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The $100 Phone: Six questions about the cheapest phablet

The Datawind Pocketsurfer 3G5 is here to bridge the digital divide. We answer six questions about the cheapest phablet.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan |
Updated: March 30, 2014 11:47:44 am
Datawind Pocketsurfer 3G5 will cost Rs 6,499 Datawind Pocketsurfer 3G5 will cost Rs 6,499

Now this is one cheap phone. The Datawind Pocketsurfer 3G5 is a large screen 3G Android device — a phablet to be precise — and is extremely affordable (Rs 6,499). Produced by Datawind, the company that gave India the controversial, but also dirt-cheap Aakash tablet, the phone challenges the common perception that the Android operating system has been developed for high-end hardware.

The Datawind Pocketsurfer 3G5 certainly looks like a smartphone. It is heavy at 176 grams, which means the battery inside is big and cheap. But the design is not bad and one can live with it, considering that it is all one has paid for. Unlike most top-end Android devices, the three buttons below the screen are visible even when the phone is switched off. Again, a noticeable cost-cutting measure. But how good is the phone? Let’s find out.

Is the screen any good?
The screen is LCD, at a time when we are talking IPS panels. This results in bad viewing angles. Obviously, you don’t get a full-HD screen for Rs 6,000. Having said that, the screen is not terrible.

Can it perform?
This is one place where you won’t feel the price pinch. We did almost everything we would do with a high-end smartphone. But don’t let the 1.3 GHz dual-core processor make you think you can overwork this phone. It does stall at times, especially while using the Chrome browser. The internal browser just did not open, no thanks to a contact form that simply refused to submit, acting like a firewall. Still, not many $100 phones will give you benchmark scores that match the Samsung Galaxy S2.

How does it feel?
The software of the Pocketsurfer is a bit of a headache. Yes, it runs the relatively new Android 4.2, but contains several apps that would have made more sense on the Aakash tab. If you are not in school, or finally thinking of joining one, then delete all the education apps and you will have more space on the phone.

What about the camera?
The rear camera is okay, but lacks detail. It seems to have some focus issues too, especially when the subject is close. The front camera is passable.

Where else have we saved money?
Another corner has been cut with internal memory. There is 4GB internal storage of which you can use just about half. So, you will need to spend extra for an SD card. Don’t be stingy here.

Who should buy this?
This is undoubtedly among the cheapest 3G phablets you can buy in India. It’s for those who want a large 5-inch screen, a good processor and 3G, but without paying the market rates. It is definitely not a bad deal, and there are not many devices that can offer these specs at this price. However, after-sales service is something you might want to look into, as Datawind is still not a noted brand in India. Couple that with the fact that this phone costs all of Rs 6,499. Get the hint.

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