Friday, August 31, 2012

Sony Xperia acro S - Armored Droid

The Sony Xperia acro S is a ruggedized version of the Sony Xperia S released earlier this year. With a 4.3-inch 720p display (720 x 1280), which makes it the sharpest display on a smartphone, and a 12 MP camera, the Xperia S was a very impressive Android phone when it because available in February 2012. By the time it was released locally late summer this year, its dual core Qualcomm S3 was not too impressive compared to the like of the newer Qualcomm S4 or Nvidia Tegra 3. As much as Sony tweaked and improved the Qualcomm S3 is was still a 2011 chipset in a 2012 phone. Also, the Xperia S used the older standard four Gingerbread buttons than the new three button Ice Cream Sandwich/Jelly Bean standard. The Xperia S came out of the box with Gingerbread, but it still has  receive the promised Ice Cream Sandwich update. Finally, instead of a HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps radio, you have a HSDPA 14.4 Mbps radio. Given that the local networks do have HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps towers, the faster radio would be welcome. Does the Xperia acro S fix this?

In short, no, yes, yes and no. The Xperia acro S still has the same dual core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm S3 based processor. Even at the Xperia arco S street price of Php24,500 it does look like a great deal with the quad core HTC One X sitting just 1K away.

But the Acro S does get updated Ice Cream Sandwich/Jelly Bean standard capacitative buttons and now does come out of the box with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. For the radio we have the old HSDPA 14.4 Mbps affair. At its current price, well I would lean towards recommending the HTC One X more. 

Its sibling the Xperia S, will cost you 1.5 to 2K less than an Xperia acro S. Would that be a better deal. Well the Xperia acro S does come with a larger 1910 mAh battery as compared to the 1750 mAh unit on the Xperia S. Also the Xperia acro S adds a MicroSD card slot. On the other hand the the Xperia S has more built in storage at 32 GB versus the 16 GB on the Acro S.

In the end the real reason to buy the Xperi acro S is because it is a rugged phone, IP57 certified to be dust and water resistant, and with a reinforced front glass. In the end you should not compare this phone with the HTC One X, Galaxy S III or Xperia S. It is a niche product for those looking for a hihg end rugged smartphone.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Samsung ATIV S - The New Face of Windows Phone

Samsung has officially announced the first Windows 8 Phone ATIV S. It is essentially a Windows Phone 8 version of Samsung's Android powered Galaxy S III. The ATIV S packs a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a 720 x 1280 HD resolution and has Gorilla Glass 2 for protection. Inside is a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. While not a quad-core, this dual core chipset packs the advance Qualcomm Krait processor which allows it to match and even outrun its quad-core competitors.  This is backed up by 1 GB of RAM. At the back, there’s an 8MP primary camera with 1.9MP secondary camera at the front. This a a big phone at 137.2 mm x 70.5 mm x 8.7 mm but it weighs in at just 135 grams. 

Now this is not just a re-skinned Galaxy S III. Samsung has improved its design and allows for a massive 2,300mAh battery to fit in that slim 8.7 mm frame. Connectivity options include HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3 and NFC. I expect an LTE version will also be released.

Internal storage is either 16 GB or 32 GB, but Windows Phone 8 now supports memory expansion slots and the Samsung ATIV S has a microSD card slot to allow expansion of its 16GB or 32GB built-in storage.

Pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed, but I am pretty sure this smartphone will hit the shelves immediately after Microsoft officially releases the Windows Phone 8 in October this year. Expect a price similar to the Galaxy S III.

When the first Windows Phone 7 device launched, they were competitive in terms of hardware, but the software was a bit behind the curve. By the time Windows Phone 7.5 was out, the supported hardware was outdated due to lack of multi-core processor support. With Windows Phone 8 and phones like the ATIV S, the Windows Phone platform fight Apple and the Android world on equal footing.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung officially announced the Samsung Galaxy Note II at IFA in Germany. The new note has a larger 5.5-inch display as compared to the 5.3-inch display of the previous model. But the Galaxy Note II will be easier on the hand being a few millimeters narrower. This is because instead of the 800 x 1280 display on the old Note, the Note II gets a 720 x 1280 display.  This makes the new note taller but a bit narrower.

Like the previous Note, the display is a Super AMOLED display. Those hoping for a Plus display, it looks like that might be a thing of the past.

Physically, the Galaxy Note II takes its design queues from the Galaxy S III. It comes in white and titanium grey.

The Note is all about the S-Pen, and Samsung has improved the S-Pen with the Note II. Samsung has made the S-Pen longer, making it more comfortable to use. The S-Pen now has a rubber tip, to give it a more pen like feel when writing on the slippery glass. Pressure sensitivity is now up to 1024, from 256 of the previous Galaxy Note. This is of interest to those who like to do a little art work on their note. The S-Pen being so important, the Note II will actually warn you if forget leave the S-Pen on a table somewhere and start to walk away.

The Note II has also been given a feature called "Air View" which allows the S-Pen to interact with the UI by hovering over the screen in addition to touch input. This sounds similar to Sony's floating touch technology on the Xperia Sola.

Inside you find the same quad-core Exynos chipset you find in the Galaxy S III, but this one is clocked at a faster 1.6 GHz. RAM is upped to 2 GB. Combined this makes the Note II, Samsung's most powerful handheld device. The battery size has also been increased from 2500 mAh to 3100 mAh.

Its other specifications match the original Note, with an 8MP primary camera, secondary camera 16 GB of internal storage, expandable via a MicroSD slot and HSDPA+ connectivity. My only complaint about the new model is that, it still uses a physical and two dedicated capacitative buttons. 

All-in-all, the new Samsung Galaxy Note II is a significant upgrade from the original Galaxy Note. I expect it to hit Philippine shoes by October, with a price somewhere north of Php35,000.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sony ST21i Xperia tipo - Best Budget Priced Android Phone

You don't expect to get too much for of a smartphone for 8K, but the sony ST21i Xperia tipo plans to change that. For less than Php7,690 (as low as Php7,300 with an official warranty) you get a phone that run Android 4.03 Ice Cream Sandwich. The tipo comes with a 3.2-inch display which is typical for this price range, but are treated to a very decent 320 x 480 pixel resolution. User available internal storage is a very decent 2.5 GB, which expandable via MicroSD card. The battery is a surprisingly large 1500 mAh. 

Its no speed demon with a 800 MHz ARM Cortex A5 processor and 512MB of RAM, but at this price you are not expecting one. The camera is a unimpressive 3.2 MP unit. What else? Its a bit on the chunky side at 13 mm. But hey, for Php7,690 this is really an excellent deal.


