Monday, October 31, 2011

Apple iPhone 4S Philippine pricing

With Globe Telecom being the exclusive iPhone distributor in the Philippines, those wanting unlocked iPhone's have to turn to the grey market. Factory unlocked iPhone 4S phones are already available in the Philippines. You can find these sellers on TipidCP at this link

iPhone 4S 

  • 16Gb - Php46,000  
  • 32Gb - Php51,000  
  • 64Gb - Php56,500  

iPhone 4

If you are looking for the older iPhone 4 is still now priced at Php29,000 for the 16GB model in black and Php29,500 for the same model in white. 

The iPhone 4 is also available from Globe Telecom, but a pre-paid unit will set you back Php37,499. Unlike in other countries, the iPhone 4's from Globe Telecom are not carrier subsidized and Globe actually makes a profit with each unit sold. Apple should really look into this, if they want to see their phones get into the hand of more Philippine users. Basically, compared to the US, Singapore and Hong Kong, getting an iPhone cost much more in the Philippines.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween threat from Gameloft

Gameloft is offering three games at a discounted price of just US$0.99 (Php42.43) as a promotion this Halloween season. This promotion applies to sale over the Android Market.

Link to Uno at the Android Market

Link to Order & Chaos at the Android Market

Link to Backstab at the Android Market

Battery-gate? Apple iPhone 4S / iOS5 battery drain issues

We first heard about battery life issues with the Apple iPhone 4S, and iOS5 upgraded iPhone 4's and 3GS's, from PhoneArena almost two weeks ago. Back than, I figured it was really just a result of iOS5 five being more Android like since it now sync's to the cloud, updates location data and has notifications. I figured people may also have just been using Siri too much. A week later Chris Breen of Macworld wrote about his efforts to diagnose the problem

But when we see things like The Inquirer writing that the Samsung Galaxy S II has longer batter life than the iPhone 4S, we really start to wonder. The Galaxy S II does after all have a much larger screen than the iPhone 4S and the biggest battery drain on an Android is the power consumed by the display.

Today, TechRadar reported that Apple is contacting iPhone 4S users about battery drain issues. I guess, this confirms that there is a problem with iOS5 or the battery in the iPhone 4S, which is not caused by excessive Siri use.

Having engineers look into it, rather than a quick public denial, only to back-track, later is a much better way for Apple to handle this kind of thing. So what while it does Appear that there is a problem with the iPhone 4S  battery or an issue with iOS5 which affects a fair number of users, I don't think we should label this one battery-gate. The denial factor is missing.

November 3, 2011 update. Laptop Magazine reports Apple has confirmed that a "small number" or users are experiencing battery life issues and will be issuing a fix in a few weeks. Laptop Magazine reminds readers that the dual core Apple iPhone 4S does consume more power than the older iPhone 4,

One area which may have caused confusion confusion was when Tim Cook announced during the iPhone 4S launch that the iPhone 4S had one hour more of 3G talk time without mentioning anything else on the battery life.

The new iPhone 4S, based on Apple's released specifications has 33% less standby time and one hour less web browsing time over WiFi. 

Samsung overtakes Apple as the biggest smartphone seller in Q3 of 2011

The BBC citing data from Strategy Analytics reports that Samsung how now overtaken Apple as the biggest smartphone maker in the world. For the third quarter of 2011 Samsung accounted for 23.8% of of all smartphones shipped in the quarter. Apple came in second with 14.6% and Nokia came in third with 14.4%.

Market share Q3 2011
Samsung - 23.8%
Apple - 14.6%
Nokia - 14.4%
This time last year Nokia had a 26.5% share with Apple coming in with 14.1% and Samsung with 7.5%. 

Market share Q3 2010 
Nokia - 26.5%
Apple - 14.1%
Samsung - 7.5%
Source: CNET

One thing which should be noted is that Samsung and Nokia offer smartphones at all price points while Apple, and other top manufacturers like HTC and Motorola, only compete only up to the mid-level market.

Some things may change the equation in this quarter.

1. Apple has a lower cost offering. Traditionally Apple only kept two models in the market at one time. Now they will keep three models, which means they will be offering the iPhone 3GS which becomes the cheapest iPhone in history.

2. Nokia has launched their Windows Phone 7.5 device. A 14.4% market share shows that Nokia brand is still strong, and now its name, and Windows Phone 7.5, could help them regain market share. 

3. Android handsets are now getting cheaper than ever. Last year Symbian and Bada smartphones where cheaper than Android alternatives. Now Android smartphones can be found at prices matching even the cheapest smartphones. This would put more pressure on Nokia.

Friday, October 28, 2011

LG Optimus Black @Php15,990

LG is offering its slim 4-inch Android phone, the LG Optimus Black, on a promotional price of Php15,990 which is a discount of Php2,000 from its current market price. The promotion runs until December 18, 2011.

The promo mechanics are a bit more complicated than I would have liked. To avail of the promotion you have to buy it online through LG's website and payment must be made through a credit card or paypal account. The phone will be delivered to your address. Would be better if they just offered the promotional price on over the counter sales. Anyway, you can get you the LG Optimus Black at the promotional price by following this link.   

Windows Phone 7 arrives

Nokia has comes out with their first Windows Phone 7.5 handsets, the Lumia 800 and 710. From a hardware standpoint these devices are not revolutionary. The most significant thing these Nokia phones id that they will give the world a good look at Windows Phone 7.5. In a world obsessed by apps, Windows Phone 7 was largely ignored when it came out last year because it had a small app market compounded by the lack some key features. I also think one problem with Windows Phone 7 was it dared to do things in a different way.

Today mobile phone operating systems do look like they evolved from my first Windows based smartphone, which in turn was derived from the interface of a desktop computer. They are too app centric. Want to get something done, launch the appropriate app. 

Now at version 7.5, the missing features are present, the app market is 35,000 strong, and Nokia has committed to giving 25,000 Nokia Lumia 800 handsets to app developers to encourage app development. Windows Phone strength, its amazingly intuitive interface has been improved. Windows Phone does have apps, but its main focus is  integrating functions into hubs.

