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Review: Idea Aurus, the Sub 10k phone that Idea named after Gold

Though Windows handsets are being introduced and iPhone 5 is all set to enter Indian shores, Android handsets have been in demand. Many phones that cost under Rs 10,000 are being launched. The latest entrant to the bandwagon is the Idea Aurus (means Gold in Latin). We were the first few ones to be able to lay our hands on the handset and juggle with it. Read on to find out what the device has in store for you.Looks

Manufactured by Alcatel and marketed by Idea the sub10k smartphone has the looks of HTC phones. Though not that sleek and slim, its build-up looks similar. The moment you un-box the device you can feel you are laying your hands on a classy device, unlike most smartphones in this range. Its semi-matte black shell looks elegant and the back is complete with the Idea logo. Besides the inscription on the battery, there is no mention of it being an Alcatel manufacture. It doesn’t even show up on Power ON.

The handset sports a brilliant 3.5 inch capacitive touch screen display but runs of the Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread version and it cannot be (officially) upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich or higher. Most of the Android smartphones that cost less than Rs 10,000 run on Gingerbread barring the Micromax Superfone Canvas A100 that runs on ICS. Apart from this only Spice Mi 425 comes with a promise of being upgraded to Android ICS in the coming days.

What makes the Aurus look more enticing is the absence of numerous physical buttons. To be precise there are only four. A ‘Home’ tab right below the screen, two on either sides for volume control and slide functionality and one on top for screen lock. Functions for search, back and screen settings are integrated on the lower panel of the screen.

Features & Performance

The Aurus is a 3G enabled dual SIM phone, where one slot is 2G and the other supports both 2G and 3G cards. It is powered with an 800MHz processor and backed by 256MB RAM. Most of the phones in this category are in the same range (800-832 MHz processor) but RAM ranges from 256MB to 512MB. However, since the Micromax Ninja available for Rs 6,049 works on a 1GHz Qualcomm Scorpio processor and 256MB RAM, the Aurus could have done better.
The in-built Wi-Fi power device comes with a 4BG MicroSD card that can be expanded up to 32GB. Connectivity options on the handset, apart from Wi-Fi, include 3G, EDGE, GPRS, GPS and Bluetooth.

The Aurus provides for two cameras, a VGA in front for video call and a 5MP rear camera (most phones in the category provide for 2-3MP cameras) for taking quality pictures. However, its clarity is poor and though video calls connect you can barely see the person on the other side until and unless they are in a well lighted ambience. It is interesting to note that there are hardly any phones in the category that can boast of a front camera for video calling. Micromax A73 and A78 available for Rs 6199 and Rs 6970 have front facing cameras. Neither the Galaxy Y S5360 or the Duos S6102 nor the Micromax Ninja have it. Dual cameras are provided in the Idea Blade 3G, Spice MI 350n and Spice MI 425 but they are all above Rs 7600.

For music lovers the handset provides for a multi-format music player with internal mic, built in high quality speakers and a 3.5mm audio jack. Infact it is the only handset in this price range that come with an in-ear hands free. It also boasts of a radio. The handset comes pre-loaded with the YouTube and IdeaTV (Idea’s own live TV) apps for watching videos.

Listening to a song you’ve never heard before? The built-in Shazam application on the Aurus identifies it for you and at the same time allows you to save it so that you can come back to hear it again. It also helps you to discover, explore and share more music, TV shows and brands you love in a few seconds. You can also cut a piece of your favourite song to make it your ringtone with the preloaded app Ringdroid.

The handset supports a wide gamut of pre-loaded applications like Idea Mall (Idea’s app store), Android manager, Facebook, Twitter, Nimbuzz and Maps. Spice up your pictures, colour correct them or add new comments to them with the Picsay lite edition that comes pre-installed on the device. What’s more? The Aurus also supports one touch cloud backup and RSS feeds.

Professional apps on the Aurus include the OfficeSuite, Note, Push mail and a currency convertor. For more you can download them from Google Play or IdeaMall. Word of caution – do not download Opera Mini on the handset. It slows every program running on the device.

The only downside of the Aurus is its battery. The 1300mAh battery it barely lasts for 3.5-4 hours on full usage with both SIMs activated. Though it is a known fact that battery life on Android powered phones are not that great this one is below average.

Alternatives

The Idea Aurus is priced competitively at Rs. 7,190 and is available across all major mobile retail stores and Idea outlets across the country. Idea users who recharge with Rs. 259 will get 3G benefits worth Rs. 2,340 with the smartphone. So, the end user cost translates to just Rs. 5,109. The Aurus sees competition from its own brand the Idea Blade which is priced at Rs 7,399.

Also it faces stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy Y series given its brand popularity and the price tag between Rs 6,500-8,500. Other Android smartphones in the category with similar features include the HTC Explorer, Micromax A70, Motorola Fire (QWERTY keypad) priced at Rs 7,799, Rs 7,999 and Rs 7,449 respectively. Which one you choose depends on your pocket and brand loyalty.

Technical Specifications

Screen size – 3.5 inches/ 8.89 cms
Touchscreen – Capacitive
Operating system – Android 2.3.6 gingerbread
SIM Slot – Dual
Network 2G – 850/900/1800/1900
Network 3G – UTMS 850/2100
Connectivity – 3G, Wi-Fi, GPRS, EDGE, Bluetooth, GPS
RAM – 256MB RAM
Processor – 800MHz
Storage internal/external – 4GB/32GB
Front facing camera- VGA for video calling
Read facing camera – 5.0 megapixels
HDMI/USB port – No/Yes
Battery – 1300mAh
App store – Google Play and IdeaMall
Audio playback – Yes, Multi Format Video Player
Video playback/ Recording – Yes/ Yes
Weight – 136gms
Price – Rs 7,190

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