Viber Now Has 100 Million Users

VIber, the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and instant messaging app for Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone has broken the 100 million user barrier. Not bad at all, and pretty amazing considering the service has been around for less than two years. Now Viber is going to Symbian S40 feature phones as well as Bada OS too, which will expand it reach further. Right now, 1 in 7 of my contacts is on Viber. 

Viber main rival in this arena is Skype. Vibers main advantage over Skype, even other instant messaging apps is that Viber was designed around the smartphone, while its competition started out on the the PC.

VoIP and instant messaging apps rely on a dedicated user name or your email address. Viber being designed around the mobile phone uses your phone number as you user ID. Instead of having to manually add contacts to Viber, Viber scans your address book and finds all your contacts who are already on Viber. 

Viber also has a small footprint. Unlike most VoIP or instant messaging apps that drain your battery life, VIber sits in your memory as a cached process. Meaning it is stored in the RAM and not running. When a push notification comes for a message or a call, Viber starts up quickly. In my experience, there is no discernible difference using Viber leaving turned on or off.

And yes, you can turn it off, in the Android version. Even if you turn if off, it will start up push notification comes for a message or a call, though a fair bit slower.

It is an amazing app. You should give it a try.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Perfect Handheld Tablet? - Samsung Galaxy Player 5.8

I prefer smaller tablets since I find a tablet useful for us only in situations where I would not want to use a laptop. If I was working on a desk or coffee shop tablet, I would prefer to have a laptop. I do write a lot so a keyboard is something I am not likely to give up. 

While traditional smaller tablets like the 7-inch Galaxy Tabs are small enough for me to thumb-type effectively, their  350 grams or so in weight makes it tiring. For me, the ideal size and weight for a tablet would be in the range of something like Amazon's 6-inch eBook Reader which weighs in at a light 170 grams. 

Samsung launched in Korea a small tablet, named the Samsung Galaxy Player 5.8. As its name indicates, in comes with a 5.8-inch display and weighs in at 220 grams. The Android powered Samsung Galaxy Player 5.8 looks like it will be a low cost devices. This lower cost nature of this device is hinted by it qHD, 540 x 960 pixel resolution, display. The Samsung Galaxy Player 5.8 also comes only with a front facing camera, which should keep the cost down.  Two versions have been released, one with 16 GB of storage, the other with 32 GB. The Samsung Galaxy Player 5.8 comes with a 2500 mAh battery so it should have good battery life. The Android operating system installed is Android 4.04, Ice Cream Sandwhich themed with Samsung's TouchWiz.

How much do I expect the device to cost. Somewhere between the 13K price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 P3110 and the the 10K price of the Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2.

Aesthetically, the devices look like a large Samsung Galaxy S III. An interesting about this is that this seems to confirm that the Samsung Galaxy S III's design will be the template for future Samsung mobile devices. I am guessing, this is what the Samsung Galaxy Note to be unveiled in two days will look like.

Monday, August 27, 2012

SMS Security Flaw Affects only Apple's iPhone and iOS Devices

A week ago,  I wrote about the SMS security flaw discovered on Apple's iPhone which could be used be used to make it appear that the SMS one sender, and when you reply send the SMS to a mobile number different from the one that is displayed on phones screen. 

Apple responded by suggesting the SMS is not a secure form or communication and the flaw was with SMS itself, and suggested using iMessage instead. iMessage is basically an instant messaging application which can be used to communicate with other Apple devices.

"Apple takes security very seriously. When using iMessage instead of SMS, addresses are verified which protects against these kinds of spoofing attacks. One of the limitations of SMS is that it allows messages to be sent with spoofed addresses to any phone, so we urge customers to be extremely careful if they're directed to an unknown website or address over SMS." (Source: Engadget).

Tech Radar, citing a study conducted by security firm AdaptiveMobile found that the flaw is not with SMS in general but limited only to iOS devices. 

"We have tested this issue on Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Symbian phones," said Cathal McDaid, security consultant at AdaptiveMobile, in a statement to CNET, "and most of them simply ignore the 'reply address' field or display both the 'real' originating address and the reply address as per the specification recommendations. 
"The iPhone, so far," he continued, "is the only device which does not comply with these security recommendations."

Instead of suggesting users use iMessage, Apple should simple fix this flaw. Apparently, everyone else has.

Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos S6802

Another dual sim phone has been launched in the Philippines, this time by Samsung in the form of the Galaxy Ace Duos. This Android powered phone has a  3.5-inch display and a decent enough 320 x 480 screen resolution. Available for a price of Php9,590, it generally has decent specifications for its price, with 3 GB of expandable storage and a very decent 5 MP autofocus camera with a led flash. The  other specifications 

There are two issues up front that prevents this phone from being a winner. The 1300 mAh battery is not a deal breaker, but at this price I would have expected a larger 1500 mAh battery. The second issue, it the operating system. This phone runs on Android 2.3, Gingerbread, which is now two generations behind the current version of Android, which is version 4.1, Jelly Bean.

For a little bit more, at Php10,990 you can get the dual SIM Lenovo P700 instead, which comes with a larger and sharper 4-inch display (480 x 800 pixel resolution), Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) out of the box, and which comes with a massive 2500 mAh battery.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Smart LTE Official Launched! Pricing and Coverage.

Smart Communications officially launched its LTE service that it has been testing since last year. The plan is for a high speed broadband only accessible via a Huawei E392 USB modem which comes free as part of the plan.

How fast? Up to 42 Mbps. How much? Well, the price for the plan it a fairly high Php3,500 per month for a total of 10 GB of bandwidth, but that is actual reasonable if you compare it to similar services abroad. Please note, the 10 GB limit covers both upload and download. Over and above the 10GB, you will be charged Php450 per month. It is not clear to me yet how you measure you use.