Hubs in Windows Phone 7.5 allow you to organize information in a single spot. Want to communicate with a friend, go to the People Hub  which allows you to connect contacts by making a phone call, sending a SMS or an instant message, posting on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Don't worry about what app you should use, just decide who you want to communicate with. Android moves in this direction with its latest Android 4.0.

If you decide to send a person a SMS, Windows Phone 7.5 will show you if the person you are about to SMS is online on Facebook or Windows messenger. You can seamlessly switch between texting, Windows Live Messenger or Facebook Chat from within a single message thread. Apple's iOS 5 messenger has similar functionality. 

Similar integration is done with other hubs, to cover work, play, pictures and music. Instead of hoping from app to app, just think about what you want to do, and you will find all relevant information and apps in one place.

With both Android and iOS adding features found in Windows Phone 7.5, it would seem that Android and iOS developers seem to think that integration is the path to take. And when it comes to integration Windows Phone 7.5 still leads the way.

The other notable thing about the Windows Phone is the Metro Interface. It was really designed with the small screen in mind. From the live tiles to the larger fonts, it is a lot easier to use on a small screen. Much less squinting.

With Nokia launching their own Windows Phone devices, the world will finally get a better look at Metro and Hubs, and I think they will like what they see. I think this places Nokia on the road to recovery, boosts the visibility of Windows Phone devices of other manufacturers, and puts Windows Phone back in the mobile OS map.  For the first time since its launch, I feel certain that Windows Phone 7.5 won't be going away.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Does Apple now think it invented the Apple?

Apple and patent lawsuits is starting to border on the ridiculous. But this one takes that case. reports when a small the owner of a small cafe in Germany, Apfelkind, was trying to register her trademark, she received a letter from Apple sent her a letter from California headquarters last month saying its logo would be damaged by any trademark rights she might win for her apple and that in particular, the choice of the color red, the leaf on the apple stem and the shape of the apple could confuse consumers.

Here are the two marks, you decide:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710

Nokia launched two Windows power smartphones today, the Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710.

The Nokia Lumia 800 takes its place as Nokia new flagship, with a curved 3.7-inch 480 x 800 resolution ClearBlack AMOLED LCD, encased in a stylish black, cyan or magenta case. Inside is a 1.4GHz processor, 512MB or RAM, 16GB of internal storage and maybe its best feature, a 8MP camera with f/2.2 Carl Zeiss Tessar lens with a dual led flash and a dedicated camera button. On paper at least, this should be better than the camera on the Apple iPhone 4S and on any Android phone.

A bit perplexing is the absence of a front camera. That is one feature that distinguishes a Windows Phone 7 device from a Windows Phone 7.5 device.

As with other Windows Phone 7.5 Mango devices, it comes with 25GB of free SkyDrive. Over and above this Nokia added Nokia Drive, a free turn-by-turn voice navigation program. This is the first Windows Phone to come with free turn-by-turn voice navigation. Nokia Drive voice navigation works in the Philippines. Google Maps navigation, found in the Android phones and the iPhone, works here to, but without turn-by-turn voice support.

In addition, Nokia added a new service called Nokia Music with Mix Radio and an ESPN Sports Hub. 

It seems a bit like deja vu, a potentially great camera, free turn-by-turn navigation, but this time instead of a Symbian packing N8, we have a Windows power Lumia 800. Retail price is US$585, which should put it at around Php26,000 to Php28,000 locally. A bit more expensive than we were expecting, but I think this will sell really well here. 

The other phone announced is the was the Nokia Lumia 710 which sports a 3.7-inch 480 x 800 resolution ClearBlack LCD,a 1.4GHz processor, 512MB or RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a 5MP camera. We expect this phone to retail locally at about Php16,000 to Php18,000. 

Well, that's all. Right now Nokia's Windows Phone 7 line-up looks a bit thin. 

Microsoft Android license fees and Apple gestures

As a user of Windows Mobile as far back as 2003 I am not too surprised by the fact that the majority of Android smartphone makers are paying license fees to Microsoft. My first Smartphone had an informational homescreen, easy to identify icons, a file manager and other features I appreciated which became something I looked for in my later phones, whether a Windows, Symbian or Android device. I am not sure what the Microsoft-Android licensing agreements cover,  but I think a long look should be taken before branding it unfair. Microsoft does license. It does not block innovation.

While the Open Source community is all riled up about this, the question is why? Not everything has to be free. 

Apple on the other hand, likes to claim that it invented the innovations which led to todays smartphones. I will let you be the judge of that. Here is a Windows CE based touchscreen phone from 2005.

Here is a review of the Neonode N1m which uses Apple gestures two years before the Apple iPhone.

Apple does not license. It does not want to compete in the open market. It want's to keep prices of technology high.   

If Microsoft and HTC inked a deal, what is wrong with that? Apple, there is plenty of wrong with what they are doing. 

Nokia Windows Phone 7 launch day and a look at this amazing, if somewhat disappointing, month

Today marks our fourth major phone launch this month. The Apple iPhone 4S launch was technologically a disappointment. Four months delayed Apple launched a phone with four month old technology, with performance clocked down 20% from previous product, the iPad 2 launched seven months earlier and and the remainder of technology being from 2010. Together with the iPhone 4S, was iOS5 which incorporated features already found in other operating systems. The phone killer feature, Siri had been largely ignored when it was offered for a variety of iOS devices for over two years, and only became the object of media and user attention now that it was pulled out from the Apple market and made an iPhone 4S exclusive. In other words, the iPhone 4S launch, might impress many, but not those in the know.

Next up was, Motorola who launched their RAZR. It was a less ambitious launch. But in the end, we were left with only one thought in mind. How they they make an LTE phone so thin. Motorola had really only one new thing to show, but 7.1mm thick was amazing enough to be one new thing. If Google had launched Ice Cream Sandwich on this device, it may have been more interesting than the Google-Samsung launch the next day.

