The Grass always looks Greener on the Other Side – a look at Android

The grass always looks green on the other side – until you cross to the other side, that is.

I have treated myself to experience devices on a number of mobile platforms, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm, Maemo and Android. My background from the word go was Symbian.

All over the world, there is a huge crowd crying out for the newer, shinier mobile operating systems, iOS and Android being the most demanded. However, before you make that switch, here is more food for thought. I am one to always recommend that you think of your unique needs and situations before investing your hard-earned money in anything. It just makes sense.

I have been using the Android-powered Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro for a few months now, and while I love the device and the OS, there are some issues that just keep grating my nerves. This does not make the Mini pro a bad device or Android a useless OS. No; this is just so you know.

The following are weaknesses of Android-powered devices in general that I have faced the more I use the Mini Pro:

  1. Not-so-good to poor battery life, depending on the device
  2. Heavy data consumption
  3. Poor non-Gmail email experience

Note that before arriving at the above conclusions, I had also scoured the internet to see if these were common issues with Android. Generally speaking, I have found them so.

Not-so-good to poor battery life, depending on the device
This is so well documented that I do not need to say much about it here, so I’ll just skip.

Heavy data consumption
Android OS seems to have been designed to connect to the internet for everything. Setting up any Android device requires an internet connection and a Gmail account. Thereafter, it doesn’t get better. Unless you do not need PUSH email and so turn off auto-sync, your droid stays continually connected to your Google mail, contacts and calendars – and guzzles your data while at it.

Not only that, automatic app updates require that connection as well. Unless you are willing to turn background data off and lose auto mail/contacts/calendars sync and access to the Market, you are going to be burning lots of data.

I used to get by with a 100Mb data plan on my smartphones. There were many months in which I did not exhaust my data allocation. My troubles started with the Maemo-powered N900 and now Android-powered X10 Mini Pro.

With the Mini Pro, for example, I had subscribed to a 150Mb plan from Glo on the 20th of September. By the 5th of october, it was all gone! I re-subscribed on the 6th. Ten days later, it was gone. Then I re-subscribed on the 16th. Today, the 25th, I have been told that I have 29Mb left, along with a renewal/cancellation notice.

That’s N3,000 (450Mb) for on-phone data in about the space of a month! This is not happening, I have been thinking to myself.

Note that I have PC internet both at home and at work, and I am not tethering with my device. This is on-phone usage.

Poor non-Gmail email experience
This may sound unbelievable to those who had thought that email was a strength of android, but I am having email problems that have remained unsolved. Gmail works fine. You see, Gmail, not email in general, is a strength of Android.

I have tried setting up other non-Gmail accounts e.g. my business mail, and failed every single time. I keep getting a server settings error, though all settings I enter are correct. This same email account that won’t work on my Mini Pro works on other platforms and other mail clients.

The internet is littered with people who have all kinds of email issues with Android. Even on v2.1, email is described as buggy in a number of places.

Till this minute, all that I have on my X10 Mini Pro is my Google-based email.

If I may mention, the only mobile OSes on which I have had no issues with email are Windows Mobile and Palm. Apart from BlackBerry which I never got to use for long enough to be able to tell, the others that I have used have been found wanting in one way or the other with regards email.

Well, there you are. If battery life and email are really important to you, and you are looking to keep your monthly mobile internet bills as low as can be, perhaps you need to re-think getting on the Android groove. Just saying.

Just don’t forget – very often, the grass looks green on the other side. Till you get there.

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MTN introduces Micro SIM cards for Apple iPad and iPhone 4 Users in Nigeria

Just last week, Mobility Nigeria’s top executive, Mr. Yomi Adegboye published an article on the state of the Nigerian mobile ecosystem about new trends in the Nigerian mobile space. In that article, he dropped the hint that the Apple iPhone would soon be available from one of the major GSM network carriers in Nigeria.

Well, over the weekend MTN Nigeria published an announcement introducing “Micro SIM cards for the Apple iPad and iPhone 4 users in Nigeria” in the Sunday Vanguard Newspaper.

The MTN announcement noted that “in keeping with the fast pace of innovation in telecom services,” they have now introduced Micro SIM cards for use in compatible devices such as the Apple’s iPad and iPhone 4 Smartphones.

