Lava B2 and B5 – Cost Effective Dual-SIM Handsets with QWERTY and Alpha Keypad

Budget mobile phones with physical full QWERTY keypads seem to be in high demand. Lava B2 and B5 are more of the same, with a critical difference. The B2 as well as B5 are available with QWERTY as well as Alpha keypads.

QWERTY layout doesn’t offer any special speed advantage. After all, it was designed to simply avoid jamming classical typewriters. At the same time, thanks to its ubiquity, most of us are simply too used to it. However, QWERTY does have some learning curve associated with it. Lava believes that people who have never used computers will benefit from their Alpha models, in which the keys are simply arranged alphabetically.

Lava-B2 Lava-B5
Lava Mobile B2 and B5

Both the B2 and the B5 feature a 2.2” TFT screen having resolutions of 220×176 and 320×240 pixels respectively. Another feature common to them is dual SIM card support, FM Radio and Bluetooth. The B2 has some additional goodies like dual memory card support, powerful tin led torch and mobile tracker.

The B5 on the other hand bundles applications like Opera Mini and Nimbuzz. Since it supports Java, you can always download more applications. As you might expect, email functionality is baked right into the handset.

The B5 is also a superior multimedia phone thanks to the 2 megapixel camera and support for MP3, MP4, AVI, 3GP, MIDI and AMR playback. Surprisingly enough the B2 comes with a more powerful battery. The 1800mAh ensures that you can go several days without charging. The B5’s battery life is also impressive, since 1400mAh has more than enough juice to power a java phone.

Lava B2 is now available across India for Rs. 3,999, while the B5 is selling for Rs. 4,399. Both of them come equipped with a free 2GB memory card.

Cheaper Android Phones Coming to Asian Markets like China and India

Google-Android Android has gone from strength to strength over the past few months. Thanks to the exponential increase in the number of Android handsets and the rapid growth of the Android Market, Google is now a worthy challenger to Apple. However, there is definitely scope for more improvement. And, Google knows it.

Google is already working on Android 3.0, which will be possibly targeted at high-end devices and is expected to introduce significant improvements to the platform. However, that doesn’t mean that Google is ignoring mid-range or budget smart phones. According to Businessweek, Google is working with hardware manufacturers to introduce cheaper Android powered handsets in crucial Asian markets like China and India.

Andy Rubin, VP of engineering at Google said, “The down-market opportunity is about to happen. It’s actually quite a revolution”. In markets like India, iPhone has barely managed to make a dent. Instead, companies like Nokia rule the roost with their wide range of attractively priced handsets. By encouraging manufacturers like Huawei Technologies and LG Electronics to introduce cheaper handsets, Google is hoping to expand its reach and attract more developers.

Indian Government Threatens to Ban Gmail, Skype and BlackBerry

Bored with China and Pakistan banning web services left and right? Here is something new. Possibly feeling a bit left out, the Indian government has decided to join in on all the fun.

Apparently, the Indian security agencies are struggling to monitor the content being shared over Gmail, Skype and Blackberries due to their highly encrypted nature. According to The Hindu, a reputed daily newspaper in India, “Department of Telecom (DoT) will ask these companies to either ensure that data going through their networks be made available to security agencies in a readable format or face a ban from offering services in India.”

Indian security agencies are concerned that services like Skype are being used by terrorists to bypass monitoring mechanisms put in place for telephone calls. Skype and RIM (the Canadian manufacturer of BlackBerry handsets) will be given 15 days to respond, failing which services that do not allow lawful interception on a real-time basis would be banned. Google will also be asked to use encryption standards that can be monitored by the Government. However, the Government won’t impose any deadline on the search engine giant.

This is not the first time RIM has run into trouble with the Indian government. Back in 2008, there was a similar standoff. However, at that time, the Indian Government had claimed that all differences have been resolved.

Formal notices are expected to be served to all affected parties in the first week of July. While, a Google spokesperson declined to comment, Skype has come out and termed any potential ban as “a big step backwards”.

LG Cookie Fresh and LG Cookie Plus Launched in India

Back in April, we reported that LG Cookie Fresh had been launched in the UK. If you are amongst those waiting for the brand new Cookie handset to hit the India shores, then I have good news for you. Your wait is over. Not only has LG launched Cookie Fresh (GS 290) in India, but has also introduced the Cookie Plus (GS 500v).

LG-Cookie-Plus-Fresh

Both the handsets feature a 7.6 cm WVGA full touchscreen and have mostly have the same feature set. The highlight of the specially crafted operating system is the three way UI, which provides quick access to your contact widgets as well as avatars. If you are not satisfied with the bundled widgets, you can always download more from the online LG Widget Gallery.

LG Cookie provides one touch social networking and features dedicated social networking clients. With LG Cookie you can enjoy Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr and more on the go.

When it comes to multimedia, LG has covered all the bases. There is a FM player as well as recorder along with a MPEG video player and MP3 audio player.

The 3G enabled Cookie Plus features a 3 megapixel camera and costs Rs.7999, while the 2G only Cookie Fresh has a 2 megapixel camera and costs Rs. 6199.

BSNL Introduces New SMS Packs For Gujarat

BSNLBharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has announced two new SMS packs for prepaid GSM subscribers in the Gujarat telecom circle.

For Rs. 55, BSNL subscribers will be able to send 3000 local and national SMSs to any network across India. In addition, they will also receive talk time worth Rs. 20.

If your messaging needs are really heavy duty, then you can opt for the bulkier message pack worth Rs. 110. This package bundles 7,500 local and national SMSs, along with Rs. 40 worth of talk time.

