Your smartphones get smarter

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 11, 2011 04:22 hrs

Indians are going to invest in 12 million smartphones this year, says CyberMedia Research. Here’s a sneak-peek of the best smartphones money can buy and know what some of these top-end models offer.

Motorola Defy
Best buy @ Rs 18,990

All those with butterfingers must pick up the Motorola Defy. This is a 3.7-inch touchscreen phone, that comes in a black and secure water-resistant case and fully covered ports. Even if it drops on the floor from a height you will have no heart burn.

Inside, Defy has an 800MHz CPU, powered by Android 2.1 but this is noticeably slower than the 1GHz CPUs used in the Android top models like the HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S. However, you will not find these phones at Defy’s price point. Defy comes with MotoBlur, which is Motorola’s own social networking-obsessed Android front-end. While it does a fair job of bringing your friends’ latest status updates to your home screens with widgets, it is not very pretty and does slow your phone down slightly. This being Android, you can wipe MotoBlur off your Motorola Defy if you want to.

Noticeably the sound quality on the Motorola Defy was better than expected. A 5-megapixel autofocus camera with an LED flash is just what one would expect to see on a midrange device like this that gives decent images asa well. The 3G mobile hotspot is an attractive feature — the 3G cellular signal on your phone can be used as an internet connection that is broadcast over WiFi, turning your phone into a mobile router. The hotspot app does drain your battery and comes with a warning: Will ‘impact battery life significantly’.

Verdict: All we need is an Android 2.2 update and the Motorola Defy can be one of the most tempting smartphones.

Nokia E7
Best buy @ Rs 26,700

The second device (after the Nokia N8) to be powered by the latest version of the Symbian OS – Symbian 3, Nokia E7 seems to be the Finnish answer to the perceived user friendliness of iOS and Android.

The physical keyboard, Microsoft Exchange support, office suite and the ability to give presentations, all add up to the impressive office device. The carefully designed hinge mechanism translated into a display that is positioned at an angle like a laptop screen making viewing easy if the device is sitting on a desktop or cradled in the hands for thumb typing. We have to admit that it has a very good keyboard and within a few days we were typing emails without even looking at the keyboard.

However, its user interface lacks some of the polish seen on many rival high-end smartphones. Given the announcement that Nokia will be pairing with Windows, E7 seems redundant before it was launched. Navigating the phone is as before – grid menus, neat and organised (if not intuitive). The Nokia E7 is a good multitasking device but while closing apps it takes a long time.

For starters, all kinds of network connectivity options are at one’s disposal – GPRS to 3G with HSPA. Bluetooth 3.0 with stereo support, Wireless-enabled Wi-Fi radio, USB 2.0 and a miniHDMI port rounds off the wired connectivity and there’s a miniHDMI to normal HDMI bundled in. The E7 holds an 8-megapixel fixed-focus camera sensor accompanied by a dual LED flash. The battery lasts good two days of fairly heavy use and around a full day of heavy network activity.

Verdict: E7 comes as a definite upgrade for Nokia E71 and E72 users.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Best buy @ Rs 35,000

All gamers who have been waiting for a PlayStation phone for years, can at last get their hands on Sony Ericsson Play, which comes complete with D-pad, thumb pads and PSP-like controls. But, no matter how you spin it – this is ultimately a smartphone with gaming capabilities, not the other way round.

The bundled 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, four-inch touch-sensitive screen, GPS and 5- megapixel camera in Xperia Play make for the standard fare in a modern smartphone. The Xperia Play comes with the updated Android version 2.3 (Gingerbread) on board, which is a definite plus point.

The Xperia Play brings with it our first taste of PlayStation Suite, an online games store for the Android OS. On the last count, there were 50 games available, some of which are optimised for the handset’s gaming set-up. . Then there’s Timescape, Sony Ericsson’s social network and contact syncing widget. It’s been streamlined since first appearing on the Xperia X10, and now just quietly sits on your homescreen, showing your tweets, Facebook updates and messages with people’s profiles in the background. It comes with a 5- megapixel camera, capable of recording 720p HD video footage. This can produce high-quality shots and sharp looking footage. Xperia Play’s sound quality is excellent and the battery life more than enough to see you through a day.

Verdict: For game addicts with deep pockets, don’t bother looking beyond Xperia Play.

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