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Nokia Lumia 800

Nokia might be going through some tough times with all the competition it now has to face in the smartphone industry. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel with Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop promising to bring the Finnish giant back in the right direction. The Nokia Lumia 800 does have some heavy responsibilities on its shoulders as it has the task of proving to the masses that it is a sign of what’s in store in the future from Nokia. It does have some decent specs onboard and now it’s up to us to cut it open and see how it performs.

Design

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The Nokia Lumia 800 would definitely remind you of the Nokia N9 as they look very much like each other. However there are some differences that would help you tell the phones apart. For instance, the Nokia N9 had the front fully covered with a 480 x 854 resolution screen but on the Nokia Lumia 800, you will find three capacitive buttons under the screen. The result of this is a slightly smaller screen at 3.7 inches with a slightly lower resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. However it is still Nokia’s Clear Black AMOLED display and is protected by the strong Gorilla Glass. The Nokia Lumia 800 measures 4.59 x 2.41 x 0.48 inches making it a wee bit smaller than the Nokia Lumia 710.

Another thing that reminds us of the Nokia N9 with this phone is the polycarbonate unibody design which is again of very high quality. However we managed to spot two major differences with this phone and that is the fact that it comes with a physical camera button as well as a repositioned flash. The dedicated camera button is definitely a welcome addition as it helps us take photos quickly. However this means one more extra button on the already packed right side. On the right of the phone we already have the power button and the volume rocker. On the top you will see the microSIM card and microUSB port together with the standard audio jack. Flip the phone and on the back sits an 8MP f2.2 camera which has Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash.

Features

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So what powers this smartphone? Inside the Nokia Lumia 800 is a Quallcomm MSM8255 single core CPU that clocks in at 1.4GHz. The processor is capable of tackling most tasks with ease. However, when you use apps that requires a lot of processing power that is when you see the other side of the processor. Although it lags when using these apps it is not too obvious to the extent that you will start hating the phone. The Nokia Lumia 800 also is a little tardy when you try to transfer huge amounts of data from memory to storage.

The Nokia Lumia 800 is another Nokia phone that sports Windows Phone 7.5 OS instead of Nokia’s out of favor Symbian OS. The decision to stick with Windows Phone 7.5 OS is a good one as you get a more modern feeling from the phone plus you can also navigate through the phone easily as it is very user friendly. This version of the OS is an improved one and it gives Nokia Lumia 800 some of the basic things people look for these days like multi-tasking capability, deeper social networking integration as well simple things like copy and paste. Unlike other phones that have up to seven homescreens, this OS sticks two one homesceen and one other screen for its apps. On the homescreen you will find live tiles that are either shortcuts to an app or an app specific notification. To get to the apps screen, just slide the homescreen to the left. Over here you see all your apps, and depending on what you prefer, these apps can be pinned to the start menu too. Another cool     thing we picked up in this OS is the multi-tasking pane that pops up when you long press the back button. In this pane, you get to look at the apps that are currently open. Nokia of course has slotted in some apps or their own. The newest of the lot found on the Nokia Lumia 800 is the Nokie Drive – a voice guided GPS app. Now you don’t have to fork out big bucks to get an awesome GPS product. With this app, you can even cache your maps so that you are ready for that drive across US.

Nokia Lumia 800 sports a 3.7 inch screen with a WVGA resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. This screen may not be the biggest screen out there as you may already know, but the Clear Black AMOLED display does not fail to impress. It produces beautiful looking images and thanks to the processor, the screen is also very responsive to touch making it a delight to use.

There is another feature on the Nokia Lumia 800 that is the same as the Nokia N9, and that is the 8MP autofocus camera. You would expect the results from the cameras to be the same, but that’s not the case here. The Nokia N9 did give a pretty good all round performance but it lacked detail, however with the Nokia Lumia 800 we get amazing details but there seems to be problems in handling noise. The camera does produce pictures with great color reproduction and contrast levels were decent too. Indoors, the camera does a better job when you turn the LED flash on. Video recording is done at 720p HD resolution. Videos performed better as the recordings were smooth and the audio was good too.

Web surfing on a Windows phone would obviously have to be done on an Internet Explorer browser. That is exactly what happens with the Nokia Lumia 800 and the results are great as loading time is short and navigational functions like scrolling and zooming can be done easily. Sadly though there is no support for Flash. Moving on to the connectivity options, the Nokia Lumia is a GSM phone and also a tri-band 3G phone which comes with the usual stuff like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

The phone performs well too when it came to call quality. Our friends on the other end of the line said they heard us loud and clear but it’s not all rosy as what we got on our end wasn’t the clearest piece of audio. Battery life seems to be an issue with the Nokia Lumia 800 as it is different from the other Nokia and Windows phones that have amazing battery life. If you are an average user, you will be able to use the phone for almost the whole day before you will need a recharge.

