Amazon’s new smartphone to have Android…


android (Photo credit: Saad Irfan)

The rumors center around a purported chase for wireless patents (presumably so Amazon can fight off the kinds of challenges currently faced by companies like Samsung and HTC) and partnership with Foxconn for manufacturing…

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Huawei announces the first 10-inch quad-core tablet MediaPad 10 FHD

Huawei, the Chinese handset maker, has announced a 10 inch tablet powered by a quad core processor, at the Mobile World Congress 2012. The tablet, called Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD, has a Huawei 1.5 GHz quad core processor, Google Android 4.0 operating system and a 10 inch IPS high definition display screen.

“Most consumers use tablets for entertainment purposes such as gaming, viewing multimedia content, browsing the internet and reading ebooks,” said Richard Yu, chairman of Huawei Device. “We have created the Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD to excel in all of the entertainment capabilities including speed, power, web browsing, high definition display and audio, and we have packaged it all in a compact and portable body.”

The tablet runs a Huawei proprietary 1.5 GHz K3 quad core processor with embedded graphics processor. This Huawei processor is also making its debut with this tablet.

Huawei announces the first 10-inch quad-core tablet MediaPad 10 FHD

Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD enables high speed wireless access of up to 84 Mbps (HSPA+”>HSPA+ 21/42/84 Mbps), while at the same time supporting a number of network standards including LTE.

The tablet also boasts the industry’s highest screen resolution and high definition 1920 x 1200 pixel IPS display that supports multi touch. Huawei has fitted an 8 megapixel auto focus rear camera and a 1.3 megapixel front camera in this smartphone. The tablet has a unibody design made of aluminum alloy. It is 8.8 mm thin and weighs only 598 gram.

This is the fourth tablet from Huawei, apart from the S7, S7 Slim and MediaPad (Android Honeycomb). However, only the MediaPad tablet is available in India. Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD will be available globally April onwards.

While the specifications of the tablet are mind blowing, the processor architecture is unknown, meaning that only a test will tell. Also, quad core processors are notorious for their battery consuming nature. Pricing too will be very important, as even though the tablet has the best specs on paper, people might not be willing to invest big money in a Huawei product.

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Zipped… Dialled.. Delivered

Mobile as a marketing medium is still a lot of trial-and-error, but ZipDial with its missed call solution claims to have cracked the code. BE explores

When a brand is looking for ideas to reach consumers, sometimes all tricks in the book fall short. Today new media is the ‘Promised Land’ that all brands are turning to in the quest to have a different marketing approach.

Marketers and brand gurus will tell you that digital hardly gets the importance it merits. But in a market like India, digital means a 40 million internet base versus a over 700 million mobile user base. And marketers will admit taking a marketing campaign onto the mobile still remains a challenge. But Bengaluru based ZipDial Mobile Solutions hopes to be the bridge between marketers and the mobile.

Here’s how it works — ZipDial gives brands a toll-free number that they can publicise for consumers to dial into. On dialling the toll-free number, the call rings once and disconnects and then the consumer receives an SMS with more information on the marketing campaign.

Established in early 2010 by three technology entrepreneurs, ZipDial has today worked with KingFisher, LG, Oreo Biscuits, Videocon, Mumbai Indians to name a few. Founded by Sanjay Swamy, Valerie Rozycki Wagoner and Amiya Pathak, ZipDial has 15 employees working across marketing, operations, engineering etc. The company was set-up with personal investments besides help from family and friends. However in April this year, the company received Series A investment (first round of funding) of over $800,000 USD from both Indian and US angel investors, led by Mumbai Angels. “We did extensive searches to figure out if such a business model exists anywhere. But we haven’t found any,” says Wagoner, founder & CEO of ZipDial who adds that the company will be clocking a turnover of 10 crore in the next couple of years.

Among ZipDial’s recent campaign has been The Times of India’s Act Against Corruption campaign that according to Wagoner received around 4.6 million responses within a week of activation. P&G also partnered with ZipDial for a recent sampling initiative. Across Tamilnadu & Karnataka, 250 agents were given unique ZipDial numbers which they could in turn give to customers they interacted with. “There was a problem of transparency before ZipDial came in. Agents were paid on the basis of number of samples they distribute daily. So they would sometimes give all the samples to just one person or give 10 samples to one person and so on. With ZipDial customers could get the sample only if they called the tollfree number, so any chance of misuse was eliminated,” explains Wagoner.

