Updated: July 1, 2016 3:07:09 pm
Homegrown smartphone player Karbonn has decided to foray into the virtual reality segment with its latest budget device Quattro L52. The smartphone, which comes bundled with the VR headset, is priced affordably at Rs 8,790.
The smartphone makers know VR is the next big thing and every other company, nowadays, is trying to create a space for themselves in this segment. However, with companies like Lenovo, Zebronics and Intex offering budget VR headsets, Karbonn is faced with tough competition.
Karbonn Quattro L52 with VR headset
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Karbonn L52 looks like a budget device and the same holds true for the VR headset. The L52 has a plastic body that doesn’t feel premium at all. It’s a small device which fits perfectly in my hands, making it comfortable to use.
The VR headset on the other hand is a big piece of plastic and the design makes it look bulky. But, given the price point, let us give the devices that advantage for now. We reviewed the smartphone and here’s how it stands against other budget smartphones like Coolpad Note 3 Lite.
Specs: 5-inch IPS display | 1.3 GHz quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB ROM (expandable up to 32GB via microSD card) | 8MP rear camera | 5MP front camera | 2,250mah battery| Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Price: Rs 8,790
What is good?
Karbonn L52 is a decent looking smartphone, given the affordable price point. It features a plastic back with gold metal frames running along the edges. The front stands out the most with 2.5D curved glass and thin bezels on the sides. The capacitive buttons are at the bottom (not backlit) and the overall design looks neat.
The L52 is comfortable to hold and use, thanks to its ergonomic design. This one came with a plastic back cover so I did not have to worry about the smartphone slipping out of my hands, which is a plus. The phone does feel a little bulky at 143 grams but it’s manageable.
The display is fine and adjusts itself well in sunlight. This isn’t one of the sharpest displays that I have seen on a smartphone, but I can’t complain either. It is vivid and makes for great viewing angles.
The rear camera does a decent job in places where there is ample light. However, do not expect much in term of producing natural colours and picture quality. You won’t be disappointed with the camera if you keep the price tag in mind. In low-light, it does just about average. Also, it is a bit difficult to focus using the camera in L52.
Karbonn L52 is surprisingly good with multitasking. Playing games on it, watching videos, browsing the internet and switching between tabs was smooth.
The L52 packs a 2,250mAh battery, that will last through an entire day on moderate usage. It is however, important that you charge this phone once a day. The battery optimisation on the phone is quite good as I was able to manage 1 hour of VR games with just 9 per cent battery left.
What is not good?
The pictures from the front camera have a lot of noise in them and appear grainy on most occasions. Even in bright outdoors, the results aren’t very sharp.
While performance isn’t a let down with the L52, it does tend to heat up a lot while playing graphics-heavy games and watching VR content on it.
Also, the capacitive buttons on the screen are not backlit, which makes it a bit difficult to use L52 at night.
Now, the VR headset is made out of ABS plastic fibre and fitted with bi-convex lenses for immersive experience. The headset does look cheap, but it is better than Google Cardboard and that seems to have been the objective. But since Karbonn has managed to create a VR headset at this price point and did not just gave away VR cardboards, the effort is commendable.
I have bigger issues with the VR experience. For starters, you need to really adjust the headset for a clear view. It comes along with a leather strap but again, you’ll have to struggle quite a bit before you can finally adjust it for a good viewing angle.
Next up, there’s no toggle button on the headset itself for easy navigation through content. This makes it difficult to use controls and browse through videos and games on the phone.
Karbonn L52 comes pre-loaded with a few VR videos and games, and frankly the experience isn’t even close to immersive. I am not comparing the experience to that on Samsung VR but the general performance in itself is a big let down.
The resolution is poor, the field of view is limited and it does not look like you are watching an immersive 360 degree video. Even when playing games, you soon start to realise that this is no better than playing normal games, which at least spare me the headache. And I’d rather play them on a full HD screen. Yes, it makes for a good engagement for kids but that’s it.
Karbonn L52 is a decent smartphone for those on a budget. It looks good, comes with a decent battery and does not give you reasons to complaint on the multitasking front. Look at the VR headset as the cheapest you can get in the market, but certainly not the best and then you won’t be disappointed.
Anyway, buy the phone and think of the VR as a free add-on. The direct competitor to Karbonn L52 in the market right now is the Coolpad Note 3 Lite, which we think redefines the budget benchmark, plus it comes with a fingerprint scanner.
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