All posts by Abhishek Baxi

Abhishek Baxi is an independent technology columnist for several international publications and a digital consultant. He speaks incessantly on Twitter (@baxiabhishek) and dons the role of Editor-in-Chief here at Techie Buzz.

Spice launches two new Android KitKat smartphones – Spice Stellar 526 and Spice Stellar 520

In a press event at AndroidLand in Noida today, Spice Retail announced two new Android KitKat smartphones, the Spice Stellar 526 and the Spice Stellar 520.

Spice Stellar 526

spice_stellar_526_front Spice Stellar 526 is the company’s first smartphone powered by a true 1.5GHz Hexa-Core processor. The 12.7cm IPS display is packed in an 8.3mm slim chassis.

The dual SIM Stellar 526 packs in 1GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32GB. The Stellar 526 features an 8 MP rear camera with autofocus and a 3.2 MP front camera. The camera features advanced modes like Object Tracking, Live Photo Mode, Voice & Gesture Capture, HDR, and Zero Shutter Delay.

The Spice Stellar 526 is available in retail stores and online right away, at an MOP of ₹11,499. spice_stellar_526_back

Spice Stellar 526 Specifications

  • 12.7cm On-Cell IPS display
  • Resolution: 1280 X 720
  • 1.5 GHz Hexa Core Processor
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 8MP rear camera | 3.2MP front camera
  • 8GB ROM + 1GB RAM
  • 8.3 mm slim
  • 2500 mAh Battery

Spice Stellar 520

spice_stellar_520_front Along with the Spice Stellar 526, Spice also announced the Stellar 520 featuring a 12.7cm HD IPS display. Powered by a 1.3GHz Quad-core processor, the Stellar 520 packs in 1GB of RAM, but a measly 4GB of internal storage though expandable up to 32GB.

The dual SIM Stellar 520 comes with two bright cover panels – yellow and red – and is just 8.4mm thin. There’s an 8MP AF rear camera with LED flash and a front-facing 2MP camera.

Spice Stellar 520 is available in stores and online right away at an MOP of ₹8,999. The Stellar 520 comes with a free Flip Cover worth ₹500 included in the box. spice_stellar_520_back

Spice Stellar 520 Specifications

  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 12.7 cm IPS display
  • HD OGS Full Lamination
  • 1.3 GHz Quad Core Processor
  • 2000 mAh Battery
  • 8.4 mm slim
  • 8MP AF Rear Camera | 2MP Front Camera
  • 4 GB ROM + 1 GB RAM

Obi Mobiles debuts in India with the Octopus S520 for ₹11,990

Obi Mobiles today announced the launch of its first flagship smartphone in India, the Octopus S520. The smartphone will be initially available for purchase through Snapdeal.com for ₹11,990.

Octopus S520_Obi Mobiles

Obi Mobiles is headquartered in Singapore and promoted by Toronto-based Inflexionpoint, a company co-founded by John Sculley, former CEO of Apple Inc.

The Dual SIM flagship smartphone boasts of a sleek metallic design (maximum thickness of 8.4mm) and is powered by a 1.7 GHz octa-core MediaTek processor with 1GB RAM. The phone features a 12.7 cm HD IPS display and sports the latest Android Kit Kat 4.4 version.

The Obi Octopus S520 box packs in a Flip Cover, a Screen Protector, a USB Charger, and in-ear headphones. The company claims that the phones will be supported by a country-wide network of over 95 service centres for after-sales support.

“S520 is a beautifully designed product. It is engineered to highest quality specifications to reliably deliver a superior performance. This flagship device is an affirmation of our stated commitment to extend the best in class smartphone experience. From hardware specifications to the quality of accessories there are no compromises whatsoever, because we know our young customers conduct their lives around their smartphones.”

