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Nextbit has today released their first smartphone, the Robin, in India. The device is considered to be one of the first cloud-centric smartphones.

Nextbit Robin

The smartphone features a colorful soft-touch polycarbonate body with rounded edges. This already makes it look different from the other metal-body devices available in the market. It runs on a custom ROM called Nextbit OS, which is based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The USP of the device is the 100 GB cloud storage that it offers. The apps which are used the least are automatically backed up on the cloud and later retrieved on-demand. The battery capacity of the device is 2,680 mAh and supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0.

The device is powered by 3 GB RAM and Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor. The onboard storage is 32 GB, which is backed up by 100 GB cloud storage. Moreover, even if one uses more than 100 GB storage on the cloud, there is no extra amount to be paid. Eventually, Nextbit Robin comes with unlimited storage. It supports NFC and 4G LTE, along with the usual connectivity features like WiFi and Bluetooth.

Nextbit Robin comes with a 5.2-inch full HD IPS display, with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. Corning Gorilla Glass is used for its protection. The device comes with dual front-facing speakers.

The device features a 13 MP primary camera with dual tone flash, and Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF). The front camera is a 5 MP shooter. The fingerprint sensor is integrated with the Power button on the side.

The smartphone comes in blue and black color options. It is priced at ₹19,999 ($300 approx.). It will be available starting May 30, exclusively on Flipkart.

Nextbit Robin specifications


Operating System: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Storage: 32 GB internal (100 GB cloud storage separately)
Display: 5.2-inch full HD IPS
Resolution (pixels): 1920x1080
Primary camera: 13 megapixel
Secondary camera: 5 megapixel
Battery: 2,680 mAh
Dimensions (WidthxHeightxDepth): 72.0x149.0x7.0 mm
Price: ₹19,999 ($300 approx.)
Alcatel has today launched their latest entry-level smartphone, the Pop Star, under its Pop series of devices. Not sure about the smartphone yet, the name does sound interesting!

Alcatel Pop Star

The smartphone runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop. The battery capacity of the device is 2,000 mAh.

The device is powered by 1 GB RAM and 64-bit 1 GHz quad-core processor. The onboard storage is 8 GB, which is expandable up to 32 GB via the micro SD card. Alcatel Pop Star is a dual SIM (both micro) smartphone and supports 4G.

The smartphone comes with a 5-inch HD IPS display, with a 160-degree viewing angle, and a resolution of 1280x720 pixels.

Alcatel Pop Star features an 8 MP primary camera. The front camera is a 5 MP shooter.

The device comes in gold and silver color variants. It has been priced at ₹6,999 ($105 approx.) and is available on Gadget360.

Alcatel Pop Star specifications


Operating System: Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Processor: 1.0 GHz quad-core
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Storage: 8 GB internal (expandable up to 32 GB)
Display: 5.0-inch HD IPS
Resolution (pixels): 1280x720
Primary camera: 8 megapixel
Secondary camera: 5 megapixel
Battery: 2,000 mAh
Dimensions (WidthxHeightxDepth): 71.5x142.5x8.6 mm
Weight: 145 g
Price: ₹6,999 ($105 approx.)
Recently, India has seen a handful (and more) of companies entering the consumer electronics market. It does not take a genius to guess that most of them are from China. This has led to healthy competition in the sector, which is a good thing from the end consumer's perspective. This has also resulted in price and specification wars, which has ultimately led to possible scams like Freedom 251, Docoss and Namotel. Whether they are all fraud, or whether such wars are right or not, is not the topic I want to talk about here. It is a different discussion altogether, which we might (hopefully) cover in a separate blog post. This post is about how an increased inflow of manufacturers, and thus many options to choose from, has made the industry more like a sell-and-forget scheme. Make a product with best-in-class hardware, promote it like there's no tomorrow, use tactics like flash sales to create artificial demand, make or break records, rinse and repeat. Where is the after-sales support in this cycle? That's the question I want to ask.

