10.or D2 hands-on, first impressions: Made for India on a budget

After last year's 10.or range, Amazon India brings the series up-to-date with the first launch of the 10.or D2.

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  • The 10.or D2 is priced from Rs 6,999, making it an ultra-affordable Android option.

  • You get near-stock Android 8.1 Oreo, with a number of Amazon apps and services installed.

  • The phone is all about the basics, with the promise of being a competent and long-lasting option for the price.

We might spend a lot of time talking about Apple iPhones, Samsung Galaxy Notes and OnePlus smartphones, but these fancy devices have a naturally more limited audience in a country like India, where most people earn not a lot of money. The typical Indian smartphone buyer is likely to be someone that uses a feature phone and is looking for an upgrade, or just needs a simple and affordable device to run WhatsApp and Facebook, and maybe Candy Crush Saga. Focusing on this segment has made taken Xiaomi from being a relative unknown to the top of the market in short time.

Xiaomi’s incredible growth also takes our attention to the online segment, which is increasingly becoming a comfortable option for more buyers. Led from the front by Flipkart and Amazon, the online space is where you’ll find the best value, thanks to the operational and cost efficiencies afforded by the medium. And while Amazon India is happy to sell Xiaomi and many other brands’ smartphones, it also wants a slice of the cake for itself.

WATCH: Xiaomi Redmi 5A First Look

What is 10.or?

Last year, Amazon India launched its homegrown brand 10.or (pronounced Tenor) in India, with three phones as part of its early portfolio. The 10.or D, E and G were meant to fill gaps that Amazon saw in the smartphone segment, and offered products that it believed its customers needed. And being a massive online marketplace, it naturally kept 10.or exclusive to its own platform. After all, there’s more money to be made in selling your own phones in your own store than selling someone else’s phones and giving them their share of the profit, right?

The 10.or experiment may not have seen massive returns for Amazon India, but it’s definitely been worthwhile enough for the brand to see a 2018 refresh. The first product from the brand in 2018 is the 10.or D2, the successor to the affordable 10.or D. The phone is priced at Rs 6,999 for the 2GB RAM/16GB storage option, and Rs 7,999 for the 3GB RAM/32GB storage variant, and is naturally available to buy only on Amazon India. The phone goes on sale on August 27 at 12 noon, and here’s what we think.

Playing the budget card

Amazon India has access to a lot of information and analytics on what the Indian online smartphone buyer wants, based on what they buy, when they buy, and what they say in the comments after buying. The company says that it has used all of this data to figure out exactly what the buyer wants at this price, and put all of that into the 10.or D2. It’s priced in the starter segment, giving the buyer a full-fledged Android smartphone at Rs 6,999, which is similar to what Xiaomi charges for the Redmi 5A.

However, the advantage of the 10.or D2 is that you’ll likely be able to buy it more easily than the Redmi 5A thanks to being on open sale, and you’ll get much of the same package with some factors that are arguably better, such as near-stock Android 8.1 Oreo which many users prefer over the heavily-customized MIUI, or the 18:9 screen.  The phone is powered by the frugal Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 SoC, and has a 3,200mAh battery. This combination promises longer battery life, which is agreeably something that the entry-level user needs.

A key feature of the new phone is the 5.45-inch HD+ (720×1440-pixel) LTPS 18:9 aspect ratio screen. This makes the 10.or D2 one of the most affordable devices with the taller screen, and it’s something that buyers looking for a media-friendly smartphone will appreciate. The screen is decent enough at first glance, offering sharpness and enough by way of color tuning to not disappoint anyone. It’ll be particularly useful if you watch a lot of movies on your phone, since it will adapt better to the wide-screen aspect ratios of most films.

Plastic, but solid

I’ll admit it’s entirely unrealistic to expect an all-metal phone for Rs 6,999, and the 10.or D2 is unsurprisingly all-plastic. What works in its favor, though, is the fact that it feels solid and strong, like it could certainly tolerate a bit of rough use. The matte finish at the back also disguises the plastic build to some extent, although up close you can practically see and feel its budget credentials. It’s available in two color options – gold and black – and both look decent enough.

Charging uses a micro-USB port, and you get a simple 5W charger in the package. This will take some time to fully charge the phone, but the market hasn’t evolved yet to be able to offer fast charging on a budget. Interestingly, while the 10.or D came with a fingerprint sensor, the D2 drops this feature. While it may not matter much to a basic user, it would still have been a nice option to have, and would have offered some value over the Redmi 5A, which too doesn’t offer any biometric security.

Near-stock Android with the Amazon touch

Just like the previous 10.or phones, the 10.or D2 comes with near-stock Android as well. The interface is uncomplicated, familiar and easy to learn for anyone getting their first smartphone, and you get Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box as well. However, this being an Amazon India promoted smartphone, you do get a bunch of Amazon apps pre-installed, without the option to uninstall. These include Alexa, Amazon Shopping, Amazon Prime Video and more.

Interestingly, Alexa gets a front-and-center position, as the company seeks to use its homegrown smartphone to promote its voice-based Assistant. We haven’t used it much, but it’s the same Alexa experience you’ll get on an Echo smart speaker. It’s worth noting that this isn’t a special feature of this phone; you can install the Alexa app on most Android smartphones today. Other services such as Prime Video and Prime Music will of course need a paid subscription to run, and non-subscribers might be annoyed by their presence.

Ordinary camera

You obviously can’t have a smartphone without at least two cameras anymore, and the 10.or D2’s approach to its camera setup is simple and functional. You get a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera, with flash on both sides.

It’s an uncomplicated setup aimed at helping you take the best pictures that a sub-Rs 10,000 smartphone can take, and value additions come in the form of modes for slow-motion video, beautification and time lapse, to name a few. We haven’t extensively tested the camera, but things look acceptable enough for the price at first glance.

Final thoughts

The 10.or D2 is an uncomplicated smartphone, meant to be an efficient, simple and long-lasting device for the first-time smartphone buyer. On the face of it, the phone appears to be just that. What you see is what you get, and there is a definite value addition for buyers in terms of the 18:9 screen and near-stock Android UI. The phone goes on sale on August 27 at 12 noon, and we’ll be bring you our full review of the 10.or D2 in the coming days.

  • Published Date: August 22, 2018 12:22 PM IST
  • Updated Date: August 27, 2018 11:28 AM IST