Reliance 3G Tab, India’s cheapest 3G Android tablet, launches

Reliance Communications has announced a 7-inch Android tablet priced at around Rs 13,000 with discounted 3G data options, making it perhaps the cheapest 3G-enabled tablet in India.

UPDATE: Since this model was launched, the Ubislate tab was launched for Rs 4,000 which makes the Ubislate the cheapest and most value for money tablet in the Indian market.

It runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which indicates that the tablet is not an old model, but also that the operating system is not custom-made for tablets.

Most of the high-end tablets come with Android 3.0 or 3.1 (Honeycomb), rather than the Android 2.x series, which was developed for phones.

The tablet will have half a GB (512 MB) of RAM, equaling the latest iPad (iPad2), but falling behind truly high-end tablets like the Motorola Xoom or the Samsung Galaxy Tab, both of which have 1 GB of RAM (see chart below).

On the plus side, the ZTE-manufactured tablet will have a 2 Megapixel rear camera and a front camera, for video calling.

On the whole, from the description, the Reliance 3G Tab sounds much like the very first Samsung Galaxy Tab, which too was all of 7 inches in size.

The Reliance 3G Tab also has built in GPS and a card reader with support for up to 32 GB of micro-SD card storage. The tablet is not too heavy nor too light, at 389 gm. In comparison, the similarly placed Samsung Galaxy 7-inch is 380 gm in weight, while the iPad is around 607 gm.

It has a multi-touch capacitive screen, unlike the cheap tablets available in the market that either have resistive touch screens or have single-touch ones.

In itself, the Reliance 3G Tab is not extra-ordinarily speced compared to competition from the likes of HCL and Creative, but definitely scores points in terms of pricing.

At Rs 12,999, it is around Rs 2,000 cheaper than the cheapest 3G-enabled tablet in the market at present. In fact, it is only half the price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 inch (Rs 26,000) despite having similar or almost the same specifications.

It gets even better if you are located in one of the 13 circles in which Reliance Communications has 3G (including Delhi and Mumbai) and you want to use this device while out and about.

For example, if you subscribe to a 12-month 2 GB per month data-plan, you get a discount of around 40% on the data charges. You end up shelling out Rs 18,500, including the payment for the first year of data usage.

If you prefer to pay on a monthly basis, you still get the 2 GB plan for around Rs 600, against the regular price of around Rs 750 per month. Similar discounts apply for the 5 GB plans too (see chart.)

To compare, an ‘unbranded and cheap’ tablet, with poor battery life of around 2 to 3 hours and no 3G, costs around Rs 8,000. The 10 inch HCL ME Tablet AE7-A1, with a resistive (older tech) touch-screen and no built-in 3G support costs around Rs 11,000.

The nearest competitor is perhaps the OlivePad VT100 (Rs 17,000), which has 512 MB RAM and a 7-inch capacitive display.

However, despite being cheaper, at 800 MHz, the Reliance 3G Tab has a faster processor than the Olivepad (600 MHz), as well as a higher resolution display (800 pixels * 480 pixels).

There is, however, one tablet that can give the Reliance 3G Tab some competition — the 10.1 inch Zinglife priced at around Rs 12,500. It has a 0.614 megapixel display (1024*600) and a 1 GHz (single core?) ARM-11 processor and HDMI port (not present on Reliance Tab).

However, the Zinglife has two shortcomings — it does not have built-in 3G and has a weaker battery (2,400 mAH against Reliance Tab’s 3,400 mAH). On the ground, it means that the Reliance Tab will run for twice as long as the Zinglife, due to its bigger battery, smaller screen and slower processor.

That said, the Reliance 3G Tab is no match for high-end tablets such as the Rs 38,000 Motorola Xoom or the Rs 34,000 Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 inch (the new version) or the iPad.

All the high end tablets have dual-core chips running at 1 GHz (compared to Reliance’s 800 MHz single core? processor) and have HD screens, which means that the displays have 1 million pixels (2.6 times that of Reliance Tab) on them. The higher the number of pixels, the sharper and more life-like the image will be (see chart below.)

The tablet move is part of Reliance Communications’ efforts to prod users into consuming more and more data.

Other features include Internet email on the go, social networking, video streaming, gaming, Mobile TV, voice calling, GPS and video recording.

“Reliance 3G Tab is being launched today in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and will be available in Reliance World and Reliance Mobile stores across the 13 3G circles in the next few days,” the firm said.

The launch has come just a day before Samsung is all set to unveil its new line up of Galaxy Tab series of tablets. Catch that story here