In fairness the Google-Samsung Nexus phone launch would be impressive to many, the phone is definitely cutting edge. But to those who already saw the announcement LG Optimus LTE LU6200 of the Samsung Galaxy S II HD the previous month in Korea, the  Google Galaxy Nexus really did not bring anything all that new to the table. The Optimus LTE LU6200 and the Galaxy S II HD already having large 720p screens and 1.5GHz dual core processors. Actually, this phones have features that the Galaxy Nexus do not have like  a MicroSD card slow and USB-on-the-Go. 

As for Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. It really incorporates many features already available in other manufacturer customized ROMs and actually takes Android in the same direction as Windows Phone 7. To those in the know, well we have seen that before. 

Now it is time for Nokia. The operating system, Windows Phone 7.5 was already launched a month ago, so we are not expecting too many surprises in this department. Windows Phone 7.5 has strict design specifications and hardware support limitations so you know what you will be seeing will have the following:
  • 480 x 800 screen resolution, which would limit the screen sizes to what is feasible under these resolutions 
  • 800MHz to 1.5GHz processor
  • 8GB of internal storage of higher
  • 5MP or higher camera
Given it is a Nokia, we can expect the crisp and clear AMOLED or clear black displays, excellent OVI (now Nokia) Maps with its offline voice guided turn-by-turn navigation (which is voice guided in many more countries than Google Maps) and a bit of Carl-Zeiss magic in their camera. We would not even be surprised to see a QWERTY slider too. 

No, Nokia really cannot "WOW" us with the hardware or the software.

The software is the best mobile phone operating system in terms of interface. It really works on a small screen, and yes even 4.65-inches is a small screen. It is an integrated operating system, not one that basically makes you jump from app to app. Its lack of market share has been due to many factors, but not because the operating system is not up to snuff.

What Nokia needs to do is not really impress the public with anyone one product but launched a whole now line-up covering a wide cross section of the smartphone market and announce "Nokia is back" and Windows Phone 7 is here to stay. Than get the phones out in the market now, meaning by November, starting with Europe, China, India and South East Asia.

That is all Nokia really has to do. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why you won't be reading about Sony-Ericsson Xperia's here anymore

We got this sad piece of information from TechCrunch: Sony Ericsson Forces A Fan Site Into Submission.

Sony Ericsson has sued two Sony Xperia fan sites, and  The owner of the sites has decided not to fight the issue out, after for most of us this is a hobby. Here is his statement:

It is with great sadness that we have to bring you the news that this will be the last post on this website. Sony Ericsson has filed a formal complaint about the use of the trademarked ‘Xperia’ name in our domain name and have requested that the domain names, including that of, be transferred to them. 
Sony Ericsson is alleging that we have used the domain names in “bad faith”. We are stunned and disappointed that Sony Ericsson, a company that we have spent much of our free personal time in promoting, especially the Xperia brand, has decided to take this formal action against us. After all we are just like you, passionate Sony Ericsson users, who have strived to bring the community breaking news and an independent viewpoint. 
We do not have the resources to fight Sony Ericsson on this and therefore this is the last you will hear from us. Sony Ericsson has made great strides in its Xperia portfolio, especially in listening to the community. This makes it all the more confusing as to why Sony Ericsson would want to shut us down. We genuinely believe that 2012 could be a bumper year for the company, we just wish we could have been there along for the ride. 
All the best. 

If Sony-Ericsson is not fond of the free publicity it gets from blogs and fan sites, I am very willing to accommodate them. We wont be using the word Xperia in this blog after this article, hence we wont be covering any products which have that as part of its name.

Imagine Apple sued sites it numerous fan sites which use the word Apple or Mac as part of their name or if Google sued the fan sites and forums that use Android as part of their name.

Update. and are back!
We are delighted to report that we have come to an agreement with Sony Ericsson that means our two affected blogs ( and will remain open. The downtime we have experienced since October 18th was unfortunate but necessary whilst we were in communication with Sony Ericsson to resolve this matter.

Sony Ericsson contacted us to let us know that it appreciates our support of its products and the efforts we have put into developing these blogs. They also appreciate the engagement of blogs like these and consumers who visit these sites. Sony Ericsson dropped the initial complaint and we have instead reached an agreement so that we can keep the domain names and continue to work on the site. Just to reassure you, there will be no change to our editorial independence under this arrangement. We will continue to give you our honest opinion about Sony Ericsson’s strategy and its smartphones.
Alls well that ends well.

Apple updates it MacBook Pro line-up

Apple has updated it MacBook Pro line-up without much fanfare. The 13-inch MacBook Pro now comes in 2.4GHz and 2.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, as opposed to the previous line up of 2.2GHz and 2.4GHz. Prices are the same. Storage has also been increased from 320GB or 500GB to 500GB and 750GB. The 13-inch model is the one of interest to readers of this site.

We were hoping Apple would trim the weight of its 13-inch MacBook Pro, which at 4.6 pounds feels a bit heavy compared to its direct competitor the 3.8 pound Sony Vaio SB.

The 15-inch and 17-inch MacBooks Pro's have also received processor and storage upgrades, as well as faster graphics, all at the same price. 

HTC partners with Dropbox to give 5GB of online storage to HTC Androidphones

HTC has entered into a partnership with Dropbox to give 5GB of online storage to HTC Android phones. HTC posted this on their Facebook page. I am not sure if this offer only applies to new HTC devices or even older HTC Android phones.

Dropbox provide free online storage to all Android, BlackBerry and iOS devices, although only 2GB free storage is given. You can earn additional storage by completing some tasks or referring other users to get up to 10GB.

HTC Windows Phone 7 devices do not get this. Dropbox does not have a Windows Phone 7 app. Windows Phone 7 devices do have 25GB of Skydrive storage, but it is not the same thing as having Dropbox storage.

Dropbox syncs your offline files to online storage whenever you have an internet connection. If you have several desktops or laptops it will sync your files across your devices. You can also share files to other Dropbox users. You can also access your online files via any web browser. Dropbox works across multiple platforms which include Windows, Mac OSX and Linux making even it more useful.

