Thursday, February 3, 2011

Smart Communications: Every phone a smartphone?

I remember two years ago thinking that feature phones were getting so good, that one day we would not need smartphones. I was dead wrong. Mainly, it is because I did not understand apps. My smartphone was a phone, calendar, notepad and my secondary email device. Who thought smartphones would develop so much that I would transfer more and more of my tasks from my laptop to the smartphone. More importantly, who thought they would become so inexpensive. 

Basically, a feature phone is like an appliance. It has a list of things it can do, and it is limited to that. A smartphone can accept new software, or apps, and can there functions can be expanded and expanded. Feature phones have gotten really good, with the latest ones integrating features like social networking. But at the same time, smartphones have become so inexpensive. You can find a whole bunch of smartphones now at the Php6,000 to Php10,000 range. For the Symbian OS, this starts with the Symbian 60 powered Nokia 5250 at about 6K. The deal breaker is not the OS, but the absence of WiFi or 3G. Add 1K more, and you can get the Nokia Symbian 60 powered Nokia 5230 with 3G connectivity. You can also still find Samsung ageing Windows Mobile B7320, which has both WiFi and 3G connectivity at Php6,900 or so. None are great options, but a smartphone for 7K is not bad even if they run on operating systems past the end of their life. 

But smartphones modern smartphones are coming down in price. Samsung Galaxy 5 is a 2.8-inch touchscreen phone powered by Android 2.1. It has good connectivity options, with WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth and a mini USB connector. Suggested retail price is Php9,190, but some comparative shopping can save you a few hundred pesos more. 

Huawei Ideos

Smart Communications is about to up the ante by offering the entry level Huawei Ideos, with specifications similar to the Samsung Galaxy 5, but running the newer Android 2.2 operating system instead. With Android 2.2, it can even act as a WiFi Hotspot (at the cost of the dedicated mobile WiFi modems are being sold today). Smart Communications expects to sell these phones at a price between Php5,000-Php6,000 and offer them with Plans as low a Php500 per month. This will really make a modern smartphones accessible to the public. 

Soon, it looks like feature phones may be relegated to the candy bar and QWERTY messenger devices. Smartphones for all? 

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