Aakash manufacturer Datawind has launched three new smartphones – PocketSurfer 5x, PocketSurfer 5 and PocketSurfer 3G5 – that will be manufactured and assembled partly at the company’s facility in Amritsar. Parts of the device are manufactured by sub-contractors in China and are being sold online through its website.
All three devices have five-inch screens and prices range from Rs 3,499 – Rs 6,499. Interestingly, the company says that the cheapest device will run on Linux and the other two will run on Android 4.0+ on its website. However in the screenshot the low-end device also seems to be running on a variant of Android. The costliest device of the lot, PocketSurfer 3G5, is the only one that has 3G connectivity; the other two devices can only connect to EDGE. PocketSurfer 5x and 5 have only 1 GHz processors while 3G5 has 1.5 Ghz dual-core processors. There is currently no information on the built-in storage or memory, but it does mention that all three devices will accept MicroSD cards.
Considering all the issues people had in the past with the build quality of UbiSlate and Aakash tablets, one needs to wait and watch before praising Datawind. If these devices end up delivering cheap experience along with that cheap price tag, people might stop caring about their products altogether.
Tablet push continues
Datawind announced at the end of the November that it had tied-up with telecom companies to bundle free Internet services for a year on purchase of its devices from December. However, it did not disclose the name of the operators.
Despite the issues Datawind had distributing Aakash tablets here, the company tied-up with World Vision Canada to supply UbiSlate Android powered tablets for trial use in African countries in November. The trial was started in Niger and Rwanda with plans to roll out on several other African countries. It is already selling to 13 countries including Mexico, Zambia, Tanzania, Uruguay, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It needs to be remembered that Datawind has really struggled to deliver the Aakash tablets. The company still managed to become the second biggest in India in terms of tablets shipped in the quarter running April – June 2013 with 12.5% according to a report by CyberMedia Research.
It also partnered with Happiest Minds Technologies to develop applications and solutions for its UbiSlate tablets.
In July 2013, Indian government released the required features and specifications that Aakash tablets need to have earlier this year and Datawind said that they have placed their bid. However, there is a chance of the government licensing the brand to multiple manufacturers.