– Ajay Sharma, CEO, Obi Mobiles

Obi Octopus S520 Specifications

  • Size: 145.0 mm X 75.0 mm X 8.4 mm
  • Display: 12.7 cm HD IPS
  • Processor: MediaTek 1.7 GHz Octa Core
  • Operating System: Android KitKat 4.4
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Camera: Rear Camera: 8MP | Front Camera: 2 MP
  • Memory: 8 GB, expandable up to 32GB
  • Battery Capacity: 1800 mAh
  • Standby Time: Up to 180 Hours
  • Talktime: Up to 240 Minutes

Sony Xperia Z2 Review: Everything You Need in a Flagship Smartphone

Announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, the Sony Xperia Z2 has recently arrived in India. Sony’s flagship smartphones have always pushed the envelope further in terms of design and features, but a few mishits here and there have let them down.

sony_xperiaz2_1

Design

If you have seen the Xperia Z1, you have seen the Xperia Z2. In terms of design, there are not many differences you will be able to notice at a glance. But that’s a good thing. Sony’s OmniBalance design with a combination of glass and metal looks very premium, and stands out from the crowd. It picks up fingerprints like crazy though. There are three color options like with the Z1 – white, black, and purple.

sony_xperiaz2_3

The latest iteration is tougher and the company claims that the glass panel on the back is scratch-resistant now. The design’s top notch, and the Z2 is dust-proof as well as water-proof. Sony’s distinctive round power button is in its now-familiar spot in the middle of the right edge and flaps lined with rubber protect the microSD card slot, the microUSB charging port, and the SIM card slot.

sony_xperiaz2_4

The Xperia Z1 suffered from a poor display with bad viewing angles. That changes now, and the Xperia Z2 boasts of IPS LCD which makes the 5.2-inch 1080p display pretty crisp with great viewing angles. It’s not perfect, and is quite reflective especially in direct sunlight.

Hardware

The Xperia Z2 checks all the boxes on the specifications sheet for a flagship smartphone. Powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.3GHz, the Z2 packs in a mammoth 3GB of RAM. There’s 16GB of internal storage, expandable by up to 128GB.

There’s not much you need to talk about the performance. The UI and navigation is as smooth as it gets, while multitasking and app startups are a breeze. There’s no lag in the overall user experience, and no stuttering while playing graphic-intensive games. I noticed it getting hot sometimes when pushed harder though.

One of the understated highlights of the phone is its battery backup. The 3,200mAh battery lasts for the entire day with several calls, and continuous 3G or Wi-Fi use with GPS turned on. That’s pretty impressive, and arguably the best performance in the current crop of flagship Android smartphones.

sony_xperiaz2_2

Camera

The Sony Xperia Z2 prides itself on its 20.7-megapixel camera. You’d only get that resolution in the manual mode though as the auto-mode defaults to 8MP. The photos in good light conditions are brilliant and vivid, with good color reproduction. In low light though, there’s considerable noise. There’s not optical image stabilization, which is a bummer.

Again, the camera is not perfect, but it’s no downer as well. If you know your way around manual settings, you’d be able to click pretty good photos. There’s also the ability to shoot 4K videos, pretty much a nice novelty on the list.

Among several effects that Sony packs in, background defocus is an interesting one allowing photos with a subject in focus and background blurred. Although, it’s pretty much a trick. The camera doesn’t sense the depth, but takes two photographs and then blurs everything except the subject. While you can select the intensity and pattern of the blur, it’s not a smooth process and the option has to be selected before clicking the photo, and not added after it has been clicked.

Software

Powered by Android 4.4 KitKat, the user experience it pretty much stock Android with some UI customizations. In most cases, that’s not a bad thing, but you’d miss the more functional implementations in notifications or settings like in Samsung or LG flagships.

There’s of course too many Sony apps, some of which like Jive for unlimited music downloads are good to have but are too, for the lack of a better phrase, in the face. There’s also Sony Liv that offers a number shows from Sony’s television channels. The ‘What’s New’ widget throws up updates about Sony content and services, and pretty much annoys and eats up data. It’s the first one you should get rid of.

Summary

Sony Xperia Z2 is a significant improvement over the Z1, and the water-proof feature is a terrific addition to the feature list. Sony has also almost got the display right this time, and offers a terrific battery life.

