Airtel Introduces ‘Live Aarti’ Service For Religious Devotees

Religion sells and Airtel knows it. Bharti Airtel has introduced a new VAS (value added service) called Live Aarti, which offers daily live pujas and aartis directly from the shrines.

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At the moment, Airtel is offering live Pujas and Aartis from Tirupati Balaji, Sidhi Vinayak, Shirdi Sai Baba and Bangla Sahib. More shrines including Golden Temple, Vaishno Devi, Kashi Vishawanath, Har Ki Podi, Nathdwara, Patna Sahib Gurudwara, and Puri Jagannath will be added in the near future.

Announcing the launch of the service, Mr. Shireesh Joshi, Director-Marketing, Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel said, Airtel continues to innovate and bridge barriers through technology. Airtel Live Aarti is yet another initiative in this direction. Devotees across India can now listen to Aartis – LIVE from some of the holiest places of worship in India. This is a great demonstration of how technology can bridge physical distances and bringing experiences emotional and spiritual on the mobile at the click of a button.

The Live Aarti VAS comes with a one-time subscription fee of Rs. 5 and a daily charge of Rs. 2 per shrine. To subscribe you need to just call 55200 (Tirupati Balaji and Sidhi Vinayak), 55205 (Bangla Sahib) or 55222 (Shirdi Sai Baba) from your Airtel mobile phones.

Nokia Launches Four Dirt Cheap Handsets in India – Nokia 1280, 1616, 1800 and 2690

Nokia may be having a tough time elsewhere, but it is still the king of the hill when it comes to India – especially in the low-end mobile segment. Nokia 1100 and Nokia 1110 are iconic phones, which became a slam-dunk hit in India, thanks to their sturdy built and low cost. Now, Nokia has announced that it will be launching four more low cost models for Indian consumers.

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Nokia 1280 is the cheapest of the lot. In fact, it is the cheapest phone ever launched by Nokia. As you can expect, this phone is pretty thin on features. It utilises a monochrome display and includes a FM Radio as well as a torchlight. Nokia 1280 is expected to cost Rs. 1,200.

If you don’t want to go with a monochrome screen, then Nokia 1616 is your cheapest bet. This handset costs around Rs 1,600 and features a TFT screen with 65K colours.

Nokia 1800 costs around about two hundred bucks more than Nokia 1616, but it features some extra goodies including prepaid tracker, anti-scratch cover and dust-resistant keymat.

Nokia 2690 is the most feature packed phone among the four. It includes a VGA camera, MP3 Player, Bluetooth, EDGE and expandable memory up to 8GB (microSD). This handset is expected to retail for around Rs. 2,700.

Nokia 2690, Nokia 1800 and Nokia 1616 also offer Nokia Life Tools, which is an SMS based VAS (value added service) aimed at rural India.

LG GU285 and GU220 – Cheap And Attractive Entertainment Phones For Indian Consumers

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LG has launched two new slider phones for Indian consumers – the LG GU220 and the LG GU285. The 3G enabled GU285 is the more feature packed sibling. It sports a 5.6 cm screen along with a 1.3 megapixel camera. A secondary VGA camera is also present to facilitate self-portraits and video telephony. Other features include MP3 Player with equaliser, EDGE connectivity, up to 5 e-mail account support, and instant messaging clients.

The LG GU220 also features a 5.6 cm screen. However, it doesn’t support 3G and provides just a single VGA camera. Other features include FM recording and a talk time of 10 hours.

Sudhin Mathur, Business Group Head, Mobile Communications, LGEIL said, The new phones are an extension of our unique offerings in the Buzz series that promises to give our users benefits of mega multimedia for entertainment on the move. The extensive basket of features, make these phones a preferred choice for consumers who demand for more. As always, we promise to come up with more handsets that cater to varied needs of consumers.

Both the models are available in trendy and attractive designs. The LG GU285 is priced at Rs.6500 while the LG GU220 comes at Rs. 4500.

Microsoft May Launch Cheaper Windows Phone 7 Handsets in India

Windows Phone 7 is pretty awesome; there is no doubt about that. However, the strict requirements specified by Microsoft mean that all Windows Phone 7 devices will cost a bomb. In fact, I would be surprised if any of the initial Windows Phone 7 handsets sell for less than Rs. 30,000. This is obviously a problem in countries like India, and Microsoft knows it.

