Karbonn, at first, seemed to be having a race with Micromax to see who can create the least improved follow-up to their original devices. Micromax’s Funbook Alpha P250 didn’t really improve much on it’s education-based premier tablet, and the Karbonn Smart Tab 2 was thought to be heading in the same lane. The main problem is Ice Cream Sandwich or even the assurance of Jellybean in the future. When you tack the latest Android OS on to something that can’t even handle it, then it becomes a gimmick. The Karbonn Smart 2 avoids that minefield, but it’s still a ways from competing with the Google Nexus 7.
There’s not much to see or say when it comes to the design. A plain black front with a patterned white back panel prominently featuring the Karbonn logo. It’s neither thin nor light-weight but build quality is better than the Funbook Alpha P250 at least. We still wouldn’t recommend going haywire or letting it slip from your grasp though. Thankfully, the patterned back provides a decent grip.
Equipped with a 1.2 GHz XBurst CPU and 1 GB of RAM with a microSD slot providing up to 32 GB internal storage, the Smart Tab 2 is an interesting combination of power and value for money. Regardless, it still can’t necessarily run ICS without some hiccups, though apps present no problem. At least the performance derails that of the more expensive Reliance 3G Tab V9A. Sadly, the display doesn’t. When putting together such a combination of specs, it’s a given that something will suffer. The 7 inch LCD display has a 800x480 resolution, and is just about as budgeted as displays can get. That is to say, it’s quality is sub-par. Connectivity is handled by Bluetooth and WiFi, while a USB dongle is needed for 3G.
The 2 megapixel rear camera represents another corner cut, so the less said about it, the better. Battery life is amiable, but doesn’t promise anywhere near the advertised 7 hours of internet browsing time. Heavy use puts the tablet at 4-5 hours, tops.
It’s always interesting to see how most manufacturers approach the issue of outfitting Google’s OS with something that makes it distinctly their own. However, most local manufacturers lack the resources for such a thing and tend to bundle a select series of apps. The Smart Tab 2 does the same, featuring Nimbuzz, Yahoo Search, WhatsApp, Just Dial, Picasa, MSN, Flickr and way too much more. The perfunctory Google apps still function well, but it will be interesting to see how well the tablet handles Jellybean. For now, it stutters and stumbles with ICS but holds its own.
The Karbonn Smart Tab 2 isn’t the alternative to Micromax’s efforts. In many ways, it’s better. However, it still falls way short of what’s expected of a budget tablet, especially in the wake of the Nexus 7 and even Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. It presents a choice for beginners, but definitely not the best.