There has been a flood of budget phablets in the Indian market for the last few months. Every mobile phone maker has come out with one or the other phablet to tap this increasingly lucrative smartphone segment. This is not just the case with India, the entire South Asia seems to be hooked to the large-screen smartphones, which solve the problem of keeping two devices at all times.
Like other indigenous mobile phone companies, Karbonn Mobiles is also not far behind in this trend. The company launched its first budget phablet in the form of S1 Titanium earlier this year and it followed up with S5 Titanium in March. They have also launched S2 Titanium and S9 Titanium smartphones.
We know we are a bit late in reviewing S5 but as they say, it is better late than never.
We have seen the entry of full HD or HD display sporting budget phablets in the country in the last few weeks, so with its considerably humble specifications but decent pricing; does it make sense to go for S5 Titanium? We will find out in this review.
Despite the large 5-inch display on-board, Karbonn S5 Titanium does not feel as heavy as other devices in the same segment. The slim and curvy design ensures that you can comfortably hold the phone.
S5 is fully made of glossy plastic and looks nice in hand but both screen and back of the phone are fingerprint magnets. Within minutes of using the phone, you will see smudges all over the device. The back cover is also very prone to scratches.
Talking about the specifics, the front of Karbonn S5 Titanium is largely taken by the 5-inch display apart from the ear-piece, capacitive Android buttons, front camera and sensors. The back is pretty much clean apart from the 8-megapixel rear camera, LED flash and loud-speaker. Volume rocker and power button are present on each-sides, while the top houses microUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack. We found the volume rocker to be too thin and gave a lot of problems during the review period.
Overall, the design and build quality of the phone is decent and apart from the slim volume rocker and smudge prone body of the phone, we did not face any functional issues.
Karbonn packs a qHD display on S5 instead of FWGA or WVGA present in similar priced phablets, which is a good thing. It might not have the sharpness of an HD display but it still works quite nicely. The colour reproduction is good; however the viewing angles could have been better.
Although the touch sensitively and multi-touch performance are decent, but we found touch to be overzealous during scrolling and there are quite a few accidental taps, which were not desired.
Performance/ Battery Life
Thanks to the presence of 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play MSM8625Q processor, the overall performance of the phone is quite snappy. We did not find any lag or jitters during the normal usage and the even the casual gaming performance was great. Playing games like Temple Run 2, Angry Birds or even Dead Trigger is not an issue on the phone.
Coming to the multimedia performance, the phone plays 720p HD video clips perfectly but it can’t play 1080p full HD. Speaker is loud enough, however we did find the ear-piece volume slightly low during the calls.
Connectivity options like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work fine, so does the dual-SIM support.
On the battery front, the phone comes with a 2,000mAh Li-Ion battery, which packs enough juice to keep the phone powered throughout a day on medium usage; heavy users might need to plug-in the phone during the day.
Karbonn S5 Titanium runs on almost stock version of Android 4.1.2 out of the box. Being the vanilla version of the stock, the software feels snappy. Karbonn has made a few tweaks to improve the user experience on the phone including quick settings in notification shade.
There are some other changes in the UI too, all of them visual but they don’t add any usefulness to the overall experience.
In terms of the pre-loaded apps, Karbonn has included Kingsoft Office, TOI app, Whatsapp, and File Manager etc. All of which can be downloaded for free from Google Play, so pre-loading them does not really add any value apart from the fact that take over some crucial internal storage space and cannot be un-installed.
The smartphone packs an 8-megapixel rear camera on-board, which gives some good outdoor shots during day-light, however during indoor usage; you will find noise creeping in the images especially when viewed at the full resolution.
The video recording quality is also nice but not earth shattering, however it will work just fine for your normally daily video recording needs.
Front camera works as desired and you will not have issues with video chat or occasional self-portraits. It is important to note here that there are suddenly a lot of new budget Android smartphones popping in the country with 5MP or 3MP front camera, which I think are just too much and don’t really add any extra value to the device. They will probably make sense in the future when data speeds are great and capable of letting you chat with 5MP resolution video.
The camera app interface is a little different from stock but works nicely and adds a few features. You can adjust settings for white balance, exposure, aspect ratio, face-detection, red eye reduction and more in the app.
Price: INR 11,990
Pros: Performance, software
Cons: Glossy plastic body
So, do I think that Karbonn S5 Titanium is still worth spending INR 11,900? Yes, despite the little quirks that I found as a part of my review, none of them is a real deal-breaker (although I wish that that plastic body was not so fingerprint-friendly). Each of the earlier mentioned issues might be problematic for some consumers but if you can live with them, Karbonn S5 Titanium is surely worth considering for your next budget phablet purchase.
Karbonn S5 Titanium key specifications
5-inch qHD IPS capacitive touchscreen
1.2GHz Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon S4 Play processor
8-megapixels auto focus rear camera with LED Flash