Flipkart Digiflip Pro XT 712 Review: A Calculated Move

Flipkart Digiflip Pro XT 712 Review: A Calculated Move

Flipkart has decided to throw its considerable brand power behind retail products. Much like other retailers have in the past, Flipkart will sell its own products alongside those of every other brand - with maybe just a bit more promotion.

The Digiflip Pro XT 712 is the first of a promised range of digital devices sourced and sold in India by Flipkart. It's aimed at value-conscious buyers who already have quite a few options to choose from.

For this to not backfire and hurt the company's image, the Digiflip Pro XT 712 should of course work well, feel sturdy, and be reliable. Flipkart has chosen to jump in to the low end of the tablet market, which also makes things interesting. Let's see whether the move has paid off.

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Look and feel
The front face of the XT 712 is completely unremarkable. It's basically just a frame around a screen. The device uses on-screen buttons, there's nothing at all to see. The small speaker grille and front-facing camera are the only things that indicate which way is which.

However, this minimalism is not continued on the back. There's a large printed Digiflip Pro logo in the middle, some regulatory text printed near the bottom, and stickers for the device's serial number and registration number flanking the speaker grille. For some reason, the company has also printed icons for each of the device's ports and buttons on the rear. We really don't know why anyone thought this was a good idea - it's ugly and unnecessary.

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The rear panel is not removable, but the plastic strip along the top edge snaps off to reveal the two SIM card slots and microSD card slot. There's a large chrome-ringed camera with a flash in the upper left corner. Overall, the back is pretty crude and you'll probably want to conceal it with a case as soon as you see it.

The power and volume buttons are on the left edge, and the headset jack and Micro-USB port are on the top and bottom respectively. We weren't surprised that the front face picks up smudges very easily, but the rear does as well. 285g also isn't too heavy for a tablet, and we didn't have much trouble holding or using it.

The XT 712 can be used as a phone, though of course holding it up to your ear will be comically awkward and uncomfortable. You're way better off using a wired or Bluetooth headset.

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Features and specifications
The components that make up the XT 712 will not set any world speed records, but they're enough for a budget tablet. The device is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with Mali 400MP2 graphics, and has 1GB of RAM. There's 16GB of internal storage space and support for up to 32GB more via microSD.

The 7-inch screen has a resolution of 800x1280 pixels, which translates to a comfortable 16:10 ratio. There's a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor and an accelerometer as well as FM radio, Bluetooth 4 and Wi-Fi b/g/n.

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Despite its otherwise lacklustre attributes, the XT 712 comes with loads of accessories. Flipkart and Digiflip really stuffed the box - you get not only the standard charger, USB cable and headset but also a USB OTG dongle, a short 3.5mm extension cable (for no apparent reason), a cleaning cloth, and a screen protector film which in our case was already stuck on to the device.

Flipkart also throws in loads of offers. You get Rs. 5,300 worth of discounts on items purchased through the Flipkart app on the tablet - the company claims these are somehow tied to each device, not to a user's account. How this works is that you get between Rs. 250 and Rs. 500 off in each of 13 product categories, but only once each and only on purchases above minimum values which range from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,500. You'd have to spend at least Rs. 17,000 to use all these discounts, so their actual value is questionable. You also get 12 free preselected ebooks. All offers must be redeemed before the end of 2014.

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The software is pretty much stock Android, though we're stuck at version 4.2.2. There's very little UI customisation, but Flipkart's shopping and ebook apps are preloaded, along with MX Player and a few others. The on-screen buttons are near-permanently visible against a black band, but this will change if there is an update to Android 4.4.

Camera
As expected, the Digiflip Pro XT 712's camera is quite awful. There's almost no detail at all in captured images unless you're standing quite close to a subject and the lighting is very favourable. Most photos came out dull and blotchy. The camera had trouble deciding on exposure levels, but it did manage somewhat sharp shots at extremely close range. Video was similarly disappointing. Overall, this is a camera you'd only ever want to use if there was no available alternative at all.

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(Click to see full size)

Performance
The Digiflip Pro XT 712 delivered acceptable scores in our test suite, roughly comparable to smartphones with similar specifications in the same price range. Graphics scores were predictably weak, and we noticed a little bit of tearing in casual games such as Temple Run 2, although not enough to affect playability. There was occasionally a little bit of lag when moving through the Android interface as well.

Most 1080p videos were unwatchable, though 720p samples played well. The screen is just not suitable for use outdoors, and text was difficult to read even at maximum brightness. Sound from the speaker was muffled and soft, and the placement of the speaker worsened this when the XT 712 was placed on any flat surface. The bundled headset is easily one of the worst we've ever tried using - it might do for voice calls, but don't even try using it for music.

Battery life was just about average, at 5 hours, 22 minutes in our video loop test. The XT 712 will need to be charged at the end of each day if you use it for enterainment, which is the appeal of oversized tablet-phones in the first place.

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Verdict
Flipkart has chosen a high-growth product category for its first in-house device, and is using it as somewhat of a Trojan horse to promote its own store, apps and content business. There are definite echoes of Amazon's strategy here - and in the recent launch of the Flipkart First subscriber benefits program - but adapted for Indian conditions. We're absolutely sure that there's more to come, in the form of products as well as service offerings. It will be very interesting to see how Flipkart leverages its reach and customer base as this strategy unfolds.

As a product on its own, the Digiflip Pro XT 712 leaves us a bit underwhelmed. There are other choices on the market for roughly the same price, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Neo and Lenovo A7-50 (both of which feature in Flipkart's own feature comparison table). In terms of specifications alone, the XT 712 looks the strongest of the three, but the others have the edge when it comes to other factors such as construction quality and battery capacity.

If Rs. 10,000 is the absolute maximum you can spend, then you can consider the XT 712, but we'd recommend bumping up your budget just a little bit to get a stronger product. If you don't need voice calling or 3G data, Dell's Venue 7 is a compelling alternative. For Rs. 2,500 more, you can pick up the Asus Fonepad 7 Dual SIM or the 3G (non-voice) version of the Venue 7.


Flipkart Digiflip Pro XT 712 in pictures
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
Display 7.00-inch
Processor Mediatek MTK8382
Front Camera 2-megapixel
Resolution 1280x800 pixels
RAM 1GB
OS Android 4.2
Storage 16GB
Rear Camera 5-megapixel
Battery Capacity 3000mAh
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Jamshed Avari
Jamshed Avari has been working in tech journalism as a writer, editor and reviewer for over 13 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging from smartphones and tablets to PC components and accessories, and has also written guides, feature articles, news and analyses. Going beyond simple ratings and specifications, he digs deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape. He's happiest when something new comes along ...More
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