This micro-SIM card is said to measure 12 X 15mm and it is a diminutive plastic card about 52% smaller than a standard SIM card, and also has adequate storage space on chip for provider applications, increased control and security functions.

MTN Nigeria boasted that their customers “will be the first to in Nigeria to benefit from convenient access to Micro SIM cards”. The Micro SIM card would be available to both their pre-paid and post-paid customers at a cost of only 1,000 NGN.

This news though laudable still falls short of bringing the iPhone 4 and other iOS devices to Nigeria. Can we rightfully imply that with this announcement, MTN is preparing the ground for a more formal launch of the iPhone in Nigeria? Your guess is probably as good as mine. We can only wait and see.

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Smartphone Show October 2010 recap – and Promo Winners!

The October 2010 edition of the Smartphone Show has come and gone. This afternoon at the Guest House, University of Lagos, seven (7) of us gathered, talked, shared and demonstrated.

The discussions were rich and it was clear that everyone there was passionate about mobile devices and services. Four smartphone platforms were represented – Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian and Blackberry.

The discussions and interactions were so engaging that the meeting easilly went on till almost 4.00 p.m. when I had to reluctantly bring it to a halt. If you missed this maiden edition, you missed history!

But after all the talking and demonstrating, there was one more task left to do.

WIN-a-Smartphone Promo Winners!

For the last two months, Mobility Nigeria has run a promo in which participants had the opportunity to win one top-end smartpjhone and two other phones. All persons who purchased a phone from the phone store during the duration, as well as all persons who purchased our special Blogsite offer, were entered for the promo.

At today’s event, we solicited the help of three participants to help draw names of the winners. The picture above shows Belushi helping to pick the name of the 2nd Prize winner. Let the drums roll, as I present to you the winners and their prizes!

3rd Prize – Nokia C3
– Mr. Olufemi Bankole (Lbankz here on Mobility Nigeria)

2nd Prize – Nokia 5230 (Symbian smartphone)
– Dr. Ovie Albert (Afewgoodmen here on Mobility Nigeria)

Grand Prize – Samsung 8500 Wave (Bada smartphone)
– Dr. Abiose Adedoyin (deoladoctor here on Mobility Nigeria)

We will be sending out the prizes sometime this week, so winners can expect them before the end of the week or early next week.

Our promos are going to run regularly, so look out for more opportunities to win something.

This edition of the show is now history, but all of us who attended have pleasant memories to take with us. Thanks to those who showed up! Let’s do it again soon!

In the meantime, here are pictures from the event:

“These are some pictures from the maiden edition of Mobility Nigeria’s Smartphone Show.”

From Smartphone Show – October 2010, posted by Yomi Adegboye on 10/23/2010 (10 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher


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Glo Infinito (25k per sec) now active in Lagos

Back in September, GloMobile announced Glo Infinito, a package that offers subscribers call tarrifs of 25 kobo per second. Back then, the service was limited to specific regions of Nigeria – and Lagos was not included.

GloMobile logoHowever, after kay123, a regular here mentioned that he was billed at the Glo Infinito tariffs while in Lagos, I have been able to confirm that I am now being billed 25 kobo per second now too. I placed a 1 minute 45 second call to a contact on MTN this morning and was billed N26.75 only.

With just 25 kobo per second for all calls to any network in Nigeria without any rental or access fee. Note again: there is no daily rental or access charge.

The package also offers free midnight calls from 12midnight to 5a.m. and a bonus of between 10% and 20% for every recharge with N500 and above.

To activate Glo Infinito, dial *103*1*1#.

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State of the Nigerian Mobile Eco-system

The mobile ecosystem in Nigeria sure is changing – and almost too fast to keep up with.

Nokia has been in the news of late and they appear to be a key pivot in this change. For the first time, a manufacturer is taking pre-orders for a mobile device (the Nokia N8). For the first time in Nigeria, a manufacturer is meeting with developers, listening and actively supporting them. For the first time, we have a Nigerian-made application pre-installed on a smartphone (GTB app on the Nokia N8).

To add more spice, for the first time, a manufacturer is interested in sending out review units of their devices. Back at Mobifest 2010, I had spoken with Praveen Shetty, Head of Solutions at Nokia West Africa about getting review devices to Mobility Nigeria. At our meeting yesterday, he confirmed that he would work towards getting a Nokia N8 across to me for review once the first shipment arrives.