Click for a larger image

The biggest disappointment is coverage. Right now only 49 locations are covered by LTE. Where there is no LTE you can still connect to HSPA+, HSPA, 3G, EDGE, GPRS towers, which is still chargeable against your 10 GB bandwidth cap.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Apple v. Samsung - Which Patents Infringed

You probably read about Apple's US$1 billion win against Samsung in a US Court. Trying to figures our was was infringe is difficult based on the press coverage. I did find a good article on CNET which breaks it all down. The CNET article has a comprehensive list of which Samsung devices infringe and I suggest you take a look at that article. In brief this is a list of the Apple patents upheld:

Patents -
  • '381 patent - This patent covers "the 'rubber band' effect where a page 'bounces' when a user scrolls to the bottom" and "includes touch-screen actions like dragging documents and multi-touch capabilities like pinch to zoom and twist to rotate."
  • '915 patent - This patent "relates to a device capable of distinguishing between a single-touch scroll operation and a mult-itouch pinch-to-zoom operation."
  • '163 patent - This patent covers behavior like "how you can double-tap a touch screen to enlarge and center portions of Web page, photo, or document." 
  • '305 patent - This one is more ornamental in natures and "centers on a grid of rounded square icons against a black background."
  • Two other hardware patents are covered, the '677 patent and the '087 patent, which covers the appearance of a device. 
Looking at the list in the CNET article on earlier Samsung designs were found to violate the '305, '677 and '087 patents. So on these patents, it looks more like an issue of paying damages more than anything else.

The '381. '915 and '163 patents being upheld are more problematic. While Apple did not invent the touchscreen, it owns a lot of patents covering how they are used which could be problematic for all touchscreen devices to work around.

Update: Apparently, pinch to zoom is not covered in the case.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Google to Launch Three Nexus Phones this Year?

Nexus One from 2010
There was a rumor that Google would be launching five Nexus devices this year. We have already seen the Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus Q streaming media player. Android Noodles reports that the Quarter 4 2012 roadmap for Japan’s Docomo has three different Nexus listed:

Sony Mobile (dual core principle):

  • SO-01E: · Xi · NEXT · NFC-based Xperia (TypeA / B / C)
  • SO-02E: · FOMA · With · NFC Xperia series waterproof (TypeA / B / C) ·
  • SO-03E: Xperia Tablet · Xi · Tablet
  • SO-04E : Xperia NEXUS -Xi-NEXT-NFC (TypeA / B / C) SO-05E: Xperia Walk · FOMA · With · NFC waterproof function (TypeA / B / C) · Walkman
LG :

  • L-01E: Optimus LTE II · Xi · NEXT · NFC (TypeA / B / C)
  • L-02E: Optimus Bright II · FOMA · NEXT · NFC (TypeA / B / C)
  • L-03E: mobile router
  • L-04E: i-mode Mobile · STYLE
  • L-05E: Optimus Tab II · Xi · Tablet
  • Waterproof Optimus it II · Xi · With · Capless: 
  • L-06E
  • L-07E: Optimus? Waterproof and FOMA · With · Capless
  • L-08E: Optimus NEXUS -NFC waterproof · Xi · NEXT · Capless (TypeA / B / C)


  • SC-01E: GALAXY SIIIplus · Xi · NEXT · NFC (TypeA / B) + Felica
  • SC-02E: GALAXY NEXUS II -Xi-NEXT-NFC (TypeA / B / C) 
  • SC-03E: GALAXY TAB II · Xi · Tablet
  • SC-04E: OMNIA · Windows Phone · Xi · NEXT

Looks like we are going to have an interesting last quarter smartphone wise. Unfortunately, HTC is not on the list.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jelly Bean will be coming to the international version of the Samsung Galaxy S III next week

Phone Arena reports that Android 4.1, a.k.a. Jelly Bean, will be coming to the international version of the Samsung Galaxy S III next week.

Android 4.1 makes a lot of substantial updates to Android 4.0.4. 

Here are some of the key changes from the changelog:

  • Blind users can use 'Gesture Mode' to reliably navigate the UI using touch and swipe gestures in combination with speech output.
  • TalkBack, a screenreader for Android, now supports gestures to trigger actions, navigate applications, and traverse text.
  • Browser has improved performance, CPU and memory efficiency. With better performance for animations and HTML5 canvases and an updated JavaScript Engine (V8), pages load faster and feel smoother.
  • Browser now has better HTML5 video support, and has a new user experience. Just touch the video to play and pause, and smoothly transition into and out of fullscreen mode.
  • Calendar is now smoother. Content fades in, animations are sprinkled throughout, and swiping between days is smoother.
  • You can now swipe from the camera viewfinder to quickly review photos you've taken without having to leave the camera app. You can swipe back to the camera viewfinder to start snapping photos again.
  • When taking a photo, a new animation sweeps your photo off the screen. There is now a new paging animation when swiping between photos.
  • You can now enter text in one of 18 new input languages, including Persian, Hindi and Thai. Additional Indic languages Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam are now supported by the platform.
  • You can use custom keyboard input styles for more than 20 languages, with keymaps for QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, and PC styles.
  • Notifications from the same application are grouped together, and the first item is automatically expanded. You can also pinch notifications to expand or collapse them.

Blogging from a Tablet - The Chrome Experience

Blogging from a mobile device has always been difficult. While there is am official Blogger app from Google, for some reason it is not available in my country. I tried doing this a year and a half ago, but the stock browser just could not navigate the Blogger website properly.

Having upgraded my wife's Samsung Galaxy Tab to Android 4.0.4, courtesy of CyanogemMod 9, I decided to give it another go using the Google Chrome browser. 

The Android version of the Google Chrome really is an amazing web browser which gives me full access to Google's Blogger editing tools. Basically, I can pretty much do anything which I could do on my laptop.

I was able to post a hyper link, grab a picture from the web and upload it, justify the margins of my paragraphs... If you have not used Bloggers interface, I guess it is hard to appreciate my amazement. Others can tell me it can be done with other browsers. Yes, it can. It was just so difficult I never bothered to complete a post. Well, now I have.

Well, I have bored you enough.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Buying Music Online from MyMusicStore Philippines

There are several sources from which you can buy music online. I would recommend you try buying from a local outfit, MyMusicStore Philippines

When you visit MyMusicStore's website you will find a nice and cleanly laid out site. You can use the search bar to look for a title, album, or find music by the name of the artist or band. There is also a a top chart list and a list of new singles. When you search for singles you can listen to a short preview just to make sure you are buying is the correct one.
What is really interesting is your payment options. You can use a credit card or PayPal, but you can also pay through a load on a Smart or SmartBro SIM. You can also pay through MyMusicStore Gift Cards.

Okay. So, we decided to buy "The Last Song I Will Write for You" by David Cook for Php35. Loaded up Php60 on my Smart Bro SIM and proceeded to make the purchase. After registering on the site and confirming purchase, a SMS was sent to my tablet with a PIN code. You have 48 hours from receipt of the PIN code to download the song. The song we bought came in a nice 44.1kHz/256kpbs MP3 format. The download was really fast. 

