BSNL Champion Trendy 531 review: going with the phablet trend

“With BSNL’s 3G data plan, the Champion Trendy 531 is an ideal device for the internet-savvy”

There’s little doubt that Android has democratised the smartphone market. The platform has brought Indian manufacturers such as Micromax and Karbonn at par with big names like Samsung and Sony. However there are many other handset vendors looking to grab a piece of the pie in the rapidly-growing mobile market in our country. Instead of waging a price-based or specs-based war against established players, such companies are finding different ways of reaching consumers. One such way is tying up with telecom operator(s) to offer users a complete package comprising a device along with a cellular connection loaded with free minutes or data. Champion Computers has partnered with state-run operator BSNL, bundling free 3G data with its Trendy 531 phone. But is the device worthy enough to be used as a daily driver? That’s what we intend to find out with this review.

BSNL Champion Trendy 531001

Bog standard design as far as looks are concerned

BSNL Champion Trendy 531008 BSNL Champion Trendy 531005

Built around a large display, the device is certainly big and bulky. In terms of the design, the Trendy 531 sports a typical design with a metallic rim running along its edges. The front of the phablet is covered by the display along with an earpiece, proximity sensor and front-facing camera above it. Below the display, there’s the usual three-button layout of capacitive keys. At the sides, the power button is located at the right whereas the volume rocker can be found at the left. The top houses the 3.5mm headphone jack and the microUSB port for charging is at the bottom. The headphone socket is placed on the curve, making a few third-party headsets incompatible since they don’t go all the way in. The back has the main camera and a speaker mesh along with Champion and BSNL logos. However the BSNL logo looks like an afterthought and can come off quite easily. The back panel can be opened to reveal the removable battery, a pair of SIM card slots and a microSD card slot. BSNL Champion Trendy 531030 BSNL Champion Trendy 531033 The glossy back cover is prone to fingerprints and smudges. If you’re handling the device with sweaty palms (while playing an intensive game for example), it can become slippery. Being a large-sized device, it takes some time in getting used to it and can only be used by two-hands comfortably. To protect the smartphone, the package includes a flip cover which is very sturdy. However, similar to the back cover, it’s also glossy at the rear.  

Large display is handy but too reflective

BSNL Champion Trendy 531024 Riding on the huge interest for large-screen devices aka phablets these days, the BSNL Champion Trendy 531 flaunts a 5.3-inch display. The display is surely big and is ideal for reading text or viewing media. Though most of the smartphones in this price range sport 720p displays, the screen on the Trendy 531 bears a resolution of just 960 x 540 pixels. On the positive side, we didn’t notice any pixelation. However, the screen is quite reflective, which makes it illegible in sunlight even at full brightness. The viewing angles also leave a tad to be desired when it comes to watching movies or playing games. The box contents also include a scratch protector safeguarding the display against scratches.  

Camera impresses with its quality

Most of the devices from Indian vendors boast of big megapixel numbers, but in most of the cases, the resulting images don’t justify the hype. However, in the case of the Trendy 531, the 13-megapixel shooter delivered some good shots. For assisting shooting in low-light conditions, the phablet also features an LED flash. The device is capable of recording videos in 1,280 x 720 pixels. The camera interface is same as the one found in Android offering features such as autofocus, touch to focus, panorama, HDR, smile detection among others. Here’s a look at the camera samples (click on them to view  the original size)- BSNL Champion Trendy 531 camera sample (3) BSNL Champion Trendy 531 camera sample (4) BSNL Champion Trendy 531 camera sample (5) BSNL Champion Trendy 531 camera sample (1) BSNL Champion Trendy 531 camera sample (2) At the front, the Champion Trendy 531 has a 5-megapixel camera, though the box wrongly mentions it as 2MP. We aren’t complaining, but it could end up misleading potential buyers. The front camera is good for video calls or taking selfies, which has become a raging trend nowadays.  

