Just a couple of days ago we reviewed the Beetel GD530 in its QWERTY candy-bar form factor which wasn’t really up to the mark. Now Karbonn, who's not a new player in the budget-priced market, has also thrown their latest QWERTY-based handset, the K25i into the ring and after putting it through its paces, here's what I have to say about it.

Design and Build Quality
The K25i looks like any other QWERTY mobile phone, although at first glance it might bring the name 'BlackBerry' to mind. The phone has a glossy finish in the front whereas the back panel has a rubberized plastic finish. There’s no wastage of bezel in this one and all the space has been used wisely. The speakerphone at the top has a nice silver colour and the sides of the K25i have a chrome finish.

QWERTY keypad is built well

QWERTY keypad is built well

Just below the 2.4-inch TFT display screen (320 x 240 pixels), lies the navigation panel. Being a dual-SIM handset, there are two call buttons meant to call from either SIM followed by a home button to the left of the optical trackpad. To the right, there’s a compose SMS button followed by a Return and finally the call end button. The trackpad functions quite well most of the time, but while playing one of the pre-loaded games I saw that the trackpad’s movement went haywire. Also the rest of the navigation buttons are placed a little too close with a couple of instances when the wrong key gets pressed.

The QWERTY keypad below the navigation panel looks pretty decent and the buttons are placed well enough to use comfortably. The labeling on the keys is quite legible and is easy to read plus the backlighting of the keys means that it’s convenient to use the keypad in low lit conditions.

Rubberized back panel

Rubberized back panel

On the top right side of the phone there’s a 3.5 mm audio jack, a hot swap MicroSD memory card slot followed by a mini USB port. The memory slot has a flap to protect it from dust. I was a little surprised to see no dedicated keys like a volume rocker or even a camera button. On a whole, the design of the K25i is quite decent. It’s not very attractive, but it’s not too ugly, either. The build quality of the phone is quite sturdy and in no instance will you feel any of the buttons, port or panel as flimsy or loose.

Features
Interface
Like all other entry-level mobile phones, the K25i also has a Java-based interface. Unlike the GD530 however, this mobile phone has a very intuitive and attractive looking UI. To add to that, the interface functions smoothly and apart from one instance when the phone hung for a few seconds, it worked flawlessly.

Browsing through menus is fast

Browsing through menus is fast

The desktop has six shortcut keys that can be customized according to the user. Browsing through menus is easy and fast and navigation between options is quick, as well. On the whole, using the K25i is quite a breeze, even for first time mobile phone users.

Media
The K25i performs averagely when it comes to media. The phone supports MP3, MIDI and AAC formats in the audio department. The bundled earphones are not too bad and the phone’s DAC (Digital to Audio Converter) works decently. While the music is loud enough, there’s quite a bit of noise that can be noticed while listening to songs. The highs are not very audible, but the bass and mids can be heard well enough. The DAC does miss out on quite a bit of details though and listening to songs on the K25i cannot be termed as wholesome. The phone’s FM Radio is quite nice though. Thanks to the antenna at the back, the K25i can pick up signals well enough, even in confined areas.

Media player is quite average

Media player is quite average

The handset supports 3GP and MP4 video formats, but it doesn’t play them well. I played a 176 x 144 3GP video and a 320 x 240 MP4 video, and while both played smoothly, I could easily notice quite a lot of pixilation. The media playback of the phone on the whole is quite underwhelming.
Connectivity
The K25i is a Wi-Fi enabled mobile phone and also has support for EDGE. Connecting to the internet through Wi-Fi is quite easy and browsing the web is quite fast. That’s obviously because of the faster internet connection in comparison to the slow speed that most of us get via EDGE. One thing that Karbonn has missed out on is the number of pre-loaded apps. There’s no dedicated Facebook, Twitter or Snaptu app, although they’ve added Nimbuzz and eBuddy. Also, there’s an Opera Mini Browser which is a little better than the K25i’s native browser. The lack of apps shouldn’t be much of a problem though as you can always download a large number of apps from sites like GetJar and Zedge.

Easy to type

Easy to type

The K25i’s call quality is clear and both incoming and outgoing voice can be heard clearly and the phone’s handsfree works pretty well. There was a slight issue with the phone’s signal reception and in some areas where most mobile phones get a bar or two of reception, the K25i couldn’t do the same.

Miscellaneous Features
There’s nothing special that the K25i has to offer apart from the regular Calculator, Currency Converter, Alarm Clock, an Ebook reader and some others. There’s a Pedometer to calculate your speed while you’re walking and there are pre-loaded games like Fish, AirStrike and Balloon to pass time but because of the trackpad, it’s not too easy to play those games.

Camera
The K25i has a 2 megapixel camera that doesn’t perform too well. The indoor shots are plain bad with the colours looking very unrealistic. The clarity is not too bad though. The outdoor shots look a tad better than the indoor ones with the colours and everything else looking a little better.

Indoor shots are poor

Indoor shots are poor

The camera has settings for the EV Rating and White Balance. You can also change settings like image quality, picture effect and choose the resolution of the pictures, with the highest being 1600 x 1200 pixels.

Outdoor shots look better

Outdoor shots look better

Battery
The K25i has a 1450 mAh battery that stays long enough after normal usage. I charged the battery fully and played songs, surfed the internet and spoke for a good 45 minutes on and the phone still had enough of juice to sustain me for longer.

QWERTY keypad is built well

QWERTY keypad is built well

Verdict
The K25i is priced at Rs. 4,790 and is a tad higher than the Beetel GD530. While it should have had a few extra apps pre-loaded, the phone functions quite well overall. There are a few minor issues with the media and the camera, but for the QWERTY functions that it has, the K25i does its job pretty well.

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