Unlike some other online Music Stores which keep track of your purchases and allow you to re-download songs you bought at any time, so make sure to keep a back-up of what you bought.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sony Xperia S to get De Facto Nexus Status

Jean-Baptiste Queru, Google's top Android Open-Source Tech Dude (well, actually Technical Lead of Google's Android Open Source Project) announced on Google Groups that the Sony Xperia S will be getting updates directly from Google.

Quere said "For a new challenge, I'd like to try to go one step further, and to target some hardware beyond the usual categories. I've added a git project for the Sony LT26, i.e. Xperia S. This seems like a good target: it's a powerful current GSM device, with an unlockable bootloader, from a manufacturer that has always been very friendly to AOSP."

The Sony Xperia S was an interesting device. It had a 4.3-inch 720p display in a market of Android flagship phones with larger 4.7 to 4.8-inch 720p displays. The only spoiler in the package, is that while its competitors came with new for 2012 chipsets, the Nvidia Tegra 3, Qualcomm S4 and Samsung Exynos Quad, the Xperia S came with a dual core Qualcomm S3 which we first saw in the HTC Sensation back in the first half of 2011. All-in-all, the Xperia S is like a sleek car with a mediocre engine under the hood. Still, Sony did a good job with the Qualcomm S3, squeezing out more performance from the chipset than any other OEM ever did. 

All of a sudden, the Sony Xperia S looks a lot more interesting. Priced substantially lower than its competitors, being a "mid-sized" offering and now with updates direct from Google's AOSP team. Even more interesting, it looks like the Xperia S will become the platform for a Google Skunkworks project for the creation of the next iteration of Android.

"Contributions are strongly encouraged, and there should be more freedom than usual to submit experimental changes since that won't impact the devices that Google is most directly involved in," Quere said.  

So, the somewhat boring Sony Xperia S, might now become transformed as the home of the latest cutting edge Android code.

The Power of Open Source

Love or hate Windows, one really good thing about Microsoft is that they support a Windows version forever. Well, not literally forever,  but longer than the computer you bought it with is likely to last. Todays new generation computers, made up of smartphones and tablets, are not as lucky. One to two years is what you are likely to get. 

Apple's original iPad, released in March 2010, came with  iOS 4, was upgraded to for two years all the way to iOS 5.1. It wont be getting iOS 6 which will be rolling out to other iOS devices this September.  The Google Nexus One launched in January 2010, started life with Eclair (Android 2.1) and moved on to Gingerbread (Android 2.3). It did not officially get Ice Cream Sandwich, released on October 2011. Basically, you can expect high end devices to get the latest OS for 18-months to 2-years. That does not sound all the impressive.

Many devices are less fortunate. The Samsung Galaxy Tab and HTC Desire HD, both released on October 2010, did not get official an official Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) updates from Samsung and HTC. Pretty much it got OS updates for just 12-months. Notably, these two devices are more powerful than several new Android phones and tablets which today come with Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box.

But Android is open source. This means, that someone else can legally build what the the Original Equipment Manufacturer does not. This month I upgraded a HTC Desire HD to Android 4.0.4 courtesy of the Blackout ICS Incredible ROM Blackout Team. The Samsung Galaxy Tab got Ice Cream Sandwich via CM9 form the CyanogenMod Team. These are stable ROM's which I now use as my daily drivers and based on months of test versions being released. This illustrates the power of open source. Two obsolete devices are now good for use for another year. And it does not end there. Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) ROM's for both devices have been on beta tests for over a month now. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Smart Apple iPhone 4 Free at All-In Plan 1800

With a new Apple iPhone release being imminent, it looks like Smart Communications is eager to to get the Apple iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 in your hands now. A few days ago, Smart dropped the phone to free at Plan 2000, from free at Plan 2499. Now, they have offered even a nice deal on the older iPhone 4 8 GB available at All-In Plan 1800. The All-In Plan allows you to bundle unlimited data, text and calls in one plan, and can be reconfigured from month to month.

Recommended Plan Set-up:
  • Unlimited Data - Php1,000
  • 2,500 SMS to Smart, Globe and Sun - Php350
  • 80 minutes calls to Smart, Globe and Sun - Php250 
  • Consumable - Php200

Apple iPhone SMS flaw discovered. Apple's solution, use iMessage instead.

Last Friday, pod2g's discovered a flaw in the SMS application used in the Apple iPhone. The flaw allows a sender of a malicious address to make it appear that the message comes from a trusted source. This could allow "pirates could send a message that seems to come from the bank of the receiver asking for some private information, or inviting them to go to a dedicated website." This flaw is still present in the latest beta of the next version of iOS6 which will be released together with the next iPhone. 

Apple's response to the matter has been to effectively say use iMessage instead:

"Apple takes security very seriously. When using iMessage instead of SMS, addresses are verified which protects against these kinds of spoofing attacks. One of the limitations of SMS is that it allows messages to be sent with spoofed addresses to any phone, so we urge customers to be extremely careful if they're directed to an unknown website or address over SMS." (Source: Engadget).

The response is a bit odd. Instead of promising a fix, Apple seems to be saying that you really cannot trust a SMS message received on an iPhone. I am not sure if Apple has no plans to fix the problem or simply want's to downplay the issue now, since there is no time to implement a fix before the release of the next iPhone. In any event, using iMessage is not a solution. Not everyone is on an iPhone, and those that are, are not all on unlimited data plans. And what about messages from other people, you cannot always reply by iMessage. 

In any event, the nature of the flaw now being public, best advice is do not give complete trust that SMS messages received from your iPhone come from the source indicated in the message. Basically, do not send reply with any sensitive information via SMS and do not click website links in SMS messages you receive.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Smart LTE - High speed 10GB of data for Php3,500. Will you bite?

Smart Communications with be launching its new LTE Broadband service on August 25, 2012. The deal is 10 GB's of data at a blistering 42 Mbps for Php3,500 a month.

Talking about this with a few friends last night, it seemed that no one is happy with the 10 GB data cap. I think this is in part because people do not know how much data they download per day. On my typical day, I consume 100 MB of data or less. Given the occasional download of a Android ROM (90-450 MB), a Linux Distribution (500-700MB) and software updates for my Mac, I could probably hit 5 GB on some months. Still, that is a whole lost less than 10 GB. Unless you spend most of your internet time, streaming HD video or downloading movies, it is pretty hard to consume 10 GB a month.Of couse with a 42 Mbps connection, I am likely to use more, since things which I are not too much fun to do on my 1 Mbps connection, might become more enjoyable at 42 Mbps. 

