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IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Smartphones

Redmi Note 4G Review: Best Entry Level LTE Android Smartphone

I had a chance to review the Redmi Note 4G last week, which feels like the best entry level 4G Enabled Android SmartPhone in the market today. This phone is priced at INR 9999 (around 160 USD) in India and is available for sale on Flipkart and at Airtel Outlets.

Initial Impressions: The phone has a great build; however, it does feel slightly heavy though. The Redmi Note 4G has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, supports microSD cards up to 64GB, and of course, you can use 4G networks. Redmi Note 4G runs on Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. The back-panel of the phone can be removed; and that’s where you find the dual sim and the micro sd slots. The Note 4G supports 4G FDD-LTE (1800/2100MHz) & TDD-LTE (2600MHz) as well as 3G WCDMA (850/900/1900/2100MHz).

The display is only a 720p screen. However, its not much of a concern. It’s bright, the color reproduction looks neat and viewing angles are excellent too. Unlike the OnePlus One, the Redmi Note feels big and slightly heavy for its 5.5-inches size.

The phone is pretty neat in the camera department. It has an impressive 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera for selfies and video calls. The camera app is simple to use and its pretty fast at focusing & clicking. I will upload some samples in a couple of days. 

The software is what makes the phone more compelling a choice than others in this segment. The MIUI is very customisable and offers loads of themes if you would like different looks on your phone. I have already spoken about the MIUI software in my earlier reviews of Redmi 1S and MI3; this should give you some details on simple the UI feels.

Summing up the hardware feels good, the software is neat, the camera and display is fantastic in this range. If you’re looking for a phablet with good battery life and future-proof 4G support, then this device is definitely one of the great options you have. I can even say, this is one of the best entry level 4G powered Smartphones in India available today; If you are looking at an alternative, then Nokia Lumia 638 can be a good option too.

Experience at the Airtel Store: As a part of the feedback, I did go to their Indira Nagar outlet to try out the Redmi Note 4G.

Xiaomi has always been selling devices directly to customers thereby avoiding the additional costs in distributers/re-sellers and advertising. This time, they worked out a strategy to partner with Airtel who have also been aggressively advertising their 4G capabilities in the city (Bangalore).

Buying it at Airtel Store is going to be an easy solution for customers who aren’t e-commerce friendly, or believe in Flash sales. It also gives an opportunity for users to experience the device. This is an important deal breaker for many customers who always believe in seeing before buying it.

Further, there is no reason for them to wait for the shipment to arrive and have doubts whether they get a legitimate one. Buying the Redmi Note 4G at the Airtel Store means, you can just step in, feel the phone, experience the difference in between handsets running 3G and 4G; buy a phone and walk out with it. Airtel also offers a SIM adapter if you are already using a nano/micro SIM.

When I went into the store, the executives were very courteous and explained the device, like they would do to a layman. They were not just talking mere specs, but also the experiences. They also pitched in their 4G plans and features. They had a booth, where they had placed two Redmi Note phones (3G and 4G) and ran a speed-test, played a full HD video on YouTube etc to showcase the 4G speeds. No doubt, the speeds are top-notch. You get a consistent speed of around 35 Mbps.

Summing up, the Airtel experience was neat as well. Airtel is very keen to push 4G adoptions in India, and not every one can afford or be interested in buying an iPhone; they need some budget players and Redmi Note 4G is definitely one of them.

Categories
IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft Smartphones

Nokia Lumia 638 4G Review: Entry level LTE Smart Phone

‘Internet for everyone’ has become a mantra these days in every industry. The IoT devices are targeting the very same purpose and has already offered some ‘connected’ solutions which eases people’s life. Well, more than one billion people in India are yet to be connected to the web. The affordable range of smartphones are just in a look out, to see if more and more people can get connected. However, to a large extent the network service provider also plays a big role here.