Average performer that keeps up with most present-day apps

BSNL Champion Trendy 531019 The guts of the phone include a configuration found in most of the offerings from Indian manufacturers. For handling the performance, it has a MediaTek MT6589 chip with four Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. Accompanying the processor is 1GB of RAM which makes sure that the device can multitask well. There was no lag while using the device for general tasks or while opening and closing apps, though minor lag does creep in while switching between apps. It was also able to handle graphics-intensive games like Riptide GP2 and Shadowgun: Deadzone reasonably well. But as highlighted earlier, poor viewing angles mar the gaming experience offered by the smartphone. Another problem we encountered was that the device heats up pretty quickly within a few minutes of playing an intensive game, although it doesn’t affect the gaming performance. In terms of memory, it comes with 4GB of internal storage out of which users get only 2.7GB for personal data. It’s just enough for installation of a few apps and games, but can’t accommodate large-sized ones such as Asphalt 8. Thankfully the storage can be extended by the addition of a microSD card of up to 32GB. BSNL Champion Trendy 531 The device is powered by a hefty 3,200mAh battery, though the high capacity doesn’t exactly result in better battery life. With moderate usage consisting of calling and messaging, web browsing via Wi-Fi, one Gmail ID set to push and intermittent Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp usage, the device can survive just a tad more than a day. But playing games or watching HD videos brings the battery down to about 60 percent from full charge within an hour. In our battery test, the BSNL Champion Trendy 531 played a looping 720p video for four and a half hours before dying. BSNL Champion Trendy 531 BSNL Champion Trendy 531 Like other Indian smartphone vendors, the OS and its interface is left largely untouched, but includes a few preloaded apps. The version of Android on offer is 4.2 Jelly Bean. Some of the apps included are Adobe Reader, Facebook, Kingsoft Office, LinkedIn, Skype, and WhatsApp. Popular games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Temple Run are also available. Surprisingly, it also comes with benchmarking apps such as AnTuTu, Nenamark and Quadrant Standard preinstalled.  

An ideal device for the internet-savvy

The Champion Trendy 531 offers the usual suite of connectivity features including 2G/3G network support, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. The dual-SIM slots can house a regular SIM card and a micro-SIM, but it’s important to note that 3G connectivity can only be availed on the micro-SIM slot. More than the connectivity options on offer, it’s actually the bundled internet plan from BSNL that makes it stand out from the rest. Along with the smartphone, buyers will be getting one year of 3G data on BSNL’s network. Though it has a download limit of 500MB per month, it’s good enough for accessing internet services like Gmail, Facebook or instant messaging apps.  


BSNL Champion Trendy 531031

Minus the internet offer, the BSNL Champion Trendy 531 might get lost amongst a spate of similar-looking and similarly-specced offerings. However the bundled 3G connection changes the equation in its favour for the simple reason that there are considerable costs attached for a separate 3G data connection. As a device, it didn’t disappoint us anywhere, except the minor performance lags and meagre onboard storage. For shutterbugs, the camera performance adds up as yet another reason to buy it. Though the device is priced at Rs 13,999, it’s available in the market for Rs 13,000. With this price tag, it has competition from both international brands as well as Indian vendors. It’s biggest competitor currently would be the Moto G, which is an all-round package. In the phablet territory, it will face competition from devices like the XOLO Q2000 and Micromax Canvas Doodle 2. The recently-launched Idea Ultra II is also a good option in the same price band as it offers similar hardware specs and comes along with Idea’s 3G subscription. Editor’s rating: 7/10 Pros
  • Large display
  • Good camera
  • Bundled internet plan
  • Glossy design
  • Low resolution display

Specs at a glance

Dimensions 151.10 x 80.5 x 9.8 mm
Weight 200 g
Display 5.3-inch
Display resolution 1,280 x 720 pixels (207 ppi)
Processor 1.2GHz quad-core
Internal memory 4GB
External memory up to 32GB
Primary camera 13MP with LED flash
Secondary camera 5MP
Network support Dual-SIM with 2G/ 3G
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Battery 3,200mAh
Operating system Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean
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One of the earliest members of the 91mobiles' editorial team, Nitansh is a walking encyclopaedia of product specs. Name a phone and he’ll tell you the specifics on screen resolution, processor and camera without blinking an eyelid. Ask him if he remembers the launch date of a noteworthy phone, and he'll tell you the dates when the device first leaked, its global unveil, its Indian launch, and when it got a significant update. He’s a lover of all things Android, and loves writing reviews and scouting for new apps. A Wordpress whiz, he’s always ready to help out a fellow writer. While he juggles between many things at 91mobiles, he always manages to find time to write. In his non-tech avatar, Nitansh is a philatelist, which is a fancy word for stamp-collector.