Another day, another budget Android phone. Google’s operating system seems to have taken off in the Indian region as the market is now flooded with Android devices and it shows no signs of slowing down. Karbonn recently announced its A7 smartphone that aims to pack a whole bunch of goodies in a budget. However, as we’ve seen with previous phones we’ve reviewed, there are certain trade offs that users are forced to live with. Does the A7 follow that norm, or is it an exception to the rule? Let’s find out.
Karbonn A7 video review
Design and Build Quality
The Karbonn A7 looks like a device that was heavily ‘inspired’ by HTC’s One Series. In fact, to say that it was inspired may only be an understatement. For the user, though, this is nothing but good news, as low-end Androids have more often than not been cheap plastic devices and the A7 looks nothing like that. The phone has a nice smooth matte white finish at the back and a silver rim surrounding the screen in the front. The 3.5-inch screen is a fingerprint magnet and has a low resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. Below it are three backlit capacitive buttons and one physical button.
Volume rocker on the left
Button mapping is slightly different as the physical button takes you to the Search feature instead of the expected home screen. There’s a VGA front camera included as well. Moving on, the top has a power button and a 3.5-mm headphone jack while the left has only a volume rocker. On the back, you'll find a 5-megapixel camera and a dual LED flash. The microUSB charging slot is located on the bottom edge.
The device weighs 120g and feels sturdy. The A7 easily beats a lot of the devices in its price range as far as design and build are concerned. In fact, it’s got the looks to take on the likes of Android devices that are priced in higher brackets too, making it a benchmark of sorts for competing devices.
Features and Performance
The A7 is powered by an 800 MHz processor and has 512MB of RAM. It runs on Android Gingerbread 2.3.6. Manouvering through the various home screens and menus is pretty smooth and lag-free. Memory intensive games and apps slow down the overall functionality a little though. The interface isn’t too different from the stock ones we’ve seen in the past, but a few tweaks such as power control options in the notifications dropdown, customizable animations and additional widgets give the A7 that extra bit of functionality.
Sub par display
In our benchmark tests, the phone notched up a Linpack Single Thread score of 20.3 and an AnTuTu score of 2232. This was a tad lower than the Andi 4D that we reviewed earlier, which runs on a 1GHz processor.
The media UI doesn’t offer anything particularly unique in terms of looks and file format support. Video format support is limited to H.263, H.264, AVI, 3GP and MP4.1080p and 720p video didn’t play on the device. Music via the headphones is good and the bass has a nice amount of thump. Also worth mentioning is that the inbuilt FM Radio worked pretty well on our train journeys, and the speaker is loud enough to fill a small room.
Heavily inspired by the One Series
The 3.5-inch screen is large enough for personal viewing but the display quality leaves a lot to be desired. Colours appear faded and the screen isn’t particularly bright or sharp. That’s the kind of price-related trade off you’ll have to live with.
The Karbonn A7 is a dual SIM dual standby (GSM + GSM) handset with 3G support on one SIM. You also get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Call quality is average as the earpiece and speaker just about get their work done. We’d have liked a crisper sound though. Browsing WAP sites is quick but don’t expect the device to render full-blown web pages with ease. The additional Dual SIM settings options let you choose the desired network connection for Internet access. GPS locking is quick when outdoors but you’ll have to be patient if there are a lot of buildings around. To sum it up, this phone has everything you’d need in a budget Android, but isn't the easiest or most fun to use.
MicroUSB port at the bottom
Miscellaneous content includes the App 2 SD application, Office Suite and a File Browser. For all your other apps and games you do have the Play Store though. Unfortunately, Shadow Gun, Dead Trigger and other such memory intensive games aren’t available for this device via the Play Store.
Dual LED flash
The A7 comes with a 5 megapixel rear camera with dual LED flash and a VGA front camera. The rear camera may be competitive with other budget Androids in the megapixel count, but in reality the images are subpar. There’s no autofocus, and it’s best to restrict the camera’s usage to casual photography and simple shots that you'd like to upload to Facebook and Twitter. The front camera is extremely laggy as well, but it just about works for a video chat and taking self shots.
The A7 comes with a 1420 mAh battery under the hood. The low-powered processor coupled with the low-resolution display result in a decent battery life. Under normal use you’ll easily get about a day’s usage from the phone. In our video loop test on automatic brightness, the device lasted for a respectable 8 hours and 10 minutes; much better than the lowly 5 hours that the more expensive Desire C managed. It’s also worth mentioning that our device did shut down unexpectedly a few times, but that could be a problem specific to our review unit.
Worth a buy?
Verdict and Price in India
The Karbonn A7 is priced at Rs. 7,490. A couple of online stores are selling it even cheaper than that . At its price, the handset competes with the likes of the Galaxy Y, the Spice Mi-350n and the Wave Y. The A7 has better features at around the same price, and apart from the ho-hum display, it makes for an interesting budget Android option.
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