Picking a phone is often difficult. Especially if it has to be budget bound. India’s mobile market is brimming with new phones with unbelievable specs and ever falling prices. With Tata DoCoMo already launching 3G and other telcos to follow suit, this might be the time to pick the 3G phone. It would be best if we can get touch experience too. When we started on this expedition, we thought there will be a whole bunch of phones to sift through. It turned out there are only 14 phone models from 5 manufacturers – Nokia, Samsung, LG, HTC and Acer – in the price range of Rs. 5000 – Rs 10000.

The preliminary screening criteria are 3G and touch screen. To further sift through and rank the phones megapixel on the camera, talk time provided and other features which would make the phone stand out are considered.

Few things which were common across the phone and are considered to be hygiene factors are FM Radio, Music player, Video player, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, expandable memory to 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB. The on-board memory though, can be considered as a differentiator, and it did not turn out to be such  a differentiator.  With a minimum of 30 MB (LG Cookie Plus GS500V) and  a maximum 512 MB (Acer beTouch) almost all the phones need an extra memory to consume the available media.

Camera :

Based on the megapixels on the camera the 10 phones which made the cut are : LG New Chocolate BL20 V ( 5 megapixel), Samsung Monte S5620 (3.2 megapixel), Samsung Star 3g S5603 (3.2 megapixel), HTC Smart F3188  (3.15 MP), LG GW525 (3.15 MP), LG Cookie Plus GS500V (3.15 MP), Samsung Corby Pro B5310 (3 MP), Acer beTouch E110 (3 MP) and Samsung Galaxy5 i5503 (2 MP).

Talk Time

Based on the talk time on 2G network the 10 phones which made the cut are Ş Samsung Star Nano 3G S3370 (10.5 hours), LG Cookie Plus GS500V (10 hours), Samsung Monte S5620 (9 hours), LG Cookie glide GT 350I  (9 hours), Samsung Galaxy5 i5503 (8.5 hours), Samsung Star 3g S5603 (8 hours), Samsung Corby PRO B5310 (8 hours), HTC Smart F3188  (7.5 hours), Nokia 5235 (7 hours) and Nokia 5230 (7 hours).

In addition to the factors which are already listed, there is one more factor which played a big role – my mood at the time of writing this. Here’s the final ranking :

Samsung Galaxy5 i5503

Samsung-Galaxy-5Galaxy 5 is the best phone money can buy in this category. It has a capacitive touch screen phone, 2 megapixel camera and an on-board memory of 140 MB, with expandability to 32 GB. The best part of Galaxy 5 is its 600 MHz processor which is a little too much for a phone. A processor that fast cannot be found in some of the tablets. Galaxy 5 runs Android 2.1 OS which means it can access thousands of free and paid apps on the market place but you already knew that. Flipkart price : Rs. 8939.

Samsung Corby PRO B5310

Samsung-Corby-Pro Samsung Corby Pro has a touch screen and a sliding QWERTY keyboard which is one of the two phones in this list to have it. Corby Pro has a 3.1 megapixel camera, 8 hours talk time and has all the goodies like Wi-Fi, music player and video player. At a cost of Rs.9999, this the most expensive phone on the list, probably justified by its looks. Flipkart price : Rs. 9999.

Samsung Monte S5620

Samsung-Monte 3.2 megapixel camera phone with capacitive touch screen, Samsung Monte comes with an impressive talk time of 9 hours on a 2G network. Monte supports Wi-Fi and has a in-built memory of  227 MB which can be expandable to 16 GB. Has social networking integration and Google Maps. This phone is not available on flipkart or Futurebazaar or on the Samsung website. It is only available on KBazaar.in for a price of Rs. 9020.

HTC Smart F3188


HTC which was probably the first phone company to release a touch screen phone in India has a phone featured in less than 10K range. Unlike most of HTC’s upcoming ph0nes, this phone doesn’t have an Android OS. It runs Brew OS. Smart has a 3.15 megapixel camera with LED flash, 7.5 hours of talk time and has Bluetooth and USB connectivity. HTC Smart has a 300 MHz processor which is just enough for a smartphone. HTC Smart comes with HTC sense integration for better navigation experience. First non-Samsung phone to break the Samsung rout on this list. Flipkart price : Rs. 7599.

