Karbonn A21: Stick with the reliable big brandsby Ravi Sinha, on 17 Jan. 2013
Was it really going to be long before we got into Karbonn’s recent smartphone efforts? The manufacturer left us on a bit of a high note before but how does the Karbonn A21, the latest in the line-up of budget devices, fare? The look takes from the tried and true unibody-aesthetic that HTC’s One series has pioneered, with a glossy matte plastic back and plain black front. It looks decent – frankly, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell these budget devices apart from one another – but the glossy back is susceptible to scratches. Thankfully, you’ll need to work to scratch it, which is a testament to the tough design. Our main issues with the device are its bulkiness and overall weight, but it otherwise looks nice enough to disguise those faults. Again, despite its strong construction, it’s not meant for taking repeated blows so think twice before letting your kids use it.
Technology wise, the Karbonn A21 boasts a dual core ARM Cortex A5 CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB internal storage, along with a microSD slot for 32 GB more. Though the processor can handle simple tasks with ease, it’s the RAM which ultimately limits it from taking up more demanding multimedia tasks like games or HD clips. Overall, it’s not going to blaze a trail so it’s best to temper your expectations. The 4.5 inch display is marketed as an 800x480 resolution screen but actually features a 960x540 resolution. The above average brightness and colour quality are marred by the poor viewing angles, as usual. Connectivity options include 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with the surfing experience suffering from the lack of powerful hardware. A 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and 1.3 megapixel camera on the front for video calling are available. They both function abysmally, with the former taking pictures full of hazy colours and suffering from slow shooting speeds. Battery life again depends on usage, but it’s funny how even our normal casual use netted a measly 7 to 7.5 hours of performance from the device. Heavier usage is expected to bring somewhere around 4 to 5 hours of life. Finally, we have the OS which is Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It performs as well as it can, limited by the hardware and ultimately lagging on more demanding apps. Can we expect a Jelly Bean update any time soon? Most likely not.
- Decent design and build quality
- Good CPU performance
- Below average performance overall due to RAM
- Terrible pair of cameras
- 960x540 resolution dragged down by poor viewing angles
- Meagre battery life
- Thick and weighty
So the Karbonn A21 isn’t going to take the series line further by much. Quite frankly, it’s never been marketed as a premium device. But if such a focus means Karbonn can improve on the abysmal camera quality and middling performance of the A21, it would be most welcome. Till that happens, stick with the reliable big brands.