Archive | January, 2010

Samsung launches Android phone at under Rs 14,000 in India

29 Jan

After getting a luke-warm response to its first Android phone, the Galaxy, Samsung has now introduced the Galaxy Spica, the cheapest Android phone available in India.

Priced below Rs 14,000, the Spica has better specs than the HTC Tattoo, which currently retails at around Rs 17,000.

While both the Spica and Tattoo have Wi-Fi, HSDPA and GPS connectivity, the Spica has a larger 3.2 inch touchscreen with a 320×480 pixel resolution, while the Tattoo has a 2.8 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 320×240 pixels. Both phones have a 3.2 MP camera.

We found the Spica to be better looking than the Tattoo and it simply gives more bang for your buck.

It is after a year since the launch of Android that we are finally seeing a mainstream device in the market.

By the end of next week, there will be six Android phones available in India – Acer Liquid (launching next week), HTC Hero, HTC Magic, HTC Tattoo, Samsung Galaxy and Samsung Galaxy Spica. But don’t be surprised if this number doubles in the next couple of months as we have some more Android love coming our way from Motorola, HTC and Garmin Asus.

Watch this space for more…

Samsung to launch Superb S5560 in India

29 Jan

Samsung is all set to launch an affordable 5.0 MP camphone in India next week. Called the Superb S5560, it is available in Europe as the Marvel. Priced at under Rs 12,000, the Superb will be the cheapest all-touchscreen phone with a 5.0 MP camera in the Indian market.

Other features worth mentioning include Wi-Fi connectivity, a 3.5 mm audio jack and up to 8 hours of talktime, which we believe would make it a hot selling phone after Samsung’s Corby series. The camera comes with auto-focus and advanced features like smile and blink detection and image stabilisation.

The Superb also has a document viewer, FM radio with recording and Samsung’s trademark TouchWiz user interface.

Follow us on Twitter @cellpassion

Android gets a new Twitter app – TweetCaster

29 Jan

Handmark has launched a new app for Android samrtphones, TweetCaster. Handmark is a leading creator and distributor of mobile apps and sevices.

TweetCaster is a customised application that will simplify your ‘tweeting’ experience from your Android-based device. TweetCaster lets you have multiple Twitter accounts running on one single device. This app will also allow you to customise themes and fonts on your Twitter page. Other cool features include:

Integrated retweets

Incorporated Twitter lists

Push notifications for tweets, mentions and direct messages

Offline tweet caching

URL shortening (and previews)

Photo attachment

Threaded direct messages


The app is pre-installed on the Droid and the Nexus One and is available for a free download on all Android-based smartphones. A premium version of this app is also there and is called TweetCaster Pro. TweetCaster is available as a free download on Android Market while the Pro version will costs $4.99.

Everything you need to know about the Apple iPad

27 Jan

Yup, the tablet is very much real and we have just gotten off following Apple’s event online. It is indeed being called the iPad, despite many people who think that the name is a joke and it could have done better with something like an iTab or even an iSlate. We leave that to Steve Jobs to decide and concentrate on the real stuff.

What is it?  In short, it is very much a blown-up version of the iPod Touch/iPhone and comes in two versions – one with just Wi-Fi (a la iPod Touch) and another with Wi-Fi and 3G (a la iPhone). It runs a tweaked version of the iPhone OS that allows it to run all apps that are available on the App Store. Plus it adds some cool new apps of its own – like iWorks, (that’s like MS Office for Windows users) and an online book store, iBooks, from where you can purchase and read e-books just like you do on Amazon’s Kindle. And yeah, Steve Jobs actually mentioned something that suggested more like he took a leaf out of Amazon’s book (pun intended). On the specs front, you are basically looking at a device with a 9.7 inch 1024×768 pixel touchscreen display, a 1 GHz processor specifically created by Apple for the iPad and basically the same iPod Touch/iPhone functionality with much more display real-estate to show off your multi-touch powress. You can get a complete low-down of specs here

Who is it for? At the moment, Apple is pitching it between the iPhone and the Macbook, while claiming that it is much better than a netbook. We feel that the iPad could be a good device for entertainment and reading – books, newspapers, magazines… We are not completely convinced at the moment as to how badly the iPad will hit the netbook market (read the good, the bad and the ugly below), we can see it hitting the Kindle pretty bad. Starting at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version  and $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G model (US prices) it offers much more fuctionality than the Kindle can ever offer, even with its upcoming application store.

Where is it available? At the moment, no where. It will be available in the US in March and prices start at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version  and $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G model. While it is unlocked, it will run on AT&T’s GSM network in the US (3G version) and will use a micro-SIM card. Apple will announce its international availability sometime around June this year.

