Note: This is about my personal experience of using various gadgets over the years and their quality & brand value.
Year 2006: My first cell phone was the humble Sony Ericsson J300i. Apart from robust build quality and loud & clear speaker, it served me all basic tasks like calling & messaging very well. Also it endured occasional falls and ‘some emotional abuse’ too. At the end of its lifeline, it got stolen when I boarded on a crowded local RTC bus at Hyderabad :(.
August 2008: My second cell phone was Fly v100 which was again a basic phone with bigger screen, USB connectivity and external memory card facility (no FM, no Bluetooth). Let me mention here that this phone was a stop-over arrangement. I was not planning to stay more time with a cheaply built phone from a lesser known brand. Once traveling in train I accidentally damaged the LCD screen of the phone. I didn’t carry the warranty papers and moreover it was an accidental damage. So, I have to shell out 1100 bucks to replace the LCD. And the authorized service center was not an exclusive one for this brand. (Small brands can’t afford it). After servicing I found the quality of service is very poor. There was scratches on my phone, dust below the LCD protective glass and the fitting was creaky. That day I learned a lesson, if we are using a low cost cheap phone then it is better to discard the damaged phone and buy a new one rather than repair it. The quality of service even at authorized service centers would be far from satisfactory.
April 2009: My next phone was Nokia E63. I was interested in buying Nokia N78 but it was not in stocks. So I settled on E63 which was just 4 months of launch. I used this phone over 2 years and it served me as a perfect companion. It was old horse Symbian smartphone with true multi tasking. It featured all the essentials plus specs from a mid range device like, Bluetooth, SD card support, 3G, WiFi, Document Editor, PDF/Zip viewer etc.I was first to possess a smartphone in my friend circle. Touch screen devices were very expensive then and the cheapest touchscreen feature phone was equally priced as a Nokia smartphone. In my two years of use I never have any problem with it. It performed very well to its specification. I sold it second hand at good price after two years of use.
May 2010: I wanted to give a low cost basic phone to my younger brother who lost his Nokia Express Music phone. I bought a Onida G510 after my friend convinced me to trust on this brand. But my brother complained of the phone over heating and automatically switching off. Being within warranty period I got a replacement of the same model which I found with microphone defect. The service center unable to repair the handset instructed me with a letter to get a new replacement for the last time of the same model. Fortunately 3rd time I got lucky and replaced with a perfect working handset which is still with me.
June 2011: I was interested to buy a good touch screen phone. Also I used to the wonderful QWERTY keyboard of E63. I convinced myself that a touchscreen with physical QWERTY keyboard device will be better for me. I was already a Nokia fan. But the N97 siblings (Nokia N97 and N97 Mini) were beyond my reach. So I settled for newly launched slider Nokia C6-00 which I bought second hand at good price. Here I want to mention one thing that one can’t operate the Nokia C6-00 using only touch screen. We have to use both physical keyboard touch screen simultaneously. After almost 8 months of use the slider malfunctioned. So I had to visit a Nokia Care. I was thinking about the service and replacement charges. Since I bought it second hand I didn’t have warranty papers. To my surprise the Nokia Care people didn’t asked me either. They simply checked the serial no. online and the phone was still under warranty which going to expire after one week. They replaced the component free of cost and advised me to buy an extended warranty which I declined. I was totally satisfied with their quality of service. After just one month of use the slider again malfunctioned and I was out of luck since the warranty has expired and I hadn’t bought extended warranty. To my horror the service center was closed (as part of Nokia’s cost cutting exercise). So I visited another Nokia Care and they told that the component would cost me 2800 bucks and not in stocks. In desperate I tried an unauthorized service center who replaced it for just Rs. 1400. But I found the quality of their service is shoddy. The phone was having dust under the glass. Obviously after all these experience I was not interested to keep this mobile for long. I sold it third hand at half the price I bought it.