Still, I have no issue with a 10 GB cap. It will be like the 1.5 GB cap on our smartphones on Smart Data Plan 2000, where Smart can reduce our speeds if we exceed the. In 18 months, as far as I can tell I never exceeded the cap. With the three the Smartphones on Data Plan 2000, none of them went past 1 GB last month, one phone nearly used 1 GB, with the other two using 704 MB and 416 MB, respectively. 

I do have some issue with the cost. One of the three Data Plan 2000 phones is for my personal use. I pay Php1,200 a month for the data aspect of the plan. I also maintain a 1 Mbps Globe DSL connection at home, shared among four personal computers at the cost of Php999 a month. Lastly, when I need to use a laptop on the road, I use a SmartBro USB modem, and spend Php400 to 800 on that a month. Basically, a unlimited smartphone data plan, a residential DSL connection and a prepaid mobile internet connection all comes out to Php2,519 to Php2,919 a month.

The Php3,500 monthly fee for a mobile broadband connection is more than I am willing to pay. The new LTE plan  wont replace my smarthphone data plan and our residential DSL. 

Still, I will wait till the 25th and hope there are other options there are. I am not sure if Smart will offer a prepaid LTE plan. I could replace my four year old USB modem with a new faster unit.

Update: Was talking to Abe Olandres on Twitter. Looks like Smart LTE offer will be postpaid only. Here is Yugatech's articles on the Smart's offering 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Installing Ice Cream Sandwich on your HTC Desire HD

HTC unceremoniously cancelled the promised update to its 2010 flagship, the HTC Desire HD, saying:

*After extensive testing, we’ve determined that the current version of HTC Sense with Android provides customers with the best experience on the HTC Desire HD. When we consider new versions of software, we weigh a number of factors, but ultimately the customer experience on the product is the deciding factor. We apologize for any confusion this change may have caused our customers. (Source: HTC Blog)

Well, the HTC Desire HD can run Android 4.04 Ice Cream Sandwich fine, courtesy of the Virtuous Development Team and Team Blackout.

Running Ice Cream Sandwich on a HTC Desire HD. People have been doing that since early this year. But without HTC support, there were always issues. While Android is open source, drivers for the HTC hardware are not. So early efforts had problems with 720p video recording, slow wake-up from sleep, WiFi Hotspot problems and similar issues. I tried one Ice Cream Sandwich build awhile back, and the Chrome Browser performance was poor, which for me is the main reason to update to Ice Cream Sandwich in the first place.

All that has changed. I am currently running Android 4.04 with the Sense 3.6 interface using Team Blackouts ICS Incredible ROM, and it runs better than Android 2.3.5 with Sense 3.0 (note, using a tweak to make the Sense widgets less taxing on resources which is built into the ROM). This ROM is ported from the official HTC Incredible S ROM, which has the same performance hardware as the HTC Desire HD.

But the HTC Desire HD Developers Community got together and fixed the camera, wake lock and other issues, and you now have a a fully working HTC Sense ICS ROM. Three right now actually. There are some small bugs, which are being worked out, but these related mainly to integrated apps (FM Radio, Dolby Sound, Beats Audio and the like) which will be fixed shortly. Remember that not all HTC Desire HDs' have the same components inside. For example, some have a Samsung camera sensor, others have an Omnivision camera sensor.

How do you get Ice Cream Sandwich on you HTC Desire HD.

1. Root your phone.
2. Install a custom ROM.

Root your phone.

The best, easiest and safest way to root your phone is using the Advance Ace Hack Kit. This tool will do everything you need to root your phone, and even unlock a carrier locked version. It will leave you with a fully functional HTC Desire HD running Android 2.2. 

Remember, these is some risk in rooting your phone. So if you decide to do this, don't blame me if you phone gets bricked. Blame HTC for not giving an official update instead.

Pick a ROM

Once you phone is rooted pick a ROM and flash it. You have a lot of good choice right now. You can wait a few weeks so final issue can be ironed out. But all these ROM's are good enough to be a daily driver.

1. Android 4.04/Sense 3.6 - Blackout ICS Incredible v3.0.0. This ROM is ported  from HTC Incredible S.
2. Android 4.04/Sense 4.0 - Virtuous Infinity v.1.33.0 Alpha 3. This ROM is ported  from HTC One X.
3. Android 4.04/Sense 4.0A. This ROM is ported  from HTC One V.

So it can be done.

Why did HTC say it cannot be done? The HTC Desire HD has a 575 MB partition for the operating system. With Blackout ICS Incredible installed I have 60 MB of space left, and that includes a lot of HTC apps which I consider bloat like HTC Locations, Like, Reader, Notes, Tasks, Teeter and Watch. That also includes a lot of HTC apps I find useful, like Peep, FriendStream, Clock and the complete set of beautiful HTC widgets.

So why did HTC not do it. Simple. The remaining 60 MB is not enough to add the apps that the carriers add on to your HTC phones. Basically, HTC prioritized the interest of carriers over users.

Need help?

A blog is not a good venue to provide help. Need help, visit the HTC Desire HD Phandroid Forums. I, and several person much more knowledgeable will be there to help.

Asus Nexus 7 Unofficially in the Philippines

Google's popular Asus Nexus 7 tablet is not officially released in the Philippines yet. This Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) tablet sports a 7-inch WXGA (1280x800)
IPS display, has a gaming oriented NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30L 1.2Ghz Quad-Core inside and a large 432 5mAh battery which is good for 9 hours of use. For internal storage is comes in two versions, one with 8 GB of storage, and the other with 16 GB. There is no MicroSD card slot.

Several local seller have been selling small numbers of these. Thinking about getting one I found Widget City has them listed at Php12,750 for the 8 GB model and Php15,750 for the 16 GB model. Given that the US prices are US$199 and US$249, I was expecting it to cost about Php10,500 for the 8 GB model, and Php13,000 for the 16 GB model.

Still with a budget 13-16K, I would pick the Nexus 7 over any of its Android competitors. Even the higher end 16 GB model at Php15,750 does not look bad in terms of price when you compare it to the Php18,990 iPad 2 which has a dual core processor and a much lower resolution display.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Smart is Bringing Us Something Fast

I hope this has more to with smartphones, and less to do with dongles and MiFi devices.

Find out more on Smart's website here.

LG Optimus L3 Dual E405

Dual SIM phones have generally been lower end devices, which are bought for their dual SIM capability more than there other features. Lately, we have seen upmarket Android dual sim phones like the HTC Desire V and the Lenovo P700, with larger 4-inch high resolution displays and running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). LG has released another dual SIM phone, the LG Optimus E405 L3, this one targeting the traditional lower price market. Priced at about Php6,490, the LG Optimus  E405 L3, has its sites set on stealing some of the market from the Alcatel 918N and Samsung Galaxy Y Duos.

