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Android One Devices’ Weakness is in Photography

September 22, 2014 - Written By David Steele

A week ago, our very own Peter announced the Micromax Canvas A1 handset as one of the first Android One devices to be launched in the Indian market. The Canvas A1 is priced a little higher than the other two new Android One devices at Rs 6,499 (about £65 or $107) compared with the Rs 6,399 Karbonn Sparkle V and the Rs 6,299 Spice Dream Uni Mi-498. We’re seeing the first reviews of these three Android One handsets and given that they have very similar specifications, it’s no surprise that they receive the same praise and criticism. All three perform admirably packing a quad core MediaTek processor under the skin with 1 GB of RAM. Android One devices get the stock Android interface, which we already know is smooth and fluid on quite low end hardware such as the Moto E (this uses a dual core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor). Reviews point out that the one area where the devices occasionally stumble is when using the multitasking button, which I’ve personally experienced on many devices. The lag is associated with memory: it’s a combination of memory transfer speeds and running low on it (it’s something I first experienced with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich).

Otherwise, these Android One devices perform admirably with one exception: the camera. These devices come with a 5 MP camera, which is described as “quite good for the price tag.” I suppose this depends on your perspective, but of all the things to skimp on, I’d put the camera as being high on the list. Seeing as the Android One devices run stock Google, they come with the Google Camera application and this has the same nifty features that we see on the Nexus 5 including Lens Blur, Photospheres, Panoramas, HDR mode and manual control over white balance and exposure. The hardware behind the software is lacking: but this same level of criticism can be leveled at even the best camera smartphones as they’re not as good as a dedicated camera for the same cost.

But there’s more. Although the Android One devices come with (limited) onboard storage, it appears that the modest camera is disabled until a MicroSD card is installed. The Micromax and Karbonn devices are bundled with an 8 GB MicroSD card in the Indian market but the Spice does not come with one at the time of writing. This means that the customer would either need to accept that he or she can’t take photographs… or buy a MicroSD card. Perhaps this limitation will be resolved with the launch of Android L but I would not be so sure; the risk is that Android L is larger in size compared with Android Kit Kat and so might reduce the available space in internal storage.

What do our readers think? Do you agree that the camera is the best place to save costs? Or would you prefer a cheaper, slower processor in exchange for a better camera sensor?