Tuesday, May 14, 2013

KARBONN Titanium S5 - My Initial Take - Review  

Karbonn touts the titanium S5 as the ultimate phone that one need not look beyond.. I have been an android  believer since 2009 end and have to date bought 10 odd phones cutting across Samsung, LG, Motorola and HTC, both high end and medium quality phones.. about 6 months back i was made aware of the improvements in indian branded android phones when my brother showed off his new LAVA phone and it actually looked impressive, thats when the seed was planted that i should also look at this option.. in the past few months there have been a lot of action in the india-android space with micro-max karbonn and others releasing phones regularly, during the IPL i started seeing the Titanium S5 ads and got hooked into this device, was in the back of my mind.. 

Couple of weeks back my wife dropped her samsung galaxy nexus phone and her screen got damaged and i had to lend my HTC oneV for her use, this opened the opportunity to buy the karbonn phone.. and i did.. for  INR 11950 + INR 650 for a 16GB Sandisk, this blog is about my initial impressions of the phone 

The Key highlights 

  1. Top Delights 
    1. Awesome price for the feature set in the hardware < hopefully the quality is also equally good! time will telll> please look at a thread on this after a month and a half - but for the minor bugs the phone is a killer device in its price segment 
    2. Great screen size and quality provides good phablet experience, camera 
    3. plain vanilla Jelly bean 4.1 for the android purists.. 
    4. Easily disable bloat-ware and finally 
    5. great connectivity with wifi, gps and 3G no issues there yet. no heating or battery drain.. 
  2. Top Irritants
    1. the phone and contacts apps are extremely slow - buggy 
    2. the phone call / voice service crashed and stopped working had to restart
    3. The phone re-started without a warning during installation of apps, did not repeat though 
    4. The battery life is poor, does not last a full day, drain during calls is significant 
these are the first impressions, very soon, i will also be publishing a 6-8 weeks experience on the phone with the same structure as below and i am also tracking battery usage, which i would publish as a table. i am also tempted to write a blog on android and apps.. which is critical for an android user.. 

A detailed Description ..

.. of my impression for various features are described in  the table below 

Specs-GSMArena Feature GSMArena-Description 1st impression  Stars
Network 2G Network GSM : 850/900/1800/1900 MHz The phone comes with a quad band network, this means,  as a world traveler, I can use this phone for  travels abroad in countries like US ..  Catching signal is decent, as one of the reviewers rightly points out having dual-sim and dual network means one of the networks is sure to fire.. unfortunately in my case both are airtel.  ßßßß
3G Network HSDPA : 900/2100 MHz like most people complain, this phone comes with 3G only on 1 card.. Have not yet tried out 3G speeds, quality and battery drain
Data is not quad-band,  which means that in travels to the US, 3g on the phone would not work.. This could have been a killer feature! to showcase a great indian phone to the world.
SIM Dual SIM (Mini-SIM) having gotten my 1st dual sim phone find it a new and interesting experience.  On the 1st weekend impression the signal strength is decent, though I found that 1 sim had less signal than the other, both being on airtel! is this something that airtel is doing? because one ia s personal pre-paid connection while the other is a corporate post paid connection [update: this is a design of the phone to optimise battery and keep 1 of the network signals high and one low]  ßßßß
BODY Dimensions 143.4x72.4x8.95 mm a large 5" screen, lot like a  phablet, built reasonably slim, the camera juts out at the back… the phone is of plastic-ky build. But is not an issue personally.. The phone is light though the size does make it slightly difficult to operate with 1 hand.  ßßßß
Weight ~125 g very light and slim phone.. The blue color gives is a fresh feel, having owned 11 black and metal android phones!! ßßßß
DISPLAY Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors the touchscreen is very responsive. I put on a screen protector and that reduced the quality on the touch.. Tried 2 tests on the touch
1. freenote, freehand, does not work smooth at all could not scribe 1 word cohereently , it could possibly be the screen protector
2. use  settings / apps and trying to browse through the apps is difficult,  imagine you are scrolling apps and the swipe action breaks in the middle and converts into a select result, opening the app that you did not want to.. this happens frequently