The LG Optimus  E405 L3 is a Android phone, running the older version of the operating system, Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The 3.2-inch display has a low 240 x 320 pixel resolution. It matches the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos pretty much in terms of specifications, which is not really all the interesting in either phone. But for two reasons, the LG Optimus  E405 L3 is the better of the two phones. The LG Optimus  E405 L3 has 1 GB of internal storage  (expandable via MicroSD card), and a 1540 mAh battery. The Samsung has 160 MB of internal storage (expandable via MicroSD card), and a 1300 mAh battery. The LG is also a few hundred pesos cheaper.

Comparing it to the Alcatel 918N, it is a bit more complicated. Overall, the LG has better specifications in almost every category, except one. The Alcatel has a higher resolution 3.2-inch 320 x 480 display. I think most buyers would be happier with the LG, but it really is time for Android manufacturers to retire the 240 x 320 screen resolution. If it is your main phone, I would go with the LG, it is more capable. If it is a back-up phone, the Alcatel is much nicer to look at with its crisp display.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lenovo IdeaPad S206 - A Bit Underpowered

I am very fond of Lenovo laptops. IBM Thinkpads were know for their keyboards, and after acquiring IBM, Lenovo continued this tradition. So I look at each new Lenovo offering with a bit of interest. The latest new offering is the Lenovo IdeaPad S206, which is a 11.6-inch laptop. An 11.6-inch laptop is the smallest size which I find comfortable, as the 11.6-inch form factor allows for full sized keyboards. The best netbooks, with their 10.1-inch displays have keyboard which are 89% to 94% of the size of a full sized keyboard. 

The display of the Lenovo IdeaPad S206 is priced at Php17,990. It has a HD display, the typical 1366 x 768 you find in most of todays laptops. A 0.3 MP webcam is fixed on the top of the lid. For storage you have a 320 GB hard drive and a 2-in-1 card reader. For ports you had a HDMI port, a USB 2.0 port, and a USB 3.0 port. Nothing missing here. As an operating system, you get Windows 7 Home Basic, which is a pleasant surprise. A lot of laptops at this price come with Windows 7 Starter. Unfortunately, I have no word on the battery used.

But there is an area of concern. This laptop is powered by an AMD C-60 APU with a dual core 1.3 GHz processor. Performance is pretty meager. CPU Mark benchmarks give it a score of 557 points, which is at the same level as the higher end Atom netbook processors.

This is substantially slower than the performance of AMD E-450 based systems, which we have been recommending for the past year for those looking for a low cost portable.

Making the AMD C-60 seem even more anemic, is the fact that the AMD E-450 has been phased out by the newer AMD E2-1800 which is a tad bit faster.

When you look at the Lenovo S206 as against the Asus X401U, with its faster APU E2-1800 and larger 500 GB hard drive, for Php18,990 the Asus looks like a better deal. But the Asus X401U does have a larger 14-inch display so it is not really a direct competitor.

While a little hard to find, the 11.6-inch Acer TravelMate B133 is a much better deal with its Intel Celeron B877 processor which is priced at Php16,999 with Linux installed. The Intel Celeron B877 is the best processor in the budget class.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LG P880 Optimus 4X HD - Priced to Disrupt the Market

LG's new flagship phone, the LG P880 Optimus 4X HD is now available in the Philippines. The LG P880 Optimus 4X HD is designed to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X, and it enters the Philippine market prepared to disrupt the competition. With a suggested retail price of Php27,990 it undercuts its competition by a cool 5K. It's street price is Php24,990 which makes it  6.5K cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S III and 1.5K cheaper than the HTC One X.

The Php24,990 price of the LG P880 Optimus 4X HD actually places it in direct competition with the HTC One S, HTC Sensation XE, Sony's Xperia S and Samsung Galaxy S II.

Quick Specifications:

  • Android 4.03
  • 4.7-inch HD (720 x 1280) display
  • 16 GB of internal storage (12 GB user available) expandable via MicroSD card slot
  • 1 GB of RAM 
  • 1.5 GHz quad core ARM Cortex A-9 
  • Nvidia ULP GeForce 2 GPU
  • Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset
  • 8MP primary camera with 1080p video recording
  • 1.3 MP front camera with 720p video recording
  • HSDPA 21.1 Mbps connectivity
  • 2150 mAh battery

This phone comes in a slim 8.9 mm package so it is handy enough even with its 4.7-inch display. Like the Samsung Galaxy S III has expandable storage and a user replaceable battery, so it avoids any deal breaker issues.

As against the Samsung Galaxy S III, the LG LG P880 Optimus 4X HD is so much cheaper that a comparison between the two seems pointless. The Samsung Galaxy S III with its more efficient and faster Exynos 4 will win speed and endurance tests. But with the LG P880 Optimus 4X HD being 6.5K cheaper, the LG P880 Optimus 4X HD does not have to win a head to head comparison.

With a modern Tegra 3 chipset, it really makes no sense to buy a HTC One S, HTC Sensation or Sony Xperia S. These phones cost about as much as the LG P880 Optimus 4X HD, and they are powered by older Qualcomm S3 chipsets. It is 2012. For the same money, might as well buy 2012 technology rather than circa 2011 hardware in a new shell.

As for the Samsung Galaxy S II, as good as this phone is, its WVGA (480 x 800) display is really starting to make it feel dated.

Really, the only relevant comparison is as against the HTC One X. But that deserves its own separate post.

Asus X401U versus Asus X401A

With two versions of the 14-inch Asus budget thin and light in the market, which one is the better choice? You have the AMD powered Asus X410U and the Intel powered Asus X401A. Except for the processor and graphics both have identical specifications.

The AMD powered Asus X410U is the less expensive of the two, starting at Php16,990. With Windows Home Basic pre-installed, it will set you back Php18,990. The Intel powered Asus A410A is starts at Php20,990, and adding Windows also costs 2K, bring the price up to Php22,990.

The Asus X410U is cheaper for a reason. The performance of the two in terms of processing power is rather large

Basically, the AMD version cost 4K less than the Intel version, but overall provides almost a third of the processing power. The AMD E2-1800 does have a good graphics chip which can play Full HD video with ease.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cherry Mobile W900 at Php5,999 - One Day Third Anniversary Sale

Cherry Mobile is having a one day sale on August 15, 2012, where it will be offering the Cherry Mobile W900 for discounted price of Php5,999. The Cherry Mobile W900 is regularly priced at Php9,999. The reason for the sale is that this August 15 marks the third anniversary of the company.

