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ET Review: Low-budget mobile phones

Here’s a low-budget ensemble, which has all the usuals thrown in. QWERTY keypads, friendly screens, cameras, easy-to-navigate menus... and most important of all, they can be tucked in discretely in your pouch

ET Bureau|
May 25, 2010, 01.28 AM IST
Following the influx of cheap phones into the Indian mobile market, finding a dual or triple SIM phone is very easy. But what differentiates these low-budget brands from one another is its form factor. If you do a specification checklist, they will all have the usuals — Bluetooth, GPRS/EDGE, a full QWERTY keypad, a web browser and much much more. But while the number of specs have gone up, the form factor is becoming smaller. Here is a review of three compact phones that are making the headlines in the cheap phone market. And the reason we say that they are compact is because ladies will notice its resemblance to their powder compact kits.

Micromax Bling Q55: Rs 5,500

With phones dedicated to Facebook with full QWERTY keypads, Micromax is a name that we all have heard of. This phone is not a regular slider, but has a slight twist to it (literally). The phone is very compact and can easily fit in the palm of your hand. As the name suggests, it has a lot of ‘bling’ factors or shiny-studded diamond buttons on it. It is available in white colour. The screen size is not great at 2.4 inches. It has dual simcard slots and a very useable full QWERTY keypad. The back houses an average 2 megapixel camera which is capable of capturing photo and video. There are dedicated keys for Facebook and Windows Messenger right on top of the keypad, although we seriously doubt if anyone even uses Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger as most of us know it) anymore! There is memory support for up to 8GB via microSD and the phone has some pretty good apps including a full-fledged browser, a GTalk client and some very ordinary games. Most importantly, you can carry the phone in a pouch! Without a doubt, the Micromax Bling will outshine all the other phones at your next party.

Zen Orbit Z90: Rs 5,300

This compact phone has the same sliding mechanism as the Bling, but is smaller in form factor. This one too has dual simcard support which should be handy in case you want to avoid the extra weight or the burden of carrying two phones around in your handbag. The black Zen Orbit Z90 does not have a full QWERTY keypad, but has a touchscreen at 2.4 inches. The numeric keypad is pretty confusing and we would have loved to see something more simpler or at least a trackball! It does all the regulars — GPRS/ EDGE, FM Radio and Web browser, fairly decently. There’s no complaints there. Talking about the touchscreen, it’s a serious letdown. The form factor of this phone is great even though it’s the same as Micromax. However, the Zen Z90 has a much better feel. The Z90 also has a 3 megapixel camera that clicks good pictures in daylight — but if you compare one cheap phone camera to another, they are all the same. This can serve as a good secondary phone with a better touchscreen.

Alcatel ICE 3: Rs 7,000

Stepping away from the sliders, the Alcatel ICE 3 is a clamshell phone. With two displays — a small screen for caller ID on the outside and a bigger screen on the inside — the Alcatel ICE 3 is the best phone we’ve seen in this category. Talking about form factor, it sports a really nice glossy shiny body which will get a lot of finger prints no doubt, but that’s okay. It features a nicely spaced full QWERTY keypad, an innovatively placed 2 MP camera and a 2.4 inch display. The screen is bright and a delight to look at. The menus are easy to navigate and it has its fair share of great apps — Opera Mini being the best among the rest. It has Bluetooth 2.0, charges via USB, GPRA/EDGE and can support memory up to 8GB. It is available in two colours — grey and purple.

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