Pros and Cons

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The Nokia Lumia 800 is well designed and solid in the hands. We like the Nokia apps that are onboard this phone. Even with a single-core processor, the phone performs its job smoothly.

This smartphone is slightly expensive for its set of specs. We would have also liked a better battery life.

Conclusion  

This phone is just the first of many phones that we are soon to see coming out of Nokia’s stables. Samsung definitely shows that Nokia is on its way up. So if you have the cash then this phone will do the job for you.

Motorola DROID 3

Gone are the days when Motorola DROID was considered to be the Android phone of the generation. It may have been the original flagship started for Android, but the performance of the Motorola DROID 2 didn’t leave as big a mark on the market as its predecessor. Now, Motorola DROID 3 has been released and knowing Motorola’s commitment to the DROID series and it’s no nonsense approach to this series in particular, will this be a success?

Design

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Measuring 124 x 64 x 13 mm, you would not be blamed for noticing the fact that this phone is larger than its predecessors, largely due to its bigger display. However, it’s not as thick as its predecessors which would in a small way reduce your burden when trying to fit the phone in your hand. The phone retains some of the design features from its predecessors but has a tough plastic casing with a soft touch rear making it feel solid though a bit heavy (167 grams) at the same time. The 4 inch qHD display was a definite eye catcher especially since its way bigger than its predecessors. Apart from the usual buttons found around the phone, on this phone, we see the inclusion of a microHDMI-out port. The power button on the Motorola DROID 2 is now in the middle on the top edge like in the Motorola Droid X2 but you need to put a little too much effort to get a response from it. On the front is also the 0.3MP camera to check your make up now and then. Flip the phone and sitting there is the 8MP auto-focus camera with LED flash. The keyboard slides out from the phone and is one of the best keyboards on a smartphone because it’s just spacious and gives an extremely responsive feel.

Features

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The Motorola DROID 3 which fits under the high-end category definitely deserves to stay there as it’s powered by the dual-core 1GHz OMAP4 processor manufactured by Texas Instruments. It’s definitely a high speed machine as it’s capable of tackling multi-tasking jobs 27 percent faster than the Motorola DROID 2 Global besides having a graphics chip that is 30 percent faster. The 512MB RAM on board also helps make things move real fast.

MOTOBLUR isn’t exactly the most popular UI that’s out there and it is not exactly gaining popularity either. However, the Motorola DROID 3 still runs on it albeit being rather similar to the Motorola DROID X2. Running on top of the Android v.2.3.4 Gingerbread it actually comes with its own customized characteristics. This customized interface which allows widgets to be resized is also a pleasure to the eyes with its amazing visuals. However, we must admit, it still needs a bit more work to be up there with the HTC Sense UI which is currently on its own planet. The Motorola DROID 3 is meant for everyone out there as it has all the apps needed like the social networking apps, Gmail and Calendar.

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The 4 inch screen that this phone comes with is somewhat the expected size smarphones – especially those considered high end – are to have these days. Its 540 x 960 resolution is miles apart from its predecessors and this resolution gives some great pixel density. The deep and vibrant colors produced plus the fact that it even makes really small text look readable makes this screen an absolute delight. Nevertheless, it had its shortcomings when we played around with the viewing angles. Colors did fade as the handset was tilted and as we have mentioned with every other phone, the colors wash out when used outdoors.

The Motorola DROID 3 boasts an 8MP auto-focus camera, but does that number mean anything? This camera was a major disappointment as its quality was just bad. This may seem extremely weird, but outdoor shots with natural lighting didn’t do as well as pictures taken indoors with some artificial lighting. Details from pictures taken outdoors weren’t good enough to deserve a mention. Somehow though, the shots taken indoors are better as the colors come out to be neutral. The LED flash was probably the highlight on this otherwise bad camera, as it was able to light up subjects rather well in low light conditions. But then again, this might turn out rather useless as it can’t focus on objects properly in complete darkness. Video recording was definitely better and it records videos at a resolution of 1080p at 29 frames per second.

Battery life from the 1500mAh battery that comes with this phone wasn’t too bad. It would definitely be fine for average users who use it for the usual stuff like emails, calling and some social networking. However, they would still need a recharge at the end of the day. However, power users might need regular charges even within a day. As for the call quality, the voice heard on the earpiece is clear for the most part plus it’s also loud. As for the speakerphone, it’s not the best out there, but I think we can manage with this one.

Pros and Cons

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The Motorola DROID 3 has got a bigger screen compared to its predecessors. Adding to that is the keyboard that has been given a lot of thought as it’s great to use thanks to its responsivenes    s and well spaced out keys. It is also a pretty fast phone as there were no lag issues and most apps ran smoothly even if there were more than one running at a time.

The camera was a major downer as it really took bad photos even outdoors. The battery life could also have been better as it requires more than one recharge a day if you are a power user. It usually goes without saying that you would be a power user to be using a high end phone like the Motorola DROID 3.