Chinese manufacturers and the sad state of after-sales support


I am not saying that there is no customer support at all. In this world of social media, saying that will be outright wrong. However, is it satisfying enough? I do not think so.

I have one story to share. It concerns Xiaomi. One of our writers, Gaurav, joined their victim list a few days ago. He had many expectations from Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. So, he decided to gift one to his father. However, there was one hurdle, the flash sale model. He got five people (including himself) to try on his behalf. He got one in the first sale itself. Bingo. Add to it the one-day delivery. All was good. However, this was only the beginning of disappointments that followed.

His father, who is a doctor by profession, was a feature phone user. He was delighted about his first smartphone. Given his field of work, he is used to getting 30+ calls in a day. To his surprise, after switching both the SIMs to the new device, he did not receive a single call (of course he did not know the reason then). Later, people complained about his phone being switched off all this time. Only, it was not. This was when Gaurav tried calling the numbers himself just to see if anything was out of order. To his disappointment, even he was treated with the annoying switched-off message.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, he decided to update the software, hoping to solve the glitch. Nothing. He also switched SIM cards just in case. All in vain. After some trial and error, the conclusion reached was that if the screen is on, everything works perfectly. However, as and when the screen turned off, no calls went through!

To get it rectified, he visited the authorized service center in Gurugram. On his first visit, the executive advised him to use 4G to avoid such issues. Either he was not aware of the 4G coverage across the country or he was joking. Later he suggested to factory reset and re-update the software. Although this was already tried, he decided to go with the flow. Needless to mention, this did not work out.

On the second visit, the support executive blamed Vodafone 4G. After trying with an Airtel SIM in his presence, he agreed to the device having a hardware fault. When collecting the phone after repair, Gaurav was informed that it was, in fact, a software glitch that they have now fixed. Happy with the closure, he went home. However, the same started again later in the day. So much for customer support!

The experience at the final visit to the service center was horrible. The executives were not ready to accept the fault. According to them, they had done what they could. Gaurav had to threaten them about exposing their stand via a blog post. This was when they accepted the faulty handset and finally replaced the motherboard. Not just that, they admitted that it was, in fact, the motherboard that they had replaced. From that point onwards, the device is running fine.

Xiaomi is known as the Apple of China. Is it because of their products? Maybe. Is it because of their after-sales support? I do not think so, even though I wish it were true. If you have ever been in the Apple ecosystem, you would be familiar with the way they treat their customers.

This might be a story of one OEM but is not limited to them. This is the case with most of the Chinese manufacturers operating in India. I wish they learn a lesson from this incident and realize the need to invest more in customer support. After all, a company exists because the client exists.

Do you have any such bitter stories to share? Write them down in the comments, and help fellow humans make an informed decision next time they are out shopping.

P.S.: This story is written with inputs from Gaurav Gupta.
After releasing a range of smartphones in the entry-level segment, Coolpad has finally released their flagship device, the Coolpad Max, in the Indian market, at an event held in New Delhi today.

Coolpad Max


The smartphone features a metal unibody design. It runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with a custom Cool UI skin on the top. One noteworthy feature is Dual Space, which allows two people to log simultaneously into their social media accounts via the same piece of hardware. The battery capacity of the device is 2,800 mAh, which supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology.

The device is powered by 4 GB RAM and 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor, coupled with Adreno 405 GPU. The onboard storage is 64 GB, which is expandable via a hybrid slot that supports either a micro SD card or a second SIM. Coolpad Max is a hybrid dual SIM (both nano) smartphone.

The smartphone comes with a 5.5-inch 2.5D full HD display, with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, and pixel density of 401 pixels-per-inch. Corning Gorilla Glass 4 is used for its protection.

Coolpad Max features a 13 MP f/2.0 primary camera with dual LED flash, and Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF). The front camera is a 5 MP shooter. The fingerprint scanner is placed at the rear.

The smartphone has been priced at ₹24,999 ($370 approx.), and will compete with the likes of Lenovo Vibe X3, Smartron t.phone and Xiaomi Mi 5. It will be exclusively available on Amazon starting May 30.