The specifications of the Cherry Mobile W900 are as follows:
  • Android 2.3
  • 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display
  • 1 GB of internal storage expandable via MicroSD card. 8 GB MicroSD card supplied.
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor
  • Adreno 205 graphics
  • Qualcomm chipset
  • 5 MP primary camera with a LED flash
  • Secondary camera
  • 720p video capture
  • HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps connectivity
Source: Yugatech

Asus X401U-WX050R

Asus has released another version of their X401 laptop, the X401U. What makes Asus X401 series so interesting is that it is a low cost 14-inch laptop that weighs only 4.1 pounds. To put this into perspective, Acer's 14-inch budget offering, the Aspire 4750, weighs in at 5 pounds.  HP's new low cost HP1000-1116TU weighs in at 4.8 pounds. Compare it to more expensive models, and the X401 fairs well too. A 13.3-inch Apple MacBook Pro weighs in at 4.5 pounds and the 13.3-inch Sony Vaio S comes in at 3.8 pounds. 

The first X401 series laptop released, the Asus X401A, with an Intel B970 processor, is priced at just Php22,990 with Windows Home Basic installed. A DOS version is priced at Php20,990. The Asus X401U swaps the Intel processor for a AMD E2-1800 Accelerated Processing Unit with a 1.7 GHz dual core processor and Radeon 7340 graphics. This allows Asus to bring down the price to Php18,990 with Windows Home Basic Installed, for those who do not need an operating system pre-installed, a DOS version is available for Php16,990.

Other than that, it has the same specifications as its Intel powered sibling, with 2GB of RAM, a 500 GB, card reader and the other standard equipment you can expect to find in a laptop these days. The 6-cell battery is rated at 4400 mAh, which is what you expect from a laptop in this price range. In addition, you Altec Lansing speakers, HDMI out and a new fast USB 3.0. This laptop does not have an optical drive though.

Fashionably thin at just over an inch at the thickest point, the Asus X401A, already ruled budget the thin and light 14-inch laptop market. A lower cost AMD E2-1800 makes this laptop a netbook competitor too, and I would recommend it over any netbook in the market. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Smart iPhone 4S 16 GB now free on a lower plan

With a new Apple iPhone expected to be announced in less than a month, Smart Communications is offering the Apple iPhone 4S 16 GB free at a lower plan. Previously, the Apple iPhone 4S 16 GB was being offered free at Smart iPhone Plan 2499 on a two year contract. You could also get the iPhone on Data Plan 2000 with one time, Php2,500, payment, also on a two year contract.

Smart is waiving the Php2,500 cash out so you can now get the 16 GB version of the Apple iPhone 4S free at Data Plan 2000. What I am not certain about is whether the phone is being offered free on a 24 month of 30 month contract.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

HTC One X Android 4.04 Sense 4.1 Update now OTA

The Tegra 3 version of the HTC One X is getting an over the air update to Android 4.04 with the Sense 4.1 UI. 

  • Smoother homescreen animations 
  • The ability to map menu functions to the Recent Apps key
  • Updated notification bar with the old Quick Settings tab from Sense 3.0
  • Improved performance of the stock web browser
  • Enhanced the image quality of the camera 
  • Memory enhancements
  • Updated audio software

The update is 148MB in size, it is advisable to use a Wi-Fi network to download it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Smartphones: What's Coming

The second quarter of every year sees the unveiling of the latest Android phones, this year bannered by Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, HTC One S and LG Optimus 4X HD. The third quarter of this year should be equally eventful:

  • August 29, 2012 - Samsung Galaxy Note II (launch)
  • September 5, 2012 - Nokia Windows Phone 8 (announcement)
  • September 12, 2012 - Next Apple iPhone (launch)
  • September 2012 - HTC Windows Phone 8 devices

In the fourth quarter of this year, around October or November you can expect to see the new Windows Phone 8 devices from Samsung, and of course the next Google Nexus phone.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

HP DM1-4209AU E-1200

The HP Pavillion DM1-4209AU, the successor to the HP Pavillion DM1-4000AU, is now available in the Philippines. The HP DM1 is a small light 11.6-inch laptop which was launched last year with AMD Fusion APU's or Intel Core i3 processors.

The latest version sports a AMD’s newest Fusion APU, this one coming with a lower end dual-core CPU E-1200. This has a 1.4GHz dual core processor and Radeon HD 7310 graphics processing unit. At the outset the choice of the lower end chipset is disappointing. The AMD E-1200 will not perform better that last year AMD E-450 powered HP Pavillion DM1-4000AU. Also missing from HP DM1-4209AU is a USB 3.0 port.  

Notably, the HP DM1-4209AU competitor is  the new 11.6-inch Sony Vaio E with a faster AMD E2-1800 APU which has a dual core 1.7 GHz processor, more powerful AMD Radeon 7340 graphics and has a USB 3.0 port.

The HP DM1-4209AU at Php20,950 is cheaper than  the 11.6-inch Sony Vaio E which costs Php23,990. The HP DM1-4209AU also comes with a larger 500 GB hard drive, as compared to the 320 GB unit found in the 11.6-inch Sony Vaio E. On the other hand the 11.6-inch Sony Vaio E comes with Windows 7 Home Premium, while the  HP DM1-4209AU comes with Windows 7 Starter.

The new HP DM1-4209AU is not a bad deal for its asking price. But for a little more money, 11.6-inch Sony Vaio E is the more capable device. The HP DM1-4209AU is also not better than last years HP DM1-4000AU.

All in all, I am a bit disappointed about this release.

Quick Specs:

  • Windows 7 Starter
  • 11.6-inch (1366 x 768 display)
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 500GB hard drive
  • 802.11b/g/n wireless
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • USB 2.0
  • HDMI out
  • 3.5 pounds
  • 5 hours battery

August 2012 Smartphone Buyers Guide

In recommending a phone we are looking for phone that will remain current for two years. Good hardware without decent operating support will satisfy the buyer today, only to disappoint later. August 2012 puts a buyer in a period of transition. We expect to see the new Apple iPhone by September, the new Windows Phone 8 devices (Windows Phone 7 devices are not upgradeable to Windows Phone 8) coming out in September to October, one or more new Google Nexus Phones before the end of the year and a new set of BlackBerry 10 devices, early next year. 

The phone which you can buy right now without being  Right now it is made up of Android phones. Only Android phones which are running Android 4.x or have commitments updates to Android 4.x are included. While most apps are compatible with Android 2.2 or later, we are looking for phones which will serve you well for two years, and over time more and more apps will require Android 4.x.