Basically, Skydrive only allows you to upload files, and share what you uploaded.

Smart Communications now has 1,200 HSPA+ 42.2 mbps site in 120 cities and municipalities

Contrary to earlier reports that Smart Communications will be rolling out an LTE network, Smart Communications has confirmed that is has now 1,200 HSPA+ 42.2 mpbs towers in 120 cities in municipalities in the Philippines. The roll is being done rapidly. Smart Communications having increased the number of HSPA+ 42.2 mbps towers from 500 towers last month to 1,200 towers today.

I am not sure what has happened to Smart Communications plan to deploy a LTE  network. The advantage of a HSPA+ network is the technology is backwards compatible to 3G networks. LTE on the other hand promises 100 mbps download speeds. 

What phones can take advantage of these new speeds? There are still no HSPA+42.2 mbps phones.

a) Most 2010 phones like the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S support HSPA 7.2 mbps.

b) Some late 2010 phones, like HTC's Desire HD, and most 2011 phones like the HTC Sensation and Desire S support HSPA+ 14.4 mbps. The new Apple iPhone 4S also supports HSPA+ 14.4 mbps.

c) The Samsung Galaxy S II supports HSPA+ 21.1 mbps.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two new HTC phones in the Philippines

Two new HTC phones have hit the Philippine shores. The first is the Android powered HTC Sensation XE. The Sensation XE is nearly identical to the original Sensation. As near as we can tell the only differences are but for the Beats logo and red back lighting of the for hardware buttons. Yes, the Beat logo also does mean it is bundled with Beats earphones.  

The processor speed has been beefed up to from a dual core 1.2GHz processor to a dual core 1.5GHz unit. The battery has been beefed up to 1730mAh from 1530mAh. CMK Cellphones list the retail price at Php26,600. This is Php2,100 more than the original model. Beats audio, faster processor and a larger battery certainly make it worthwhile buying the Sensation XE instead.

The other phone released by HTC is their new entry level Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" device. The radar. It looks like it is a replacement for their previous entry level phone, the HTC Thropy which has a improved 5MP camera and adds a front cam. The price is a very reasonable Php18,200 for what it offers, having a 480 x 800 resolution 3.8-inch screen, 1GHz processor and 8GB of internal storage. Windows Phone 7.5 can start to go mainstream with lower cost devices like this.  

I hope the HTC Titan finds its way to the Philippines.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Groups: Managing the influx of social information intelligently

One strong feature of the HTC Sense UI found on its Android devices is it proprietary people app. To get it working the way it is meant to you link your contacts with their social network profiles. Basically, Grace Kelly in my Phone is the same person as Princess Grace on Facebook and is Gracelyn Kelly on LinkedIn and @Gracie in Twitter. HTC Sense will suggest to you relevant links, and when it does not find a connection, you can link the account manually.

Your contacts can also be segregated into groups. The end result is aggregating all of a persons calls, messages and social networking post in one place, and being able to segregate people into different groups and in this way better be able to filter through the growing amount of information getting thrown our way.

As great as this system is, well, HTC builds a UI over Android, and having it baked into the operating system takes the experience to a whole new level.

Windows Phone 7 built into its operating system a People Hub, which basically does what HTC People app does, and adds more functionality.  Rather than describe it, I suggest you watch these videos:

HTC's implementation is great at collecting and filtering information, but because of limitations to what a user interface could do, replying to post and messages still had to be done in separate apps. Windows Phone 7 implementation allows to pretty much do everything from the People Hub.

Android has gone the same direction with Ice Cream Sandwich, and Contacts has been replaced by People. Basically, it expands functionality of HTC's People app (or some might say copied Windows Phone 7 people Hub depending on ones point of view) to include the ability to share, retweet and reply without having to go into a separate app 

I want to get a first hand look before saying anything more. Notably though, if you are a Google+ user, neither HTC's People app or Windows Phone 7 people Hub integrate Google+ yet.

iOS 5 started heading in this same direction, with integration being limited to Twitter at this point. I suspect we will be seeing People go to iOS with iOS 6.

Well, they are not called smarthpones for nothing.

Windows Phone 7 - The Nokia reboot coming soon

Apple's iOS 5 integrates features better Twitter integration. Android's Ice Cream Sandwich updates it's Contacts app to People. In reality, both operating systems are playing catch-up. Apple has a long way to go. Ice Cream Sandwich is knocking on Windows Phone 7 door.

Windows Phone 7 has always been activity-centered rather than app-centered. It created a concept of  hubs where you focus on an activity like "people" or "pictures" rather than what app would I need to post a message to Jane Doe on LinkIn or what app should I use to upload a picture to Facebook. In fairness, Android user interface like HTC Sense. 

HTC Sense integrated Twitter, Facebook, LinkIn, Flickr, Plurk and Twitter into your People and Friend Stream apps long before Windows Phone 7 came out. If you were wondering why so many people like HTC's Sense, well it is mainly the way it links you contacts across all the services you actually use to contact that person, and does everything under a common looking interface.  Still it is not as good as baking it into the OS. That is what Windows Phone 7 did. 

About eleven months ago, I saw my first Windows Phone 7 device, and I liked it a lot. Other then the People hub there are a lot of smart innovations on Windows Phone 7. iOS 5 requires you focus on 20 elements on screen at a given time without giving you any relevant information without having to open an app. In fairness iOS 5 has now added two non-customizable widgets and Android like notifications which greatly improves the operating system. 

Android has its informative widgets which can be pleasing to use in well integrated systems like HTC Sense, or can become like a cluttered desktop when you start using widgets from different apps which display things and operate in different ways.

Windows Phone 7 created a Live Tile system, where which basically limits you to having focus at between 4 to 8 elements at a time, and basically integrates the concept of an Icon and a Widget. Still a lot of work to be done, but it does strike a nice balance between simplicity and complexity. 

What Windows Phone 7 lacks is up to date hardware support. Like Apple's iPhone, you won't see any true 4G Windows phones this year. Windows Phone 7 also does not support screen resolutions higher than 480 x 800. Windows Phone 7 also does not support dual core processing, which means no 1080p  video recording and playback. There is nothing that can be done about that. 