Conclusion

The Motorola DROID 3 has come a long way from its predecessors in many ways that are good rather than bad. It does have its downsides, but overall it’s   a great phone to own.

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LG Optimus One P500

Introduction

The  LG Optimus One P500 is definitely not the best phone on the market when it comes to performance or features, but it has a certain appeal that will attract many LG fans. The price is certainly lower than what most people expect for so many features and the overall build quality is higher than that of other phones from its class. However, before you decide if you want to purchase this phone or not, you need to take a closer look at its design and at what it can actually do.

Design

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In a world of large touch screen phones, the LG Optimus One P500 is quite small: 113.5 mm x 59 mm x 13.3 mm. It comes with a 3.2 inch HVGA screen and the only other details that you will notice on the front part of the device are four small buttons on the very bottom: home, menu, search and back. The screen is big enough for more people and thanks to its 129 g weight, holding the phone is not at all difficult and you can fit it in most pockets. Size is a problem with some touch screen phones, but this is not the case here. Dropping the phone is highly unlikely because the surface is coated in rubber and you instantly get a tight grip. A very thin metallic strip runs around the edges of the phone, which gives it a pretty interesting look. This is where you will find the volume and power buttons, the micro USB connector and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Features

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Before we get into the features of the LG Optimus One P500, you should know that the phone runs on the Android Froyo OS with the help of a 600 MHz processor and 419MB of RAM. This combination works fairly well, but if you push the phone hard enough, you will notice that the processor could have been a little stronger. When it comes to storage space, you will only receive 170MB of built in memory and a 2GB memory card in the package. Luckily, you can purchase a secondary microSD of up to 32GB.

The LG Optimus One P500 offers the multitouch feature, but navigating websites is not exactly smooth. The multitouch screen will work admirably in most situations, but the small resolution of 320 x 480 pixels in not ideal, especially for those who want to use the phone for web browsing. Like with most touch screen phones around, you can use the QWERTY keyboard in both landscape and normal viewing mode, which is quite helpful in most situations. The touch detection is not perfect, but it gets better once you get used to it.

One of the biggest problems with internet browsing through the P500 is the lack of Flash Player 10.1 support. This application is not included and it can’t be downloaded either.

The LG Optimus One P500 comes with a decent three megapixel camera. This is not the best camera in the world by any standards, but those who are not particularly interested in snapping high quality pictures won’t have any problems with it. The pictures will come out clear most of the time and if you happen to notice a memorable moment, the camera will help you get through it. Even with just three megapixels, the camera still performs fairly well when it comes to macro images. Another impressive fact about this camera is that it can track faces with impressive accuracy for such a reasonably priced phone. You can also zoom in digitally if you want to through the help of a couple of side buttons. The best part about the camera is that you can choose the ISO level yourself: 100, 200 or 400. This will help you improve the quality of your pictures, so the phone gets a plus in this category. Overall, the 3MP camera is somewhat efficient and the worst part about it is the resolution, the lack of a flashlight and the poor image quality during night shots.

On the video recording front, the P500 offers an above average performance, at least for the phones in its price range: 640×480 resolution at 18 frames per second. Video playback is also quite effective and the sound quality is particularly high. You can use this phone to play DviX and WMV files, which is definitely a plus.

One of the more impressive features offered by this phone is the proximity sensor. This economical addition will turn off the screen when you start talking on the phone. If you move it away from your head, the light will turn on again. This is a pretty interesting addition and it can prove to be quite helpful for those who don’t like talking with a light in their face.

Quite a few applications are available for the LG Optimus One P500. You can use it to play various games, you can download the YouTube app and you can even use the phone as a navigation system. With the Office app you can open or create .doc and .docx files, so, as long as you are used to the touch screen, you can use the phone as a notebook.

Pros and Cons

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The LG Optimus One P500 is quite efficient when it comes to battery life and it performs well in most departments. The operating system knows how to take advantage of the processing unit and RAM and you will enjoy some of the features that LG decided to offer.

On the other hand, the multitouch screen is not the best we’ve seen and you might have some problems with the browsing the internet. The lack of a more efficient camera is also a disadvantage.

Conclusion

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In the end, the LG Optimus One P500 is one of the best phones from its price range. It offers a little bit of everything and most people will be able to overlook most of the minor flaws that come with this device.

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Samsung GALAXY 3

Introduction

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Samsung’s latest line up    caters to those who cannot afford a Galaxy S yet still need to satisfy their Android obsession. The Samsung Galaxy 3 lacks an AMOLED screen unlike its big brother, but on paper it has all the requirements for a convincing mid-range Android phone. The 3.2“ touchscreen itself is capacitive, but uses a TFT LCD, which should have helped to bring the cost down.