If you are looking for the most advanced handsets in the market, they are three good  options right now. The Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy Note.

1. Samsung Galaxy S III (Php30,500 to Php32,900)

Pros. The Samsung Galaxy S III is the best smartphone in the world right now, bar none. With a large 4.8-inch HD display (720 x 1280), quad-core processor, 16 GB of storage of user expandable storage and a excellent 8 MP camera, it has the new and advance written all over. While official SD card support is limited to 32 GB, I tested a 64 GB SanDisk Class 10 MicroSD card on a Samsung Galaxy S III, and it works.

Cons. It is expensive, with a street prices ranging from Php30,500 to Php32,900, with an official warranty. 

Postpaid options. This phone is available postpaid from both Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.

2. HTC One X (Php26,500 to Php29,900).

Pros. The specifications of HTC One X closely match the Galaxy S III and has more internal storage out of the box (32 GB), while being significantly cheaper than the Galaxy S III.  The biggest draw of the HTC One X is the 12-core Nvidia graphics processor can display amazing console like effects on Nvidia optimized games. While it is outclassed by the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC is making some optimization tweaks in its Sense 4.1 ROM designed to take the performance crown back from Samsung.

Cons. Specifications are a close match the Samsung Galaxy S III but it falls a bit behind in almost every category. The 32 GB of storage is not user expandable. 

Postpaid options. This phone is available from Smart Communications.

3. Samsung Galaxy Note - (Php26,000 to Php29,900)

Pros. This massive 5.3-inch HD (800 x 1280) phone tablet has been a success, and Samsung is expected to announce its replacement before the end of the month. Still with the price up to 10K lower than its original price, and software updates, this 2011 model still looks like a great option today.

The large display bundled stylus, is the main reason for selecting this phone. 

Cons. It is big but that is the main reason people buy it.

Postpaid options. This phone is available postpaid from both Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.

There are a lot 2011 flagship phones available at the 18K-24K price range, but given the Android 18-month support policy newer models have a better chances of long term support and our recommendations take this into account.

4. Samsung Galaxy Nexus - The only phone on our list which we recommend going to the grey market for (Php17,500 to Php30,000).

Pros. This is the Google phone, and is the first to get the latest software. It runs pure Google Android, not weighed down by additional OEM installed software. The device has a 4.65-inch HD (729 x 1280) display with on screen keys. This phone is a Smart Communications exclusive, and it still cost a heft Php30,000 from Smart, but in the grey market you can get it for Php17,500. Buying from the grey market means you get a service warranty, which means you get free repair services during the warranty period but you pay for any parts used. This normally saves you about 10% of the price of a phone with an official warranty. For a 10% price difference we recommend a unit with a official parts and service warranty.  In the case of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus you save a 40% of the price, and the price gap makes it worth getting this phone on the grey market.

Cons. Expensive with an official warranty.

Postpaid options. This phone is available from Smart Communications.

5. Sony Xperia P - (Php17,990 to Php22,990)

Pros. We have seen the price of this phone drop every month from its suggested retail price of Php22,990, to now as low as Php17,990. If you can get it at that price, it really is a sweet deal.

This phone sports a nice 4-inch qHD (540 x 960) display, 16 GB of internal storage and a good 8 MP camera. Its dual core NovaThor based chipset cannot match the higher price phones on this list in terms of speed, but it is fast enough so most users wont notice. The 4-inch display is looking small these days, but is decent enough for the asking price. If you are okay with the 4-inch display, it is a good value for money option. Sony has done the best job in supporting their 2011 units with upgrades to Android 4.0, so we do expect they will do the same for 2012 handsets next year.

Cons. It has a small 1305 mAh battery, which is smaller than the 1500 mAh batteries found in mid-level phones. The other top 4 phones on this list have 1650 mAh to 2500 mAh batteries. The phone still runs on Android 2.3, but a update to Android 4.x is on the way. 

6. Sony Xperia Sola - (Php13,500 to Php16,990)

Pros. This phone sports a smaller, lower resolution, 3.7-inch WVGA (480 x 854) display a compared to rhe the Xperia P. It also has less RAM than the Xperia P and video capture is limited to 720p (the first five phones on this list can do 720p video capture) and has no front camera. But it has the same dual core processor and graphics as the Xperia P. Its 8 GB of internal storage is expandable to 40 GB via a Micro SD card which can give the Xperia Sola more storage than the Xperia P. Overall this makes it a great value for money option.

Cons. It has a small 1320 mAh battery. Still runs on Android 2.3, but a update to Android 4.x is on the way.

7. Sony Xperia U - (Php11,600 to Php13,990)

Pros. Gives dual core power at a low price. The Sony Xperia U has similar specification to the Xperia Sola with a smaller 3.5-inch display.

Cons. It has the Same small battery as the Xperia U. For many the major deal breaker is the 8 GB of internal storage (6 GB user available), which is not expandable. Still, 6 GB is not bad. Two gigabytes is available for apps and 4 GB for your music, pictures, documents and other files. It is not user expandable. One gigabyte is good for 200 or more MP3's. Some games can eat up a whole gigabyte. Gamers have to select between having more games installed and having less processing and graphics power at this price range.

For those who need a phone at this price range wanting more storage and longer battery life the Sony Xperia Neo L or HTC One V would be better options. 

8. Lenovo P700  (Php10,999)

Pros. Most dual SIM phones are only good choices for those who want a dual SIM device. The Lenovo P700 is a good choice whether or not you want a dual SIM phone. This phone comes with a large 4-inch WVGA (480 x 800) display,  dual SIM capability and 4 GB of internal storage expandable via MicroSD card. It comes with a even larger 2500 mAh battery, one of the biggest you will find in any smartphone today. Unlike the HTC Desire V, this phone does have a front camera.

Cons. The single core 1GHz and ARM Cortex A-5 processor 512MB of  just enough to run Android 4.0. It is makes has enough power for the average user, but a gamer or power user should look elsewhere. The primary camera has no flash.

Related Article: Dual SIM Droid Fight - HTC Desire V versus Lenovo P700

With the Sony Mini and Sony Live being all but gone from the market, finding a budget priced phone with a current operating system is pretty much impossible. But I do have to recommend something.

9. LG E400 Optimus L3

Pros. Inexpensive and fast. The 1 GB of internal storage, expandable via MicroSD card will cure the low internal storage problem experienced by budget phone buyers.

Cons. The small 3.2-inch with its low 240 x 320 display resolution wont make anyone really happy.  Comes with Android 2.3, Gingerbread, out of the box, and wont be getting updated.  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...