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Karbonn as a smartphone is not what it used to be in the past, thanks to the fierce competition from vendors like Intex, Xiaomi, and many others. Despite the surge in the Indian market especially in the budget and entry-level segment, there is still a ray of hope for a brand like Karbonn given the right promotion and good money for the product. With the same goal, it recently launched the Frames S9 projecting it as a selfie-centric phone. So, in our today’s review, we shall take a closer look at the Frames S9 and see how well it fares in real life and whether it is worth the money you spend. Let’s get started.
Karbonn Frames S9 specifications: The Karbonn Frames S9 sports a 5.2-inch (720x1280) HD IPS display and is powered by the 1.25GHz Quad-Core processor. It packs 2GB RAM and 16GB storage that is further expandable via microSD card slot. It runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with a custom UI on top. In terms of camera, there is an 8-megapixel rear camera, and on the front, there is a dual 8MP camera with Bokeh effect. Connectivity features include 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS. There is a fingerprint sensor on board and a 2900mAh battery.
The Karbonn Frames S9 is all plastic and it in no way feels premium, considering the pricing, we saw this coming. The edges are rounded and curved smoothly, so you don’t hurt your hands no matter how long you use the phone. Thanks to the 5.2-inches size, the phone perfectly fits in hands and one-handed usage is also good enough. As for the design, there is nothing that is worth talking. The phone weighs just 139 grams, and it doesn’t feel heavy in hands even after prolonged usage. Despite the deceiving looks, the phone is made out of polycarbonate build, but the back panel is non-removable for some reason.
Moving to placements, above the display, you have the main earpiece, dual 8-megapixel front cameras, the usual set of sensors. Down below the display is the three capacitive buttons which are backlit. On the right side, you find the volume rockers, SIM tray, and power button. To the left, there is a slot for microSD card. Flipping the device to the rear, you have the 8MP rear camera, LED flash, Karbonn branding, a fingerprint sensor. The microUSB port and speaker grills are present on the bottom. Up top, we have the 3.5mm audio jack. Overall, the design and build of the Karbonn Frames S9 are good.
The Karbonn Frames S9 sports a 5.2-inches HD(1280 X 720) IPS display, but doesn’t come with any protection. Since it is an HD display, we didn’t find any issues playing 720p content. The colors look fine with no over-saturation issues whatsoever. The brightness levels are also acceptable; we were able to access the content outdoors even under direct sunlight without any problem. The viewing angles are decent, we didn’t notice any color shift or discoloration even when viewing the phone from extreme angles, but occasionally there was bluish hue.
The touch response is smooth, and it was responsive while scrolling through the browser and while U.I navigations. Thanks to the HD display, the images and content looked sharp even when zooming in. Overall, the screen of the Karbonn Frames S9 is decent for the price.
One of the main factors that define a good smartphone is its performance. And that’s why it is essential to know if the performance of the Karbonn Frames S9 is worth the money you spent. The mobile is powered by a Quad Core processor that is clocked at 1.25 GHz and 2 GB RAM. We tested several basic games, and the experience was good. But the mobile failed to perform well while playing even the ordinary graphical games. 2 GB of RAM is more than enough for the necessary multitasking, but the phone gets hot if several apps are opened at the same time.
Apart from the heating issues, the phone doesn’t irritate us much with performance lag. The addition of only HD display plays a significant role in balancing this user experience in Frames S9 smartphone. The lagging issues occur only when high-end apps are either opened as the main app or in the multitasking mode. Apps open up quite fast, but they do take time to load completely and becomes functional. Since there is a fingerprint sensor on the back, the phone has an additional piece of security. Overall, the performance of the Karbonn Frames S9 is acceptable at best.