Mobile penetration in India is much better than internet, no wonder then ZipDial has about 35% of its customer base in villages and small towns. “South is a very good market for us, we also have good customer base in Gujarat, Karnataka and AP,” says Wagoner. Lot of ZipDial’s business has grown through WOM with customers telling each other about the service. “Our numbers are accessible from all over the world. Even 1800-toll-free numbers do not have this capability. The zero cost for end consumers maximizes participation in campaigns,” says Wagoner. Zip-Dial works on every mobile phone and does not need any application/software to be loaded on the phone. There is no operator dependency either.

Rajeshree Naik, marketing head, Forevermark Diamonds has been working with ZipDial since July 2011. She shares, “We were already using internet to reach out to consumers, this service helped us move beyond that. What works well is there is no push strategy and only customers interested in the brand and the advertising will call us. It helps us engage with the customer in a very personal way,” she adds. ZipDial mostly approaches brands directly and once the marketer is interested, seeks to work closely with the creative and media agency of record to extend the brand’s marketing campaign onto the mobile platform. The brand is now also working closely with media agencies like Group M and Mindshare so they can recommend the service to their roster of clients. However Vinod Thadani, regional mobile director, India & South Asia, Group M Interaction is measured in his evaluation and says, “The toll free number that they use needs to be published and well supported by other media. Unless that is not publicised well, customers may not know about them.”

It’s early days for ZipDial and the company’s ambition is not just restrict itself to mobiles. It plans to address communities that can be hosted on popular social networking sites. Subsequently they plan to allow third party developers to host apps on their platform. ZipDial is also on an expansion mode, and are already present in Caribbean where they have Pepsi, KFC, among their clients.

Source: Economic Times – By Preethi Chamikutty 

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Smart Tech Now Lets Phones Unlock Doors

What’s new is that tech is right on the devices that more people are using

Front pockets and purses are slowly being emptied of one of civilisation’s most basic and enduring tools: the key. It’s being swallowed by the cellphone. New technology lets smartphones unlock hotel, office and house doors and open garages and even car doors. 

It’s a not-too-distant cousin of the technology that allows key fobs to remotely unlock automobiles or key cards to be waved beside electronic pads at office entrances. What’s new is that it is on the device more people are using as the Swiss Army knife of electronics — in equal parts phone, memo pad, stereo, map, GPS unit, camera and game machine.

The phone simply sends a signal through the Internet and a converter box to a deadbolt or door knob. Other systems use internal company networks, like General Motors’ OnStar system, to unlock car doors. Because nearly everyone has a cellphone, a number of startups, lock companies and carmakers are betting on broad acceptance of the technology. Schlage, a major lock maker, markets a system that lets homeowners use their mobile phones to unlock their doors from miles away, and manage their home heating and airconditioning, lights and security cameras. Customers buy locks that are controlled by wireless radio signals sent from an Internet-connected box in their home.

Recently, Dwight Gibson, vice-president for connected home solutions at Ingersoll Rand, Schlage’s parent, said that he used the system to let a friend into his house while he was sitting at his desk at work. “She thought it was magic,” he said. Daimler-Benz now has it on its Mercedes. Zipcar, the car sharing service, has a mobile phone app that allows customers to unlock their car doors by pressing a button on their phone screen that looks like a lock. They have used it 250,000 times since it was introduced two years ago.

In October, GM introduced an app that lets owners of most 2011 models lock and unlock the doors and start the engine remotely. It allows car owners to warm up the engine on a frigid day or fire up the air-conditioning on a hot one from the comfort of their office cubicle, said Timothy Nixon, who oversees “infotainment” products for the automaker. ”



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Tips to Accelerate Android

There are a lot of hidden Android tips and tricks that manufacturers simply can’t incorporate into the user manual — after all, who would want to read a 500-page book before using a phone! Things like contextual menus, block lists, web browser tips are all available — and they’ll help you work faster and play harder

