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Karbonn Mobile brings Android One to UK shores for the first time

Back in September we were outlining Google’s plans to take over the entry-level smartphone market with Android One, now Android One is coming to the UK with Indian phone maker, Karbonn.

Karbonn Mobile serves as one of India’s largest smartphone makers, alongside Spice Mobile and Micromax; two other company’s who jumped on the Android One bandwagon at launch. Karbonn’s reach has since expanded into parts of Africa, South America (including Mexico) and at the start of this year, Europe – starting with Romania and Spain. Plans are to expand to France and Italy in 2015, but right now us Brits are the latest target.

Kicking off yesterday, Karbonn (distributed by Ruislip-based company Santok) launched four of its existing smartphone portfolio on an unsuspecting public.

When we met ahead of its UK launch, the company told us that Karbonn represents what it likes to call ‘affordable premium’. This translates to low cost smartphones that can go toe to toe with the popular budget handset makers already entrenched within the UK such as ZTE and Huawei.

The most affordable of Karbonn’s landing party is the A5s – a pint-sized 4-inch Android 4.4 KitKat handset complete with a dual-core brain, a 5-megapixel camera and a price tag of just £69.99. Next up is A19, priced a little higher at £89.99, this device boasts a dual-core processor, a larger 5-inch FWVGA screen and a higher 8-meg snapper.

The most powerful offering is Karbonn’s S6. One of its latest quad-core handsets, boasting a crisper qHD 5-inch screen over the A19 and a higher-res 2-megapixel front-facing snapper, not to mention twice as much internal user memory at 8GB. But what the launch really celebrates is…

Karbonn Sparkle V - Android One

The Karbonn Sparkle V (pronounced ‘vee’) – one of the world’s first Android One-powered handsets and the first of its kind to make it to Blighty. The Sparkle V (no, we’re not sure if we’re sold on the name either) may not be as beefy as the S6 with its 4.5-inch FWVGA screen, 4GB of user storage and 5-megapixel rear camera, but it comes running Android One-flavoured KitKat which equates to a near stock Android experience that Google has greater control over when it comes to major updates.

Android One running on devices like the Sparkle V should serve as a new avenue for users who want to call first dibs on the next significant updates of Android, presently version 5.0 Lollipop. It’s also worth mentioning that the V, along with the rest of Karbonn’s UK lineup offers dual-SIM support – a more exotic option for smartphones in our neck of the woods.

Karbonn’s not only relying on its regular competitive pricing to catch people’s attention at launch either, forging a partnership with Amazon UK until the new year that includes a Black Friday price drop on the poster-child Sparkle V from £129.99 down to £99.

Whilst neither of these are the sub £70 price tag the phone goes for in its home land, the UK is a different market and phone makers have to play by different, more expensive rules. Nonetheless if you’re looking for a great stocking-filler gift for a special someone, one of Karbonn’s fresh handsets might fit the bill.



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