According to Economic Times, Microsoft is already working with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to produce cheaper Windows Phone 7 powered handsets. According to Sudeep Bharati, director, developer tools for Microsoft India’s Visual Studio Team, “The low-cost version of the phone will have a different chassis than version 1 to be launched by 2010 end”.

Mobile phones using the new chassis are expected to include at least 128 MB RAM along with 5-megapixel camera. It will offer manufacturers enough legroom to price the devices at around Rs. 25,000 ($500-$600).

Sony Ericsson Naite – Ecofriendly Phone That is Light on Your Pocket

Sony Ericsson Naite is a low-end, ecofriendly handset targeted at budget conscious buyers. This model belongs to the GreenHeart range, which means that it has been constructed from recycled and with recyclable plastic and has a reduced carbon footprint. Sony Ericsson has even replaced the printed manual with an electronic one to conserve paper. However, does Naite have enough substance to help Sony Ericsson establish a foothold in the low-end mobile segment? Let us take a look.

Sony-Ericsson-Naite-India Naite is available in two colours – Vapour Silver and Ginger Red. The silver model looks simple yet elegant and classy. However, the crimson colour scheme is jarringly loud and is bit of a misfit on an otherwise simplistic phone. The handset weighs just 84g but doesn’t feel flaky.

The phone UI is simple and charming. Everything works as it should and, more importantly, works well. The phone lacks GPS, but has an inbuilt Google Maps application. Although Instant Messaging support is present, there aren’t any dedicated social networking apps. Naite also includes EcoMate applications, which provides daily environmental tips, quizzes and even virtual pets.

On the connectivity side, Naite fares decently thanks to HSDPA and EDGE support. The included 2-megapixel camera is decent enough for a budget phone but obviously can’t compete with the ones found in Naite’s more expensive siblings.

Music playback is a strictly standard affair. Only MP3 and AAC formats are supported. Even more disappointing is the proprietary headphone jack used in this handset. Thankfully, SE at least decided to dump their M2 storage format in favour of microSD.

Naite allows you to surf the web, listen to music, snap photographs and even make video calls. However, as expected from a budget phone, it does not excel at any of those things. In the end, it is a solid offering and is good enough for anyone who is primarily going to use his phone for talking. Priced at just Rs. 6,550 Naite is a smart buy.

Garmin-Asus M10 GPS Phone Launched in India

Garmin is famous for its excellent navigation software. However, its past attempts at manufacturing a GPS phone received lukewarm reception. One of the main prohibitive factors with earlier Garmin-Asus phones was the price. However, now Garmin-Asus has introduced a slightly more affordable Nuvifone M10 in India.

The M10 is powered by a capable Qualcomm 7227 600MHz processor and runs Windows Mobile 6.5.3. Its main attraction is obviously the in-built navigational software provided by Garmin. Navigational features are available in Hindi and English and are integrated into every nook and corner of the handset including frequently used applications such as calendar, contacts, email, internet browser, and messaging. It also includes some really useful advanced navigational features such as ‘lane assist’ (guides drivers to the correct lane for an approaching turn or exit and realistically displays road signs) and ‘highway mode’ (tells drivers the next three upcoming street exits so they can plan ahead).

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M10 boasts of s a 3.5-inch resistive touchscreen (480×800 pixels) with accelerometer for auto-rotate. As you can expect from a Windows Mobile phone, the M10 is quite capable when viewing office documents and handling social networks. It also features of a five mega-pixel camera. Unfortunately, there is no flash. So, unless the lighting is adequate you can forget about the camera.

The M10 will retain in India for Rs. 19.990 and will be initially available in major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. If navigation is important to you, you will be hard pressed to find a better option at this price range.

Airtel HTC Smart: A Smart 3G Touchscreen Phone for Budget Conscious Buyers

Following closely on the heels of iPhone 3GS launch in India, Bharti Airtel has announced that it will be launching the HTC Smart in India.

Unlike most of its more feature packed siblings, the HTC Smart is not powered by Android or Windows Mobile. HTC has instead opted to go with Qualcomm Brew. Smart is a pleasant looking device featuring a 2.8-inch resistive display and a three mega-pixel fixed-focus camera.

