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Best bet in phone market

These flagship phones may cost a bomb, but they remain the neighbours’ envy and the owner’s pride

india Updated: Jun 10, 2013 17:51 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times
smartphones,high end,wow features

Last week, we listed the top five smartphones in the market that are high on features but light on the wallet. But the first half of 2013 has also seen the big boys show off their stuff, with several makers launching top-of-the-line phones amidst much fanfare. Here, we list the top five and find out what works in their favour and what doesn’t.

iPhone 5
USP: Brilliant OS
Best Price: R42,990 (Adexmart)
In February 2013, Apple’s iPhone became the second largest smartphone brand in terms of revenue and the fifth largest in terms of volume, in India. This achievement is especially noteworthy because unlike other smartphone makers that offer several models catering to various price segments, Apple launches one phone model at a time. And with EMI schemes and cash back systems for users wanting to switch to the iPhone, Apple is going for the kill in India.

What works:
The A6 chip, a system on a chip designed by Apple, ensures a faster processor and stunning graphics.
The iSight camera is popular and has been blamed for the death of the point and shoot
The iOS 6 is intuitive and arguably the best smartphone platform available. Retina 4 display makes apps and games look vivid.
The elegant design is a bonus.

What doesn’t work:
Despite the claims, the battery doesn’t last through the day.
In comparison to competition, Apple’s latest product doesn’t have any new, wow, features, something they hope to correct with their next phone. The current design is
similar to that of the 4S.

Nokia Lumia 920
USP: Different from the crowd
Best Price: R34,822 (Homeshop18)
When it was launched, the Windows operating system drew much praise for thinking out-of-the-box. But there weren’t many takers. Yet, Nokia decided to
persist with the operating system for a few of their phones and Windows went back to the drawing board to return with an updated OS that offered more. The Nokia Lumia 920 was one of the first big launches of 2013 and it seems to be faring quite well.

What works:
The Windows 8 OS takes multi-tasking to another level.
The sleek design; few phones look this good and come in such vibrant colours.
Wireless charging; new earphones, Nokia has gone all out with its accessories.
Several in-built features like City Lens, SmartShoot and PureView add the wow factor to the phone.

What doesn’t work:
The app ecosystem is still a work-in-progress. Essential apps like WhatsApp have been missing all this while. Instagram is still not available.
The live tiles can get boring.

BlackBerry Z10
USP: Fan loyalty
Price: R37,999 (Tradus)
At one point, not seeing a BlackBerry in someone’s hand was considered almost unusual. But the mighty did fall. In the face of some tough competition, the makers attempted to make a strong comeback with the BlackBerry Z10 and the Q10. The former was launched with much fanfare in India and BB’s loyal fans have lapped up the product.

What works:
That BB finally realised that less is not more. This phone is packed with features like BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Video with screen share and Internet Explorer 10 to keep enthusiasts hooked.
The App World has improved.

What doesn’t work:
It’s still low on features, compared to what the immediate competition has to offer for the same price.
It still does not pack enough of a punch to get Android or iOS loyalists to ditch their phones for this one.

Samsung Galaxy S4
USP: Several wow features
Price: R38,990 (ManicStore)
They may be involved in a battle of the smartphone royals with Apple, but there’s no denying that they have eaten into the latter’s market share in India and abroad. And to drive home the point, Samsung launched its much-awaited S4 on Apple’s home turf, New York, in a bizarre Broadway musical. The sales are good and the phone is popular, forcing Apple to change their strategy for the first time.

What works:
Good camera, a stunning screen and good processor.
Several wow features, the Smart Scroll, Air Gesture, Smart Pause and Air View.
Three-way calling and several in-built apps make owning the phone a wonderful experience.

What doesn’t work:
The user interface takes a little getting used to.
The need to add innovative features has complicated the phone.
It’s design is not at par with other phones in the price bracket.

We’ve heard good things about the HTC One, but it’s too early to include it in this esteemed lineup.

(The phones were chosen on the basis of user reviews and popularity on shopping websites. Rankings on websites like were also considered.)

Sony Xperia Z
Stunning music quality
Price: R34,824 (
A dependable option, Sony’s high-end phones have never bogged the limelight, yet this model climbed up the popularity charts rather quickly. Also, it helps that it is one of the few top-end phones that claims to be dust resistant and water resistant. It also uses in-house expertise to offer stunning music quality. Also, we have always enjoyed rooting for the dark horse and this product does make the smartphone war more enjoyable.

What works:
Good processor, good graphics
Sturdy and attractive design.
13 MP camera that delivers, along with HD video calling.
Water and dust resistant, two things we can use in Mumbai.
Stunning sound quality, Walkman makes an impressive comeback.

What doesn’t work:
Software has never been Sony’s USP. There are multiple bugs to fix in this one.
Non-removable battery makes things painful when the phone hangs.

Tweet talk:
Tweeple list their favourite smartphones:
@Syed_Bilgrami: iPhone is the best.
@sidlovershub: Galaxy Note ll
@bohra_shweta: Lumia 820!! The Lumia 920 is better, but then first saw love struck on it!
@vikas2gowda: iPhones are the best ever.. Rite?
@LeoAmore6: My favourite is the new Sony Xperia Z. I don't own it but the features are just amazing.
@aneeshb: Err. There’s only Apple and HTC. Plastic doesn’t count in high end.
@Ajaythetwit: HTC 1!

First Published: May 22, 2013 13:46 IST