMOLED Display”. I see little difference between the two screens.
Where I can see variance is in the overall experience and performance. Toshiba opted for Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip, which keeps apps, games and video moving quickly. Plus, I find the tablet experience to be improved with Android 4.0; my Galaxy Tab 7.7 is still stuck on Android 3.2. Toshiba didn’t hide Android with a skin either; it’s generally a pure experience; the only exception being some apps grouped in folders on the home screen. I’ll have a full review soon, but the key data point that stands out is the price: $499 which may be too much for a small slate. Here’s my first look so you can start to decide for yourself on the value.
Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.
The popular Asus Transformer Prime now has a cheaper cousin called the Transformer Pad TF300 and reviews are starting to trickle in. Asus opted to cut a corner or two to reduce the price on the Pad, but it still offers a similar form factor: A capacitive touchscreen tablet running Google Android 4.0 with an optional $150 keyboard dock. The Pad tablet alone retails for $380 with 16 GB of internal storage and a 32 GB model is available for an extra $20.
Instead of the 1.3 GHz Tegra 3 found in the Transformer Prime, the Pad uses a 1.2 GHz Tegra 3 chip. Additionally, Asus saved on some of the Pad’s hardware cost by using a lower quality LCD display as compared to the Prime: Don’t look for a bright, Super IPS panel on this lower priced model. This less expensive model is also a tad heavier than the $499 Prime, weighing about one-tenth of pound more than the prior tablet version. On the plus side, the 8 megapixel camera offers a wider aperture — f/2.2 vs f/2.4 — and the Pad includes faster DDR3 RAM.
Early reviews generally appear favorable. Here’s a sampling:
CNet: “The TF300 doesn’t lose much compared with the Prime and actually gains in a couple areas. At $380 ($400 for 32GB) it’s cheaper than even an iPad 2, but unfortunately, the Android OS still lags way behind in app support compared with iOS. Still, if Android is your thing, the TF300′s price makes it the current best value for a full-Android tablet on the market.”
PC Mag: “The Transformer Prime was a top-notch tablet when it was released last year, and the TF300T, which isn’t vastly different, except that it’s less expensive, carries that torch. But it seems like a placeholder while we wait for the Infinity Prime, with its 1080p high-resolution display.”
PC World: “In spite of the stability issues I encountered, the Asus Transformer Pad makes for a good, large-screen value Android tablet. The extra storage you’ll get will come in handy, but you’ll have to be willing to sacrifice niceties like a subwoofer, rear-camera flash, and super IPS display to go with this lower-cost model. If you like the idea of extra storage and saving some bucks, the Transformer Pad makes a good choice.”
When I reviewed the Asus Transformer Prime, I thought it was the best Android tablet available due to the device performance and docking station that adds a keyboard, additional ports and extra battery life. Starting at $120 less, the Transformer Pad TF300 sounds like it’s worth a look for those seeking an iPad alternative.
On the smartphone side of Android, I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the HTC One S for T-Mobile. It may be the nicest Android hardware I’ve held yet. HTC Sense on top of Android 4.0 is generally favorable and should appeal to fans of Sense and new smartphone owners alike due to ease of use.
As a T-Mobile customer, I considered replacing my Galaxy Nexus for a One S, but opted to stick with my current phone. I prefer having total control over my choice of software and I can also use the Nexus on either T-Mobile or ATT. Still, if you’re on T-Mobile and want a premium Android experience, the One S should be atop the list of phones to check out.
Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.
Alleged Galaxy S III on Tinhte
Less than two weeks before Samsung will introduce its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III has been spotted on a German Amazon site. The listing describes the device as having a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, a 12-megapixel camera with autofocus, LED flash and face detection, the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and 16GB of internal memory, expandable to 32GB.
Before you get too worked up about those specs, you should know that just yesterday PCWorld’s Jared Newman reported that what may have been the Galaxy S III appeared in a video on Tinhte, a Website notorious for revealing unannounced phones. According to the Vietnamese site, the Galaxy S III sports a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, a 4.6-inch display with 1184 by 720 resolution, 1 GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera, 16 GB of storage, microSD expandability, a 2050 mAh battery, and NFC capability.