While Sony covers all bases for a flagship smartphone, there’s no standout, marketing pitch like the fitness features of the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the dual-camera system of the HTC One (M8). If that doesn’t bother you, and in most cases, it shouldn’t, Xperia Z2 is a good buy if you are looking for a top-end Android smartphone. Launched at ₹49,990, the price has dipped a little since then.

Xiaomi debuts in India with the flagship Mi 3; Redmi Note and Redmi 1S to follow soon

Xiaomi, one of the leading mobile Internet companies in China, has finally forayed into the Indian market with a range of Mi smartphones and an exclusive partnership with Flipkart.

xiaomi_india

The first Mi smartphone that Xiaomi has launched in India is the Mi 3. Priced at ₹13,999, Mi 3 will go on sale on July 22 while the pre-registrations are now open at www.flipkart.com/Mi, and will continue till July 21 midnight.

Mi 3 is powered by Xiaomi’s Android-based platform – MIUI. MIUI is a live operating system constantly improving with frequent software updates, and offers a high degree of customisation.

“Mi 3 is the fastest Mi phone ever. We are very excited to offer one of the world’s most powerful smartphones in India at an incredibly affordable price point of INR 13,999. We hope Indian users will love MIUI, our super intuitive Android-based operating system.”

Hugo Barra, Vice President, Xiaomi Global

Xiaomi Mi 3

In addition, Xiaomi has also announced two other smartphones – the Redmi 1S and the Redmi Note – which will be launched over the next few weeks. The 4.7-inch Redmi 1S is priced at ₹6,999 while the 5.5-inch octa-core Redmi Note is priced at ₹9,999.

According to Manu Jain, India Operations Head for Xiaomi, the company is starting with 35+ service centers across top 20 cities along with a hotline that operates 7 days a week to ensure a robust after-sale service and a hassle-free customer experience. There are also two exclusive Mi service centers in Delhi and Bangalore.

Mi 3 Specifications

  • 5-inch Full HD 1080p IPS display
  • 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800AB processor
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
  • 3050 mAh internal battery

How to Order Mi 3 in India

  1. Head to Flipkart, and login using your account.
  2. Register for the sale on the Mi Store (www.flipkart.com/Mi)
  3. On July 22, buy the device. Note that only customers who register before July 22 will be able to purchase their Mi 3 on the sale day.

HTC launches the Mid-range Dual SIM Smartphone, HTC Desire 616, in India for ₹16,900

In a press conference in New Delhi today, HTC unveiled the new HTC Desire 616 dual-sim smartphone, the first HTC smartphone with an octa-core processor.

htc_india

The latest addition to the HTC Desire family features a 1.4 GHz octa-core processor, with 8 cores activated simultaneously. The company claims that the Desire 616 is designed to offer the best gaming and entertainment experience in the category and can comfortably meet challenges like rendering videos, deliver fast, responsive web browsing, silky-smooth graphics while seamlessly switching between multiple apps.

The Desire 616 boasts of a 12.7 cm, HD display and features HTC BlinkFeed home screen which was first introduced with the HTC One. The phone allows you to automatically turn your pictures and video clips into a professional-looking show reel of your best moments. Both, the 2MP front camera and the 8MP rear camera, offer 1080p HD video recording capability.

HTC_desire_616

“Everyone looks for a combination that offers exciting performance phone at a great value. HTC Desire 616 dual sim is that very phone. The newest member of our renowned HTC Desire range offers our first Octa-core processor, 8-cores of super-fast processing and premium features at a great price, offering users the best possible experience in the category.”

– Jack Yang, President, HTC, South Asia

HTC Desire 616 Specifications

HTC_desire_616_specifications

The new HTC Desire 616 dual sim will be available in Dark Gray and Pearl White for ₹16,900 in India starting from next week.

HTC launches their new flagship smartphone, the HTC One (E8), in India for ₹34,900

In a press conference in New Delhi today, HTC unveiled their next flagship smartphone, the HTC One (E8).

htc_india

HTC One (E8) is a distinctive take on HTC’s iconic flagship design, and features an elegant dual curve design that looks gorgeous and fits well in the palm of your hand. The E8 features a polycarbonate, unibody design available in a a vibrant range of colors. The 12.7 cm device boasts of a full HD, borderless display for a cleaner viewing experience.

