What’s so cool about the Lenovo K900?

So this is the step up (and quite a step up it is) to the Intel YOLO. It has an Intel Atom Dual-core 2Ghz processor and a PowerVR SGX544 graphics processor.

Back view

Back view

It’s sleek! Super light. From the faux brushed metal exterior, the tiny rivets on the back cover (no taking out the battery and no SD card business either it comes in with internal memory of 16GB or 32GB, take your pick) that match the Lenovo logo engraved on the back to the neat Micro SIM slot on the side. This phone is sleek.

The packaging redefines cool – Black box with a red interior that which peeks through the etched out K900) logo. Too cool.
This phone. Is sleek.

This box redefines cool

This box redefines cool

What needs work?

1. The OS.

Android contact manager keeps crashing

Annoying especially because it every time you use messaging, it crashes. It also brings up the error message when you use the phone log, contacts, Hangouts, Whatsapp, and Telegram. I assume it will do this for all messaging apps.

Lenovo - crash screen

The crash screen

At 6.7” (hull, display is 5.5) this phone is actually a mini-tablet with phone capabilities. A phablet.
At 162g this phablet is superlight.

Camera
I am in love with the 13MP camera with its dual led flash. The split second autofocus and continuous shoot turned out to be an invaluable feature during a 7-hour event that I was live-tweeting. It meant that I could capture the targets while they were still doing what I wanted to capture, instead of a blur of the person who moved just when I finally focused. (That’s my other phone, story for another day)

The front 2MP Camera had me taking some pretty cute selfies (in good light of course as it has no flash).

The 2GB RAM makes for some awesome performance. I can do stuff on the K900 that I normally wouldn’t be able to – like Skype, a very resource heavy app, which came pre installed by the way.

What needs work?

1. The OS.

Android contact manager keeps crashing

Annoying especially because it every time you use messaging, it crashes. It also brings up the error message when you use the phone log, contacts, Hangouts, Whatsapp, and Telegram. I assume it will do this for all messaging apps.

2. Battery

Not impressed. At 2600 mAH it’s clearly Bigger than my other phone’s 2100mAH . But, with the K900 I always seem to run out of juice during the day. Also, would it kill them to provide a power backup

3. Welcome screen

Really? Was there not a designer in the vicinity?

4. Usability
I have a few objections here.

The icons are customized (read different). It took me a while to get used to.
This is not helped by the new android settings interface. After 1 month of use I still have no idea where the battery settings are. I gave up and got an app to manage battery use.

5. Naming of system apps

OK I know we want to be unique, but it took me a while to find the camera (named Super Camera) and the gallery (named Super Gallery). The phone has no camera button.

6. Size
While the phablet is superlight, it’s not very comfortable to text with for long periods. Especially lying down. It has a 5.5” display but the actual phone is almost 7”.

7. Accessories
These could use some work. The charger came apart within the first week of use. I had to patch it up for continued use, then it gave up the ghost in the 4th week.

The earphones could be more ear-friendly.
I would have voted for eardrum earphones. Those are way more comfortable and by way of proximity, noise cancelling 😉 The sound quality of the Lenovo earphones is fine though.
Jpeg
Her Geekyness’ verdict

This phone looks good, it’s superlight, superfast and takes awesome photos. If the manufacturers fix the bugs and improve the accessories, I would say go for it. Especially is you are a social media freak (Instagrammers will love this one)

-her royal geekyness-

A slightly different version was published on UP Magazine (Print Version)

Have you tried the phone? Share your experience in the comments section.

The Techno Phantom A+

Branding breakthrough?

So as a PR/Communication/Branding enthusiast, I have been watching Tecno’s entry and penetration into the Kenyan mobile phone market with interest. It has not been without woes. For starters, in Kenya, the word “China”, (no offence to Chinese people) is almost a synonym for “fake”. This has been due to the huge influx of fake/counterfeited goods from China that have tormented Kenyan consumers for years. I mean it’s way cheaper, therefore tempting, but when you buy it, it will surprise you every time with a new way of not working. We all know that cheap is expensive (I mean, the *Wahenga said it and we are constantly being reminded), but if your products keep teaching us practical lessons, we ARE going to hate you.

So Tecno have had the uphill task of proving that despite being a Chinese brand,

1. They are not purporting to be anyone we are not and

2. They are making quality stuff (go ahead and test them, the warranty is 2 years) (Not anymore, I was rather vexed and impressed at the same time to discover)

image from Google

image from Google

So when the Tecno Phantom made its debut, it was not just a phone (IMO) it was a symbol of how far the brand has come. On a scale of HTC to Samsung, well, Tecno has arrived!

What I love about this phone:

Screen (size and resolution)

The 5.0 TFT High Definition screen display rocks. It’s great for reading. I am currently reading a Kindle book on it and it’s very comfortable. Its also pretty roomy and accommodates the keyboard quite nicely, that I haven’t had to use the auto-rotate feature for typing.

