"In the market for an affordable Android handset toting the very latest OS build? These are your options"
One of Motorola’s most commendable achievements has been kickstarting the trend of launching affordable Android KitKat-flavoured smartphones. Following the release of the Moto E, Indian brands like Micromax and Lava were quick to launch competing devices and claim their share of the market. With formidable specifications and the latest software, the affordable and entry-level smartphone market has never looked so good. If you’re in the market for a budget handset, these should be your top picks in the Android domain.
Launched in February, the Moto G made waves for several reasons. Not only was it Motorola’s comeback smartphone in India after a long hiatus, it also offered mid-range specs at an affordable price. The phone features a 4.5-inch 720p display with Corning Gorilla Glass protection, and is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 SoC with an Adreno 305 GPU and 1GB of RAM. It's available in 8GB and 16GB storage variants, but unfortunately lacks a microSD card slot for expansion. There’s a 5MP autofocus camera with an LED flash, and a 1.3MP front shooter for video calls. The dual-SIM smartphone offers 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS for connectivity, and is backed by a 2,070mAh battery. Jazzing it up are a variety of interchangeable back panels, available in different colours.
As if the buzz created by the Moto G wasn’t enough, Motorola went on to launch the even more budget-friendly Moto E this month. As with the Moto G and Moto X, the Moto E also retails exclusively on Flipkart. Despite doubts that smartphones priced at the Rs 7,000 mark should be sold in physical retail stores, the Moto E sold out on the first day, and was re-stocked within a week, only to make Flipkart’s servers go haywire with unprecedented traffic. So what’s all the fuss about? The Moto E features a 4.3-inch display with 960 x 540 resolution, padded with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a splash guard for water resistance and a smudge-proof coating too. Under the hood ticks a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, paired with 1GB of RAM and Adreno 302 graphics. Internal storage is a paltry 4GB, but there is a microSD card slot to take it up by an additional 32GB. The 5MP fixed-focus camera is nothing to write home about, and the lack of a front shooter adds to its imaging woes. The dual-SIM phone features 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and A-GPS. A 1,980mAh battery powers the show. Like the Moto G, the Moto E also features swappable back covers priced at Rs 899 each.
Earlier this year, LG announced its L Series III of dual-SIM smartphones, all running Android 4.4 KitKat. While the LG L90 Dual was the most premium of the lot, it’s now available online for just over Rs 15,000. The L70 Dual went on sale in March this year at a more affordable price. The phone features a 4.5-inch display with 800 x 400 pixels resolution, and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, supported by 1GB of RAM and Adreno 302 graphics. It sports a 5MP rear camera with LED flash and a VGA front shooter for video calls. There’s 4GB of expandable storage, and a 2,100mAh battery to power the show. The dual-SIM phone comes with a dedicated SIM switch key, and offers 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS for connectivity.
Just a day before the Moto E was officially launched, Indian smartphone manufacturer Lava teased its upcoming X series of Android KitKat running smartphones, priced below Rs 8,000. Today, Lava launched its first smartphone in the series, the Lava Iris X1, priced slightly higher than the Moto E, but with better specifications too. The Iris X1 sports a marginally larger 4.5-inch 854 x 480 pixel display. The company has chosen a Broadcom chipset to power the phone, consisting of a 1.2GHz quad-core BCM23550 processor and 1GB of RAM. There’s 4GB of internal storage, and a microSD card to expand it up to 32GB. Its camera features far outweigh the competition, consisting of an 8MP primary shooter with dual-LED flash, a BSI+ sensor and 1080p video recording, along with a 2MP front snapper. The dual-SIM device supports 3G only on one SIM, and features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and useful USB OTG support, a feature the Moto E lacks. Fuelling the phone is a 1,800mAh battery. Lava is bundling a magnetic flip cover with the Iris X1, and taking a cue from Motorola, has partnered with Amazon.in as an exclusive retail partner.
The Micromax Unite 2 is Micromax’s answer to the Moto E. Identically priced at Rs 6,999, the Unite 2 is also the company’s first Android KitKat device. The phone features a 4.7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 800 x 400 pixels. It is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor, paired with 1GB of RAM. At the back, it sports a 5MP primary snapper with autofocus, and a 2MP front camera too. Connectivity features include dual-SIM, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. There’s 4GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card. A 2,000mAh battery fuels the device. It comes pre-loaded with a range of apps and games like Kingsoft Office, Reverie Phonebook, Burn the Rope, Toystory Smash it and Marble. The USP of the phone is that apart from English, it supports 20 regional Indian languages, a feature that’s sure to strike a chord with many users. While there are no fancy interchangeable panels, Micromax is offering the Unite 2 in a choice of four colours – white, grey, red and green.
Related read: Micromax Unite 2 unboxing
The Unite 2 wasn’t the only KitKat-flavoured smartphone Micromax launched this month. Just a few days ago, the Canvas Engage was spotted online, running KitKat and with a slight downgrade in specs from the Unite 2. The Canvas Engage features a smaller 4-inch display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. Ticking under the hood is a 1.2GHz quad-core processor (chipset unspecified), mated to 512MB of RAM. There’s 4GB of internal storage, with a microSD card slot for expansion up to 32GB. Camera-wise, it offers a 5MP rear snapper and 0.3MP front shooter. There’s the usual suite of connectivity options, like dual-SIM, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Backing the phone is a 1,500mAh battery. Micromax has preloaded the Canvas Engage with apps like Kingsoft Office, Getit, Opera Mini, Hike, Burn the Rope, Smash It, Marbles and Reverie Phonebook. The Canvas Engage is yet to be announced officially by Micromax, and could get a lower official price tag.
Another KitKat smartphone to watch out for is the upcoming LG L40. With features like a 3.5-inch display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 512MB RAM, 3MP primary camera and 4GB of internal memory, it’s expected to feature entry-level pricing.
Note: The prices mentioned are the best available rates at the time of publishing, and could vary at the discretion of the retailer.