In a few days time, we will see the Windows Phone 7 operating system gets it second public launch.  While Windows Phone 7 launched a year ago, many people do not even know it exists. The mistake Microsoft made last year was not getting phones into the hands of consumers.

When the first Windows Phone 7 device came out in the Philippines last year, the HTC 7 Mozart it was priced at the same level as Apple's iPhone. As you can expect, adopting was slow, almost to the point of non-existence. In eleven months I do now know anyone personally who own a Windows Phone 7 device. As against HTC's own Android offerings, it was priced at the same level as  the HTC Desire HD (at least locally) which has a larger screen, supported faster 3G connectivity and Angry Birds. I know it is a small thing, but did you really want to buy a phone in 2010 that could not run Angry Birds?

It is a year later. Nokia is set to launch its first Windows Phone 7 device, and really no one cares about the fact that it is a Microsoft Windows Phone 7 device. When Nokia launches it new phone people will be looking at the new Nokia phone. I have no doubt they will be amazed by the operating system. The hardware will be underwhelming mainly for lack of dual core and higher screen resolution support.

What will make or break this re-launch is price. If the Nokia 800's price bumps heads with the  iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S II, it will be a repeat of last year. No doubt, many will buy it simply because it is the best Nokia Phone in the market. 

But if Nokia, and Microsoft get together, and place it at price point where is challenges phones like the HTC Desire S, Apple iPhone 4 or LG Optimus Black, I think it will sell like hotcakes in Nokia's bailiwick markets.

Basically, Nokia, and Microsoft needs to get the prices of the phones right, even if they have to subsidize handset costs. Nokia and Microsoft needs to get Windows Phone 7 devices into actual peoples hands. It is only in this way that people will finally get to see what is probably the best mobile phone operating system in the world. It really could be their last chance. Google's Ice Cream Sandwich will be on phone in the market in a month and will be common place by the first quarter of next year. And, yes Android has pretty much caught up on Windows strengths, and has features that Windows Phone 7 still cannot touch.   

Well, just a few days to go to find out whether mobile will be a three horse race (yup am counting BlackBerry out) or whether it is time to write the epitaph for Windows Phone 7 and Nokia.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dual Sim Droid: Lenovo A60

There is a lot to like about the new Lenovo A60. The Lenovo A60 is a entry Android powered phone running. But is as good as a budget phone can get. First, A60 costs Php7,700. At that price you would not expect too much. But that is not the case with the A60. It could have been priced 50% more and it would still have been considered reasonably priced.

The A60 runs Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread making it a current phone and up to date phone. It is not a 2010 model or early 2011 being flogged on the Philippine market.  You wont be seeing newer Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phones for two or three months yet, and you wont be seeing them at the A60's price point for a very long time.

Second, the A60 has a 3.5-inch screen which is a pretty good size, being the same size as the screen even on the latest Apple iPhone 4S, and it has a decent 320 x 480 screen resolution which is the same as 3.5-inch screen phones more phone that cost twice as much  like the Apple iPhone 3GS or the Samsung Galaxy Ace. Yup, it is capacitative and supports multi-touch 

Third it is a dual SIM phone. Yup, it supports to SIM cards. It is the first phone from a "major" manufacturer that supports dual SIM cards. We have to qualify this with the fact that Lenvo is new in the mobile phone business, bit still it is unlikely they would intentionally allow their name to be placed on a poor quality product.  

The phone only comes with a 3.2MP primary camera and a VGA secondary camera, but at this price range you really do not expect anything better. On the processing side, it comes with a 650MHz MT6573 processor, 256MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM with a MicroSD card slow and a 2GB MicroSD card provided. Nothing great, but again on par with other phones in the price range, except for the amount of RAM. These days we would like to see  a bit more RAM.

Going past that it does have HSDPA connectivity, WiFi, GPS, a gravity sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor and FM radio. Inside is a big 1500 mAh battery. So, we are all waiting for the catch. Well, if anything it is that we have never used a phone with the MT6573 processor, but it does seem to be a current enough platform and it does have a graphics processing unit. The other drawback is Lenovo is new in mobile phones. Maybe there is no catch.

But look at is this way, at Php7,700 the phone matches the specifications of its competitors, and it is like Lenovo threw in the larger screen and dual SIM capability for free. So if we were going to take a chance on a unknown quantity, this would be a very good bet.

Top of the AMD E-450 class: Asus Eee PC 1215B

Asus popular 12.1-inch, 1215 chassis which has been home to a variety of Intel and AMD chips over the past two years. A few months ago, we saw this get the AMD C-50 Fusion APU. This basically gave it netbook like performance with boosted graphics capabilities. Now, finally gets what many have been hoping for: a AMD Fusion E-450 APU. This gives it the power of a true ultraportable laptop. The Asus Eee PC 1215B AMD E-450 also comes with USB 3.0, and a large 6-cell battery (Update: Some Asus Eee PC 1215B's do not come with a USB 3.0 port)

These specifications put the Asus Eee PC 1215B E-450 ahead of the popular HP Pavillion DM1, our own personal favorite, the Sony Vaio YB, and the most portable of the three, Samsung Series 3. It is the only one of the four to support USB 3.0 which is ten times faster than USB 2.0. The battery of the Asus Eee PC 1215B E-450 is also 20%-50% larger than its three competitors.

The other AMD E-450 ultraportables have 11.6-inch screens. The Asus Eee PC 1215B E-450 has a larger 12.1-inch (1366 x 768) screen, so it weighs in 3.2 pounds, which is actually the same as the smaller Sony Vaio YB and is lighther than the HP Pavillion DM-1. The Samsung is still the lightest at 2.7 pounds.

The other specifications are what you expect, 2GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, built in card reader and HDMI out. Priced at Php21,450 it is also wont cost you more than its HP, Sony and Samsung competition.