And like Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, the video showed the phone making use of software navigation instead of dedicated hardware buttons — a feature that helped the Galaxy Nexus garner acclaim from users who like its slick look and feel.
The Amazon listing, which appears without an image of the Galaxy S III, is categorized under “Mobile Phones without contract” and prices the phone at €599 ($788 using the current conversion rate).
One thing is certain — anticipation for this phone is almost palpable and conjecture about Samsung’s successor to the Galaxy S II has been thick in recent months and most likely will continue right up until Samsung takes the wraps off “the next Galaxy” at an event in London on May 3.
Leaks aside, PCWorld’s Daniel Ionescu points out that previous iterations of the Galaxy S and S II sold a cumulated 30 million, so the pressure is on for Samsung to deliver a killer device that would rival Apple’s iPhone. While doing so is no small feat, Samsung has certainly brought some impressive devices to market recently and improving upon them even more is sure to be a boon for Android fans.
At $250, the new Samsung tablet, which will be available April 22nd, is strong competition for Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire but – given Apple’s market domination – it’s far from an iPad killer. Still, its price, light weight and small footprint could dissuade at least some people from spending $499 for a third generation iPad or even $399 for an iPad 2.
The Tab 2 measures 7.6 x 4.8 x .42 inches and weighs 12.2 ounces. The Kindle Fire is pretty close to the same size and slightly heavier at 14.6 ounces. The new iPad, though of course longer and wider, is actually thinner (.37 inches) and weighs 1.44 pounds.
Its technical specs are generally lower than that of the iPad as well as Samsung’s earlier Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, but the new Tab 2 is equipped with Google’s new Ice Cream Sandwich Android operating system, a cool “Peel” TV remote control app (coupled with an IR blaster), front and rear cameras and you get 50 GB of free Dropbox cloud storage that works with the Tab’s camera app so that pictures you snap are automatically synced to the cloud.
Peel remote control app lets you personalize your program guide.
The hardware itself is nothing to get too excited about. Like the earlier Galaxy Tab 7.0, it sports a dual core 1-Ghz processor that’s actually a bit slower than its predecessor’s 1.2 Ghz version, while keeping the same 1024 by 600 TFT LCD screen. It has the same 3 megapixel rear-facing camera but the front facing camera has been downgraded from 2 megapixels to VGA quality. Even though it has only eight gigabytes of storage, it has a slot for a Micro SD card which means you can easily and cheaply add up to 32 GB additional storage (32 GB cards start at under $20).
By contrast, the Kindle Fire also has a 1024 by 600 pixel 7-inch screen, but doesn’t even have one camera, let alone two. It too has 8 GB of storage and that’s it. There is no MicroSD Card slot.
And while the Kindle Fire and Samsung are approximately the same size, the Tab’s gun metal gray case is softer and slightly less boxy.
Bottom ridge of Tab2 (left side of picture) shows stereo speakers and proprietary USB connector.
There are two stereo speakers on the bottom of the device which put out surprisingly clear and loud sound. Unlike some other devices I’ve used, I didn’t have to plug in an external speakers to hear the device over the noise of my indoor bicycle while using it to watch video while exercising.
Unfortunately, Samsung uses a proprietary USB cable for power and data instead of the standard micro-USB cables used on most other company’s Android devices. There’s nothing wrong with Samsung’s cable, but if you misplace it or lose it, it’s not as convenient to replace as a standard micro USB cable. Of course, Apple uses its own proprietary cable, but the enormous popularity of iOS devices make those easy to come by.
The fact that Samsung’s new Tab has less than stellar processing power shouldn’t be a big deal for anyone who’s mostly using it to consume content. I tested it by reading a Kindle book, watching Netflix and YouTube video and doing some email and web surfing and had no performance issues. The model I tested is Wi-Fi only. Yes, it’s a bit more sluggish than a third generation iPad but we’re talking a second or two here and there which isn’t likely to bother most users.