So, we can keep our fingers crossed and expect a detailed N8 review, all other things being equal.

I had a brief feel of the N8 at Nokia yesterday (both Praveen and Teemu had one each). Seeing and handling one in the flesh left good impressions. I can’t answer any questions on the N8 now, as my time with it was brief, but I am certainly looking forward to a review.

Nokia is not the only company rocking the boat. While I also cannot give details, I have it on good authority (this is not a rumour but a done deal) that the iPhone is coming to a Nigerian network soon. No; I can’t tell beyond this, so don’t ask.

Moving away from devices, there appears to be some progress on the m-commerce front. I gather that VTN is test-running their m-payment platform right now. MMIT is also at an advanced stage, having sucessfully sent money across national borders. The GTBank app pre-installed on the Nokia N8 already has me looking forward to using the device.

Once the hurdles of regulations are crossed, we can start rocking. We are looking forward to seeing home-grown apps and m-commerce blossoming.

The Nigerian mobile ecosystem is about to explode. Exciting days are ahead of us. Welcome to new possibilities!

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Nigerian Developers get support from Nokia

I am just back from a meeting at Nokia West Africa (Nigeria) Limited where I met with Praveen Shetty (Head of Solutions: Nigeria) and Teemu Kiijarvi (Forum Nokia Developer Relations Manager, MEA). We had very fruitful discussions about Nokia’s new drive for supporting Nigerian developers.

For example, the manufacturing giant has plans for developer workshops and other meetings through which they can support developers with information, skills development and tools that will make it easier for them to create great applications. Developing platforms that Nokia are pushing including QT (for both Symbian and MeeGo) and J2ME (java). If you want to learn to develop apps in these platforms, please head over to Forum Nokia for tutorials and tools to help you design, create and publish your apps.

For those with no programming skils but who would like to create simple widget-type apps for their web content, the Ovi App Wizard lets you do this in minutes. The MobiNigeria app for Symbian is an example of this.

Our statistics for the MobiNigeria app for Symbian shows that there have been 84 active users and 659 pageviews in the last 30 days. Not bad. With support from Nokia, I am sure that we can push some more.

We will certainly be bringing you more information about this subject here on Mobility Nigeria, so if you are a developer or a mobile startup looking for opportunities, Nokia say they have your back. This is a good time to get on the mobile apps train in Nigeria, as the opportunities and possibilities abound.

One thing is certain, the mobile apps landscape in Nigeria is set to change for good with this move by Nokia. One certainly can only hope that other manufacturers follow in their steps.

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Nokia puts Nigeria on the Map; Nokia N8 available by Pre-order

Whenever I read news of mobile phone manufacturers releasing new devices, it is a little frustrating because none of those devices are available by pre-order from Nigeria. But I am so glad that all this is about to change.

According to today’s edition of The Guardian Newspaper, Nokia is set to release the much anticipated Nokia N8 phone to Nigeria and even better is the fact that it can be pre-ordered right from here. Nokia’s head of Communications West Africa, Mr. Osagie Ogunbor, has stated that the N8 smartphone would first be available to premium consumers who place a pre-order for the N8 online or at Nokia retail stores. In the same statement by Ogunbor, he noted that Nokia’s premium customers would first get the handset before it becomes available to the general market.

Early adopters who wish to own the phone early can pre-order online using their ATM card at www.quickteller.com/nokian8. The N8 pre-order will set back your bank account by just N79,999.00. For a high-specified device like the N8, that sounds like a deal!

Apart from having the latest version of the latest Ovi store and free Ovi maps services, GTBank customers will also be able to perform virtually all their banking transactions from their N8.

The Nokia N8 is a multi-media monster with features that include the sleeker Symbian^3 user interface, multi-touch support and true multi-tasking. Ogunbor also explained some of the unique qualities of the handset which he dubbed “the world’s best camera phone”.

“The Nokia N8 lets you take the highest quality photos and shoot HD-quality videos in supreme clarity with the 12MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics. You can edit photos and videos on-screen and choose from multiple ways to share them; transfer large files to an external hard-drive with USB-on-the-go, or upload photos to social networks like Facebook, Twitter straight from the home screen. All this is delivered in a robust aluminum body in a range of vibrant colors with a real-glass 3.5” AMOLED display,” Ogunbor added.