The camera in Karbonn Frames S9 is what makes this device stand out from the competition in this price range. The Frames S9 comes with 8 MP primary camera on the back side with an LED Flash. And on the front side, you would find 8 MP + 8 MP Dual Front Camera with a flash. One should not wonder on the company’s decision to woo the selfie lovers in this price range by integrating a dual camera on the front side, because, this is what all the users of this smartphone are going to love and brag about eventually. And maybe that's what the developers at the Karbonn had in mind while designing this device.
In our tests, we were able to take good photos in the daylight conditions, and as expected, the Frames S9 failed miserably to impress us in the low light conditions. For those of you who have tripods, you can still try to get good night landscapes with a self-timer camera app. You can also install certain selfie apps to make use of the selfie cameras in the best way possible.
The quality of the video recording in Frames S9 is good and average depending on factors such as light, motion and if you are using hands/tripod. In our tests, we found the videos recorded with hands as average as the image stabilization wasn’t there at all, which means frequent blurring was very evident in all the frames of the video. The steady scenes that we recorded with the help of a tripod provided us above average results. Overall, the camera of the Karbonn Frames S9 is decent enough, but certainly not the best.
The audio in Frames S9 is the same as how you find in any other mobile in this price range. Even buying a third party earphones or installing an app where you could tweak the equalizer settings is not going to help you in enhancing the audio listening experience of the S9 smartphone. At the same time, though the speaker on the mobile is loud enough, there’s a lot of squealing sounds when the music is played at the high volume especially if the track contains any high-pitch notes.
The video watching experience is good. But the company could have concentrated in making the colors more real for a better and realistic video watching experience. We tried to play the 4K videos in the video players, and there was a lot of unusual lagging. However, you should not face any hindrances while watching HD or full HD videos.
The Karbonn Frames S9 packs a 2900mAh battery non-removable battery with no support for fast charging. Moving to battery performance, our usual working day usage includes calls, texts, GPS navigation, media consumption, browsing and more; the battery could only last until the evening, making the battery life just acceptable. We were to get a maximum screen on time of around 3 hours 30 minutes. Though we didn’t notice any idle battery drain, it did drain drastically during heavy usage.
With heavy to continuous usage, the battery life gets even worse; it was only able to last you until the afternoon leaving you wanting more. It does have a battery saver option which will come in handy during an emergency. As we mentioned, there is no fast charge support, so the phone took close to 2 hours 40 minutes to charge from 1-100%. Overall, the battery of the Karbonn Frames S9 is pretty decent.
The Karbonn Frames S9 runs on Android 7.0 with a custom skin on top of it. While we were never really big fans of custom skins replacing stock, this is what you would get in case you buy the phone. All the apps and widgets are present on the home screen leaving you with no app drawer separately. Another complaint we have with the Frames S9 is that it runs on age-old Nougat OS despite the stable availability of Android 8.0 Oreo. Topping that, we don’t have hopes for any software updates to come in the future as well. Apart from Google native apps, there tons of bloatware apps taking up space, and there is no way you can uninstall them without rooting it.
It comes with 2GB RAM out of which around 1GB is free when just the default apps are running in the background. While the available free RAM is enough to pull your day to day tasks and operations, it indeed goes haywire, if you push it to its boundaries. It was able to handle multitasking with no lag or stutters in the U.I as long as the app count is not more than 4-5. Overall, the software experience of the Karbonn Frames S9 is not the best, but decent enough if you are into customizations.
At a price of Rs. 5,999 (current price), the Karbonn Frames S9 is a worthy phone to have it in your list, but not the only one. It got decent build quality, acceptable performance, HD display, a fingerprint sensor. On the flip side, the camera performance, especially in low-light, is very poor; it still runs on an age-old Nougat Operating system. With Xiaomi, Intex ruling the sub Rs. 6,000 price segment with various offerings, one wonders who would pick a Karbonn phone in today’s age and day, proving us right, the Karbonn Frames S9 gets lost without being able to put up a decent show. So, if you are in the market looking for a selfie-centric phone, the Frames S9 can be in your list, given that you are ready to accept its flaws if not, you can blindly go for alternatives like the Redmi 5A.
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