The HTC One (E8) features a 5MP front-facing and 13MP rear-facing camera. The company claims that the dual front-facing speakers and the latest HTC BoomSound technology offers rich tones, powerful bass, and crystal-clear treble, combining to create a rounded, immersive sound.htc_one_e8

“The HTC One (M8) had set a new smartphone standard and now we’re taking it in another exciting direction. Combining style and substance, the HTC One (E8) represents the incredible experience people expect from a HTC One device with a look and feel that’s unlike anything else out there today. If you’re looking for the best flagship smartphone experience, but want to stand out from the crowd, this is the phone for you.”

– Jack Yang, President, HTC South Asia

HTC has also announced an innovative HTC Dot View case that displays notifications and interactions on a colorful dot-matrix effect. Combined with Motion Launch, you can check the latest information and receive calls without needing to uncover the screen. An on-board sensor hub underpins Motion Launch, enabling the HTC One (E8) to detect position and movement and allowing you to interact with the phone and perform popular functions without turning on the screen.

HTC One (E8) Specifications

htc_one_e8_specifications
The HTC One (E8) will be available in India from end of July for ₹34,900.

Micromax launches two Windows Phones in India, the Canvas Win W121 and Canvas Win W092

Micromax, the second largest smartphone manufacturer in India, introduced its Canvas Win series with the launch of two Windows Phone devices – Canvas Win W121 and Canvas Win W092. With this announcement, Micromax has become the first Indian smartphone player to launch a Windows Phone device.

micromax_canvas_win“I congratulate Micromax on the launch of their first Windows Phone today. The Micromax Canvas Win will be available both in India and other emerging markets. Our deep engagement with local OEMs is one of the engines of growth for Windows Phone and we are proud of our partnership with Micromax. With Micromax Canvas Win, Windows Phone is now available to a whole new group of consumers in India, who are looking for innovation and value.”
– Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India.

Powered by the latest Windows Phone 8.1 operating system and a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 quad-core processor, the Canvas Win W121 and Canvas Win W092 are dual SIM smartphones. Both phones feature 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card.

The Canvas Win W121 sports a 5-inch HD IPS display, and features a fine leather-texture back cover. The phone packs in 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 2MP front camera, and includes a 2000 mAh battery. The Canvas Win W092 features a 4-inch IPS display and packs in a 1500 mAh battery. The phone sports a 5MP rear camera with flash and 0.3MP front camera.

The Canvas Win W121 is priced at INR 9,500 and the Canvas Win W092 is priced at INR 6,500. Both phones will be available across retail stores and online portals starting early July 2014.
micromax_canvas_win_w121

Canvas Win W121 Specifications:

  • Windows Phone 8.1 OS
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 200 processor with 1.2 GHz Quad Core CPU
  • 5-inch HD IPS display
  • 2000 mAh battery
  • 8MP rear camera with flash; 2MP front camera
  • Dual-SIM
  • 1GB RAM; 8GB ROM
  • Up to 32GB expandable memory
  • Proximity Sensor, Gravity Sensor, Light Sensor and Accelerometer

micromax_canvas_win_w092Canvas Win W092 Specifications:

  • Windows Phone 8.1 OS
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 200 processor with 1.2 GHz Quad Core CPU
  • 4-inch IPS display
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • 5MP rear camera with flash; 0.3MP front camera
  • Dual-SIM
  • 1GB RAM; 8GB ROM

[Sponsored] Why All Businesses Could Benefit from Fiber-optic Broadband

Fiber-optic broadband is the latest thing in the technological world. We see it advertised everywhere, from billboards to cinema commercials, but rarely will these adverts give us any real insight into why it is beneficial beyond the fact that it sounds pretty cool and will allow us to browse the net more quickly. Continue reading [Sponsored] Why All Businesses Could Benefit from Fiber-optic Broadband