Well designed well specced with a software and services play


Smartron, the Indian company founded by Mahesh Lingareddy, Rohit Rathi and Narsi Posham is backed by investor and ambassador Sachin Tendulkar. After releasing its first product in the form of t.book – which is India’s answer to the Surface Pro 4 – the Bangalore based company is out with its second consumer product – the t.phone.

Smartron India launched the t.phone at an event in Hyderabad on 19 May in the presence of Sachin Tendulkar and minister of IT for the state of Telangana, KT Rama Rao. Priced at Rs 22,999, the t.phone will come with Smartron’s tron.x platform bundled in. Post the launch event, we got to spend some time with the device and here are our first impressions.
We are used to seeing single colour phones flooding the market, so Smartron t.phone’s dual tone colour design was a refreshing change. Coming in four colours such as Classic Grey, Metallic Pink, Steel Blue and Sunrise Orange, the phones certainly stand out from a crowd. The colours occupy the majority of the rear side with the top and bottom portions still having that gray metallic feel. The metal body finish feels good in the hand and we did not find the phone to be too slippery either.
A 5.5-inch full HD display graces the front. There are no buttons on the front, just a thin bezels on the top and bottom. The phone has fine curvatures around the sharp edges. A 5MP front camera is placed beside the earpierce speaker followed by the proximity sensor.It measures just around 6.98mm thick and is quite light to behold at 149 grams. One thing we did not like was the fact that the rear cover was a smudge magnet, despite the matte finish on the metal.
On the left hand side, you have the dual SIM card slot (micro SIM + nano SIM, though not hybrid), the volume rocker and power/standby buttons are present on the right hand side. The 3.5mm audio jack is present on the top and a USB Type C port is present on the base.
You get a 5.5-inch full HD display on the Smartron t.phone. The phone comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection along with oleophobic coating to prevent any smudges from accumulating on it and we have to say, it does a commendable job about it. Smartron has gone with a Super AMOLED panel which makes the colours pop out and blacks appear deep. Smartron has also added what it calls Apical assertive display technology to ensure that legibility isn’t affected outdoors. We will need to test all this since we only used the phone indoors.
For the t.phone, Smartron has stuck with a generation older Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset which sports an octa-core CPU along with Adreno 430 GPU. This is paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which is quite impressive thanks to the use of DDR4 memory. The phone comes with 64GB of storage and you can expand the storage to 128GB using a microSD card slot. But Smartron will also offer unlimited cloud storage (yes, unlimited cloud storage) for life for an active Smartron user.
Smartron t.phone comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box which puts this phone ahead of many of its contemporaries in terms of onboard OS. While Smartron hasn’t fragmented the Android OS with its own skin atop it, there is a tron.x platform which ensures seamless experience across all Smartron devices irrespective of the underlying OS. Under this app, you have the tstore which connects you to Smartron’s online store; tcloud which gives you access to the cloud storage; tcare connects you to the customer care service; forum lets you ask or get your queries answered by other Smartron t.phone users and finally Services which is where Smartron is offering something unique. The services play is four pronged – entertainment, financial, security and professional services. With regards to services, Smartron will partner with some service providers for entertainment, professional and financial services but provide its own features under the security services section such as encryption, private browsing and so on. Also, according to the founders, the services will be unique to the user who is using them and they will learn the user behaviour over time to cater to his or her needs.
There is a 13MP rear camera and a 4MP front-facing camera. The rear camera comes with a 1.12 micrometer pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, phase-detect auto focus, HDR for photos and much more. It is also capable of shooting 4K videos. The front-facing camera sports a 4MP sensor with 2 micrometer pixel size and f/2.0 aperture. Since the lighting conditions at the demo zone weren’t ideal, we cannot really cannot say how the camera fared. We will need to test it thoroughly when reviewing it to get an idea of its usability and image quality.
In terms of connectivity, you get a hybrid dual SIM card slot, Wi-fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 and it has sensors such as the accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer and much more. There’s a 3000mAh battery powering the t.phone. It is non-removable and supports USB Type-C fast charging with QuickCharge 2.0.

Smartron t.phone has entered a very crowded market of flagship smartphones priced under Rs 25,000. The fact that it is using a generation old Snapdragon 810 chipset will sort of put it at a disadvantage at a time when competition such as Xiaomi Mi5 has already moved on to Snapdragon 820. Having said that, the Smartron t.phone does indeed pack in a lot of goodies, except maybe a finger-print sensor – which has become de rigueur for smartphones these days.

The promise Smartron offers is in its tron.x platform with services and unlimited tcloud storage. It is banking on the creation of a tron.x ecosystem of devices which will seamlessly communicate with each other – and to that effect they’ve released two products the t.book and the t.phone that can talk to each other. How the phone will perform in the real world, is yet to be seen. But for the Indian startup, the t.phone is just one way of getting in its other bigger ideas into play. Also the company has no plans to release the t.phone 2 till next year, so one should expect a lot of push on the software front, the keep the t.phone relevant for a year. This may sound similar to another Indian startup’s plans as well – Creo. So it will be interesting to see how Smartron plays its content and services card.

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