It was middle of a mobile based survey project. We needed an android phone with satellite GPS, Indic language support and relatively a big screen in a competitive price. We ran around for a week in all shops including the well established ones. But, unfortunately, all these features are not found in one device.

While returning from a shop in New Delhi’s Nehru Place, where the person was cutting the normal sim card to make it a micro sim card for a tablet, my colleague Ram told, “Drupedi had to marry five men in search of all the best possible human qualities.” I understood his frustration arising from the disappointment of not getting the desired model. I thought of documenting this experience in the hope that this will be useful for people like me in choosing the appropriate phone for survey.

We had no plan to take a high-end mobile brand like Samsung, as the cost was beyond the scope of the project. In my last project, we had used Micromax android phone and it worked quite well except for the battery problem in some sets—there was no replacement available in the market. Drawing from my past experience, I bought a Micromax A 45 punk mobile phone.

We tested the set but to our utter surprise, we found that it does not have the satellite GPS; it only obtains the A-GPS by using the mobile network. Apparently, A-GPS works great in urban areas, but in rural areas, it has very high variance due to lower density of mobile tower. However, this mobile does support display of the composite character of Hindi/ Marathi character sets properly. I checked other mobile phones in this range and all have the same features.

My obvious choice then was Karbon. I spoke to the sweet talking lady in the customer care for 45 minutes. During the call, she transferred the call to two more persons, who were from the technical side. But the only tangible thing I managed to gather was a distributer in Lajpat Nagar and their phone number. I was required to go to the shop to explore further. Thanks to the customer care, if you have a mobile phone and you fill random coupons in mall, your communication skill in English could improve!

We went to a Karbon distributor to explore further. We found that all android phones are available below INR 10,000, but do not have the language support. However, these phones have good GPS and great volume. The young gentleman sitting in the counter promised that he will fix the problem of language display the next day and suggested us to come with cash to buy the phone. With my limited technical knowledge and multiple try in the past, I was not very hopeful of him fixing the problem. Without any other option, I was forced to rely on him and our indigenous innovation. The next day, I went to the shop but our friend was not there. He was busy in a marriage. He referred us to one of his colleague, who simply said it is not possible.

Near to the Karbon shop, we checked the android phones of other brands in the same price category. We found that it does support the Indic character set and displays all in a rectangle box. I was quite disappointed and started exploring how to install font and have some compliance. But after referring to many group and install almost 10 patches, I realized that if any product is not supported by the manufacturer, it is difficult to get it working.

Next morning, I went to Samsung store and realized that almost all its models support all features except S II, which is less than INR 9000. On way back to my office, I saw a HTC store and found that HTC models that cost around INR 8000 fortunately supports multilingual and true GPS. They are within our extendable range. The only disadvantage is that it does not have the big screen as compared to Karbon and Micromax phone.

The grid below summarizes the details for the benefit of techies.

Thanks for reading.

By Kedar Dash