Design

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The display is a 3.2” touchscreen with WQVGA resolution, which is quite unpopular among Androids but it has some advantages over QVGA, 25% more pixels and a 15:9 aspect ratio. As for resolution and pixels density, it is considerably low for a 3.2” screen; 240×400 pixels isn’t really that great, as the font and icons look quite pixelated and doesn’t do the software justice since it looks like text in a trimmed image rather than the sharp look of original rendered text. The screen uses capacitive technology to detect even light taps. The display is quite decent under direct sunlight if the brightness is set to max.

Above the display lies the earpiece in the middle and the proximity sensor to its left. On the left side of the phone you have the volume up/down control and a lanyard eyelet while the right is devoid of any buttons, not even a camera button. The top contains the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port. The microUSB port is covered by a plastic flap. The 3.2 MP camera lens is on the back with a “with Google” label. The camera is inset which provides some protection against scratches. The phone’s back is curved in with the top and bottom slightly elevated which also helps protect against scratches. The speaker is considerably close to the edge of the “bump” at the bottom but it doesn’t get muffled easily. Under the back cover you’ll find a 1500 mAh battery and the SIM and microSD card slot. The microSD slot is hot-swappable but the cover needs to be opened first. The slot is on the left side of the device while the SIM card is on the right. The TFT LCD is also prone to fingerprint smudges.

The controls are easy to reach and comfy to use and it also has the TouchWiz v3.0 touchscreen user interface. The camera is slightly improved here with a 3.2 MP camera with an auto focus option. The Galaxy 3 i5800 stands out as well in expandable memory option; it can support up to 32 GB of memory.

Features

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Our incoming calls sounded loud but a bit muffled on the Samsung Galaxy 3 and while the other party could us clearly, the voices were somewhat pitched. The phone’s loudspeaker is strong but the produced sound is tinny. The results are much better in headset mode due to the 5.1 channel surround sound effect.

The TouchWiz interface as a whole feels silky smooth, despite the phone having a 667MHz CPU.

Kinetic scrolling on heavy pages is choppy, however, due to the hardware limitations or software imperfections. The page does smoothly scroll in all directions when zoomed in however. The Galaxy 3 is getting updated to Android 2.2 (FroYo), as Samsung promised, so the browser will include Adobe Flash as well, which, can’t make up for the lag and insufficient WQVGA resolution displaying a pixelated webpage. There is no dedicated camera button on the Galaxy 3 and no flash at all. The camera interface does offer a range of pre-set scene modes, as well as useful modes such as panorama, continuous shooting and smile detection. The 3MP pictures aren’t bad for the resolution since the camera captures enough detail with true colours and decent focus. The manual touch focus, however, doesn’t always lock the object correctly, and the pictures usually come out blurred.

Samsung is great in video format support section and the Galaxy 3 is no stranger to DivX/XviD formats, being capable of playing it out of the box. Videos play all the way up to the 720×480 resolution.

There is a huge 1500mAh battery inside the Samsung Galaxy 3, which is supposed to last for 7hrs of talk time and 21 days of standby in 3G mode.

Pros and Cons   

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The Samsung Galaxy 3 comes with a superb SNS integration with contacts and very up-to-date Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards. It also plays DivX/Xvid formats out of the box without any fiddling on the part of the user and is able to support up to 32GB external memory.

The low screen resolution and unpredictable touch focus is combined with poor video recording and frequent lags may leave some looking for other phones.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy 3 makes a persuasive mid-range Android device with its capacitive screen, refined TouchWiz interface with SNS integration and substantial battery size. The design is a bit lacking, and the CPU plus the screen resolution render browsing often jerky and pixelated. It should be mainly used for social networking integration and the extensive video format support, but for quality photo shoots and HD videos you will want to have a look elsewhere.

The price has to be cheap but it’s hardly a clear cut choice as you’ll have to weigh the features and the price difference among other Android 2.2 (FroYo) phones.

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Samsung I9000 Galaxy S

 

Introduction

The Samsung GALAXY S comes with a large 4” Super AMOLED display and a 1GHz Hummingbird heart of the device which seems to be Samsung’s answer to the Snapdragon cores found in the current cream-of-the-crop handsets. And with the newest edition of the TouchWiz UI, we are looking forward to reviewing it.

Design

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The Samsung GALAXY S I9000 is a typical rectangular representative of the big touchscreen phone; with the recessed screen just a little below the rim of the casing, it is protected from direct contact with hard surfaces when placed face-down. As expected from a 4” display, most of the frontal space is occupied by it but with room spared above and below it for the earpiece and navigational buttons.

The three keys below the screen are home, physical menu and back. Holding the context menu key fires up the smart search function, so we actually have all four standard Android keys present. The other elements above the screen are the earpiece slit, a front facing VGA cam, and the sensors for proximity and ambient light. The back hosts the 5MP camera lens in the upper left corner while the speaker grill is located on the right. Below those lies the “with Google” branding, which hints a full-featured Android device, with the whole set of Google services preinstalled, ever subtly.

