13 March, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Grand in a fashionista’s hand: a phone review

(Please do not expect detailed specs review and a comparison with Micromax A116 HD. For that you have various other gadget portals.)

I have been perfectly happy with a phone which has basic functions (like calling, messaging and sometimes clicking pictures with a 5mp camera) till now. What else does a girl need? A frenzy of games and apps is not for me. Touchpad screen or QWERT buttons are all the same to me. Typing messages with my fingers is more about another bout of admiration for my new nail paint than anything else; a sign of a true fashionista. (Please excuse fat fingers, they need a stylus!) I am the kinds who are happy with a phone that looks good in their perfectly manicured hands.

Till the time the phone was about establishing contacts, creating conversations and capturing a few memories, my old phone seemed perfect. And then came, the great social networking revolution where everybody wanted to stay connected with everybody 24 by 7 through Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pininterest, etc. People started blogging, posting comments, writing reviews, uploading images and so on. People started downloading books, games, music, applications and various other things from the net. Browsing the net for latest news and updates became a norm. Even a fashionista couldn’t ignore the sudden need to read reviews about the latest makeup launch or the designer wear on sale. On top of it, online shopping portals made shopping (both window shopping and the real ones) and getting deals, a cake walk. That’s when I thought, that my basic phone was not enough. It was not gelling with the changing times and it was time for an upgrade.

Before I zeroed down on Samsung Galaxy Grand, I had a few things in my mind. I wanted to ascertain if the new phone will be enough for my requirements, will it be value for money, will it be easy to use, etc.; and of course, how much should I spend to get a new phone.

My personal belief about investing in gadgets:

Every electronic gadget gets an upgrade within 6 months approximately from its own manufacturer and from the competitors, within a few months.

Technology is changing with a lightning speed. Whatever is new today, will be old tomorrow. Whatever you consider cool today, may seem outdated tomorrow. Whatever you find advanced today will be superseded by a much advanced successor.

Life of every electronic gadget is approximately 2 years. Beyond that is bonus. You should be really lucky to not encounter any glitches and repairs after that period.

So, invest wisely.

More so, when I am not a gadget freak, investing a freaky amount of 35k-50k on a phone felt foolish to me. So, I started scouting for mid-range phones which would solve my purpose. Quite a few suggested Micromax Canvas HD A116, some UMI X2, other HTC Desire X or SV with decently large screens. All this sounded Greek to me.

So, I started jotting down my requirements?

I required a phone, which would help me to make voice and video calls, message, browse internet, listen to some music, watch videos, etc. I wanted a decent camera to click pictures which could be posted in my blogs, would help me record videos to capture my daughter’s regular antics.

Gaming? Well sometimes, may be! Like Jewel Quest! Or Treasure Island! Ha!

And on top of it, read books, magazines, blogs, news, articles, etc. Fashion and makeup blogs are full of illustrations and images and without a decently large screen, the experience is not noteworthy. Therefore, I started looking for 5 inch screen size in smart phones. I didn’t want a very large screen like 7 inch or 10 inch screens of tablets because while making calls, those look like bricks next to a person’s ears. So, uncool for a fashionista!

After some research, I realized, I needed a PHABLET (Pronounced with an F, a hybrid between phone and a tablet). Sounds fabulous, isn’t it? Fabulous Phablet!

I have always been fond of things which can multi-task (like me), are multi-faceted (like me) and are packed with qualities in a reasonable price range. Please excuse my self-bragging. That is when I started evaluating phablets in the range of Rs 15 – 20K.

Options were:

UMI-X2 – A very popular brand abroad; this phablet is from a Chinese company who are yet to foray into Indian market. But these days all the spare parts of most of the companies are china made. Isn’t it? So, it was not the reason to turn down a product. It was costing Rs 14000 with 13mp camera and better specs than Micromax Canvas HD. But, I thought, better MP doesn’t translate into good camera. Micromax A116 camera is 8mp with flash, same as Samsung Galaxy Grand but lags way behind in colour reproduction, sharpness and image quality. HD screen colours look washed out with too much whiteness. So, not necessary UMI will get me a better product with better specs than Micromax. Moreover, after sales of a new company in India would be a problem. So, I dropped the idea of buying X2.

Micromax Canvas HD A116 – No doubt a drool worthy product in a price range of Rs 15000. But is it for me? May be not! I am not much into gaming so a faster processor may not be of much value over others for net browsing, reading books, etc. Bright screens feel harsh to my eyes so HD is not much of value to me either. Look and feel doesn’t compare to Samsung Galaxy Grand. And, a good looking product is a must for a fashionista. I did mention about the perfectly manicured hands before. And on top of it, Micromax has a history of bad customer service. So, I wasn’t convinced to buy it. There was no consistency in the prices quoted. At few places it was available for Rs 13999 and in other places as high as Rs 16500. It was not available in the shops, and online stores were quoting a delivery time of more than 15-20 days; again, a deterrent in the purchase decision. A fashionista will never wait for so long, either you meet her demands immediately or she moves on to the next best thing available. So, I realized that I would not like to invest in Micromax either.

HTC Desire SV – It doesn’t have a front camera at a price range of approximately Rs. 19000. Damn! What about my Skype sessions with my fashion sisters abroad? Huh! Video conferencing and calling is the present requirement and will be deemed as a compulsory feature in the future. HTC should have included a front camera.

Finally, Samsung Galaxy Grand – It has 5 inch screen to read large fonts, view images better and browse internet seamlessly. It comes with good music earphones which help you to change tracks, accept or reject calls and speak into the microphone while taking calls hands-free. Screen is not HD but is decent enough; camera is good which produces near to life colours and sharp images. Even after zooming in, images do not lose their sharpness. The interface is user friendly. It is perfect for my blogging and listening to TED talk videos. The sound quality of calls is fine. Other than this, there is a lineup of Samsung apps such as Smart Stay (the display won't go to sleep if it knows that you are reading), All Share, S Voice (give voice command) etc. Fashionistas love people and things who take there command seriously. Google Now is also exciting.

People are complaining that only 4 GB is available to customers for usage against 8 GB as mentioned for this model. Samsung has loaded its own features and apps in rest of the 4 GB. First of all, for me 4 GB is a good enough space. If I need more, then I can put an SD card for up to 64 GB. Again few are unhappy that this phone doesn’t allow them to save apps on the SD card. For few, yes it is a problem. But it can be sorted by the company by giving a software upgrade in future. For me, it doesn’t matter as long as I can save music, songs, videos, drafts, etc. on the SD card.

Moreover, it comes with freebies. I received an original Samsung flipcover which costs around Rs 1800, got a corporate discount of Rs 2100, Vodafone 3G connection with 2GB usage for 2 months free worth Rs 900 and music downloads worth Rs 8000. Apart from this 50GB Dropbox storage free for 2 years. Even if I let go off the Dropbox and music download giveaway, the cost discount equals to Rs 21500 – 2100 -1800 -900 = 16700, which is near about Micromax HD price. Samsung is an established brand with decent after sales service, so it made more sense to invest in the tried and tested company. I would love to support Indian brands like Micromax but they have to buck up their supply chain management and quality as per the standards established by International brands like Samsung, Apple, etc.

Verdict: Buy a phone, as per your requirements. Samsung Galaxy Grand fits my bill.

(This is not a paid review, I think Samsung should pay me for this…)

Parimita Chakravorty

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