Festive smartphone shopping guide

Techilicious columnist Rajiv Makhni

It seems like Christmas in the smartphone world, as within a week we’ve seen eight flagship phones launch.

Usually it takes a whole year for so many top-of-the-line phones to be introduced but this isn’t the spirit of Santa Claus entering into the mobile brands’ soul – it’s plain business! Just before festival season, almost every company will introduce a serious contender to make sure that the money you plonk down on the counter goes into their treasure chest.

But with such an incredible line-up, you also have an incredible line-up of confusion. Thus, to make this a little easier, here’s my version of your Festive Smartphone Shopping Guide.

The Big Bomb – Samsung Note 3

Samsung Note 3: This phone is not for you if you make fun of people sticking big phones to their ear and talking

A massive 5.7-inch super AMOLED 1080p display yet doesn’t feel big, powered by a Snapdragon 800 SoC, a 13-megapixel camera capable of recording video in 4K, less plasticky looking as it’s covered with finely stitched leather, the S Pen gets more intelligent as Air Command becomes truly usable, the multi-windows feature for opening different apps is now customisable. It comes for about Rs 45,000 at street level.
Made for: Great for business users, excellent for power users, fantastic if you need high-quality video and the payoff is awesome if you can spend time learning the capabilities of the S Pen and Air Command. Not for you if you make fun of people sticking big phones to their ear, not at all if your jeans are the painted-on-super-tight kind, not for you if you have small hands (it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, if you have dainty little hands, scratch this off your list), not for you if you don’t enjoy learning new features, which have a bit of learning curve on your phone.

The Seductive Firecracker – Sony Xperia Z1
Close to being the best-looking in this line-up, aluminium and glass build, fantastic engineering and build quality, super thin and very sleek, feels fantastic in the hand, a souped-up quad-core processor, 16GB on-board storage out of the box with extra points for the expandable memory option of up to 64GB, a 5-inch full-1080p display with Triluminos technology for better sharpness and contrast, an astounding 20.7-megapixel camera, almost waterproof and truly dust-resistant. It doesn’t even have annoying flaps to close and a street price of about Rs 39,000. 
Made for: Perfect for those whose phones are a statement and an extension of their personality as this is a serious looker, awesome for those who use their cameraphone a lot, also good for those who need to wash their phones under a tap to get rid of all the icky stuff accumulated through the day. Buy it if you watch a lot of movies on your phone as it’s about the only one here that can use an extended memory slot for all your ‘downloaded’ movies. Not for you if you keep your phone unprotected in a bag or your pocket as the glass at the back scratches easily, not for you if you like your phones super clean as this is a prime example of a fingerprint magnet. Rules of ‘don’t buy it if you can’t handle a big-screen phone’ apply here too.

The New Age Rocket – LG G2
This is LG getting its groove back and making sure that it’s taken as a serious contender after a debacle in the smartphone market. The G2 sheds its sub-branding in the Optimus range (a strange decision), has a 5.2-inch full-HD display, an innovative ‘back of the phone’ power and control button layout, thus leading to an almost non-existent bezel and clean sides. It also has a fantastic camera with optical stabilisation that is rock solid, a quad-core processor that flies and the 16GB version comes for about Rs 40,000.

Nokia Lumia 1020: The 41-megapixel camera is an outstanding piece of optical engineering

Made for: If you like your phone to do a lot more than have a ‘Plain Jane’ Android build, if you like a phone with clean sides and no buttons sticking out, if you shoot pictures that are usually fuzzy because of your hand shaking, if you like a phone with a truckload of new features not offered by others – the G2 is for you. If you are averse to learning a new way to control your phone, if you want your phone to have a striking design and hate plasticky looks, if you hate it when companies add on an overblown Android skin and many new features that seem gimmicky – then the G2 is not for you. 

The Innovative Sparkler – Nokia Lumia 1020
The phone that shocked the world with a 41-megapixel camera reinvents the zoom as well as photography, truly stunning images and some great tricks within the camera app, great design and beautiful colours, comes with an add-on accessory that converts it into a real camera body, butter-smooth Windows OS performance, and did I mention that the 41- megapixel camera is really an outstanding piece of optical engineering that gives you photographs and videos that were in the realm of dreams just two years ago? It’s priced at Rs 47,000.
Made for: Everyone who now uses their phone as their only camera, all of you who are serious about creative photography without wanting to wade through the drudgery of learning DSLR methodology, all those who think Windows on a phone is easily the most overlooked OS and all those who love Nokia for what it stands for, can apply here. But if you hardly ever use your phone for more than a random ‘birthday cake being cut’ shots, if you’re still a Windows hater and crib about ‘no apps’ on the OS, if you feel Microsoft played a dirty game with Nokia, then you should cleanly walk away.

That’s half the roster on the festival shopping guide covered. The next four in my Diwali basket will have some Apple phuljaris, two shockingly great Chinese anaars and maybe even one more surprise pataka. Get ready for some serious tech celebrations this Diwali.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, October 13

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