Microsoft has launched Lumia 638, a low-cost 4G smartphone at a price tag of INR 8,299 (around 132 USD). The smartphone will be available exclusively on the company’s store on Amazon.in. After the Nokia Lumia 930 (the best Windows Phone ever made), this would be the next windows phone I am writing on. Though I realise, these belong to different segments, let’s see how the experience goes. Well, without much ado, lets get to the review –

Hardware, Screen, Look and Feel:

The build quality feels surprisingly good and quite comfortable to hold. You can find the power-button and the volume rockers towards the right-side of the phone; a 3.5mm Audio Jack on the top, and a micro USB charging port in the bottom. The phone has also soft-key buttons for back, home and search. The device is 9.2 mm thick and weighs about 135 grams.

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The Lumia 638 4G is placed reasonably well against the competition, based on its hardware capabilities. A 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 powers the phone, which has a 4.5-inch ClearBlack screen with 854 x 480 resolution. There’s 8 GB of internal storage with the option to add up to 128 GB more through a microSD card. The 5 megapixel front camera can capture 720p video and the 1830 mAh battery is rated for 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing. GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and multiple sensors loaded. The connectivity options include 4G LTE, 3G HSPA+ 42Mbps (Dual Carrier) and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. The Lumia 638 is also powered with a 1830 mAh battery.

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Lumia 638 makes use of a ClearBlack LCD display measuring 4.5 inches that will eliminate reflections as it employs a sequence of polarising layers. This display carries a FWVGA screen resolution of 854×480 pixels that translates to a pixel density of 221 pixels per inch. With an average pixel count, this screen is capable of handling the basic tasks at ease.

Software, User Experience:

The Lumia 638 4G is powered with the software running the latest Windows Phone 8.1 OS with Lumia Denim update. Also, the smartphone arrives preloaded with Microsoft Enterprise feature pack, Microsoft Office, OneDrive, HERE Maps and Drive+. Software is a big part for Microsoft in this phone, as it tries to keep people using its mobile software. I personally love the experience of Skype; MixRadio is a boon. Its a big relief for some of us here in India, where Pandora, Spotify or even Google Music doesn’t work officially. The Nokia Here Apps and Drive works great; especially with offline capabilities.

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The new Word Flow keyboard works pretty slick; just glide your finger as you compose your messages for a neat keyboard experience. The experience of OneDrive is neat as well. You can store and access all of your photos, videos and files from anywhere. Syncing between devices is simple too, whether you’re on your smartphone, Xbox, tablet or computer. The first 15GB of storage comes free. Accessing or editing documents on the go is simple too, with Microsoft Office coming built into the Lumia 638 4G.

There are a good bunch of camera apps built in the phone as well: Bing vision, Lumia Camera, Lumia Cinemagraph, Lumia Panorama, Lumia Refocus and Lumia Selfie.

Camera:

The 5 Mega Pixel camera lets you capture moments  through pictures and video clips (720p). The camera has features like Autofocus, 28mm focal length, 4X digital zoom and a f/2.4 aperture with support for panorama shooting mode. Sadly, there is no LED Flash and a front camera; notably, when there are tons of entry level and mid-range phones obsessed with a selfie enabled smartphones. However, Microsoft has an app ‘Lumia Selfie’ which just helps you take some pretty good selfies using the rear camera.

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The Lumia Camera offers some additional controls to the pictures as well. You can control the exposure, shutter speed, focus and the white balancing settings.

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Here are some of the pictures clicked with this phone. (I will update shortly with more examples)

Summary:

Summing up, this device is very well placed against its competition. The camera is very neat, the specs are decent and the phone doesn’t feel cheap at all. The 4G LTE is the huge deal for this device when compared with other phones in this segment. As the market expands, there are many other players bringing in their entry level 4G phone segment, to name a few the Redmi Note 4G, Lenevo K3 etc. However, this windows phone takes an advantage with optimal utilisation of the hardware in-place and offer a very smooth and a consistent user experience. If you are in the market, looking for an entry level internet powered smartphone, this is a very good option for you. If you prefer a more open platform like Android and apps, then the Redmi Note 4G can be a good alternative as well.

Hope this helps. Do let me know your thoughts.

Update: Offer for Airtel Customers – The new Lumia 638 comes bundled with an exclusive offer on Airtel 4G. Microsoft says Lumia 638 consumers on Airtel Post-paid in Bengaluru get access up to 5 GB of free data on 4G for 2 months post activation of their Airtel SIM on the new Lumia 638. The offer will be available until 31st March 2015.