    Mobile phones that run Google’s Android operating system come in various shapes, sizes and features, unlike Apple’s iPhones. But despite the variety of Android phones there are a lot of useful features common to all. Here are some tips on finding them: 


The key to many of these tips is the long press: Instead of tapping a button, word or icon on the screen, press and hold your finger on it for two seconds. Often, this will bring up a menu of options specific to the type of item, like one to bookmark a Web link. You can also long press the hardware keys on the phone, and the background of the home screen, to reveal various options. In general, long-press functions are intended to save you from tapping through a series of menus to perform a common task. It’s the equivalent of right-clicking your mouse on a PC screen. So, for example, you can long press the home key on your phone’s case — the one that looks like a little house — to bring up a menu of your eight most recently used apps. This lets you hop quickly between, say, an e-mail you are composing and your Web browser. You can also long press the search key — it looks like a magnifying glass — to pop up a microphone icon labeled ‘Speak Now.’ Android’s Voice Commands system understands at least 10 commands, like ‘Send text to Ram Kumar, running late will see you at 6,’ ‘Navigate to the nearest pizza place,’ ‘Listen to Taylor Swift,’ and of course, ‘Note to self.’ If you don’t begin with a special command, Android will assume you are speaking a Web search. Within the browser app, long press the back key — the one labeled with an arrow U-turning left — to snap open a screen with your bookmarks, most visited pages and browsing history displayed in tabs. Long press on your home screen’s background to bring up a menu of options that includes Shortcuts. You can create a shortcut, which looks just like an app on your home screen, that links directly to a bookmarked Web page, a person in your contact list or a navigation destination. Android will label the shortcut with the Web site’s logo, the person’s face or an icon you choose for destinations. Too many icons on your home screen? Long press on the screen to pop up a menu that includes a Folders option. You can create a folder icon and call it, say, Games, into which you can drag all your game apps. Long press a link on a Web page to pop up a menu that lets you open the link in a new window. To switch windows, press the menu key — the one that’s a grid of four squares — and tap Windows in the options that appear onscreen. And long press can also be used for accent marks. To insert, say, an e with an accent grave into a message, long press the ‘e’ on your keyboard. That pops up a menu of ‘e’ characters with various accent marks. 


In your address book, don’t tap the person’s name. Tap their photo. That pops up a menu of icons to call, text or e-mail. There are also options to send messages through Twitter and Facebook. 


Android cameras without a second camera for self-portraits have a Self Portrait mode in the camera app. Tap it, and the camera will begin searching for faces in its viewfinder using facial-recognition software. The phone will shoot a new photo of you every few seconds, adding the pictures to your camera roll. It’s more hit or miss than taking your photo in a mirror, but it’s more fun. 


Android picked up a trick from old-school BlackBerry phones: When typing a text or e-mail message, you don’t need to fumble for the period key at the end of a sentence. Just press the spacebar twice. Android will insert one period and one space much faster than you could type them yourself. 


If you use Gmail on your Android phone, you can create separate shortcut icons, as described above, to specific accounts, folders and Gmail labels. This lets you have separate icons for work e-mail and personal e-mail, rather than opening whatever you last read when you tap the Gmail icon. Once you’re in the e-mail app, you can also switch folders by tapping the name of the current folder at the top of the screen. 


Most users figure out they can get rid of a phone call by sliding/tapping the red button that appears onscreen when the phone is ringing. But not everyone realises you can stop the phone from ringing by pressing the power button or either of the volume buttons . 


To search for words within a Web page, press the menu key, tap More, and then tap ‘Find on page.’ A search box and keyboard will appear to let you type in search terms.


Another option on the browser’s More menu is the Share page. One of the options to share is Facebook. Tapping it will open Facebook in the browser (rather than using Facebook’s Android app) and set up the link to be shared, complete with a thumbnail image and a space to type your comments. 


Android shows the time but not the date on your home screen. If you drag down the notification tray at the top of the screen, today’s date appears in the upper left corner. 


Most Android phones will only come with an English keyboards installed for the touch screen. To add, say, a German keyboard, go to Android Market and search for ‘German keyboard.’ Expect to pay around $3 for most keyboard apps. 