Samsung also included a sliding lid over the microUSB port at the top of the Samsung GALAXY S which prevents dirt and lint from clogging the port. The top also houses the 3.5mm audio jack, which also serves as a S-video port for TV-out, but only if you buy the additional cable. While it would have been nice to have an HDMI-out port instead, Samsung has obviously decided to leave the GALAXY S out of the multimedia battles. The exterior exudes a simple yet streamlined design.

The handset’s design is more practical and comfortable for holding thanks to a hump at the very bottom of its back cover. The Galaxy S is only 0.39” (9.9mm) which is a very praiseworthy achievement due to the technology behind the 480×800 pixels WVGA Super AMOLED screen. With Samsung having disposed of the air layer between the touch sensitive panel and the display, and instead placed the touch sensor directly over it, almost like coating, with a thickness of about 0.000040” (0.001 mm) while weighing a measly 119 grams in total. It has wider viewing angles as compared to others and is very usable under direct sunlight thanks to the lack of air pocket in the Super AMOLED technology. With the Super AMOLED as great as it is, the only flaw is that small texts are pretty hard to read due to every pixel being visible; probably due to a low ppi(pixels per inch) count.

Features

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Samsung’s TouchWiz has left Android’s notification bar at the top that lets you toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ringer and vibration on/off which is a very nice shortcut. The dock at the bottom screen contains four icons: Phone, Contacts, Messaging and Applications and are docked wherever you navigate in the home or menu screens. The Applications icon becomes Home when you enter the apps menu and vice versa and is the only icon on the dock that you can’t replace with other shortcuts in edit mode.

The Samsung GALAXY S can have up to seven home screens, which can be populated with widgets; launch icons and folders by tapping and/or holding on an empty space. Unfortunately they don’t zoom out, so you’d have to swipe six times to get from the first to the last home screen or use the small dots up the screen for that. Only with pressing the physical home button, always takes you to the default first homescreen. Pressing the back key will only return you to the home screen you were before entering.

With Google Voice Search you don’t even have to type to perform a search from the home screen! Out of the other Android widgets, the best ones we decided were Power control, which lets you switch on/off radios and adjust brightness; and Picture frame, which populates home screens with pictures of your choosing. Even though Samsung’s widgets are a bit repetitive, they are for the most part, helpful. We say the more, the merrier. Another fairly useful widget is the Feeds and Updates which should satiate your thirst for social interaction on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace right from a home screen!

While in edit mode, the application shortcuts can be rearranged in the current page, sent to different ones or to the dock. The applications themselves can also be completely uninstalled by tapping on the minus sign in the upper right of their icons, instead of uninstalling from settings. With all that said, navigating TouchWiz 3.0 in the Samsung GALAXY S I9000, is an incremental improvement over the stock Android experience, which is well tailored to the huge screen of the device.

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We’d be thoughtless if we didn’t mention Samsung’s touted Social Hub, which basically pulls in all your SNS (Social Network Services), email and IM accounts, so you can create a message and shoot it out with whatever you choose at a simple tap. It is actually much more than that since it spreads throughout the interfaces. Contacts, for example, also show their Google Talk IM status with a colored dot against their names, which is most similar to the UX user interface of the Sony Ericsson Xperia line. The Activities tab in the contacts screen will show an aggregate view of your communications history, regardless of the source and means of that communication. These communication stories can also be found in the history tab of each contact, but are restricted to your interactions with this contact only. Entering the media tab from a single contact view can even show you the latest albums your friends have uploaded on Facebook, for example. That’s how deep the Social Hub function goes which is Samsung’s response to the likes of Timescape and the Sense UI.

Texting and email tools on the Samsung GALAXY S had mixed reactions since there is Google’s Mail app, which works as advertised, with search, labels and all. Not to mention the Samsung email client for other general web-based email services like Hotmail or Yahoo, and for your corporate Exchange accounts. The phone’s own email app has the cool features of TouchWiz 3.0, such as the combined inbox, where all your set email accounts pour in their messages and are differentiated with colour coding.

We were mildly surprised to have trouble finding settings for message sizes and the amount to download. These are usually placed in the incoming server settings, but in the GALAXY S are nowhere to be seen, even for such a popular service like Gmail. Even after trying both default IMAP, and manually set up POP3 access, messages keep coming in an undisclosed size and you have to manually fetch every single attachment, which is pretty annoying. This leaves an otherwise good feature, such as the ability to search in both email applications, a bit underutilized, as it will only be searching through the text of very recent messages, if you suddenly find yourself offline and in need an attachment.

In both the Messaging and Email apps, pinch to zoom can be used while reading a message and it enlarges the text and/or pictures inside for easier viewing. Swiping right or left on a conversation thread in the main Messaging screen lets you call, or message the contact, and it also works on the contacts in the phonebook.