Now it’s time for the good, the bad and the ugly things of the iPad.

The Good:

The pricing: The 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G version available for $629 is roughly the same price as that of an unsubsidised iPhone 3G (in India). Basically, you get a more powerful device with a bigger display at the same time. Of course, you don’t expect to hold this thing against your ear to make calls, we hope.

The content: The ability to run all iPhone apps on the iPad is a big plus. What remains to be seen is whether more app developers spend time customising their apps for the iPad. Add to that the iBook – the book store from where users can purchase and download e-books. The iPad might just become the best gaming console/e-book reader/personal media player/Internet tablet device. 

The performance: Initial hands-on impressions from some of the most reputed media/blog networks claim that the iPad is much faster than the iPhone 3GS. Add to it up to 10 hours of battery life and multi-touch and iTunes, the iPad dazzles in front of the impending competition in the Internet tablet arena (Seriously, do we have any competition there at the moment?).

The keyboard dock accessory: The iPad comes with an optional keyboard accessory that we believe would be a must-have accessory. That would make it much convenient to type since typing on a 3.5 inch display and a 9.7 inch display are two different things. However, we noticed that the dock places the iPad in portrait mode rather than landscape mode, which we think would be a more comfortable orientation.

The Bad

Micro-SIM: The iPad with 3G does not use a normal SIM but rather a newer variety of SIM cards. Why would Apple break the standard and go for the uncommon? So that people don’t start using it with carriers other than the ones Apple has tied up with. This would ensure that the carrier and Apple continue to rake in revenues without having to worry about losing the device to rival carriers. However, Apple has made it clear that the iPad is an unlocked device and will be available on prepaid only, The caveat: the data plan is available on only one carrier – AT&T.

The Ugly

No multi-tasking: What? So much processing power, such a big display and no multi-tasking? That’s right mister, eventually, the iPad is just a bigger iPhone.

No camera: Another booboo. Would have loved to have an IM client with video chat and lots of camera-based augumented reality apps.

No GPS: This one is a bit difficult to digest. Even the 3G+Wi-Fi version only has assisted-GPS support that doesn’t pin-point your exact location but rather estimates where you are.

Mono audio: Ahem, it seems like we will have to buy a nice speaker dock for this baby to actually get the party started. But will the current ones for the iPhone/iPod Touch suffice? Looks highly unlikely considering the size of this beast. Mind you, it has the same docking port as the iPod Touch/iPhone.

The verdict

Apple has managed to hit the sweet spot with its pricing albeit with a few hardware sacrifices. We reckon that the iPad will become the defacto best gaming device, e-book reader and probably even an Internet browsing machine. But will it send netbooks into oblivion? Naah, we need something that can multi-task for that, Mr Jobs.

Spice Retail acquires Karnataka based mobile retail chain: Global Access

27 Jan

Spice Retail , the multi-brand mobile and technology retail chain has announced the acquisition of ‘Global Access’, a well-known Karnataka-based mobile retail chain. Global Access has been a strong regional brand in Karnataka with more than 20 retail stores in the state’s capital Bangalore. With this acquisition Spice Retail will be able to mark its strong presence in the state of Karnataka.


Hotspot has been actively increasing its footprint in the country. Spice Group had also acquired the Indian operations of a Dubai-based mobile retail chain Cellucom last year. Cellucom India had close to 120 retail stores and after the merger; Spice Retail has a network of more than 700 Hotspot stores at present. The company is looking forward to its second acquisition in Southern India this year.

After taking over Global Access, Spice Retail is pursuing further expansion by adding new products in categories like imaging, gaming and various other novel products and services.  

Apple's tablet finally shows its face?

27 Jan

Close on the heels of yesterday’s ‘accidental’ leak that Apple will indeed announce a tablet device today, Engadget now claims what seemingly looks like the real deal to us too.

So here’s the claim: The Apple Tablet (or whatever it may be called) has a 10-inch display (with multi-touch, of course). What you see here is Google Maps (or is it Apple’s own navigation application that looks similar) running in an iPhone Safari-like browser that seems to support traditional tabbed browsing with tabs on the top of the screen.

And there’s more! The tipster claims it has a MacBook-like Aluminium back casing and will be launched on Verizon for $800 at subsidised rate and $1,000 unsubsidised for 3G connectivity. If that’s the case then in all probability, there will be a GSM version as well for Europe and other countries where CDMA networks do not work.

