A typical day in the life of an Indian begins and ends by checking their WhatsApp. No wonder, WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India, the highest among all countries. But those with feature phones still haven’t experienced WhatsApp and this app is among the top reasons many are stretching their budgets to buy a smartphone. While a year back it would have been a joke to even imagine WhatsApp on the so-called ‘dumb’ phones, things seem to be changing with the Micromax Bharat 1, the only 4G feature phone to run the popular messaging app.
Micromax Bharat 1 is a device that bridges the gap between a smartphone and a feature phone. It runs on a custom version of Android and this perhaps is the reason why the phone can run WhatsApp. The device has a pre-loaded icon of WhatsApp, but you still need to download the app before you can start using it. And the experience of using WhatsApp on the Micromax Bharat 1 isn’t bad at all and is in fact worthy of praise.
Initially, I had my own reservations about using WhatsApp on the Bharat 1. But to my surprise, WhatsApp seamlessly works on the Bharat 1. Visually, WhatsApp on the Bharat 1 is no different from what you get on a smartphone. The user interface is pretty much straightforward. The chat section is where you’ll go to start a new conversation with one of your contacts. The Status section lets you create a custom message so that your friends and family members know whether you’re available to chat, and the call section lets you call your friends and family using WhatsApp for free, even if they’re living in other parts of the
There’s an option to make video calls as well. The settings tab meanwhile, lets you manage your profile, as well as add a profile picture. To send a message, tap on the Chats icon and tap the contact to whom you would like to send a message. This will open a new chat box.Type your message in the text field and start conversation with your friends. You can type your message in English, Hindi or choose a preferred local language of choice. To send an emoji, click the smiley face on the left of the message field. You can even send GIFs as a message. WhatsApp isn’t restricted to sending messages; you can even share documents, photos, audio clips, contacts and location. Click on the the paperclip icon on the right side of the message field to add an attachment.
It’s also possible to send an audio message using WhatsApp, and it works just fine. Long press the microphone icon and start speaking your voice message. And once you release your finger from the microphone icon, the audio message is send automatically. Besides that, it’s possible to create a group chat in WhatsApp.
Micromax Bharat 1 is not restricted to WhatsApp, as it also comes preloaded with YouTube out-of- the-box. It was a bit awkward to watch videos on its tiny 2.4-inch non-touch screen, but the experience turned out to be not so bad. I could stream videos without buffering; it surprised me. Bharat 1 will take care of your social life too, after all, it supports Facebook Lite.
The stripped-down version of Facebook should not be seen as deal breaker, even on a phone like the Bharat 1. At first, Facebook on the Bharat 1 was an annoyance since the phone has a small screen and I’m accustomed to smartphones with bigger displays. But over time, I started getting used to it and now, I have also come to appreciate its shortcoming.
After using it for a few days, I’m more than happy to pay Rs 2,200 for a phone that can run WhatsApp, even Facebook and YouTube for that matter. Ok, to be fair, it’s a basic phone and I’m not expecting it to be closer to a proper smartphone. Then again, a lot of people don’t have access to WhatsApp on a phone. My advice to them is to get the Bharat 1.
Personally, I see the Bharat 1 as a huge win for Micromax, especially if you see in the context of the competition from the JioPhone. There is no denying the hype and media attention the JioPhone is enjoying since its launch. And although both feature phones have the same specifications, Micromax’s offering undoubtedly has the edge over the JioPhone.