Like the Kindle Fire (but unlike the iPad) there is no home button on the front. There are virtual buttons on the bottom of the Samsung that bring up the home screen and task manager along with a back button and one that takes a snapshot of the screen. These virtual buttons reposition themselves as you change the screen’s orientation between portrait and landscape.
Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich plus Samsung’s proprietary Touch Whiz skin provides a clean interface and allows for smooth scrolling between screens with no noticeable lag. Although I would prefer that Samsung and other phone and tablet makers avoid putting their own skins on top of Android, the current version of Touch Whiz isn’t overly intrusive.
Samsung loads up the new Tab with a number of its own apps including a media hub, music hub and game hub. There is also a Samsung Apps icon that takes you to the company’s own app store.
Tab 2′s keyboard has numeric keys above alphabetic keyboard
This may be a small thing, but I really appreciate that the standard on-screen keyboard that pops up on the device has a row of number keys above the standard alphabetic keys just as on a traditional PC keyboard. I really appreciated not having to press a special key to bring up the number keys, especially when entering my passwords which, for security reasons, typically have numbers in them.
The bundled apps that come with the Galaxy Tab 2 help position it as mostly a consumer device. But the nice thing about Android tablets is that they are extensible and just as iPads are finding their way into the enterprise, it’s certainly possible to use this device for business tasks such as email, web access, sales presentations, as a quick reference tool or for any business related Android apps that work well on a seven inch screen. Just to see if it could be done, I paired the Tab 2 via Bluetooth with an Apple wireless keyboard and did some typing, but even with a keyboard, it’s hard to imagine using the Tab, with its small screen, as a laptop replacement.
How a device feels in your hand and performs is a lot more important than its technical specs and, when it comes to the user experience, Samsung gets high marks. Its smooth physical design, small and light weight form factor and up-to-date software and operating system come together to make the Tab 2 an excellent choice for budget-minded tablet buyers or those who simply want a portable media consumption device.
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Intel silicon has shipped in mobile devices before, but the Xolo X900 from India’s Lava is a new breed of mobile device for Intel to tackle. It’s an Android smartphone, one that aims to tackle the middle- to high-end of the Indian smartphone market. It’s also a new beginning for the world’s most well-known maker of chips.
The Xolo X900 is based on Intel’s Z2460 system-on-a-chip, which will provide a 1.6-GHz Atom engine in addition to a 400-MHz graphics chip. Thanks to the Z2460′s 32-nm process, it’s power efficient as well as zippy. The X900 boasts a 4-inch LCD display, in addition to an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of built-in storage space, and HSPA+ 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and HDMI.
The X900 will ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but Lava says Android 4.0 is coming soon. Lava and Intel say the X900 can surf the Web for five hours and support eight hours worth of voice calls.
The device goes on sale April 23 through the Indian retailer Chroma. It will cost about $420.
[ Mobility has produced some of the most sweeping changes ever in how we work, live, and play. Don't Be Late For The Mobile Revolution. ]
Intel’s partnership with Lava was first announced at CES, and then expanded at Mobile World Congress, where France-based network operator Orange said it will sell smartphones based on Intel’s Atom family of processors. Lava and ZTE said they plan to bring Intel-based smartphones to the market and Lava’s X900 managed to be the first out the door. Intel announced a similar product partnership with Motorola earlier this year. These partnerships give Intel three hardware partners and one operator partner.
It’s a start, but Intel has a lot of ground to make up.
Qualcomm and other chip makers have a solid lead in the mobile space with their ARM-based chips, with sales in the hundreds of millions of devices. That success came about through good partnerships among platform providers (in this case, Google), handset makers, and carriers, not because of the silicon inside them.
Intel needs its partners Motorola and ZTE to design compelling handsets that carriers–especially those in the United States–will want to sell. Motorola has had a bumpy ride with Android sales in the last year, and ZTE is barely a blip in the U.S. market (though admittedly it is much larger in Asian markets).
Intel and Motorola were expected to unveil a new Atom-based Android smartphone two months ago. There’s no word on what’s causing the delay, but Intel needs to get its chips into as many handsets and onto as many retail shelves as possible.