Typing in landscape mode is a breeze, since the keyboard layout is similar to the iPhone’s, which is not a bad thing. The only two different keys on the bottom row were added due to the larger screen of the GALAXY S I9000; the separate dot key, and a settings key with the latter letting you choose languages or one of the other three keyboard types. The 3×4 keypad only works in portr   ait mode suitable one-handed typing and there are two types of handwriting boxes, if you are so inclined. You can also change key sets by swiping.

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The manufacturer’s design choices reconfirmed for us that the camera capabilities haven’t been its top priority with the GALAXY S, as it is lacking both a flash and a dedicated shutter key. Taking pictures is executed by tapping directly on the virtual shutter button which is fine once you get the hang of it. The camera interface is also similar as to those found on the recent Samsung high-end devices and offers an abundance of preset modes.

Pictures are mostly acceptable but since there’s no flash, things tend to get pretty ugly once the light becomes dangerous low, so bear that in mind. The video shots outside were nice and crisp, but was kind of jumpy with fast moving objects or when scanning the horizon moving the phone quickly. There is a nice button that can max out the brightness of the screen with one tap right from the camera interface to help framing when it’s sunny. The Samsung GALAXY S I9000 will play almost whatever you throw at it. We maxed out at 1280×720 in DivX/Xvid format and it didn’t lag at all. It also has subtitles support similar to the Wave.

Despite Samsung’s homemade 1GHz Hummingbird processor, you sometimes have to wait 3-4 seconds after tapping to enter some applications, including Messaging and Contacts, if they haven’t been residing in the memory lately, which is quite a letdown. This only occurred when it gets hogged down by intensive work in the background, and is probably due to Android having the last six applications used lingering underneath. Messaging is particularly slow to appear on first start, but sometimes even the Phone takes a few seconds before it goes beyond the initial black screen.

As a phone the Samsung GALAXY S I9000 is fairly albeit with some echo on the receiving end. While the loudspeaker is not loud enough even at the max volume, the audio output is acceptable. The supplied headset produces an incredibly deep and crisp sound, which does well in isolating the ambient noise. The basses don’t sound hollow, and the 5.1 channel surround button actually accentuates the voice of the singer, giving it a very satisfying experience.

With the 1500mAh battery rated for 6 and a half hour of talk time in 3G mode and 24 days of standby, it is on the long side for a giant screen multitasker. We got a full day out of the handset even though the assorted collection of live wallpapers should have drained the battery more than usual. Four hours of constant browsing over Wi-Fi and exploring the handset with the screen constantly on, plus about 20 minutes of talktime only set us back to half the battery charge!

Pros and Cons

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The gigantic 4” Super AMOLED screen coupled with its high-definition 30fps video already gives it high marks in our books. Playing DivX/Xvid video in big resolutions is an added bonus!

The slow start time with a number of applications and lack of flash combined with its low ppi count screen (possibly) may be a deal breaker for some.

Conclusion

Samsung is doing well with the innovation going on hardware level seeing as the Samsung Galaxy S I9000 benefitting from a giant Super AMOLED screen and a 1GHz Hummingbird CPU. There is a lot to like in the Samsung Galaxy S I9000, and once you start using such a huge and vibrant display on the thin and light handset, you’re unlikely to ever go back to TFT again. Not only does the Galaxy S have a performance edge over its competitors, it’s somewhat better too in terms of usability thanks to the TouchWiz UI.

If you are looking for the ultimate Android device, there are very few things that can really make you consider any other handset; and with Android 2.2 updates coming up, you’d be really hard pressed!

Samsung phones preview: most affordable smartphones in Kenya in 2016

It has been established that Kenya’s Samsung smartphones are simply the best and this brand is definitely the king of the smartphones jungle. This brand provides some of the best smartphones with the best quality than what you may get in other gadgets. At the end of the day what people need in a good phone is something that has the best quality. You will agree with me that most of the smartphones that we have in Kenya are of low quality in terms of their specs and the hardware that these phones are made of.

The only thing that you get from such substandard smartphones is a cheap deal, but cheap has not always been the best option as it may cost you more in future. The thing that has made Samsung smartphones stand out in Kenya is the fact that the quality never disappoints. The only thing with this brand is that you have to dig deeper into your pocket to get yourself the Samsung smartphone. The best part of the whole story is that whichever Samsung smartphone you will get, it will serve its purpose quite well and will serve you longer than most of the smartphones in town. I will take you through some of the affordable Samsung smartphones in Kenya, and I am sure that from this list, there is something that you will take home with.

