From amongst the plethora of local companies dishing out Android smartphones by the truck loads emerged the Celkon A200. Can’t say we heard of this company before, and we might have dismissed it as just another name in the crowd until we started seeing the ads featuring Indian Cricketer Virat Kohli show up on buses and other city locations. Just goes to show you the power of marketing. So we called in for a handset and received the A200, one of Celkon's flagship models. Here’s a closer look to see if Celkon has what it takes to compete with the local bigshots like Micromax, Karbonn and the lot.
Celkon’s A200 is a smart looking piece of mobile hardware. It’s very neatly designed and the smooth curved edges and glossy finish, albeit slightly prone to scratches, gives the handset quite a refined look. It looks like a larger version of the HTC Explorer. Equipped with a 4.3-inch IPS panel display with 480 x 800 pixel resolution, viewing angles are great. Colours also tend to be quite accurate. There’s no mention of the display being of the scratch resistant variety, so that could pose a bit of a problem. However, a screen guard will be quite handy to prevent any damage.
Connectivity ports at the top
Celkon has gone with a simple Android 3-button (soft touch) system for the OS. A volume rocker with well-articulated buttons are placed on the upper right hand side of the device, with the 3.5 mm handsfree and micro USB ports placed on the top on either side of the power/sleep mode key. A hot-swap microSD card slot is placed under the rear panel . The A200 is a dual-SIM (GSM + GSM) handset with slots placed neatly under the panel. Access to these will require you to remove the 1500mAh battery, of course. There’s also a 5MP camera strapped to the back accompanied by a set of dual LEDs that make up the flash.
The Celkon A200 has a sturdy feel and although the glossy finish and curved edges make it a little bit slippery to hold on to, the handset still scores well in the looks department.
Features and performance
Celkon has chosen to go with a non-customised, stock version of Google’s ICS (Android 4.0.4) OS. We’re not complaining. It runs very swiftly with just a tiny hint of lag during functionality. We didn’t quite notice it till we went looking. The 1.2GHz Dual Core processor running under the hood pretty much ensures speedy performance. Linpack scores showed us an average of 39 MFLOPS in Single Thread run and 63.5 MFLOPS in Multi Thread while Antutu puts it in almost the same league as the Galaxy Nexus. Overall, the UI proved to be fluid. Although the 512MB of RAM is sufficient, 1GB would have made quite a difference. A User Profiles setting is also provided so you have a certain measure of quick control for switching between profiles. There's even a scheduler for switching off the handset at designated times.
A very neat design form
SIM management is simplified through the built-in manager in the settings menu. The system allows you to assign functions to each SIM, including which one should handle your Internet. So you could opt to have one with a 3G connection and a second just for work for calls and messages.
Oddly, the system came with two music players by default – Google’s stock Android player as well as the Play Music App. The music quality in general was quite average. While the decibel level was high enough, the tone quality was a bit off. Higher tones took precedence while the mids were a little too bright. Lower/Bass tones could also have been a little firmer. Even with the built in EQ settings and Bass Boss feature, overall tone quality was just about ok.
Celkon has infused the A200 with quite a few video codecs with support for some .AVI formats, MPEG4, 3GP, 3GPP and WMV. Of course, for more you’d need to get a third party player. Unfortunately, the A200 was unable to play full HD videos. Although the audio was evident, no video played even with non-native players. The A200 also features an FM radio with a recording function and RDS settings. Reception was fairly good throughout most locations in the city that we travelled. A sound recorder for voice memos has also been preloaded. A couple of games like Angry Birds Seasons and Stunt Birds have been thrown in.
The glossy finish makes it a little difficult to grip
In this domain, the A200 proved to be sufficiently equipped. It features 3G connectivity with EDGE support as well if need be, Wi-Fi (hotspot), Bluetooth 3.0 (A2DP) and USB 2.0. Opera Mini has been preloaded for browsing and comes in quite handy—not that the native browser is an issue. Celkon has also thrown in a few extras under the My Celkon app. These include – My mango, a video app that hosts a few “channels”, which in fact are simple links to YouTube videos. There’s also a YuppTV app that’s preloaded where you can subscribe to channel packages in Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi and Bengali. My world is another app that’s provided for access to things like Astrology, Business and Entertainment, updates on Cricket, technology and other news as well. For some odd reason, the Hollywood channel in this app doesn’t work, whereas Tollywood, Bollywood, Mollywood et al work just fine. We guess they’re trying to stay as Indian as possible. Stringo, a WhatsApp-like app for sharing contact with FB and phonebook users is also provided.
The A200 is also GPS-ready and comes with the usual host of Google GPS goodies like Maps, Navigation, Local and a few others like Google Earth and a Compass. For social networking, you’ve got Facebook, Google+, Messenger+, Yahoo! Messenger, Skype and Twitter.
A few extra apps like Documents on the Go, ES File Explorer (as well as a File Manager), Dropbox, a Flashlight App, News and Weather app, and a Lite version of Real calc are also part of the handsets app make up. Celkon has also added a Sketch Note app for quick memos.
The A200 comes equipped with a 5MP rear shooter with quite a few settings that include HDR, White Balance, colour effects, scene modes, exposure control, a self timer and more. When it comes to quality, indoor low lit images don’t come out too well unless you’re taking close-ups. Outdoor photos, on the other hand, look really good. The focus, colours and sharpness of images in well lit conditions came out better than expected. Take a look at some samples.
Without and with HDR
Outdor images look crisp and detailed
Indoor Macro also comes out well with touch focus highlighting what you want
A secondary front facing camera is placed near the earpiece for video calls.
With its 1500mAh battery, the A200 managed to survive a full day without quitting. We made use of videos, music, a little social networking, a few images here and there and even captured a short video with the camera. All of this was with either 3G or Wi-Fi running constantly. The handset ran from around 07.00am to about 8.30pm non-stop with emails, WhatsApp messages and social networking notifications also coming in throughout the day. We were also able to get just about 30 minutes of call time in this as well. On the whole, the A200 fared quite well here.
GSM + GSM dual SIM support
The bottom line
The Celkon A200 bears a price tag of Rs 8,500 (MOP), which puts it in the same bracket as Micromax’s A110, Karbonn's A7, Sony’s Tipo and quite a few others. As budget smartphones go though, this one does stand out in terms of functionality. It’s a neat looking device with a good battery life, decent camera and a fluid UIX, making it quite worth the money. Although the name might not be one you’d recognise, if Celkon keeps this quality of production up, it’s a name you won't soon forget.
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