“A roundup of the top smartphones and tablets launched in January”
Thanks to CES, the first month of the new year was predictably a busy one for smartphone launches. While the influx of the showcased products were restricted to international shores, Indian users were treated to a number of notable options in the budget and mid-range segment. The Micromax-backed YU Yureka went on sale for the first time last month, as did Lenovo’s affordable rival, the A6000. There were also a bunch of new devices from the stable of Samsung, HTC and ASUS. Here’s our roundup of the top smartphones and tablets that went on sale in January 2015.
vivo Xshot and x3s
Chinese smartphone brand vivo entered the Indian market in December last year with five smartphones, including the super-slim X5Max. All the devices introduced went on sale after the announcement, except for the Xshot and X3s, which were launched last month. The smartphones have a few features in common, such as a 13MP primary camera, 16GB of internal storage and Android Jelly Bean layered with vivo’s Funtouch OS. The vivo Xshot features a 5.2-inch 1080p display, a 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8MP front camera, a 2,600mAh battery, a microSD card slot with expansion up to 128GB, and 4G LTE. The X3s on the other hand, features a 5-inch HD display, a 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 2,000mAh battery and a 5MP front shooter.
Samsung’s metal-clad A-series of smartphones gained two new members in the form of the super slim Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 last year, but only made an appearance in India in January. The two smartphones share many specifications, including 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processors, 16GB of expandable internal storage, 5MP front cameras, Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz, and LTE support. Individually, the Galaxy A3 sports a 4.5-inch qHD display, an 8MP primary camera, 1GB of RAM and a 1,900mAh battery. The A5 flaunts a larger 5-inch display, a 13MP primary snapper, 2GB of RAM and a 2,300mAh battery.
Alongside the two new A-series devices, Samsung also debuted its brand new E-series of smartphones. The first devices to be launched under the new range were the Galaxy E5 and Galaxy E7. The smartphones both feature 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processors, 16GB of expandable storage, 5MP selfie cameras, Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz, and 7.3mm waistlines. They also offer hybrid dual-SIM, which allows the second slot to double up as a microSD card slot when required. The Galaxy E5 gets a 5-inch HD display, an 8MP primary camera, 1.5GB of RAM and a 2,400mAh battery. The E7 sports a phablet-sized 5.5-inch display with HD resolution, a 13MP camera, 2GB of RAM and a 2,950mAh battery.
Samsung had been threatening to launch its first Tizen-powered smartphone for ages, but it was only in January this year that the device finally made its star appearance. Called the Samsung Z1, the Tizen 2.3-running smartphone comes with its own app store, and is compatible with Android apps too. Coming to the specs, the Samsung Z1 features a 4-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, and is powered by a dual-core Spreadtrum SC7727S processor clocked at 1.2GHz. In the memory department, it is equipped with 768MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32GB via microSD. The Z1 features a 3MP fixed focus primary camera with an LED flash, and a VGA front snapper for video calls. The dual-SIM handset is fuelled by a 1,500mAh battery.
Related read: Samsung Z1 first impressions
BlackBerry launched its QWERTY-toting Classic in India last month. The full physical keyboard aside, the Classic offers a 3.5-inch square display with a resolution of 720 x 720 pixels. Powering the show is a dual-core Snapdragon MSM8960 chip clocked at 1.5GHz, mated to 2GB of RAM. There’s 16GB of internal storage, expandable up to 128GB via microSD. Photography is handled by an 8MP primary camera and LED flash, alongside a 2MP front snapper. A 2,515mAh battery provides the fuel. The Classic runs BB OS 10.3.1, which comes with support for Amazon APKs and is preloaded with the Amazon Appstore.
Micromax’s new smartphone brand YU took the covers off its first device, the Yureka, back in December. The first flash sale of the phone was scheduled for January 13th on Amazon, and the 10,000 available units promptly sold out within three seconds. The reason is undoubtedly the phone’s value-for-money factor. Alongside its attractive pricing, the Yureka boasts impressive specs such as a 5.5-inch 720p display, a 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal expandable storage, 13MP/5MP cameras, 2,500mAh battery, dual-SIM and LTE support. The icing on the cake is the Cyanogen OS platform, a custom Android firmware made popular by the OnePlus One.
In a bid to outdo Xiaomi and YU, Lenovo released its new budget contender, the 4G-enabled A6000 in India last month. The smartphone features a 5-inch 720p display, and is powered by a a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.2GHz paired with 1GB of RAM. The internal storage maxes out at 8GB, and is expandable up to 32GB via microSD. The device is equipped with an 8MP primary camera with an LED flash, and a 2MP front snapper. Powering the smartphone is a 2,300mAh battery. The dual-SIM device runs Android 4.4 KitKat layered with Lenovo’s Vibe UI.
Related read: Lenovo A6000 first impressions
ASUS’ dual-SIM voice-calling Fonepad 8 tablet made its way to India last month, over six months after being announced at Computex last year. As the name suggests, the Fonepad 8 has an 8-inch display, and features a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. It is powered by a 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Z3530 processor mated to 2GB of RAM. It gets 16GB of internal storage, expandable up to 64GB via microSD. Photography is covered by a 5MP primary snapper and a 2MP front shooter. The tablet runs Android 4.4 KitKat with ASUS’ ZenUI on top.
ASUS has been launching multiple variants of its ZenFone smartphones in India, and the latest of the lot is the ZenFone 5 A501CG. The device is very similar to the original ZenFone 5, with a few minor differences and a more affordable price tag making it a sweeter deal. Coming to the specs, the handset sports a 5-inch HD display, and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2520 processor paired with 2GB RAM. In the camera department it gets an 8MP primary snapper with an LED flash, and a 2MP front camera for video calls and selfies. There’s 8GB of internal storage under the hood, expandable with a microSD card. The smartphone runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean overlaid with ASUS’ ZenUI.
Related read: ASUS ZenFone 5 review
Taiwanese company Verico made its Indian debut with the Uni SHAPE 5v3 smartphone, and has partnered with Snapdeal as an exclusive retail partner. The device features a 5-inch qHD display and also has a touch-enabled back panel that lets you scroll, tap and snap photos. It draws power from a 1.3GHz quad-core processor assisted by 1GB of RAM. Internal storage is a paltry 4GB, expandable up to 64GB. The remaining features include 13MP/5MP cameras, dual-SIM slots, a 2,100mAh battery and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
HTC launched a mid-range dual-SIM smartphone last month, the Desire 526G+. The device features a 4.7-inch qHD display, and is powered by a 1.7GHz octa-core processor, mated to 1GB of RAM. It offers an 8MP primary snapper with LED flash, along with a 2MP front camera. The smartphone is available in two storage variants – 8GB and 16GB, both equipped with microSD card slots for further expansion. The handset is fuelled by a 2,000mAh battery and runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat with HTC’s Sense UI on top.
HTC also unveiled an upgraded version of its Desire 816G smartphone last month. It is essentially the same device as its namesake, but ups the ante with a 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor and 16GB of internal storage. Its other specs include a 5.5-inch HD display, 13MP/5MP cameras, 2GB of RAM, a 2,600mAh battery, dual-SIM and Android KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0.
Related read: HTC Desire 816G (2014) review