“With its distinct design and powerful internals, the Octane Plus is a formidable option under Rs 15,000”
Karbonn might be the third largest smartphone maker in India as per the latest report by CounterPoint Research for the Q2, but compared to Micromax, it doesn’t enjoy much brand recall. At 91mobiles, we've come across a fair number of Karbonn smartphones and the last device we reviewed, the Titanium X, impressed us with its curvy design and decent performance at an affordable price. Its successor, the Titanium Octane Plus (FAQs) also comes across as a performance powerhouse. We’ve been using the phone as a daily driver for past week and here’s how it fared in real-world usage.
|In a hurry? Take a peek at the Karbonn Titanium Octane Plus review in pictures|
The first thing you’ll notice about the Karbonn Titanium Octane Plus is the dual-tone finish on its body. While most phones stick to single colour bodies, the Titanium Octane Plus gets a white hue towards the bottom. The rear panel is also dipped in the same colour and hence the device offers a unique styling.
The smartphone offers brilliant experience while handling as well, thanks to its slim frame measuring 7.6mm. Compared to other offerings of its size, Karbonn has increased the height of the device and thus it has relatively less width, making it very easy to hold for even longer durations. Weighing just 140g, it’s quite lightweight as well.
While its sleek body may lead you to believe that it’s a unibody construction, that’s not the case. The rear panel of the smartphone is removable and houses a pair of SIM card slots (one full-sized slot and the other a micro-SIM), a microSD card slot and the battery. This is really good news for those who worry that they’ll have to visit the service centre in case the battery goes kaput.
Most of the fascia is covered by the display panel flanked by the earpiece, sensors and front-facing camera above and three capacitive buttons below. The touch-sensitive buttons offer the usual functionality of options , home and returning to the previous screen. Sadly the backlighting is very dim and switches off quickly.
The power button is located on the right edge, whereas the volume keys can be found on the opposite side. Headphones can be plugged on the top, while the micro-USB port is available on the bottom. The rear is home to the protruding main camera unit with an LED flash and a speaker grille.
Even though the smartphone is built from plastic, it feels robust. However, one complaint we have with the design is the glossy rear panel which gathers fingerprints very easily.
The 5-inch display has become a sweet spot for manufacturers and the Titanium Octane Plus is also based on this size. The IPS display has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels offering a crisp pixel density of 441ppi. It offers good viewing angles and colour reproduction, and we didn't face any difficulties in reading text or viewing videos. The 5-point multitouch screen is responsive as well, plus one can also use it while wearing gloves, which definitely gives it an edge over most devices at this price bracket. However, viewing the screen in outdoors is a bit of problem as it's highly reflective.
The handset runs on the latest build of Android. Karbonn has also tried to not play around with any customisations and the device is offered with stock KitKat interface and features. Right from the lock screen to the app launcher, notification panel to settings and the dialler, there’s no change and the device delivers smooth performance.
There are a number of preloaded apps and games, including notable ones like Amazon, Moneycontrol, OLX, Saavn, etc. There are some games as well such as Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour and The Avengers, but these are trial versions and you have to pay if you want to play. The brand has included its own apps such as Karbonn ebazaar and Karbonn Klive. While the ebazaar app gives info about various Karbonn products, deals, etc., Klive is a glorified VAS allowing you to get news, astrology, etc. by sending SMSes. However, these apps don’t specifically help in any way and they also seemed to be poorly optimised.
Sadly, you can’t uninstall any of this bloatware, even if you don’t have any use for it.
Keeping in line with its flagship stature, the vendor has supplied the Octane Plus with a 16-megapixel camera sensor. That’s quite high for a camera considering even many other flagships from reputed brands pack in 13MP sensors. But as we’ve said time and again, the megapixel count isn't a true indicator of camera quality, and that stands true with the Octane Plus as well. The image quality is sub-par and it isn't able to capture details properly. Even colour fidelity seemed to be a bit off the mark and images are just good enough for social sharing. Shooting photos at night, just like most smartphones, is just average.
In terms of the interface, the device offers a stock camera app allowing users to quickly switch between photo and video as well as the rear camera and the secondary one. It allows you to capture in various modes such as HDR, panorama, multi-angle view and live photo. There’s also an object tracking mode giving users the ability to shoot a fast-moving object.