Then there is the iPhone-like home button on the bottom of the display, which lends support to the claims that the Tablet will run on an OS based on the iPhone. The mysterious tipster also claims of a front-facing camera on the top of the display. Interesting, very! Well, we just have to wait for another eight hours or so to see all pieces of this massive jigsaw puzzle fitting in…

Nokia presents the little brother, unveils X6 16 GB version

27 Jan

Nokia has unveiled a new version of the X6 called the X6 16 GB. The two brothers are almost alike in looks and bear some similar specs such as – a 3.2 inch capacitative touchscreen, accelerometer, proximity sensor, a 5.0 MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash, A-GPS and Ovi maps (recently declared free by Nokia).


The two differences – the new one has half the storage capacity of the former one i.e 16 GB and doesn’t come with Nokia’s unlimited music download feature called Comes With Music.


Games such as Spore by EA, Asphalt4 and DJ Mix Tour by Gameloft will be tagged along. The new device also swears to hold up-to 5,500 tracks.


Standby time       – 18 days

Talktime              – 11.5 hours

Video playback   – 4.5 hours

Music playback   – 35 hours

Colour profile – all black, all white, white with pink highlights and white with yellow highlights.


The device will hit select markets this quarter.

Indian nominees at MWC Global Mobile Awards: VNL

26 Jan

Another Indian company that stands chance to win a Global Mobile Award is Vihaan Networks Ltd (VNL), which has been nominated for two awards – â€˜Green Mobile Award for Best Green Programme’ and ‘Best Network Technology Advance’ for VNL’s WorldGSM base-station. 


WorldGSM is the world’s first solar powered GSM system specifically designed for remote rural areas. The system is cost effective, doesn’t pose environmental threats, works completely on solar energy, is easily installable in just six hours by two or three unskilled people and the equipment is light and sturdy enough to be transported in bullock carts.


VNL found the need to develop this system because the traditional (handle-with-care) GSM equipment could not be transported to village areas and deployment was equally difficult with poor roads, no electricity and lack of trained engineers. According to VNL, mobile networks in India require two billion litres of diesel every year to power back-up diesel generators.


This solar powered GSM system saves operating costs and has also proven to be quite profitable for mobile operators because of its unique advantages. WorldGSM is working efficiently in India, South America and is also commercially available throughout the world.

We’ll be back with more information on other Indian companies being nominated for their unique contribution. 

Confirmed: Apple to launch Tablet device tomorrow

26 Jan

Okay, we had resisted writing about Apple’s ‘mythical’ tablet device and the zillions of rumours/speculations surrounding it for over two months. For those of you living under a rock or just returned from a marooned island, Apple is holding a press event tomorrow and all rumours point towards a Internet Tablet device with a 10-inch or so display that will run on a tweaked version of the iPhone OS.

So what makes us bite the bait and pen a few words about it? An official confirmation of sorts, though not directly from the horse’s mouth. Apparently about an hour or so ago, the CEO of McGraw Hill was on air on CNBC discussing the company’s quarterly results when he blurted out that Apple will indeed announce an Internet tablet device tomorrow and McGraw Hill’s publications will be available on it! Not just that, he has also confirmed that the device will run on an OS based on the iPhone OS and apps will be trasferable.

What do we make from all of this? Well, it looks like a planned ‘leak’ to us with Steve Jobs probably blessing the CEO to talk about the device. After all, no one, leave aside the CEO of a big company, goes on air on CNBC and accidentally speaks out. Absolutely not in detail. And would Apple mind its shares hitting the roof 24 hours before the announcement? HELL NO!

Nokia E72 quirks: Spacebar death, contact and text limits

26 Jan


We have been messing with the crown jewel of Nokia’s E Series, the E72, for a little over a week now and while the device has been performing with E Series-like efficiency for the most part, we have been seeing a few eccentricities. The first is the space bar which for reasons best known to itself, just stops functioning. A simple restart generally fixed matters, although we had to pull the battery out a couple of times to get back to normal. A firmware fix to set things right is believed to be in the works.
We were, however, really puzzled to see Nokia imposing limits on the number of text messages and contacts one can keep on the device – less than one thousand in each case. To be honest, we have no idea what inspired this, as no such limitation existed in the E71 or the E63. In fact, I remember keeping close to three thousand messages and a thousand two hundred contacts on my now-archaic Nokia E61i. Yes, they did slow down the device, but storing them was possible. We wonder if Nokia’s need to put a restriction on their number had something to do with ensuring that the E72 did not stutter in the speed department. A pity, if so, for it does rob the E Series of a very handy quality, especially in these days when Google Sync puts ones contacts well beyond three figures! Stay tuned for a detailed review.