Karbonn recently announced a new sub brand to sell what it calls Smart devices, which according to the company mostly includes smartphones and tablets, and also high end feature phones.
Karbonn KT21 is amongst the first feature phones to bear this sub brand. The phone promises a whole host of features including good multimedia, push mail service, a dual memory card slot and a 2.8 inch capacitive touchscreen.
But how does the phone perform in the real world? We tell you our experience.
The phone is a touch and type phone in a bar shape. Below the 2.8 inch touchscreen sits the alpha-numeric keypad which only has three additional buttons, namely, call, cancel and a button to access the inbox. However, since it's a phone that comes with a special instant messenger, a Qwerty keypad would have been better, although that would have meant a broader phone. As things stand, the key placement and spacing are nice and the phone is easy to type on.
There are three capacitive touch buttons at the bottom, namely, home, return and options. Apart from these the only physical button, for unlocking the device, is at the left side, facing slightly backward on the curved edge, which is slightly difficult to use, but since you can use any key to unlock the screen the button is not used often.
The device is well made with a proper fit and finish and the brownish colour and chrome strip all around give it a little bling that it otherwise lacks. The rear of the phone looks better with curved edges and a 3.2 megapixel camera with LED flash surrounded by chrome and a large speaker grill at the bottom just above the Karbonn logo.
All in all, the device has a fairly well-balanced design.
The display is another plus point for the phone.
It is a capacitive unit and the touch response is decent with no missed touches. Although the resolution has not been specified it is decent for a device in this price range. One can see the pixels but they are not too big to be annoying.
The user interface is proprietary, but well designed. The lock screen has three optionsâ€"one that opens directly from the home screen, the other opens from the call screen, and one opens in the messages. All you need to do is to slide up the option. When using radio or the media player you can press the cancel key to use the controls without unlocking the screen.
There are four pages to the home screen with movable applications and the phonebook, messages, music and home keys remain constant at the bottom in all the screens.
The call record feature has a setting to record all calls. You can also start recording a single call with one touch, and FM recording too is a one touch affair.
Overall, the device has a nice user interface with many thoughtful touches.
The key feature of the phone is KIM (Karbonn instant messenger) and the Karbonn push mail service. Karbonn has put a lot of effort into these two apps, and we have seen many smartphone users (Android too) using it.
Push mail is free for one year and the KIM is free for life. Karbonn claims that push mail is as good as any other push mail service. While we can't say anything about that, it works fine and the setup is easy too.
Karbonn has also put many apps in its app plaza, like Youtube, Yahoo, Facebook etc. and it is a good and useful collection. All the apps are ready to use and there is no need to download them. There are calender, note and task apps, which are also useful.
While Karbonn has games like Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja in the phone.
Gaming is one aspect where the phone fails miserably as the games are too slow to be any fun. Perhaps some of the lighter games will play well, but the phone is certainly not good for gaming. Other than while playing games, the phone did not slow down even once.
The camera is another sore point. The pictures it takes appear saturated and the colour too is not neutral with hues and tints all over.
Despite the fact that there is an LED flash low light photography is not good. Video recording is not good either.
The phone's multimedia is one of its claimed USPs and doesn't really disappoint.
The radio app is well sorted and the reception is good, the music player is also well designed and so is the video player. The speaker volume is good and clarity is also acceptable with little or no distortion even at top volume.
The phone's battery backup is very good with a single charge being sufficient for two to three days of medium to heavy usage.
We used the phone for listening to music and radio, making calls, surfing the net etc. but the 1000 mAh battery refused to die.
Priced at Rs 3,500 the phone offers good value for money, while camera and gaming are clear let downs, the hardware and user interface are well designed and the device has useful apps like push mail and instant messenger. Besides, the phone has a long lasting battery, and all in all, is well worth the money you spend on it.