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Duos

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Duos kenya

Well, if you have been thinking of settling down with a Samsung smartphone but can’t get one because of the high prices, I have some good news for you for there is something better for you in the market. You don’t always have to settle for less in the quest of getting a smartphone, I suggest that you look for more viable options that may work for you, the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Duos is one of the options that you may consider. The price is less that KSh 15, 000 which is quite affordable. One thing that I know for sure is that Samsung smartphones defy time. People who use the Samsung smartphone in Kenya may take over one and a half years or even two years before they upgrade to another phone. Even as they upgrade, most of their phones are always in good conditions. This is not always the case with other cheap smartphones that we have in the country which may need you to upgrade your smartphone even before the year ends. Let me list some of the specs that may be useful to you as you make the choice of this smartphone.

  • Operating system – Android  4.4.4 KitKat
  • RAM – 1GB
  • ROM – 8Gb
  • Camera – 5MP back, 2MP front
  • Screen size – 4.5 inch
  • Dual sim – Yes

The above are some of the specs that matter to most Kenyans when they are choosing a smartphone to buy. KitKat may not be the latest Android operating system but it will give you service that will impress you. This combined with the 1GB RAM that the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Duos comes with will ensure that you get ultimate speed when you are operating the apps on your phone. One thing that I would bank on when it comes to Samsung smartphones in Kenya is that the users are rarely disappointed when it comes to speed. People who use Samsung smartphones will confirm to you that this is one of the smartphones in Kenya that will not hang while you are using it. The camera is really amazing considering the price that this phone comes with, I have confirmed with some of my friends who own this gadget that it has some of the best images. An internal memory as large as 8GB is something that we cannot complain about given the price of this gadget, so we will settle that the storage capacity is great without forgetting that it can be expanded up to 64GB. Kenyans love having a smartphone with dual sim slots, the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Duos will definitely give you this experience. Other specs that make this phone a great phone for you is the screen size of 4.5 inch which is quite comfortable to handle and fits well in the palm of your hands.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Duos LTE

Samsung Galaxy A3 Duos LTE

Samsung Galaxy A3 Duos LTE comes at a price range of less that KSh 25, 000 in some of the store in Kenya. It comes in a great design that will keep you at the top of the game. Some of the specs that it comes with are,

  • Operating system – Android  4.4.4 KitKat
  • RAM – 1GB
  • ROM – 16Gb
  • Camera – 5MP back, 2MP front
  • Screen size – 4.5 inch
  • Dual sim – yes

This is yet another smartphone that you may consider buying if you have to get a Samsung smartphone that is budget friendly. This smartphone will serve Kenyans that need speed when it comes to connectivity. With 4G connectivity, you will be able to do a lot with your smartphone such as live streaming of videos as well as conduct video calls without much of a hustle.  The internal storage is also larger than that of Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Duos that is why you will have to dig much deeper to get this smartphone. Most smartphones in Kenya don’t have the privilege of having the 4G connectivity that is why I would advice those who need speed at their disposal to get the Samsung Galaxy A3 Duos LTE.

Samsung Galaxy A5 Duos LTE

Samsung Galaxy A5 Duos LTE

To get the Samsung Galaxy A3 Duos LTE you will need a budget of around KSh 30,000 or less to get this phone. I will guarantee you that this phone is definitely better and worth every coin that you will spend on it. With the specs that it comes with, it is the Samsung smartphone that is affordable to most Kenyans. Some of the specs it comes with are:

  • Operating system – Android  4.4.4 KitKat
  • RAM – 2GB
  • ROM – 16Gb
  • Camera – 13MP back, 5MP front
  • Screen size – 5.0 inch
  • Dual sim – yes

If you are keen enough you have already noticed that this phone brings more goodies to the user at a very good price.  The 2GB RAM in the Samsung Galaxy A5 will definitely serve you better if you are the kind of person who loves speed when it comes to operating the apps on your phone. The best part is the fact that this phone is 4G enabled and thus, when it comes to connectivity you will get the best that you can imagine of in a smartphone. The camera is really awesome with quality images that will maintain your memories just as you would like them to be. The front camera gives you the best selfie that retains your beautiful images just as you would want them to be. if you are the kind of person that loves watching videos with your smartphone, this is the phone that will give you the ultimate experience with that. The 5.0-inch screen is slightly larger than Samsung smartphones in Kenya that has the price range which Samsung Galaxy A5 has. The screen employs the Corning Gorilla technology to make sure that your screen remains as good as new. This is why I would vote for the Samsung smartphone as many times as I can because even after using this smartphone for a very long time, your screen will look really great and no one can actually give your phone the bad look because of the screen. It is really great. With all the great stuff that this phone comes with, the makers remembered to give us the privilege of having dual sim slots. This means that your Samsung smartphone will not limit you to one service provider but gives you the freedom to choose among many of the service providers that we have in Kenya and better still you can have more than two.