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One of the main attractions of this pretty little handset is Scenes, which are essentially different phone configurations that reflect different moods in your daily self. The user interface (UI) bears all the hallmarks of a HTC phone. It is charming and simply to use. The panel based UI does a good job at providing quick access to stuff that you require, while the contact manager neatly clubs together SMS, e-mail and Facebook communications.

Airtel will be selling the HTC Smart for Rs. 9,900, which is reasonable for a capable budget smartphone with 3G support.

While designing Smart, HTC obviously paid a lot of attention affordability. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that Smart is an inferior device. If you are looking for a 3G enabled budget smart phone, then this may be just be it.

Nokia Offers Free 12 Months Extended Warranty in India

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Nokia has announced that it will be offering 12 months of extended warranty with every Nokia E-series and N-series handset. This offer is valid in India til April 13th and can be availed from any Nokia Priority dealer.

From the official website:

Now, all new Nokia E-Series and Nokia N-Series devices come to you with Free Nokia Care Protect – an extended warranty for 12 months worth Rs. 1,414 absolutely free. Hurry, the offer is valid only from March 13 to April 13, 2010.

Nokia Care Protect offers you:

Peace of mind:
After your Nokia Limited Warranty expires, you can receive repair and support for an additional 12 months – from set-up to help with new features to repair options.

No hidden or additional fees:
Nokia Care Protect covers all your support and repair needs.

In other words, you will be receiving 24 months of warranty instead of the usual 12 months. If you are planning to buy a Nokia device, don’t waste time and order it before this offer expires. Extended warranty on electronic goods always comes in handy.

Spice Introduces 12MP Camera Phone with 3x Optical Zoom

Camera phones have improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. We have come a long way since the days of VGA camera phones. However, one feature that is yet to go mainstream is optical zoom. Now, Spice S1200 has joined the rank of elite few mobile phones that can brag about optical zoom.

The S1200 features a 12 mega-pixel camera with professional CCD sensor and boasts of numerous advanced camera functions including multiple face detection, smile shutter, auto focus, night vision, anti-shake, xenon flash and 24 preset capture modes. It is also quite capable when it comes to video recording and supports recording QVGA resolution video at 30 fps.

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Besides the standard assortment of connectivity options (no Wi-Fi), the S1200 also includes TV out support (cables included), which allows it to be connected to standard television sets.

Speaking on the launch of Spice S-1200 Mr. Kunal Ahooja, Director and CEO, Spice Mobiles Ltd stated, “Photography is emerging as a fine art and expression of creativity. Our latest Picture Perfect series phone the 12MP S-1200 caters to this lifestyle need of good photography on the move”.

Although, optical zoom is possibly the biggest draw of this handset, it is also responsible for the unsightly appearance of S1200. High megapixel count does not automatically ensure great picture quality. However, if Spice’s optical sensor is even half-decent, the S1200 should be a commendable camera phone. At Rs 14,500, it is priced just right for the Indian market.

[Click here for Spice S1200 Specifications ]

Vodafone Will Also Sell iPhone 3GS in India

Vodafone-iPhone After Airtel, Vodafone has also announced that it will be offering the iPhone 3GS in India. However, don’t get too excited as Vodafone’s pricing is as ridiculous as Airtel’s.

The 8GB, 16GB and 32GB models of iPhone 3GS will retail for Rs.33,500, Rs.40,500 and Rs.47,500 respectively in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. In the rest of India, they will be available for Rs.29,500, Rs.35,500 and Rs.41,500 respectively.

Vodafone will be offering iPhone 3GS users three plans. Users opting for Plan 1 would be charged Rs. 799 per month and receive 249 minutes of voice credits and 250MB data credit. Plan 2 costs Rs. 999 per month and includes 299 minutes of voice credits with 600MB of data credit. Users can also opt for a basic plan, which costs Rs 100 per month and does not include any voice or data credits.

The iPhone is a fantastic phone; however, does it merit the outrageous sum that Airtel and Vodafone are demanding? We believe it does not. Unfortunately, the truth is that there is a certain section of Apple fans that will always go ahead and get their latest product, irrespective of the price tag. And, this is the section that Airtel and Vodafone are trying to take exploit with their absurd launch prices.

(Image courtesy: UnWiredView)