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Are Cheap Qwerty Phones Really Good ?

Updated on May 2, 2016

To Buy or Not to Buy

QWERTY phones by big brands like Blackberry, Nokia and Samsung have been around for a very long time. A few years ago, the choices were limited but the market is now flooded with offering by smaller brands like Karbonn, Lava and Micromax, which are giving the giants a run for their money. These Java-based phone offer a lot more than their reputed counterparts - dual-SIM support, answering machine, TV, FM radio with antenna, optical trackpad, and so on. And the best thing is that they cost only a few thousands Rupees. Top-end models with Wi-Fi cost around Rs 4,000. Considering only the feature set, are these phones value for money? Yes, absolutely! However, the feature set is not the aspect that makes or breaks a phone. Build quality, ergonomics and performance are also important and go a long way in adding value. Fine details like hot-swap for memory card, dedicated volume control buttons and shortcuts add to user comfort. For a QWERTY phone, the size, spacing and tactility of buttons is important. Tiny and stiff buttons are frustrating, whereas, large buttons with good tactility help composing messages efficiently.

The budget QWERTY phone roundup was a very good opportunity to find out how good the models by smaller brands are and whether any of them can defeat the Nokia C3 or X2. The once I found most fascinating were the Fly Circle B436, Lava B8, and Videocon V1676. Other phones had poor build quality, while others lacked good ergonomics. Some phones had a sluggish UI and most phones shot horrible photos.

The fly Circle B436 has an excellent keypad, dedicated volume control and secondary camera for self-portrait. Its key feature is its speaker, which is loud... really, really loud. You'll have angry eyes staring at you if you play music at full volume on this phone in public places. The Lava B8 looks great and reminded me of the Nokia E71. It was the most feature-rich phone, but it scores low on ergonomics. Its keypad isn't very comfortable and typing messages with the T9 dictionary active was painful. The Videocon V1676 has everything except Wi-Fi, which is forgivable because it offers very good ergonomics and performance. It has dedicated volume control, hot-swap for memory card, excellent keypad and separate keys for commonly used punctuations like period and comma. Other phones had punctuations combined with the alphabet keys, requiring the user the press the shift/function key in QWERTY phones by Nokia. Out of all brands, only Videocon has got the keypad correct. And yes, it's a C3 killer. If offers more features than the Nokia C3 for a lesser price and the overall performance is impressive.

When buying a budget QWERTY phone, I strongly suggest you get a feel for the device and pay good attention to ergonomics. Don't base your buying decision only on the feature set.


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