Karbonn is one of the prime Indian phone makers whose entire portfolio mostly consists of Android based value-for-money smartphones. It is phone makers like these that have given multi-national brand-value-bragging phone makers a run for their money in the entry level. With attractive specs and a price point that seems too good to be true, they’re successfully luring the Indian customer. The Karbonn A8 seems like a fair deal for under Rs. 7k on paper. But how does it fare in reality? Let’s find out:
Design and Hardware
A welcome change from the explosion of big-screened monstrosities that we see nowadays, the Karbonn A8 has a relatively comfortable form factor that’s easy to use single-handedly. The white finish, especially the pearl-like finish of the rear shell is pleasant. The build quality feels fairly sturdy. Coming to the display — it is a typical 4-inch 800 x 480 pixel panel. For a Rs. 6k phone, the screen is just about acceptable. Sharpness is reasonable, there’s banding of colours when viewed at angles. The touch panel is fairly responsive, and fast-typing on the software QWERTY did not yield unwanted results. Corners have been cut by dropping the ambient light sensor, so the Karbonn A8 has no auto brightness adjustment feature. But what’s interesting is are the two dark dots next to the front-facing cam right above the screen — which typically are cut out to occupy the former-mentioned sensor and the proximity sensor.
The power and volume buttons are pretty tactile. The phone has capacitive menu, home and back keys underneath the display that fortunately are backlit so you can see them at night. The 5 megapixel camera at the back has support for auto-focus, and is accompanied by a single LED flash, which is sufficient to illuminate close-by objects in the dark. The rear camera takes decent shots and should be satisfactory to a typical user. The front-facing camera however is a joke, belting out blurry quality video. If you were planning on using this phone for Skype calls or Selfies, don’t bother. The speaker at the back is fairly loud for all general purposes.
The Karbonn A8 runs a nearly-stock version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It is a good thing to see manufacturers sticking to the basics and not replacing the good ol’ stock UI with ugly customisations in the name of differentiation. The Karbonn A8 is running on a modest combination of a 1GHz dual-core chip and 512MB of RAM. Without any apps running, the App manager shows just 191MB of free RAM. We opened up many basic apps on the A8 and although we did experience a slight lag, the phone was still fairly usable. With the default set of preinstalled apps, the phone shows 0.89GB of free storage out of the quoted 4GB. So, the possibility of installing high-end games is out of the question. But apps like Flipboard, Facebook and Twitter were usable.
Unlike light customisations we’ve seen of Android on Micromax handsets, which have a modified notifications drawer, user profiles and a customised camera app, the Karbonn A8 retains the ‘defaultness’ of Android 4.2. The only customisation we saw was the additional ‘SIM card management’ menu which lets you handle how the two SIMs inside the phone should work.
The A8 has a 1500 mAh battery providing the juice; and in our experience battery was sufficient for the phone to last a day of typical usage on a WiFi network.
The Karbonn A8 right now sells for Rs. 6,100. At such a reasonable asking price, it would be unfair to expect the world from this phone. But assuming that your usage is going to be typically light, the A8 would be a fair buy. Competing the A8 for its money is the Xolo A500S, which more or less has a similar performance. So I suppose it would boil down to which brand you prefer. If you’re willing to stretch a little further, the Lava Iris 458q offers better bang-for-the-buck, if specs do indeed matter to you. The A8 is a pretty-looking phone for somebody upgrading from a feature phone to a smartphone for the first time.