Do you have a frequent caller whom you never want to answer? Add them to your address book if they’re not already there. Then edit their entry, and scroll to the bottom for the option ‘Additional info.’ It’s tricky to open the option; you have to tap the arrow to show more options, then click ‘send directly to voicemail’. 


Get the latest release of Google Maps, a free download via Android Market. While looking at a map, you can tilt it by sliding two fingers vertically up or down the screen, and rotate it by placing two fingers on the map — one at the top and one at the bottom, or one on each side — and making a circular motion. 


Do you find yourself constantly stretching Web pages with your fingertips to read them? Change the default font size instead. While looking at the Browser app, press the menu button on your phone. Tap the More option, then choose Settings at the very bottom (you may have to scroll down.) Change the first option, Text Size, from Normal to Large. 


Stop the screen from turning off — While your phone is plugged in, you can have it disable the battery-saving function that turns off the screen while you are reading, or using the phone as a bedside clock radio. Bring up the Settings app. Tap Applications, then Development. Turn on the ‘Stay awake’ option. It was put there to help software developers. But we end users, in geek jargon, have plenty of uses for it. 


There are some tips that are specific to devices from certain manufacturers. For example, in some HTC phones, instead of finding address book contacts by bringing up your address book and then typing their names into the onscreen keyboard, bring up the phone’s keypad dialer, which has much larger, easier-to-tap keys. Tap your contact’s name on the keypad — e.g. 5-6-4 to spell J-O-H for John. The phone app will pop up a list of auto-complete options for the name from your address book. It’s both faster and easier than going through the address book. Dear Google: Can you build this into all Android phones? 



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Phones with the super power.

This time last month, my house was sunk in gloom. In the living room, my brand new Samsung Nexus S smartphone – bless its little soul! – lay face down in its sleek leather casket, ready to be consigned to the Cemetery of Technological Obsolescence. To be fair, the death didn’t come as a shock. Even a s I bought my Nexus sometime around the end of last year, there had already been whispers of newer, faster, more powerful phones, phones with dual-core CPUs, dedicated graphics processing units and gobs of RAM, that were ready to hit the market at any moment. And even though my Nexus wasn’t exactly a weakling, its days were numbered the moment Samsung released that sleek behemoth, the Galaxy S II. This one boasts of such impressive specs as a 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and a quad-core GPU. It is, by some measures, the most powerful smartphone in the market right now.

If you use a smartphone, hold on tight: this year, your phone is about to get a lot smarter. Many of last year’s top-end smartphones packed in at least a 1 GHz processor but 2011 promises to be the year of the dual-core smartphone. In fact, analysts predict that every high-end phone released this year will sport a dual-core processor. Christmas may even usher in the age of the quad-core mobile!

What dual-core chips basically do is this: they enable more power to be squeezed out of the processor because they contain two ‘cores’. For instance, a 1 GHz dual-core chip will have two 1 GHz processors that can be used in parallel to speed up the performance of your mobile. What this means for you is simple: high-definition video playback and recording, console-quality 3D gaming, on-the-fly multitasking and basically carrying around the equivalent of a small netbook in your pocket. Is it time to throw away your clunky laptop yet?

And what – just what – is your smartphone morphing into?

Evolution, Revolution

“Smartphones will be the computers for what technologists call the ‘massive middle of the market’, that is, a majority of people,” says Internet entrepreneur and gadgets editor for MW magazine, Madhulika Mathur. Two things are happening in the world today. “One, smartphones are evolving at such a rapid pace that they will soon rival the speed and capability of netbooks, if not laptops. Two, our lifestyles are becoming increasingly mobile. With high-speed wireless networks available, we are no longer tied to our laptops and desktops.”

Smartphones have been around for a couple of years but experts believe that we are now entering an era of the super smartphone. “What’s inside a mobile device now is as powerful as a device you would use for computing,” says resident Brunch columnist and Gadget Guru Rajiv Makhni. “Naturally, there are differences in the way these processors are built for mobile phones and your regular laptops, but from a sheer horsepower standpoint, they are equal.”