These message packs will be available only through paper vouchers i.e. you can’t avail these special packages through easy recharge. Additionally, you must utilize your free message quota within 30 days. Any leftover talk time will be carried forward; however, the free SMS quota isn’t transferable.

MTS Launches “Unlimited MBlazer” Mobile Broadband Service

MTS-Mobile-Broadband MTS has achieved 5 million subscribers in India, and it is marking the occasion by launching a new mobile broadband plan dubbed the “Unlimited MBlazer”. Speaking on the occasion, Vsevolod Rozanov, the President and CEO of MTS’s parent company Sistema Shyam Teleservices Limited said, Five million subscribers have given us a special place in Indian telecom sector and we are determined to offer them new voice and data products, further enriching their telecom experience.

The Unlimited MBlazer offer is available to existing and new MTS customers and provides unlimited high-speed mobile broadband connectivity. Of course, like most broadband plans in India, there is a catch. If you happen to use more than 15 GB of bandwidth, your connection will be downgraded to CDMA 1x. In other words, your connection speed will be reduced to 144 Kbps (from 3.1 Mbps) for the rest of the month.

In case you don’t mind opting for a high speed broadband connection, which can’t be used for downloading large files, you will have to shell out Rs. 999 per month (in form of an e-recharge).

Karbonn K777 Launched in India for Rs.4,500

Karbonn-K777 Karbonn Mobiles has launched its newest budget mobile phone and as you may have already guessed, it is a dual SIM ready handset. The Karbonn 777 is hoping to make an impression on potential buyers with its sleek and stylish body and all around feature set.

The candy bar styled handset weighs 95g and measures in at 115 X 50 X 10.7 mm. Its 240×320 resolution, 2.4 inch QVGA screen is capable of displaying 262K colours.

When it comes to multimedia, Karbonn has covered its bases and all the basic features are present. There is a 3.2 megapixel camera capable of snapping pictures and recording videos, along with a media player does more than what is required from a budget phone. MP3, MIDI, AMR and WAV audio formats, and MP4 and 3GP video formats are supported. FM player is also included.

Karbonn K77 bundles Opera Mini for browsing the web, however social networking widgets and apps – which are a commonplace these days, are surprisingly absent. Fortunately, more Java apps can be downloaded from the web.

Other significant features include Mobile Tracker, expandable memory up to 8 GB, talktime of 3-3.5 hours and standby time of 250 hours and phonebook memory with up to 2000 contacts.

The K777 is now available for Rs. 4,500.

Nokia 2690 Launched in India for Rs. 3,700

Nokia-2690 Back in April, Nokia had announced the 2690 along with a slew of other budget phones aimed at the Indian market. At that time, we had stated that the Nokia 2690 houses all the standard features you have come to expect from a budget phone and then some more.

The attractively designed 2690 is available in four colours: hot pink, graphite, blue and white silver. Its 1.8 inch TFT display supports 262K colours at a resolution of 128 X 160 pixels. It is a GPRS and EDGE enabled handset with a capable MP3 player and FM radio. The handset comes with 15MB of inbuilt memory, which can be expanded up to 8GB (microSD).

Besides supporting SMS, MMS, email and social networking, Nokia 2690 also bundles Nokia Life Tools, which is an SMS based VAS (value added service) aimed at rural India.

We had initially expected the handset to retail for around Rs. 2,700. While that would have been an absolutely killer price, Nokia has chosen to offer it for a MRP of Rs. 3,700. At this price point, the 2690 will face stiff competition, but Nokia is probably betting on its reliability and reputation to sway undecided customers in its favour.

Samsung B7722 Duos Announced: Coming to India Soon

While cheap dual SIM phones are a dime a dozen, high end dual SIM devices are still somewhat of a rarity. The just launched Samsung B7722 Duos attempts to address this deficiency. It is a GSM phone in which one SIM can run on 3G while the other must operate on GPRS/EDGE.

Samsung-B7722-Duos

The full touch Duos deploys a 3.2 inch touchscreen with 256K colors and 240 x 400 pixels. It has a capable 5 mega-pixel camera with LED flash, which snaps pictures at a resolution of 2592Ñ…1944, and records QVGA videos at 30fps. As expected from a high end phone, the B7722 supports plenty of multimedia formats including MP3, WAV, WMA, eAAC+, MP4, H.263 and H.264. Although it lacks GPS support, Google Maps and Mobile tracker are included. Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP, Push Email, Instant Messaging and MicroSD cards up to 8 GB are also supported.

The Duos will cost $510 in the US and is slated to be launched later this month in Sweden. It’s not known when it will be launched in India, but it is expected to cost around Rs. 23,000.

Vodafone will Bring iPhone 4 to India

It’s no secret that Apple has never been bullish about the Indian market. As a result, Indians looking to buy Apple products have often ended up getting a raw deal. While iPhone 3GS was announced last year, Indians had to wait until April ’10 to get their hands on it.

Apple-iPhone-4

The good news is that Apple has promised to roll out iPhone 4 to 88 countries within September and India is among one of them. Vodafone has also confirmed that it will launch the newest iPhone in India “in the coming months”.

Although, this is good news for fans anxious to get their hands on the drool worthy gadget from Apple’s stable, don’t expect it to be cheap. The initial price of iPhone 4 will probably start from Rs. 35,000, with the more spacious models (16 GB and 32 GB) costing in excess of Rs. 40,000. The iPhone 3GS is expected to replace the ageing iPhone 3G models.