Camera

This is one of my favorite things about this phone. On an auto setting, this 8MP camera will focus and take a clear, bright picture. You can easily zoom in during a shot by a pinching open motion on the screen. The image resolution is pretty good. (You have to zoom into the image quite a lot for it to become blurry) It makes me happy that I do not have to be a professional to take decent pics for Instagram using my camera phone.

I took this photo using my Phantom.

I took this photo using my Phantom.

Note that I am not that tall so I had to zoom in :-)

Design and feel

I am a big fan of large phone screens. And at 5.0 this phone is pushing it. The flip side is however, that unless it’s a pricey phone, a larger screen usually means a heavier phone. However, this phone is surprisingly light and easy to handle. So while we are on the subject, this phone looks so much like an S4, that everyone gets shocked when I tell them it’s not. The resemblance is such that I once spent a full day with a colleague who had just acquired a black phantom, A+, assuming that his phone was an S4, and he spent the same amount of time assuming that my white one was an S4! (we had a laugh over that one when I finally asked!)

I must say however, that while I like the idea of the protruding camera lens (gives the impression that the camera is uber-powerful) it makes it so much more vulnerable to breakage. Mine is already cracked, though I am happy to report, it hasn’t affected the image quality, yet. If anyone is listening, may I suggest a rubber ring around the lens? Or silicone? You get my drift.

Battery life

Technical specs aside (I know you can Google those 😉 ) The practical battery life of this phone is pretty impressive. Normally, despite what manufacturers claim, smartphone battery life sucks! So much so, that in Kenya it’s common practice to carry a basic phone as well (widely known as a *kabambe) coz you know you will run out of charge right about the middle of the day (that is if you are economical with usage).

Now I am a pretty heavy phone user. (I have heard complaints 😉 ) On a typical 2 hour trip to the office (when I am not the driver ) I will play music, Tweet, Whatsapp, do my emails (Gmail app), and the rest of the way read on the Kindle app or Bible Gateway app (which keeps crashing, by the way).

Usually I will switch off mobile data in-between using apps that need connectivity to preserve battery. And I will NOT play a game if I don’t want my charge to run out before I get to the office. With my previous phone (you can read about it here) I would get to the office at 25% or so battery. But with the Phantom, I do all that and still get to work at 70% battery! (I am trying to calm down here) I am in battery heaven. I do not even bother to switch off mobile data because I hardly notice its effect.

Powerbank!

To make things even better, this phone comes with a Powerbank. So if I run out of charge enroute, all I have to do is connect my phone and voila! As long as I have a charged Powerbank in my bag, I can go up to 10 hours or more without needing an electric outlet. For me, with a smartphone, this is huge.

Dual SIM

Another feature I like is the dual sim. Like many Kenyans, I have more than one sim card, which if you were using a smartphone would mean having an extra phone to keep both lines on (because no smartphone worth it’s salt would be dual-sim!) Well, yes, until Tecno went and did it with the Phantom! This was a risk, I’d say especially keeping in mind the branding thing that we talked about earlier.

The user interface is also a win, especially with regards to sending texts and making phones. One is able to do so with a single screen tap, not being taken to an additional, annoying menu that prompts you to select the sim card you want to use.

Apps! Especially Flashshare

The Phantom comes with a lot of considerately pre-loaded apps. My favorite being Truecaller, Whatsapp (which I love to hate – story for another day – but is convenient) and the one that had me all excited, Flashshare! So with this app, you do not need to be online to share stuff with another Phantom user. You connect (it creates a hotspot) and you shake it to send whatever you have selected (including apps!) to the paired device. I got a little carried away with this feature and received way too many videos into my internal memory. And now I can’t delete them before I watch them!

What sucks

Earphones

So the earphones sound pretty good, but they don’t seem to work on my laptop (MacBook Air) or my colleagues’ Windows laptops. That is a bummer as I had to get different ones for use with the laptop. Also, I recently misplaced my phone earphones (bummer!) and discovered that the earphones I got to use with my computer, do not work with my phone! (To clarify, when you plug them in while playing music, the instruments are audible but the vocals sound like they are being sung in a far away land. Very acoustic)

Covers

So the phone comes with a free flip cover, and a back-cover for those who do not want to use the flip (like me). I wish it came with a protective back cover for those anti-flip people whose phones tend to drop a lot! E.g. when you have a tech savvy toddler ☺. I for one would love a rubbery, yellow, floppy cover. I am yet to find one – and this is not from a lack of scouring the streets in search of one.

SD card

Well, Tecno seem to be good in a lot of things, but making SD cards is not one of them. The phone comes with a free 8GB card (my first thought was, “awesome deal!”) so from my normal usage, I determined I would not need to buy an additional card. However, every time I switch on my phone, it suggests that I format the card. Because it is damaged. Every time! So all my lovely photos that I have been taking with my awesome camera, have been disappearing on a regular basis.