So what do you do on your phone? My Nexus S stores my entire music collection. The sharp, high-resolution screen is great to watch movies and TV shows during a boring flight (I’ve been catching up on Dexter), play games (Angry Birds has been beat so now it’s Fruit Ninja), browse the web (read Facebook), listen to music (paws up, Lady Gaga fans!) and read ebooks (Pride and Prejudice. About damn time). The camera takes fairly good pictures and the built-in GPS makes sure I never lose my way on Delhi’s roads.

All these things, believes Mathur, put pressure on the smartphone to be more powerful because then, it “no longer competes with other smartphones. It’s competing with your PCs, Tablets, netbooks, MP3 players, digital cameras, GPS units and e-readers,” she says. “So doesn’t it stand to reason that the hardware inside the phone needs to evolve as well? If you put more power in these phones, it could convince buyers to chuck the iPod or drop plans to buy that compact digital camera they’ve been eyeing.” The name of the game is convergence.

It’s about stuffing everything possible into that 5-inch slab of metal and plastic in your hand. Powerful, multi-core hardware has been gracing the insides of your laptops for years now, so the current trend suggests that at some point in the future, your phone and your laptop are headed for a resounding collision.

“I think that even smaller, 7-inch Tablets like the BlackBerry PlayBook will eventually converge into your smartphone,” says Nishant Padhiar, editor, Stuff (India), a gadget magazine. “The Tablet, however, will become a standalone category. So we will all have a Tablet and this all-in-one pocket device for everything else.”

Yes, you can!

So what will your future phone be capable of (let’s keep the sci-fi stuff – expandable displays, flexible screens, phones that are embedded in your brains – out of the picture for now)? “In the near future, smartphones will be able to offer a PC-like Internet experience, rich and vivid graphics, fast downloads, 3D gaming, multitasking, amazing high-definition video playback, uninterrupted battery life and multipoint video conferencing. Among other things,” smiles Mathur. That’s the vision that chipsters like Intel and ARM, the leading processor makers have. “They’re targeting mid-2012, so it’s not far off,” says Mathur.

The right innovation, however, needs to happen on the software side. Right now, we are using powerful hardware to run mobile operating systems that were meant for older generation hardware. “Once software catches up with current generation hardware, you could do things like stream a movie from your phone to your living room HDTV, play a game and have someone else use your phone as a WiFi hotspot – all at the same time with zero stuttering or glitches,” says Makhni.

Also possible, is glassless 3D: yes, actual three-dimensional images popping out of your phone screen without those clunky glasses! Currently, this technology is possible only on screens that are five inches or smaller, making it perfect for your mobile screen. Plus, it requires vast amounts of processing power, which mobile phones didn’t have before. “The possibilities are endless. It’s exciting,” says Padhiar. too fast too soon?

Early this year, Motorola took convergence to the next level by releasing the Atrix, a high-end smartphone that has horsepower enough to run your laptop and your desktop computer. All you need to do is slide it into a dock that you connect to a plastic laptop body with just a screen, keyboard and battery and voila! Suddenly, you have a full-fledged computer system!

But that doesn’t mean that people will suddenly abandon PCs. Our primary computing experience still comes largely from sturdy, workhorse laptops and desktops. That is not going to change any time soon. “All of us have at least one ‘mothership’ machine which is home to all our critical data – movie and music collections, important documents, pictures, financial data and more. We would still like to rely on such a system,” says Padhiar. Unless something like Apple’s recently announced iCloud service, which provides a backup of all your important data on the Internet, gains serious traction (difficult in a country like India that continues to be alarmingly bandwidth deficient). Then, it will be a different story.

There are also different use cases for different devices. I cannot – cannot – imagine typing this story on my Nexus S (though I know people who are capable of typing entire Hindustan Times columns on their BlackBerrys). For that, I need my good old Dell. Also, processor-intensive apps like video-editing and graphic designing require you to use a powerful laptop or desktop computer. So clearly, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

But does blitzing ahead at such a breathless pace have a flipside? Is there such a thing as innovating too fast, too soon?

Yes, says Ajith Pillai, a tech enthusiast and blogger who runs the gadget blog “We saw mobiles with dual-core processors hitting the market at the beginning of this year and by the end, we’ll see the launch of quad-core devices. For consumers, it is difficult to buy the ‘best’ device as they change every other week.”

Early adopters, especially, get a raw deal.