The only letdown is the operating system. The Asus Eee PC 1215B E-450 comes with Windows 7 Starter, like the Sony Vaio YB. The HP Pavillion DM-1 and the Samsung Series 3, come with the more feature filled Windows 7 Home Basic.

Still, if you are looking for a small, inexpensive 11 to 12 inch laptop, Asus Eee PC 1215B E-450 is the one to get.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why the Apple iPhone 4S gives the Nokia Sun a chance

iPhone. A few weeks ago the iPhone 4S arrived, and there was general disappointment as it did not meet a lot of the expectations. Still it was a solid upgrade bringing a dual core 800MHz processor, more powerful graphics processing unit, and a much improved Sony built 8MP camera.  What seems to have caused the most excitement is SIRI, a virtual assistant software that allows you to manipulate your phone using your voice. I am not too sure I am too excited about this part.

One thing people were expecting was a newer sleeker case. In truth the iPhone did need some kind of upgrade to its case, even if they did not change the appearance. The iPhone 4 case was a bit on the fragile side, and the same is true for the nearly identical iPhone 4S case. How fragile, watch the video in this link.

iPhone 3GS owners waiting for whose two year contracts have ended will be satisfied enough upgrading to this unit, or even to an iPhone 4 which is really worlds away from the iPhone 3GS..

For iPhone 4 owners, well it is probably better to wait. There really are no worthwhile apps that wont run on the older iPhone 4, so while the iPhone 4S is faster, it really wont make much of a difference. For now, the only real major advantage of the dual core processor on the iPhone 4S is 1080p video recording.

The iPhone 4S features HSDPA 14.4 which is an outdated standard. This will not maximize either the HSDPA+ 21.1 mbps network Globe Telecom is rolling out or Smart Communications recently unveiled LTE network. Finally, by the time we see the iPhone 4S in the Philippines it will be December, and I do expect to see an iPhone 5 by June 2012. That will be a more substantial upgrade,

Nexus. Earlier this week, the Google Galaxy Nexus arrived, and this one met people expectations. Many were hoping for 300MHz more and 3 megapixels more on the camera, but really no software out today really needs anything even close to the power provided by its 1.2GHz dual core processor. The 5MP camera, is really up to par with most of the 8MP camera's you will find on other phones. It will come in both HSDPA+ 21.1 and LTE versions. And really, with the 4.65 inch 720p HD screen (720 x 1280) Super AMOLED screen, you could pretty much put anything under the hood and people probably would not have noticed. That is one amazing display. The new version of Android which this phone launched, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) also did not  disappoint.

Sun. In a weeks time, it is Nokia turn. Nokia flagship will be the Nokia 800, or the Nokia Sun. It will be built on the same case as the Nokia N9, which is a good thing because every review of it I have read has praised the case and build quality and it looks really nice.

Specifications wise, this phone wont be anywhere near Apple's iPhone 4S or Google Galaxy Nexus. Nokia's first Windows Phone, will run a single core processor clocked at 1.4GHz. Being single core it cannot do 1080p video recording and playback. Like the iPhone 4S there is no HSDPA+ 21,1 mbps or LTE option. The screen is a relatively small, by todays standards 3.7-inch screen, and the resolution is still limited to 480 x 800 in a world of HD, quarter HD and retina displays. It will be a AMOLED display though.

Nokia finally has some luck it seems. A Nokia 800 will appear Jurassic to a hardware junkie. Put it beside a six month old or Samsing Galaxy S II or and HTC Sensation and the N800 looks like it was obsolete even before release. Never mind comparing it to the latest Google Galaxy Nexus phone. Buyers who focus on hardware, and power users who like to customize and have more control over their software, will find much more to like in an Android phone.

Put beside the iPhone 4S or smaller Android, it actually looks pretty good. While the iPhone 4S has a 800MHz dual core processor, the faster 1.4GHz clock speed will convince many that the Nokia Sun is just as fast. The Nokia Sun's 480 x 800 screen resolution is lower than the 640 x 960 screen of the iPhone 4S. But the Nokia Sun does have a larger screen (just 0.2 inches) and it is an AMOLED display. People comparing the two side by side will probably find both to their liking, or find them two small in which case they will go to an Android.

Nokia is known for having excellent cameras on their phones. The Nokia Sun will have a 8MP like the iPhone 4S. But with with Carl Zeiss optics, a better f/2.2 lens aperture and a dual led flash it actually should have a better camera, at least on paper.

For the operating system, it comes with Windows Phone 7. This operating system has been written off by many who probably never really tried it. People will comes out to take a look at the new Nokia offering. They will finally get a real close look at Windows Phone 7, and there is a lot to like about Windows Phone 7.

So, Nokia has some luck. Those in the market for the monster Droid's are not like to get interested. Depending on pricing and carrier subsidies, the Nokia Sun might compete against mid-level Android like the HTC Desire S and LG Optimus Black. Against those phones, the Nokia Sun actually has more impressive specifications.

On the other hand, those contemplating something like an iPhone, would be given some reason for pause. A all new killer Apple iPhone 5 would have been a knockout blow for Nokia Sun and Windows Phone 7. With the less than stellar iPhone 4S, Nokia has a chance especially in the important markets of China and India. I do suspect the Nokia Sun will do very well in the Philippines. Apple SIRI is pretty much useless in those markets.

With live tiles, and a tightly integrated social networking I for one, certainly like it more than an iPhone. A large 4+ inch version of the Nokia Sun would probably convince me to put down my Android.

Dropbox: Simplifying your life in a multi-device world

When I think of the most important apps I have installed on my Android phone, outside of the basic call and SMS functions. The Gmail app quickly comes to mind. I can not only send and receive email on it, I can search the through the several thousand emails stored on Google's serves. And syncs my contacts and calendar to my Gmail account too. 

HTC's FriendStream is another. It can keep you Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Plurk updates all in one place.  

Than there is Dropbox. Victoria Barret of Forbes wrote an article about Dropbox. I am writing this post, mainly to thank Dropbox for the service they have given me. I am one of their non-paying clients with now 4GB of free storage available to me. This is one way of saying thanks.

