Android 4.4 KitKat was announced in November last year but until recently, smartphones running the latest version of Android have been few and far between.
The entry level segment might not grab headlines, but for most people it represents the segment to which their first smartphone belongs. We pick five smartphones in the sub-Rs. 8,000 segment running the latest Android version, but before that, let's take a look at the improvements in KitKat itself.
Android 4.4 KitKat: What's New?
Android 4.4 KitKat has a number of changes compared to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean including more immersive graphics, as well as deeper integration with Google's intelligent assistant, Google Now.
Android 4.4 allows users' to just say "OK Google" from the home screen to launch the Google Now assistant and do a voice search, send a text, get directions and even play a song. Google has been enhancing Google Now with new card types that bring information about contextual topics that interest users such as updates from favourite websites.
Android KitKat also comes with visual changes including a translucent menu bar located at the bottom of the screen, and new transition effects when you open the app launcher. You can preview wallpapers in full-screen before applying and also the wallpapers now extends through the notification tray as well.
The Quick Settings notifications in the Android KitKat menu toggles also add a 'location settings' toggle. A new Emoji keyboard for emoticons is now included in the native Google Keyboard.
There is a new Phone (dialer) app, which automatically prioritises the users' contacts based on the people they talk to the most.
(Also see: Android 4.4 KitKat: Top 10 new features)
Google introduced a new unified messaging app in Android KitKat with Hangouts getting SMS and MMS integration, in addition to offering instant messaging through Google accounts (erstwhile Google Talk), a change that is not entirely desirable.
In addition, Android 4.4 KitKat has brought platform support for two new composite sensors - step detector and step counter. These sensors allows users to track steps when they're walking, running, or climbing stairs, via apps and hardware that support the feature.
Some other additions in the Android KitKat include better support for cloud printing, enhanced connectivity options, and better accessibility.
Google says that Android 4.4 KitKat has been designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively not only on high-end devices but also on entry-level ones that have as low as 512MB of RAM.
(Also see: Seven octa-core Android smartphones you can buy under Rs. 20,000)
We now take a look at these best Android 4.4 KitKat-based smartphone options available in the Indian market under Rs. 8,000 - and let you work out which one's best for you.
1. Micromax Canvas Engage (Rs. 6,199)
Micromax Canvas Engage is the cheapest option for people who want Android KitKat, available online for Rs. 6,199. Released earlier this month, it runs Android 4.4.2 out of the box. The phone has a 4-inch screen, running at a 480x800 pixel resolution, powered by a 1.2GHz processor, with 512MB of RAM. There's a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 0.3-megapixel front camera, and the phone comes with 4GB built in storage.
2. Moto E (Rs. 6,999)
Motorola announced its most affordable smartphone in Moto range, the Moto E running Android 4.4 KitKat at Rs. 6,999. The Moto E has created a buzz in the Indian market with its affordable pricing.
Moto E comes with 4.3-inch display with a qHD (540x960 pixel) resolution and 256ppi pixel density. Motorola is also touting the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen of the phone, along with its 'water-nano coating' which provides a measure of water resistance. The Moto E is a dual-SIM phone that supports Micro-SIM cards and an 'intelligent calling feature.'
(Also see: Moto E Hands On | Pictures)
Moto E is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor along with Adreno 302 GPU alongside 1GB of RAM. Motorola's latest budget offering comes with a 5-megapixel rear camera and packs a 1980mAh battery.
3. Micromax Unite 2 (Rs. 6,999)
The newly launched Micromax Unite 2 is pretty similar to the Micromax Canvas Engage, but comes with one very notable feature - it has support for 20 regional languages and English, thanks to something called the Reverie Multilingual Pack.
The phone offers dual-SIM support, and features a 4.7-inch Bright Graph IPS display with a 480x800 pixel resolution. An unspecified quad-core processor powers the device, clocked at 1.3GHz, along with 1GB of RAM.
The Micromax Unite 2 is the company's first handset to come with support for 21 languages (including English). The 20 regional languages supported by the handset are Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Odia, Bengali, Assamese, Marathi, Nepali, Bodo, Dogri, Konkani, Kashmiri, Maithili, Manipuri, Sanskrit, Sindhi.
4. Lava Iris X1 (Rs. 7,999)
The Lava Iris X1 was launched in the last week of May, and is available under Rs. 8,000. The Iris X1 is a dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) device and also supports 3G connectivity. The highlight of the smartphone is the latest Android KitKat software onboard.
Other specifications include a 4.5-inch IPS display (480x854 pixels resolution and 217ppi pixel density); 1.2GHz quad-core Broadcom BCM23550 processor with 1GB of RAM; 4GB of built-in storage; expandable storage via microSD card (up to 32GB); 8-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash; 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and 1800mAh battery. Connectivity options apart from 3G support include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPRS/ EDGE, A-GPS and Micro-USB.
5. Xolo Q1000 Opus (Rs. 7,790)
The Xolo Q1000 Opus runs Android 4.2 out-of-the-box but received the Android 4.4 KitKat update recently, making it the first sub-Rs. 10,000 handset to run the latest Android version.
With the rollout of KitKat for the Q1000 Opus, Xolo also became one of the first domestic handset makers which announced Android 4.4 KitKat update for its smartphones. However, we are yet to see updates coming for other Xolo smartphones.
(Also see: Xolo Q1000 Opus Review | Pictures)
Xolo launched the Q1000 Opus back in December last year at Rs. 9,999, but the phone is available for sub-Rs. 8,000 now.
The Xolo 1000 Opus, is a dual-SIM phablet with support for GSM+GSM and features a 5-inch FWVGA IPS display with 480x854 pixels resolution. It continues the Q range tradition and sports a 1.2GHz quad-core Broadcom BCM23550 processor with Videocore IV GPU and 1GB of RAM. It sports a 5-megapixel autofocus rear camera accompanied by an LED flash and also includes a VGA front-facing camera.