Her Geekyness’ Conclusion

image from techpost.ug

image from techpost.ug

Overall, I think that at KES 24,000 this phone is incredible value for money. From the unwrapping the box experience (kudos for the awesome packaging), the extra accessories (especially the Powerbank), to it’s processing that is fast and robust (even with many apps open). I would buy this phone all over again. ☺ –

-her royal geekiness-

*Wahenga – wise people of the olden days who came up with all the wise quotes and proverbs in Africa (LOL)

*Kabambe – this would be a very simple feature phone, rarely internet-enabled. Most keep charge for days.

HTC Sensational Rant

I had wanted a HTC phone for the longest time. Word was it was a true techie’s phone. Built for excellence. HTC did not even mass-produce phones like it’s counterpart in Android; Samsung.

image from Google

image from Google

No, they made quality, targeted gadgets. Any techie worth his (or in my case her) salt should be rocking that brand of a phone! This was from a college classmate of mine (which makes him a techie, too) whose name I shall not mention on here. He had been using his HTC Onex for about 6 months.

Buying a smartphone, the smart way

So after a particularly good gig, I was all set to buy my first real smartphone. I had smartphones before but hey, I was finally getting my HTC. I did my window shopping and finally got a Z104e  at the best bargain around. I wanted white, but they only had it in black. The Sony Experia Arc, which is the other phone I was considering getting, had a screen of 4.92in compare to HTC’s 4.96, with a higher resolution of 540 x 960 pixels to the Experia’s 480 x 854 pixels. For me, with screens, the bigger the better. But the Experia came in white, which was more than I could say for the Sensation.

Sony Experia Arc

image from Google

The HTC claimed superior battery capacity with talk time of 8.25 hours to the Experia’s 7.41 hours.

Then to crown it all my Sensation (I was already calling it that) boasted a  Dual core, 1200 MHz, processor. To the Experia’s mere Single core, 1400 MHz I was hooked.

My HTC experience

When I got my gadget I could hardly wait to charge it and use it! I was going out on a date that evening. Rather than wait until I got home and charge it there, I gave it to the waitress to charge it for me while my date and I chatted so I could start using it ASAP.

Battery life

This was a shocker to me. I mean, I knew it was a smartphone with all those superior features. Therefore it could do so much more that an ordinary phone, which was a strain on the battery. But seriously? On a trip to the office, which ordinarily takes 1.5 hours, I had mobile data on, and tweeted, Whatsapped and responded to the occasional GTalk chat. On getting there  I was on 25% or so battery. Then annoyingly on attempting to take a photo, the phone told me that since battery was lower than 30%, I could not use flash. So much for indoor photography.

Heartbreak

Then came the heartbreak. About 4 months into the use of the phone, this phone that I protected like a baby. Silicone cover, and I still had the original screen protector.( I know it came with corning Gorilla glass – aka scratch proof glass but I was not taking any chances.). So about 4 months of using my phone, the unspeakable happened. It hung! I was smack in the middle of typing a text, the keyboard stopped responding. I tried going back to the home screen, and that didn’t respond.

Not wanting to think too much about what this meant, I did a hard reboot (pressed down the power button until the phone went off then switched on).  It responded.

But over the next 2 days, the problem recurred enough times to be a real pain in my behind.  I synced my contacts, emailed myself all the texts I thought I needed to refer to, then – FACTORY RESET.

That gave me reprieve for a day or two, then back to the same story.

I gave it to someone who rooted it. (Lost all my texts and non-synced contacts) The hanging persisted. Things were getting to a point where I couldn’t receive calls sometimes because the screen would just not respond.

Oh yes, and my earphones only worked a couple of times, then the left earpiece went mute, and the charger head died within a week of usage.

Not a singular problem

One day after a particularly annoying episode with my phone, I went on a rant on Twitter. Turns out, about 5 of my friends with different models of the phone, and a few other random tweeps all had nasty things to say about theirs’.

One has a One X  (It takes the best pics by the way) (Did I mention that mine tended to take washed out pics half the time?) suddenly messed up her contacts. Most names disappeared and some numbers got matched to the wrong names. Don’t ask me how that happened.

Another one has a One X, which he does not use anymore because it “randomly hangs and sometimes just dies”.

My friend who has the exact same model as me experienced hanging for 2 weeks (this despite factory reset and uninstalling unnecessary apps) and now it’s dead. Won’t respond to charging, poking or prodding.

The only person who seems to be enjoying his HTC, one year down the line is my techie friend who convinced me to buy one in the first place.

I asked everybody I saw with different models of HTC about their experience for about a month (about 15 handsets) and most of them mentioned hanging, and lousy battery.

Might never happen again

So while I acknowledge that HTC phones have tons of really cool features – the swipe keyboard, the muted ringtone on pickup, the louder ringing while in bag/pocket, the loudspeaker on flipping the phone – way cool.

It is very unlikely that I will fork out any of my hard earned cash for a HTC phone. Especially because I am yet to hear of HTC going public and admitting any flaws in their hardware or firmware, and for that matter, recalling any model.

-her royal geekiness-