End of Story

With the above reviews, you have noticed that it is very possible for you to own a Samsung smartphone in Kenya at an affordable price. There is much more that you can get from the Samsung side that will not disappoint you. I always say that a smartphone is one of the gadgets that you keep so close to you probably more than anything else that you may have. This is why you have to make a wise decision every time you want to get a new smartphone. I find myself recommending the Samsung smartphone to most of my friends. It is one of the smartphones that will always make you feel like you used your money on something that was worth. The other thing is that the quality of Samsung smartphone is always high and that is what most Kenyans will ask for in a smartphone.

HTC-Wildfire-S

HTC Wildfire S

HTC has re   leased another mid-ranged Android phone for those who were on a budget but wanting to get their hands on new phones. Introducing the HTC Wildfire S, this is an upgraded version of the HTC Wildfire running on the latest Android OS v2.3 Gingerbread. Reducing the phone size but maintaining the same 3.2 inch screen makes this phone under the list of most budget shoppers.

Design

HTC-Wildfire-S

There is four colors to choose from that is black, silver, lilac or brown. Phone size measuring at 101.3 x 59.4 x 12.4 mm, the HTC Wildfire S is much smaller but wider than HTC Wildfire. It has a solid bar form and a sleek finish. From the front you can see there are four capacitive buttons consist of home, menu, back and search. HTC got rid of the Optical trackpad that has not much of usage as now what we mostly do is touching the screen. Screen size is 3.2 inch, same like the old version. At the left side there is the volume rocker and microUSB port. On the top, there is a 3.5 mm audio jack and also the power/lock button. The camera with LED flash is located at the back of the phone together with the loudspeaker. By opening the back cover of the phone there is a SIM slot and a microSD memory card slot that can support up to 32 GB. This phone does have a solid feel and it comfortably sits in the palm. Weight is lighter than the older version at only 105g.

Features

HTC-Wildfire-S

The HTC Wildfire S comes with a slight upgrade in terms of the processor speed. Instead of ARM 11 528MHz, now it utilizes the ARM 11 600MHz so can say it’s not much of an upgrade but that’s what the price to pay for it so no complaint there. From the OS viewpoint we can see that now the phone is come installed with the newest Android v2.3 Gingerbread. In addition to the latest version of the Android OS, this phone has seven customizable home pages allowing users to customize at their own way. HTC has also included the latest HTC Sense V3.0 UI which is a great addition to this phone with new home screen that can be viewed in 3D.

Screen resolution of this phone has been upgraded to 320 x 480 pixels as well so much brighter and color compared to the HTC Wildfire with only 240 x 320 pixels only. Screen size is same but with the added ambient light sensor feature which would auto adjust to the screen brightness according to dark or light situations.

Several upgraded features had been added to this phone also. For connectivity, HTC runs at 114 kbps. For EDGE is at 560 kbps and also at 3G is 7.2 Mbps for download while 384 kbps for upload. Wi-Fi has been upgraded as well. It supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and can say it’s a plus improvement for this phone. Bluetooth has been upgraded to V3.0 with A2DP. SMS function is a bit hard to type because of the small screen so the keyboard is squeezed together while in landscape mode the enter button is near the home capacitive button. Often we would accidentally pressed the home button instead of the enter button so hope HTC would improve this in the future.

HTC-WIldfire-S

The camera feature had not much of an improvement from the previous Wildfire. There is no secondary camera at the front just like the previous version. It comes with a 5.0 Mega Pixel camera and an LED flash at the back. Still picture capturing maximum resolution is 2592 x 1944 pixels. New added features to the phones camera are Touch-focus, Image stabilizer and Face detection. Video recording is not as great as it would appear lag when playing back the video. 720 x 480 at 24 fps appears to be not much of an appeal there.

Lastly the battery life is not so impressive but still acceptable. HTC Wildfire S uses Li-Ion 1230 mAh battery but its predecessor uses Li-Ion 1300 so the new HTC Wildfire had a weaker battery life than the old version. Standby time for this phone at 2G is 360 hours while at 3G is 570 hours. Calling time for 2G is 07 hours and 10 minutes while on 3G its 05 hours and 50 minutes. This phone does not have a dedicated mic and calling quality is soft.

Pros and Cons

HTC-Wildfire-S

HTC Wildfire S does have upgraded their processor speed and also the resolution for the screen so it’s still an upgrade but not significant. Camera quality is quite ok with still photo shooting but video is still on the down side. The new HTC Sense v3.0 is better than the previous phone. This is to be said a mid-range phone so for non-hardcore users it’s worth the budget.

Secondary camera would be greatly appreciated but unfortunately there is not one on this phone. Battery life should have been better than the previous version but this phone does not have a longer battery life than HTC Wildfire. Call quality and SMS keyboard interface should be taken care of as well to improve the basic features of the phone.

Conclusion

Overall this is a good phone. It does not burn a big hole in your wallet for those who wants to own an Android phone and on a budget. This phone is definitely not suitable for those who need a power phone.