June 2012: At that time Indian mobile manufactures like Micromax started selling low cost Tablets. I thought why not buy a tablet for all the browsing, entrainment, app and gaming purpose and keep a good basic Nokia handset for calling and messaging. So in hurry I bought a newly launched Micromax Funbook tablet. From the beginning I noticed a tiny red dot on the display which was prominent when the tablet was power on. I could have dismissed it as a minor glitch but somehow I couldn’t. I tried to contact Micromax by mail. They didn’t bothered to respond it. I checked the service center booklet but found only one phone number per city. No address of service centers. I dialed the number and it was out of service. I was loosing my patience and sold it second hand within one month of purchase at little less than the original purchase price. The one month it remained idle at home mostly. I found very little use of it since it was tertiary device for me. My primary communication device was a normal basic phone and secondary was my laptop. I realized that a tablet would be no use for me since I can’t use it for calling and sms and I can’t carry it in my pocket. It also lacks serious computing power, so it can’t replace my laptop. Of course now days tablets have features of sim calling and sms but again carrying a 7in device and using it for primary mode of communication is an issue for most of us.
August 2012: So I concluded that 5in phablet (crossover of a phone & tablet) would be idle for me since itz having bigger screen than a normal phone and I can carry it. But at that time Samsung Galaxy Note/Note II and the ill fated Dell Streak were the only options and they were beyond my reach. I knew the price would drop drastically and many more manufactures would jump to the bandwagon. I preferred to wait for sometime till the price would suite my budget. In the meantime I bought the well tested and accepted Nokia X2-01, a QWERTY messenger, for my basic communication needs. With its excellent built quality and neat features it is perfectly serving me well till date. No complain.
May 2013: As I have anticipated, all and every Indian mobile manufacturers jumped into the 5in phablet category and the price dropped drastically. First single core 1gz, then dual core and now quad core with 1gb RAM were available as little as 12,000 bucks. Again I succumbed to lure of loaded specs at cheap price. I bought Zen Ultrafone 701HD as soon as it launched at Rs 12,000. It came with a nice packaging and all essential accessories one could ask for, a flip cover (although cheaply built), one extra white back cover, one extra screen guard and a 2gb memory card apart from usual charger, data cable and headset. The specs covered everything that could be asked for at such a low price, 5in 720p IPS HD screen, 1 GB RAM, 1.2 Ghz Quad Core with PowerVR 544 Graphics, 8Mpx camera, 3.2 Mpx front camera, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Bluetooth 3.0 etc. The very first day I noticed that the camera is having a glitch. As soon as I turned on camera the screen would go complete green. I banged my head for again having bad luck of getting a faulty device. I shot an angry mail to Zen cutomer care at mid night. Then I reset the phone to factory settings and the glitch disappeared. The camera functioned normally and I thanked God. But later I discovered that the still camera is ok but there is an issue with the video camera. As soon as I switch to video camera mode, the focus would automatically Zoom in and become low light as if it is in evening. If I shift to normal camera mode everything would be normal. I thought it might be a software issue but found no solution on internet. I installed another alternative camera app but the problem persists. May be the problem would go in next android update. But itz very unlikely from a lesser known brand like Zen to roll out updates for existing phone models.
The Conclusion (my heard earned experience :D):
1: Never go for a cheap brand even if the price and the specs might be tempting.
2: Devices from established brands might be faulty but at least you are assured of quality after sales support.
3: Never jump to buy immediately after launch of a product (mostly in case of Electronics and Automobiles; I’ll elaborate this point in another post). Wait for reviews and first hand experience of other buyers. (I made this mistake twice in case of Micromax Funbook & Zen Ultrafone 701 HD).
4: Before buying of any electronic device think of how you are going to use it in real life. My friend bought a BlackBerry Playbook from US spending 16 thousand rupees. Later found there is no sim slot. Using 3G dongle was not always convenient. After more than 6 months he sold it for just 8000 bucks. The device was box packed and totally unused.
5: Hope and pray that your device would never see any service center.