would suggest other users that they first use the phone without a screen protector and then migrate to the protector only if necessary
Size 540 x 960 pixels, 5.0 inches (~220 ppi pixel density) the quality of the screen is very good, given the price of the device, for a user of 10 android phones this screen is rght up there in terms of quality.. Also have to state the screen impression reduces with the screen protector, so for those who are hell bent on the screen protector, the pixel density would matter very less, i have seen Galaxy S3 and other high end phones with the protector on and they are not impressive.  ßßßß
Multitouch Yes multi-touch works well.. But screen protector impedes the smoothness , so while using multi-touch on many applications, swipe gets converted to a touch / select and this can be annoying.  ßßß
Media Alert types Vibration, MP3, WAV ringtones The alerts are muted and low volume, vibration is good enough to catch attention, though I should admit that I missed a couple of calls as the phone did not alert good enough ßß
Audio mp3,WAV, WMV claims to play all audio format,s will have to try this out., the sound quality of the sepakers and through the headset, nothing to boast about ßß
Loudspeaker Yes Sound quality of the phone is not great, both on speaker and normal.. Voice volume is low, and there is some background noce in the play out. ßß
3.5mm jack Yes the audio jack is hard to plug in, additionally the port is not standard a lot like motorola phones, where other head sets wont play well and user left with the option of only using the  Karbonn head-set..  ß
Video MP4/WMV/H.264/H.263 player video playback from youtube has been decent..  ßßß
CAMERA Primary 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash very decent camera, captures well in light.. When light conditions are low, the pictures are grainy. Also the Cmos sensor is not the best quality on blowing up the pictures, one can clearly see the grains.. Also zoom is not provided in the default camera. tried my best to make zoom work, did not..  face recognition and features are all plan android.. ßßß
Video Geo-tagging Quality of the video is very good, captured a few minutes , is easy, no great battery drain.  ßßß
Secondary Yes, 2 MP secondary camera is functional and worked fine for a vonage/ skype trial, nothing of the quality of the iphone  ßß
Software OS Android OS, v4.1 (Jelly Bean) this is the great part of the karbonn phone, being close the native android, the phone does not come with too much customization or bloat-ware..
4 stars <****> Also the few apps that come default like popi, playtm, yahoo messenger which are badly done crass or useless, can be be disabled from setting/apps/all/ pick the app and disable.. initially while installing apps the launcher app crashed a couple of times and once made the phone reboot, this did not recur though, as i went and installed my top 30 odd apps.! 
Apps SNS Integration thanks to JB 4.1.2, integration to FB, Twitter, Linkedin and Buffer are wonderful and simple ßßßß
Apps Critical Apps  1. the Phone app and Contacts are slow, to index and show contacts.. This is very irritating.. ] 1* - replaced with exDialer which is a 4* surely do that 
2. the phone service crashes and calls go blank !! 1*
3. File manager provides simple wifi access of the phone tothe PC 4*
Apps Dual SIM integrating the dual SIM, configuration and customization is very well done in phone and setting.. That’s wonderful to see.  ßßßß
Keyboard Lang / Keyboard the 4.1X jellybean, native keyboard is untouched and this masterpiece from google is good enough for most users, it recognised contacts most english words, names, also provides multiple language options, like it was a delight typing in hindi! , would love to see kannada, tamizh also being included.. the swype is smooth, like in the nexus 7 and this obviates the need for an external keyboard like slide-it, touchpal or swiftkey ßßßß
Hardware CPU Quad-core 1.2 GHz the CPU is fast and good.. Mostly from mediatek.. Does not seem to drain the battery.. Is this because of 4.1X?  Also I am not a gamer and therefore do not have high end CPU use.. , most apps response very fast, sometimes the phone gets jittery wonder whether its a memory storage / disk issue?  ßßß
MEMORY microSD, up to 32 GB the phone  comes with a expandable SD card slot, I plugged in a 16GB card for INR 650 and this is a good feature,, I personally do not see the case for larger storage given that I max use the phone for pics and audio rarely movie media!.. So should be sufficient,
update 17/05 ] access to the sdcard on USB was easy peasy, and karbonn also provides a wifi access to storage on its default file manager app!! 4*  
Storage 4GB ROM - storage 2GB gets exposed for apps, that’s the critical consideration and is good enough for a general purpose use..  ßßß
Storage 1GB RAM very good at catching signal and less battery drain. please check separate battery analysis 3-4 weeks from now.  ßßß
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot very good at catching signal and less battery drain. ßßßß
Bluetooth Yes, with A2DP have not tried ths out yet
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0 hard pin again, hardware features are a bit tacky, but that’s what we should expect for this price? ßßß
Sensors Movement Accelerometer
Movement proximity, 
Direction compass
Radio FM radio
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support GPS connects real fast unlike other phone I have had in the past..  ßßßß
BATTERY Battery Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery this could have been 2500 mAh, the phone lasts about 12- 18 hours on decent use of phone, data and apps, have not tried heavy gaming, which is not my purpose.. Coud have been better.. In the last 60 hours have had to charge atleast 4 times.. please check separate battery analysis 3-4 weeks from now.  ß
Battery Standby / Talktime~18 H does not last beyond 1.5 H talk time,  ß
accessory Charger Pin and USB Cable The charger and USB cable are tacky and hard to plug in..  ß
Head Set the pin is hard to push in ßßß
Cover There are no good accessories like flip cover or silicone available easily ßß
Back Cover Opening the back cover is a bit difficult to open, there are no clear slots to pry open the cover, making it a tad bit difficult, but the slots of Sdcard and the sim card are well designed ßßß
Price Phone Local Store INR 11950, very good price for all the above features,, this if marketed and positioned well should be a killer phone ßßßß
SDCARD 16 GB got a 16GB SD Card for INR 650 , bringing the total damage  ßßßß

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