afaqs! news bureauPublished: 14 May 2012, 12:00 AM

Beginning of the end of feature phone: TMI survey

Among the top 25 most searched handsets, a whopping 21 models are smartphones.

There seems to be a growing interest and awareness among Indian consumers about smartphones, the Handset Hotlist survey (May, 2012) suggests. In the survey, brought out by The Mobile Indian (, 21 of the 25 handsets that made it to the list are smartphones.

Almost every month, two smartphones are being launched in India and one of them is usually an entry level or mid-level phone. Notably, today smartphones are available in the market for as low as Rs 3,000 and they offer better utility than feature phones.

Before we proceed further, let us clarify the distinction between smartphones and feature phones. Smartphones provide a great user experience for fun, entertainment and games, but multiple, efficient modes of communication are their true potential.

Smartphones run on third party or proprietary operating systems such as Android, Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS, Bada, MeeGo, and BlackBerry operating systems. They are also defined by their ability to run third party software known as applications or apps, which are available at stores such as Ovi, Android Market Place and iTunes.

Also, smartphones show higher application use than feature phones even at the entry level. Push email, calendar syncing and document editing are other essentials that are supported in this category of phone.

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Top 25 Handset Hotlist for April 2012

Rank AprilRank MarchChangeBrandModelPrice (in Rs)
110NokiaNokia C5 038500
220NokiaNokia C611000
341SamsungSamsung Galaxy Y S53607050
451SamsungSamsung Galaxy Y Duos8990
53-2SamsungSamsung Wave Y S53806930
660SamsungSamsung Galaxy SL I900317450
7nanewSamsungSamsung Galaxy Ace Plus15500
87-1SamsungSamsung Galaxy Ace S583012800
9nanewSamsungSamsung Galaxy Ace Duos12790
108-2SamsungSamsung Galaxy Note31750
11110SonySony Ericsson Xperia Arc S25000
12120SamsungSamsung Star 3 Duos6290
1310-3MicromaxMicromax Superfone A737300
14151AppleApple iPhone 4S40500
1514-1NokiaNokia C2 064424
16nanewHTCHTC One V17435
179-8NokiaNokia Asha 3006150
18nanewNokiaNokia Asha 3026027
19nanewNokiaNokia Lumia 80024000
20244SonySony Ericsson W89100
2120-1SonySony Ericsson Xperia Neo V17400
22220MicromaxMicromax Superfone A787750
23nanewSamsungSamsung Wave 3 S860014700
24nanewBlackBerryBlackBerry Curve 938019620
2518-7SamsungSamsung Champ Deluxe Duo2 C33124790

Feature phones, on the other hand, are a midway point between smartphones and basic phones. They usually have a limited proprietary operating system such as Brew or Java, and not all feature phones support third party apps.

While email is usually an included feature, push email is often non-existent in feature phones. Calendar syncing is often a problem, as is document editing. However, feature phones are keenly focused on multimedia and texting, and almost all feature phones support GPS, HTML browsers, and 3G networks. A lot of feature phones also have popular social networking abilities such as Twitter and Facebook.

Also, feature-focused phones are developed with a specific type of capability or purpose such as multimedia or music; whereas smartphones offer a broader range of features without heavily focusing on any specific purpose.

Little wonder that smartphones are becoming a standard among mobile phone buyers. Also, this month, there was not much price correction in the handsets that made it to the Handset Hotlist, except Sony Xperia Arc S, which saw a drop in price from Rs 28,000 to Rs 25,000.

In this month's survey, the Nokia C5-03 maintained its No. 1 position consecutively for the eighth month, while its stable mate, Nokia C6 bagged the second spot for the third consecutive month.

According to The Handset Hotlist for May, 2012, Samsung has widened the gap over Nokia when it comes to the desirability of handsets. As compared to last month's Handset Hotlist, where the gap was of just one handset, this month 11 Samsung models figure in the Hotlist, as against only six from Nokia, which has dominated the list since it was introduced in June, 2011.

Sony Ericsson has three models this month; Micromax two; and Apple, BlackBerry and HTC have one each. Interestingly, BlackBerry has for the first time made it to the survey with the BlackBerry Curve 9380.

Commenting on the survey, a spokesperson of The Mobile Indian says, "For the first time in the last 12 months, a BlackBerry handset has made it to the list. This reflects the changing perception among users about BlackBerry, which was perceived as a business smartphone till a year back, rather than a phone for the masses."

The spokesperson further adds, "So far Samsung has launched 25 handsets in the Galaxy series in India and of them, seven have made it to the Handset Hotlist - four entry level; two mid range; and one above Rs 30,000."

The Handset Hotlist survey (May 2012) is based on a study of online preferences of about one million people who visited the website in April 2012 and searched for and viewed information about mobiles on the site's Handset section, which lists more than 2,000 models.