Another important point to note is that while the device boasts of a 16MP sensor, it can only click in this resolution at the aspect ratio of 4:3. If you want to capture full-screen images with the aspect ratio of 16:9, then you’re limited to 12MP resolution only.
|Here’s a detailed look at the camera performance of the Karbonn Titanium Octane Plus|
Take a look at a few images shot with the Karbonn Titanium Octane Plus. Click on them to view them in their original sizes.
If you’re a seflie junkie, then you’ll appreciate the presence of an 8-megapixel camera at the front, which is ideal for sharing your self-portraits on Instagram or for high-quality video chatting over Skype. The rear camera is capable of recording videos in 720p resolution, but in 3gp format instead of a standard format.
The Octane Plus gets its name from the processor that powers it. It runs on the MediaTek MT6592 SoC, which offers a true octa-core chipset clocked at 1.7GHz along with the Mali-450MP4 GPU. In terms of sheer power alone, that’s a lot of performance muscle and our experience with the device is a testament of this fact. We didn't face any lag while using the smartphone, even while using multiple apps or running processor-intensive games. The inclusion of 2GB of RAM further injects fuel to the performance. Playing heavy game like Asphalt 8: Airborne was a great experience.
But just like other octa-core-toting phones, the device is prone to heating. Within just 10 minutes into the game, the Octane Plus became incredibly hot at the upper portion of the rear. This doesn't happen only when you’re running heavy games... even playing casual games like Subway Surfers caused the same problem. What’s more, even if you use the camera for a couple of minutes, the phone will start heating up. Just pray you don't get a call during this time.
Storage-wise, the availability of 16GB of onboard flash memory will keep you happy, though it’s further partitioned into two memory chunks of 5.71GB and 7.67GB. But the combined space of 13GB should be enough to take care of apps and games, as well as personal files and different multimedia. If that’s not the case, then you can make use of the available expansion slot and add up to 32GB microSD cards. With the support for USB On-the-Go capabilities, you can also plug in your flash drive or accessories like a mouse or keyboard.
The device outputs fairly loud sound via its speakers. We didn't encounter any issues with call quality as well, and people at both ends of the calls were able to hear each other clearly.
What’s the point of having so much power, if you don’t have enough juice to utilise it? That’s the problem with the Karbonn Titanium Octane Plus, which was scoring highly in all aspects until now. The smartphone is equipped with a 2,000mAh battery, which doesn't seem enough to power a full HD display backed by the powerful combination of an octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM. With moderate usage on calls and Wi-Fi for browsing, it was hardly able to last even an entire working day. Use it for heavy tasks like gaming and navigation, and you’ll have to hunt for a power socket soon. In our video loop test, the phone was able to run an HD video continuously for just four hours and 30 minutes.
Technology moves at a rapid pace and Indian smartphone manufacturers are trying very hard to keep up with it. While the previous year was considered as the year of quad-core smartphones, 2014 can be safely labelled as the year of the octa-core chip. Karbonn was quick to jump into this territory when it announced the pair of Octane smartphones back in March. However for some reason, the devices came three months later in June. A lot has changed in the market scenario in this price band since the unveiling, with more octa-core offerings in the market as well as the entry of superb all-rounder options such as the ASUS Zenfone 5 (review) and Xiaomi Mi 3.
That said, the brand has recently reduced the pricing of the smartphone from Rs 18,990 to around Rs 14,000 to counter the threat from the competition. At this price, you get a slim and stylish smartphone with a lovely display and power-packed innards, though its camera and battery leaves you wanting for more. Comparing it to the competition, the Xiaomi Mi 3 (review | FAQs) will definitely be its biggest competitor and while it’s a great device, you’d have to be patient enough to buy it through nerve-wracking flash sales model on Flipkart. Other options in its price segment, including the recently-launched XOLO 8X-1000 (first impressions) don't seem powerful enough in terms of specs alone.
All in all, the Karbonn Titanium Octane Plus comes across as a great option below Rs 15,000, though the camera and battery life could’ve been better.
Photos and video by Pratik Vyas
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