“Frankly, to most consumers, terms like dual and quad-core processors, GPU and RAM are jargon. All they want to know is whether they are going to be able to run the latest game with all its bells and whistles or if their smartphone is smooth and snappy,” says Padhiar. You know what else I care about? How much these damn things are going to cost!

Power portal

Future-proof yourself: here are the most powerful smartphones you can buy today!

Samsung Galaxy S II Tech specs: Dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, Mali-400MP GPU, Orion chipset, 1 GB RAM, up to 32 GB of internal storage Chink in the armour: A flimsy plastic body that doesn’t really suit such a premium phone. Yes, we’renitpicking. Price: Rs 31,000

HTC Sensation Tech specs: 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm MSM 8260 Snapdragon, 768 MB RAM Chink in the armour: A ‘death grip’ issue with the WiFi. Grip it too hard and watch your WiFi die. Also, the Super Clear LCD screen doesn’t exactly make for pleasant viewing in bright sunlight. Price: Rs 30,500

Motorola Atrix Tech specs: Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, ULP GeForce GPU, Tegra 2 chipset, 1 GB RAM Chink in the armour: A lacklustre 5 megapixel camera? A TFT screen? What is this, the 21st century? Price: Yet to be released in India.

LG Optimus 2X Tech specs: Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, ULP GeForce GPU, Tegra 2 chipset, 512 MB RAM Chink in the armour: The IPS capacitive touchscreen isn’t as awesome as some of the displays that the competition sports. Price: Rs 27,000.

From HT Brunch, June 26, By Pranav Dixit, Hindustan Times

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Luxury phones getting grand reception in India

BESIDES the Nokias and Micromaxes, the iPhones and BlackBerrys, there is another set of brands fighting it out in India’s booming mobile handset market—the likes of Georgio Armani, Versace, Christian Dior and Tag Heuer.

These international fashion labels are competing with Nokia’s own Vertu and Swiss brand Goldvish to sell handsets, not as a tools for communication or all-in-one gadgets, but as statusdefining lifestyle products for the super rich willing to spend lakhs.

“Various mobile brands have introduced phones that are high on luxury and many make these handheld gadgets the right accessory to gel with one’s personality,” says Sudhin Mathur, business head — mobile communications, at LG India, which retails Versace’s designer phones in the country for more than Rs 2 lakh each.
And these phones are getting the right numbers, with a market size of $20 million and growing at an annual rate of 20%, company insiders say.

That may not be outstanding in a Rs 27,000-crore (2009-10) industry growing almost at the same rate, but these numbers seem attractive enough for the players to expand their operations and launch new models.

Samsung recently launched a new model in the Giorgio Armani phone collection designed by the master designer himself – priced at over Rs 40,000.

“Customers are increasingly becoming more design and brand conscious, especially when it comes to mobile phones,” says Ranjit Yadav, director – mobile & IT, at Samsung India.
Samsung had earlier also launched two handsets designed by Giorgio Armani – Giorgio Armani Samsung in 2007 and the Emporio Armani Samsung Night Effect in 2008.

French luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), which forayed into Indian luxury handset market through its labels Christian Dior and Tag Heuer in 2008, plans to sell about 700 phones a year and cross 1,000 handsets a year by 2012, according to Manishi Sanwal, general manager, LVMH Watch & Jewellery.
Interestingly, these phones are not smart phones. They don’t come with Internet packages and dedicated music downloads. They are pure lifestyle products. They compete with luxury watches, not with the iPhones and BlackBerrys.

Aspiration is the basic driver behind increasing demand for designer phones, says Naveen Mishra, lead mobile handsets analyst at IDC India.

“The reasons for the growth of this segment may be attributed to the increasing affluence of Indian society at the upper middle class and higher strata, where ownership of a premium product is seen as a class statement,” he says.

The section of the society consisting fashionistas and movie stars is also big customer base for the luxury handset makers, Mr Mishra says.

Pankaj Mohindroo, president of Indian Cellular Association representing handset makers, says Swarovski crystal-studded or gold-rimmed phones, generally defined as luxury phones, sell less than 10,000 units a year. This is less than 1% of the 108 million handsets sold in the country last fiscal.

However, he says, the growth in demand for luxury handsets is impressive.

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