I have Dropbox installed on a Linux laptop, a Mac OSX laptop and a Windows laptop. I have it on my Android phone too. Instead of keeping my files in My Documents, I keep them in the Dropbox folder. What does it do. Through an Internet connection it will sync the files in the in the Dropbox folder so that in every computer I have, all my files are the same.

Lets say I create a word document in my Linux laptop. When I save it, the file will be saved on my hard disk and on Dropbox's server. Later when I open my Mac OSX laptop, the Dropbox app will connect to the Net and compare the contents of Dropbox folder on my Mac to the contents of my Dropbox account online. Detecting a new file it will download it on my Mac. When I modify the document, it will later update my Linux or Windwos machines, when I turn those on. Basically, it keeps a copy of your files on the hard drive and on the Dropbox server.   

From my Android phone I can access my Dropbox account, and download from and upload files to it. If I did not have any of my devices, I could access my files on Dropbox through any web browser. 

Dropbox gives you 2.25GB of online storage free, and you can earn up to 8GB more by completing tasks or making referrals. You can also buy more online storage. 

Apparently, Dropbox was at least part of the inspiration for Apple's iCloud. Even if you are an iOS user, I would recommend you use Dropbox instead. This gives you the option to use different devices.  Dropbox works on Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and BlackBerry. iCloud only supports Apple devices and has very limited functionality on Windows. So unless you are sure you are never leaving the Apple ecosystem or mix Apple and non-Apple devices, Dropbox is a more portable choice.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 - The best tablet option?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is now available in the Philippines. Two versions are available:

16GB, WiFi & 3G - Php24,500
32GB, WiFi & 3G - Php30,000

These prices make it the cheapest dual-core 3G capable tablet in the Philippines. Hardware wise, we also think it could the best, depending on your needs. 

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 has the specifications of you basic Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) dual core tablet. It has a 800 x 1280 screen, a dual core 1GHz processor on a Tegra 2 chipset, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB (non-expandable storage), A-GPS, WiFi,  3G (HSDPA+ 21.1 mbps) and Bluetooth,  connectivity and HDMI and USB connectivity through an adapter. It also comes with two camera's capable of 720p video recording. It also has full phone functionality. So it is the most fully feature tablet in the Philippine market.

What is to like, hardware wise? The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 has a smaller 8.9-inch screen compared to its competitors, but this also gives it a much lighter weight.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 - 453g
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - 560g
Apple iPad 2 - 607g
Acer Iconia - 730g

We also like it best price wise for a 3G tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 16GB, 3G & WiFi - Php24,500
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 16GB, 3G & WiFi - Php27,500
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 16GB, 3G & WiFi - Php30,000
Apple iPad 2 16GB, 3G & WiFi - Php30.990
Apple iPad 2 16GB, 3G & WiFi - Php35.990

Smaller but still substantial screen, in exchange for the lighter weight seems to be worth it. It is 15% lighter than its bigger brother, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 25% lighter than the Apple iPad 2. 

Ultimately, 10-inch tablets are used on tables the same way we use netbooks and laptops. If used a tablet on a table, I really would much rather use a laptop. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is a more mobile device. Something which is easier to use in hand than its larger 10.1-inch siblings.

With Ice Cream Sandwich having been launched, more and more Android apps will be optimized for 720p screens. It could be the right time for an Android tablet.

Would I buy it? Well no. I do not feel the need for 3G on a tablet. I already have it on my phone. Basically, I would rather not have to maintain a second line. Since I do not appreciate 3G, than things like Apple iPad 2 16GB WiFi only version is still a cheaper option at Php23,990. I also do not need full phone functionality on a tablet, so that score no points we me either.

Second, I do not like being an early adopter. Ice Cream Sandwich has been launched so more and more Android apps will be optimized for 720p screens, but I will have to wait for those. Apple has 100,000 tablet optimized apps now, though they usually cost twice as much as iPhone apps.

So it is a hard choice. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is compelling hardware wise and there are more free apps on the Android Market. It is both a tablet and a phone is that is important for some buyers. But for a pure tablet, Apple iPad's are still the safer bet. For Php24.5K, I would not want to be an early adopter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Android 4.0, a.k.a as Ice Cream Sandwich, is here

Ice Cream Sandwich. The most significant thing about the Google Galaxy Nexus launch was the operating system. Android 4.0, a.k.a as Ice Cream Sandwich is here.

The most noticeable thing about Ice Cream Sandwich is that it eliminate the four standard hardware  in favor of adaptable software buttons.  You next Android is likely to have a power button, volume rocker and a screen. That is it. 

Changes were as made to the font, optimizing it for HD displays, there is improved the keyboard, notifications are now more interactive and widgets will now be resizable. Speech to text has been improved.

The user interface is not also hardware accelerated, but you are not too likely to feel this. Since all phones these days already have a GPU, Google decide it was time to no longer support phone without one I guess.

There is a new option for unlock the phone. You can use Face Unlock which uses state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to unlock your phone with nothing more than a smile. Also new is Android Beam, which uses near field communication (NFC) to instantly share webpages, YouTube videos, maps, directions and apps by simply tapping two phones together. There is also a Data management figure, which will give you information on data usage and even disable data at a preset cap. Really useful in this days of volume data caps.

There also improvements to the stock web browser which Google claims is significantly faster. What is clear is that it features a refined tab manager and has the  ability to sync your bookmarks with the Google Chrome browser on your desktop. The Gmail and Calendar  client were improve. You can can pinch and zoom in you Calendar.

Than there is the new People app, which combines high-resolution photos and updates from Google+ and other social services. The camera app now allows you to edit pictures and share them directly from your phone.

Like you we will wait for a full an comprehensive review, but this is what you probably want to know for now.

Is it coming to older phones? Yes, the Google Nexus S will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich. So other phone with similar or better specifications could be getting it too.

Are these features all really new. My phone already has those features. If you use a HTC phone with HTC sense, a lot of the features like the new People app and its social networking integration and the built in photo editor and direct sharing features on your phone are already part of HTC Sense. That is not the case for other phones.