I believe this is very good news. With Nokia seriously embracing the Nigerian market, other manufacturers like Apple or Android phone manufacturers like HTC may soon have a presence in the most popular country in Africa. Nokia’s timely action today in my opinion is a harbinger of more good things to come!

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The Apple AppStore now has more than 300,000 apps

Though it can be argued, I still believe that the Apple AppStore is the undisputed leader among mobile phone third party applications stores. Reports from several sources now show that the Apple app store has exceeded the 300,000 mark. This feat was accomplished in less than 2 months after it passed 250,000 applications count.

Gsmarena reported today that a “report from Mobclix puts the app count at just over 300 thousand and another report from 148Apps puts the count at 333 thousand (in the US App Store, counting inactive apps too)”.

By the way, the breakdown of the 300,000+ available apps is as follows:

  • Paid apps: 207,000 (69%)
  • Free apps: 94,000 (31%)

On the other hand, 50,000 of the total apps are books. These “book apps” may not be fully classified as Apps in the strict sense of the word, but they usually offer more functionality for instance than ebooks from the ibooks store or amazon. Even with this factored in, 250,000 apps is still more than 2 times larger than the nearest competitor which is the Android Application store that has 100,000 apps.

The true empowering apps are games which number 50,000. Games are an important part of any Smartphone ecosystem and also important in this statistics, because the Top 5 application titles in both the paid and free rankings are games.

An intriguing area to look into is the average cost for games. Games in the App Store cost an average 1.21 US dollars and other apps go for 2.85 USD on average. Apple has also changed their store policy and has made it more Developer friendly because the average time Developers have to wait to get their app/game approved is less than two weeks!

Via: Gsmarena

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Battery Life on the X10 Mini pro

Battery life has become a nagging headache for the majority of today’s touchscreen smartphones. Those displays with the fancy user interfaces that require high-clock CPUs simply guzzle humongous amounts of power. In many cases, the batteries do not last through a day of heavy use.

I have had the X10 Mini Pro for a couple of months now. As a rule, it gets me through a day of intensive use. By intensive use, I mean that the Mini Pro is automatically syncing with Gmail, Google contacts and Google calendar on a 3G connection, making and receiving calls, sending and receiving SMS, and being used for Facebook and web browsing.

By way of comparison, for example, I had to set the Nokia N900 to connect to my mail server once every 2 hours in order to get the battery to last me till 5 p.m. If set the mail client to a sync time of 5 minutes, the N900’s battery gives up in a few hours.

I ran an extreme battery test on the X10 Mini Pro to see how much to expect of it in a worst case scenario. In this test, here are the parametres that I set up:

  1. I charged the battery full
  2. Set network mode to always-on 3G
  3. switched WiFi radio on
  4. switched Bluetooth on
  5. set volume to loudest
  6. set Gmail synchronisation to automatic, so delivering always-on real-time email
  7. set the display backlight to brightest
  8. watched a movie for about 20 minutes
  9. played some music for about 10 minutes
  10. automatic synchronisation with Google calendar and contacts

During the period of the test, I received 2 SMS conversations and had three phone calls of a little over 4 minutes. I also browsed the web for 1 hour.

The test commenced at 7.25 p.m. About nine hours and twenty minutes later, the X10 Mini pro shut down at 4.43 a.m. That kind of result in an extreme situation suggests that my regular experience of having the battery last a day or more is just fine.

The X10 Mini Pro’s battery life is very much comparable to the Touch Pro2’s. Certainly much, much better than what the N900 delivers.

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WindowsPhone 7 off to a flying start with a deluge of devices

Microsoft’s new Windowsphone 7 OS got off with a flying start today with the announcement of a deluge of devices, many of which will be in the market in weeks.

HTC
HTC took the spotlight with five (5) devices announced. They include:

  1. HTC 7 Surround: 3.8″ display. Features a Dolby Mobile system with SRS WOW HD sound. Exclusive to AT&T in the US
  2. HTC 7 Mozart: 3.7″ display. 8 megapixel camera. Built from a single piece of aluminum.
  3. HTC 7 Trophy: a 3.8″ display
  4. HTC HD7: 4.3″ display. T-Mobile.
  5. HTC 7 Pro: slide-out QWERTY keyboard. For Sprint

Samsung
Samsung have two devices in their WP7 lineup:

  1. Samsung i8700 Omnia 7 – 4″ Super AMOLED screen
  2. Samsung Focus for AT&T – 4″ Super AMOLED screen. Has microSD slot.