Put an end to insider theft and accidental data disclosure with network and host controls–and don’t forget to keep employees on their toes. Also in the new, all-digital Stop Data Leaks issue of Dark Reading: Why security must be everyone’s concern, and lessons learned from the Global Payments breach. (Free registration required.)
April 16, 2012, 12:34 PM —
Chrome OS is odd. That’s the one thing almost everybody can agree on. Whether Google’s web-centered, Chrome-based notebooks are “odd, but also the future,” or just plain “odd, and probably not for me” is the central point. It doesn’t help that very few people have had a chance to actually use Chrome OS, and that the majority of those who have seem to be tech writers, programmers, IT administrators, or other folks who have reaching, exacting demands of their hardware.
There are public offices, universities, non-profits, and corporations that were given Chromebooks under a test program, but we’ve heard comparatively little from those institutions, other than through the filter of customer testimonials posted by Google. So the greatest public service I can try to provide in this very narrow topic space is to clear up a few ideas about Chrome OS, Chromebooks, and what they are and are not meant to accomplish. I’ve been using Chromebooks since December 2011, when the first reference model Cr-48 notebooks were released.
Now that Google’s released a developer preview of Chrome OS’ almost entirely new look, it feels like a good time to do some QA.
That was mostly true until recently. Chrome OS had a login screen, a Settings page with more system-wide options, and a few specialty Chrome-OS-focused Chrome apps, but, generally, it was a Chrome window.
But that’s changed with the addition of a new window manager. The focus is still on web-based productivity, specifically Google-based apps, but now one can manage multiple Chrome windows on one screen, create “applications” out of web sites by removing all of the browser controls around them, and use a Windows-style taskbar to manage multiple browser and application windows. There’s even a bit of a Windows-style “Aero Snap” function, where dragging a windows to the left or right borders of the desktop instantly resizes a window to half the screen’s width for side-by-side operation.
That’s still true. But look at some of the upgrades that Chrome has seen recently that make it a bit more than just a window onto the web:
Offline access for Gmail, Docs, and Calendar. There’s full send-and-receive for Gmail, while still read-only for now with Docs and Calendar. But it’s a very helpful start down the HTML5-powered offline realm.
Offline access for other Chrome apps, including Scratchpad, which can, oddly enough, save and sync documents to Google Docs.
Multiple user profiles, which, you might think, aren’t so handy for a system that requires separate Google sign-ins, but for people with multiple Google accounts, they’re a handy way to avoid account confusion from one window to the next.
Tab syncing across computers, so you can pick up immediately on what you had open at work or home when you flip open a Chromebook.
Good question–the best one, really. Google’s pitch so far has been one of hassle-free computing. A supremely secure core system, one that doesn’t need anti-virus production, and can easily and quickly be restored to factory condition if something did somehow get through. Automatic updates that don’t bother you, and install quickly whenever you get around to rebooting. Cloud-based documents, settings, and everything else, so you could throw it in a river, and you wouldn’t really lose a thing. No app stores or installer packages, no 32-bit-versus-64-bit questions, and only one folder, really, in which you can store a few necessary downloads.
Hardware-wise, they tout the long battery life (sometimes 8-9 hours, depending on usage, and pitched as an “all-day battery”), the built-in 3G connectivity on some models (likely upgraded to 4G in newer releases), and the relative lightness of the devices. The keyboard, while surprisingly full-sized, tends to draw mixed reactions, depending on what you need underneath your fingers. They have relatively tiny, solid-state hard drives, usually around 16 GB, meant for storing a few downloads, but with the majority of your storage based in the cloud.
The answer here is the same as with an iPad: it depends on what you’re doing for work, and how comfortable you feel working entirely on the web, without much local file access. If you need to create complex spreadsheets and work with them whether or not you have an internet connection, Chromebooks aren’t for you. If you generally work with email, traditional documents, and tend to travel in places with good Wi-Fi or reliable cellular coverage, Chromebooks might work great. If battery life, universal backup, and lightweight portability matter to you, a Chromebook can be a great kind of secondary computer. If raw power, Skype video chats, and development tools are what you need, look elsewhere.