I have a bad feeling since HTC UI is so deeply integrated into Android they may have have the hardest time porting their UI to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Lets wait for the major sites to review Ice Cream Sandwich and see how it fares. For now, this will have to do.

Google Galaxy Nexus

Google Galaxy Nexus
Nexus phone. When you look at a Google Nexus phone release, you have to look at in two ways. As a phone in itself, but also as a reference design for thing to come. In January 2010, the Google Nexus One set the standard for Android what would be considered a high-end Android phone. In December 2010, the Google Nexus S became a reference design for a mid-level Android phone. 

Google Nexus One
To many, the Google Nexus S was a disappointing, but today, it seems is purpose is clear. The Google Nexus S serve as a baseline for what kind of phone could maximize Android 2.3, a.k.a Gingerbread's, capabilities, and now after almost a year, it serves as a baseline for what types of phones will can upgraded to Android 4.0. More on that in our Ice Cream Sandwich article. In the same way, the Google Nexus One, was upgraded to the software for the Google Nexus S.
Google Nexus S

In short, a Google Nexus design shows you what type of phone will be supported by the latest upgrade for at least 18 months, the period that Google is committing its designs the latest and the best. 

Google Galaxy Nexus. It does not seem that the keeping the phone specifications secret was all that important to Google. Even before the even started earlier today they handed out press kits with the following specifications listed:
  • - HSPA+ or 4G LTE, depending on region
  • - 1.2GHz dualcore processor
  • - 4.65 inch 720p HD Super AMOLED display
  • - Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • - 5mp autofocus camera with LED flash, autofocus, no shutter lag and fast shot2shot
  • - 1080p HD playback and recording at 30 FPS
  • - Bluetooth 3.0
  • - USB 2.0
  • - WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • - NFC chip
  • - Accelerometer, compass, gyro, light and proximity sensors, barometer
  • - 1GB of RAM
  • - 16GB or 32GB internal storage
  • - 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.94 mm, 135 grams
  • - 1,750 mAh li-ion battery

We first saw this on Phandroid, half an our before the phone was officially announced. And, no these were not leaks.

The specifications were are expected except that we get a 1.2 GHz dual core processor instead of the 1.5 GHz processor mentioned in some "leaks". The camera is also a 5MP unit, instead of the rumored 8MP unit. The camera is probably the biggest disappointment. While higher megapixels do not guaranty better performance, from a marketing standpoint megapixels mean a lot. I would have crammed an 8MP camera there if I was in charge designing this unit. It is just easier to explain to consumers, that "more megapixels means better image quality".

Full screen 720p playback. No black line on the top and bottom for HD content.
LG and a Samsung phone announced for the  Korean in September 2011 new phones with 720p screens For the rest of the world, these 720p screens on a phone is new.  Every owner of a large Droid owner will probably envy the 4.65 inch 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display, and suffer from Galaxy Nexus envy for awhile (when they finally buy their own 720p phone). Because of the display alone, this phone will not be a disappointment.

The Galaxy Nexus also has a barometer, although right now I do not know why. The star of the show really was not the Galaxy Nexus, but Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich.

Motorola Droid RAZR - The RAZR is back

Given Motorola's ill-fated re-entry in the Philippine in 2010, we do not expect to see the new Motorola Droid RAZR from an authorized distributor. But like the Defy, Atrix and Xoom we do expect to see some to land on the shelves of retail stores.

Why are we so interested in this phone. Mainly because Motorola has the audacity to launch their new device a day before the launch of the Google Nexus Prime. Sascha Segan of PC Magazine reports the Eric Schmidt of Google is at the event peaking our interest even more. 

And here it is...

As expected, more or less, the specifications are -
  • Android Operating System
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED qHD Gorilla Glass display 
  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor, PowerVR SGX540GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 32GB storage: 16GB internal storage + MicroSD card slot with 16GB MicroSD card included
  • 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, 2MP front cam
  • 4G LTE
  • HDMI, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1800 mAh battery.
  • Motorola Lapdock compatible
  • Sync with the new MOTOACTV (A new Nano type wristwatch/media player/fitness device) 

Interestingly, Motorola made the phone water resistant. It also features a new service called MOTOCAST, which syncs the phone with the PC. Motorola calls it your personal cloud. 

Now here is the shocker... 7.1 mm thin and 120 grams. PC Magazine has an article how Motorola's engineers made the RAZR so thin.

This is the kind of phone we need on Smart Communications new 4G LTE network. THE RAZR IS BACK

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Around the web: Smartphone stuff

PCWorld has an in-dept look at the best camera's in today top of the line smartphones in its article entitled Smartphone Camera Battle: iPhone 4S vs. the Android Elite. A bit of a spoiler, the iPhone 4S camera is one solid update. Engagdet has another iPhone 4S camera test at this link. What we noticed more in the test was doing camera tasks, the iPhone 4S has less battery life than the older iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Yugatech writes that Siri, one of iPhone 4S new features has limited support in the Philippines. In fairness Apple said Siri is still in Beta, but its still an interesting read.

More interesting Yugatech reports, Lenovo has entered the smartphone arena with a Php7,990 Android phone. Nothing very impressive but at that price is has a decent 320 x 480 resolution 3.5-inch screen.

Phone Arena has a overview of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. Might be the best mobile operating system for the typical user... problem is most people don't even know it exits.

Found a review of the HTC Titan on FoneHome. Objectively, I cannot say it is the best choice, but I want one. The coming Google Nexus Prime will have a 4.65-inch screen, with 0.15-0.25 inches being taken up by the "Honeycomb" buttons which will be located on the screen. The Titan has a 4.7-inch screen, with the capacitative buttons under the screen. If you like big screens, this is the biggest that does not look more like a mini-tablet. 

Google Translate for Android continues to develop its experimental feature that allows two people to converse in real-time, with both speaking in their native language. Conversation mode already supported English and Spanish, but this week gained a dozen new languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and Turkish. A interesting video can be found in this link.

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