LG
LG also has two (2) devices announced:

  1. Optimus 7 – 3.8″ display
  2. Optimus 7Q – 3.5″ with QWERTY keyboard

Dell
Surprise, surprise! Dell throws in the Dell Venue Pro, a vertical slider with a QWERTY keyboard, 4.1″ AMOLED display with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass.

This is quite a show of force for Windowsphone 7 at launch. It is certainly a more spectacular launch compared to Android’s launch with just the T-mobile G1. Can WP7 wip up the frenzy required to push it into contention in the mobile smartphone market?

I am hoping so, if only for the sake of competition.

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The Droid that I have been waiting for?

I have been wishing for a QWERTY-fied candybar Android smartphone since forever. This one just announced by Motorola looks like the smartphone that I have been fondling in my dreams.

This is the Motorola Droid Pro. Specs? Yummy (no pun intended). Take a look:

  • 3.1-inch capacitive touchscreen of HVGA resolution (320 x 480 pixels)
  • Android 2.2 a.k.a. Froyo
  • Adobe Flash Player 10.1
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Apps installable on memory card
  • 1GHz OMAP 3620 processor + PowerVR SGX 530 graphics chip
  • 2 GB internal storage, 512 MB RAM
  • CDMA/GSM compatibility
  • GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, 10.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
  • CDMA 1x, EV-DO
  • Wi-Fi 802.11
  • 5 MP autofocus camera, dual-LED flash
  • D1 (720×480 pixels) video recording
  • 1420 mAh battery

From Motorola’s website:

DROID PRO represents a new breed of easy-to-use, intuitive smartphones designed for both work and personal use. It addresses the growing desire from employers and employees for business-ready solutions with enhanced features for a richer personal mobile experience. As the first ever smartphone built on Android for business, DROID PRO is a new powerful, stronger, faster solution that meets business and consumer needs.

DROID PRO delivers speed, convenience, security, and all the productivity tools that businesses require.

  • Full-push corporate email with corporate level security, unified calendar with additional work features, pre-loaded QuickOffice Mobile Suite.
  • Powerful 1 GHz processor, 4GB of memory (2GB internal and 2GB removable) and a QWERTY keyboard designed for speed and convenience.
  • Personal mobile experience provides PC-like browsing with Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1 on a full multi-touch 3.1 inch brilliant display – all built on Android 2.2.
  • Motorola security additions including AuthenTec IPSec multi-headed VPN integration, remote wipe of device & SD card, and complex password support. Plus, device and SD card encryption will be available in early 2011.
  • Capture and share content from the device’s 5-megapixel camera with auto focus and dual LED flash or DVD-quality video via DLNA connectivity to compatible devices.
  • 3G Mobile Hotspot for up to five other Wi-Fi®-enabled devices/laptops.

“Motorola truly understands the greater productivity needs of both businesses and their employees beyond mobile email,” said Mark Shull, Senior Vice President of Mobile, McAfee, Inc. “McAfee Enterprise Mobility Management provides Motorola smartphone users with an advanced security solution to address corporate market demand, including the increased use of mobile productivity apps. We look forward to working with Motorola to meet these needs by collaboratively harnessing the power of the open Android platform.”

If you want the BlackBerry form factor but with Android running under the hood, this is your baby.

I haven’t used a Motorola device in ages. Wait; in ages is an understatement. My last Motorola device was waaaaay back in 2003, the C336. Before that was the A008 Accompli (2003), and before that my very first GSM phone, the T2288. This should be a good reunion between two old friends, Motorola and myself.

I really, really do like the Droid Pro and hope that Motorola implements it well. Release date is first week of November. That’s not far away, but its availability is only on Verizon in the U.S. That shouldn’t stop me from arranging for one. Hopefully, I’ll be able to say “Hello Moto” in a month’s time.

Source: Motorola Media Centre

Engadget has a hands-on of the Droid Pro already.

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