Coolpad Max specifications


Operating System: Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Processor: 1.5 GHz octa-core
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Storage: 64 GB internal (expandable)
Display: 5.5-inch full HD
Resolution (pixels): 1920x1080
Primary camera: 13 megapixel
Secondary camera: 5 megapixel
Battery: 2,800 mAh
Weight: 170 g
Price: ₹24,999 ($370 approx.)
As reported earlier, Smartron has launched its first ever smartphone, the t.phone, in India today, at an event held in Hyderabad. Note that they had launched their first ever product, the Smartron t.Book, earlier in March.

Smartron t.phone

The Smartron t.phone runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. It is unclear whether it is stock Android or a custom layer of software sits upon it. The battery capacity is 3,000 mAh.

The device is powered by 4 GB RAM and 64-bit 2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor. The onboard storage is 64 GB, which is expandable via a hybrid slot that supports either a micro SD card or a second SIM. On top of all this, t.cloud will provide unlimited cloud storage. Smartron t.phone is a hybrid dual SIM (micro and nano) smartphone. It supports VoLTE. Fast charging is supported via the USB Type-C interface.

The smartphone comes with a 5.5-inch full HD Super AMOLED display, with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, and pixel density of 401 pixels-per-inch. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is used for its protection.

Smartron t.phone features a 13 MP f/2.0 primary camera with dual flash, six element lens, zero shutter lag, and Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF). The front-facing camera is a 4 MP shooter.

The device maintains a thin profile of just 7 mm. With a weight of only 149 g, it is the lightest smartphone to feature a 5.5-inch screen.

Smartron t.phone comes in four color variants

The smartphone comes in four color variants, viz. gray, pink, blue and orange. It has been priced at ₹22,999 ($340 approx.), and will compete with the likes of OnePlus 2, Lenovo Vibe X3, and Xiaomi Mi 5. It will go on sale next month.

Smartron t.phone specifications


Operating System: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
Processor: 2 GHz octa-core
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Storage: 64 GB internal (expandable)
Display: 5.5-inch full HD Super AMOLED
Resolution (pixels): 1920x1080
Primary camera: 13 megapixel
Secondary camera: 4 megapixel
Battery: 3,000 mAh
Weight: 149 g
Price: ₹22,999 ($340 approx.)
Gionee has today launched the next smartphone in its successful huge-battery Marathon series of devices. The Gionee Marathon M5 Plus boasts of a 5,020 mAh battery, along with a smart power consumption system. It is their first smartphone with the new logo and was first released in China last year.

Gionee Marathon M5 Plus

The smartphone features a full metal body. The device comes with a 6.0-inch 2.5D full HD AMOLED display, with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

The device is powered by 3 GB RAM and 1.3 GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor. The onboard storage is 64 GB, out of which around 52 GB would be available for the user. It can also be expanded up to 128 GB via a micro SD card. Gionee Marathon M5 Plus is a dual SIM 4G LTE enabled smartphone. It supports VoLTE as well as CDMA bands. Fast charging is supported via the USB Type-C interface.

Gionee Marathon M5 features a 13 MP primary camera with LED flash. The front-facing camera is a 5 MP shooter. The physical Home button in the front also houses the fingerprint sensor.

The device runs on custom Amigo 3.1 operating system, which is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop.

The smartphone comes in two gold color variants, viz. Champagne Gold and Polar Gold. It has been priced at ₹26,999 ($405 approx.). It will be exclusively available on Flipkart, along with the usual retail outlets.

Gionee Marathon M5 Plus specifications


Operating System: Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Processor: 1.3 GHz octa-core
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Storage: 64 GB internal (expandable up to 128 GB)
Display: 6.0-inch full HD AMOLED
Resolution (pixels): 1920x1080
Primary camera: 13 megapixel
Secondary camera: 5 megapixel
Battery: 5,020 mAh
Dimensions (WidthxHeightxDepth): 81.2x160.9x8.4 mm
Weight: 211 g
Price: ₹26,999 ($405 approx.)