LG Cookie Plus GS500V


The most impressive feature of Cookie Plus is its 10 hours talk time. It has touch screen with 240×400 pixels, supports bluetooth and has  USB connectivity. Other goodies like 3 megapixel camera, audio and video player, voice recorder make Cookie Plus an impressive buy. Flipkart price : Rs. 7599.

Samsung Star 3G S5603


Yet another Samsung phone in the list. Star 3G has a 3.2 megapixel camera, 8 hours of talk time, has bluetooth sans Wi-Fi. It comes with direct access to Twitter and Facebook and other social experience applications. It has a poorer cousin – Samsung Star Nano 3G which is also on this list. Star 3G has a superior camera than Nano 3G. Flipkart price : Rs. 7849.

LG Cookie glide GT 350i


Cookie Glide is a touch screen cum keyboard style phone after Samsung Corby. The keyboard feature might come in handy as typing on a touch screen phone still is messy. Cookie Glide has a 2 megapixel camera, an impressive 9 hour talk time. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi too. Glide has a in-built memory of 42 MB which can be expandable to 8 GB through a micro SD slot. A good looking slider phone. Flipkart price : Rs. 7849.

Nokia 5235


Nokia 5235 is the only Nokia phone in the list. That only tells one thing – Nokia has to ramp up its smartphone category in all price ranges. Nokia 5235 is just like its popular MusicXpress with an extra touch of 3G and touch screen. Nokia 5235 offers a unlimited free songs from Ovi music store. The only phone in this list to have that kind of a feature. 5235 has a poorer cousin 5230 which has everything except the free music store access. Unlimited, unpirated songs for an extra 1500 rupees. Take a pick. Flipkart price : Rs.8999.

Acer beTouch E110


beTouch has a 2.8 inch resistive touch screen powered by ST Ericsson with 416MHz processor. beTouch runs the Android 1.5 OS a.k.a CupCake. The latest Android version is 2.2 or Froyo. It’s not clear if an upgrade is possible or not. It comes with an internal memory of 512 MB and a 2 GB Micro SD card. The phone is compatible for a 32 GB memory card. Acer beTouch is the cheapest Android phone available on the market. beTouch comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera. beTouch has a built-in GPS. Support Bluetooth sans Wi-Fi. Future Bazaar price : Rs. 7200

Samsung Star Nano 3G S3370

Samsung-Star-Nano-3G Made to the list based on its ten and half hours of talk time. The best performance for a 3G touch screen smart phone in this category. Everything else being equal between Star Nano 3G and Star 3G, the key difference is the 1.3 mega pixel camera of Nano 3G, probably from where its name comes from. The talk time on Star 3G is less than Nano 3G which pretty much makes up for the camera. If you don’t mind having a standard camera then with an impressive price tag this might be the 3G phone you are looking for. And this is the cheapest 3G touch screen phone on the list, and probably in the market too. Flipkart price : Rs. 5850.

Notable mention

LG-New-ChocolateLG New Chocolate BL20 V – A 5 megapixel camera and 6 hours talk time, this could easily go up the list. The only reason to keep it off the list is its conflicting specs. LG India doesn’t feature this phone. Flipkart says that this phone has a front-facing and a rear-facing camera for video calling. None of the other sites mention anything about that feature. Even without the feature, this would still be a great buy for Rs. 9249.

With 5 of the 10 phones, Samsung has ruled this list. LG came a close second followed by HTC, Nokia and Acer. Samsung which has aimed at a 20% smartphone market share in India is on the right path. With so many impressive products in the most happening price range, it cannot really go wrong. LG and most importantly Nokia has to beef up its smartphone category.

PS : The prices are picked from Flipkart, FutureBazaar and KBazaar. The MRP’s and the launch prices could be different. The prices are as of Nov 6 2010 which might change when you check. Also the availability of the phone depends on the retailers.

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