Innovation Avenue: Stop Hating On Chinko Phones

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According to frontline Nigeria developer, Emeka Okoye, I hate poor people. Yes; I am quoting him, and I have his tweet favourited as proof. Here:


You see, he is Chairman of the Chinko Phone Users Association of Nigeria, a yet to be registered entity that has a powerful spread across the country. The membership of the association is probably more powerful than any of us truly thinks because of the lack of statistics in these parts.

What Is a Chinko Phone?

Emeka says that “Chinko phones has no definition but when you see their hardware or OS you will know them”. That is a hilarious definition. Let me attempt to put some form to that definition. Chinko phones are made-in-China phones that address the bottom of the economic pyramid in Nigeria. They are dirt cheap and this reflects in both the hardware and the software. The hardware often have odd designs. You just KNOW that this is not Nokia or Samsung. But when you switch on a Chinko phone, the audio that greets you confirms further the identitiy of the device you are holding. Loud, un-refined, high-pitched, ear-jarring audio. You cannot miss that. But once the phone is fully booted, the user interface and OS completes the verification process. This is unmistakably a Chinko phone.


Sadly, while a number of Chinko phones carry their own name brands, some others are often passed off as other brands. we call those clones. Remember the fake Samsung Galxay i9300 I reviewed recently? Chinko to the bones.

Innovations from Chinko?

But as basic as Chinko phones are, they have not been without their innovations. DualSIM functionality, anyone? First seen on Chinko phones. Terrestrial TV – that is real TV, not some dumb TV service that requires an internet connection or DVBH standard, ensuring that you never get to use it. First seen on Chinko phones. And Emeka Okoye further nailed it when he offered that with Chinko phones now having 4-SIM capability, who needs number portability?

Chinko phone with 4 SIM slots

Emeka also thinks that much more is coming from Chinko land. The next generation of Chinko phones will have wiper to clean the screen after it rains, he said. Awesome! I want one of those.

Chinko Is Here To Stay

Those of us who drool over the next Galaxy or Lumia flagship can go ahead, but with a population of over 150 million people, most of whom earn below $1 a day, Chinko phones are here to stay. How else can someone who does not have N90,000 to splurge on the real Samsung Galaxy S III, get his fix with just N10,000, without the dual-SIM Chinko Galxay I9300?


We are already seeing name brands like Tecno offering sub N15,000 Android powered smartphones. What happens when the Chinko guys start putting a proper OS like Android in their phones? Smartphones for N5,000? Trust me on this one: that is when the smartphone revolution would truly begin, and it is going to be nasty.


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22 comments

  1. We are already seeing name brands like Tecno offering sub N15,000 Android powered smartphones. What happens when the Chinko guys start putting a proper OS like Android in their phones? Smartphones for N5,000? Trust me on this one: that is when the smartphone revolution would truly begin, and it is going to be nasty.

    The only problem I can foresee is a phone that is not usable even as a dumb phone at that price. We know Android devices with low RAM values offer very poor user experience, lags here and there, inability to multitask effectively and generally making nonsense of the power of the processor. We already know that 256MB of ram is simply bad for Android phones or in fact any modern smartphone. Now think of what the experience would be like when some chinko phones are fitted with say 128MB of RAM or less. For one even making the switch from dumb phone, that will be killing.

    And what if such phones have at least 512MB of RAM at the price point of N5,000? The Chinese people are already magic makers to a degree in my estimation, so I won’t rule that out altogether.

  2. According to frontline Nigeria developer, Emeka Okoye , I hate poor people.

    No; he did not you hate poor people.

    He merely asked a QUESTION, a question easily answered.

    I do not think there is any need going to town on him, or denigrating him for that.

    by the way, would Tecno qualify as a Chinco? I doubt that!

    And there are good quality clones too, at unbelievably low prices.

    The clones have different quality levels and I have often wondered why some of them opt not to establish a brand for themselves, rather than using names like NokLa, etc.

    So, I would think one cannot just generalize that all Chincoteague phones have bargain_basement quality..

    1. EyeBeeKay,

      And what in that statement or in this entire article suggests that I was denigrating Emeka Okoye? Emeka and I are very good friends, and this article was written in that spirit. As a matter of fact, the entire Twitter interaction was a banter between friends.

      I don’t get you. Sigh.

  3. Denigrate, lol.

    The way I see it, China is the market to watch – not only for their mobile output, but consumer use as well.

    My only concern about some of these low cost, low-spec phones is the equally low-spec OS that is on them. Was chatting to someone in another country who bemoaned the fact that the only Android phones coming their way had 1.6 on it (Eclair?). Their local networks weren’t getting the SGS2, much less anything higher.

    And therein lies one of the problems, and successes.


  4. Mr Mo, sorry if I got that wrong.

    your tone did not suggest any bantering, but then I have only that paragraph to assess to things.

    I am not privy your relationship with the person on question too.

    Get me ooo !!.

    You said,

    /// You see, he is Chairman of
    the Chinko Phone Users
    Association of Nigeria, a yet
    to be registered entity that
    has a powerful spread across
    the country. ///

    If you say that to a non _ friend like me, I will definitely take it up with you.

    You know me now…

    You also claimed something that is patently false. that he called you a hater of the poor.

    he did NOT! He ASKED if!

  5. I Completely Agree But They’ve Gone Further Than That. I was On Nairaland Forum The Day Before. And Saw Something On The “Android Anyone II ” Thread And I Saw Something I Thought To Be a Lie Until I Researched It. Do You Know There Are Chinese Smart Phones With Four Core Processor I Think Its Called Kraits Or Sumthn Two Of Them Can Be Compared To The Samsung Galaxy S3 Check Them Out On Engadget Their Names are Xiaomi And Meizu. These Chinese Guys Have Gone Far But That Stigma Of Made In China Is Their Undoing. Did Mention That They Are Runing MIUI custom UI

  6. there are some high grade chinko phones. I came across one of recent named Android note. its a 5inch device with a 1ghz CPU 512mb ram 8gb inbuilt with expandable memory up to 32gb.
    it also has a dual sim slot 5MP camera with flash, the pixel count 800X480. it comes preinstalled with stock Android 4.0.4 ICS.

    it costs NGN32,000. I played a little with the phone. I was impressed. the owner got the rooting tools from XDA and rooted the device.he installed some top quality games.

    I played Asphalt 7 heat on the pgone and it didn’t stutter, that really blew me away. every top android app installed on the device worked smoothly. let’s give them a lil credit.

    on another note, I w once saw a chinko with dual micro SD slots, I checked the device and confirmed both SD cards were accessible.

    I think it would be nice to see dual SD slot from a top OEM, I very much like my data on my phones than streaming.


  7. My problem with this Chinko phones is the possible health hazards from radiation. One is not sure if they confirm to standards.


  8. even tecno is under attack! there is a Gionee android 2.3 dual sim phone for 8k5 i carry a tecno Tv 20 phone as a backup to my main smartphone. Its pic clarity beats a 1st Gen LCD output, you dont have to agree. In 10 months time you will find a 5k Android 2.2 phone in computer village. yes the Chinese will do it.

    Eyebeekay, why are you like this? you have burnt your fingers here many times,yet? I use to think you just troublesome, but truely you need help. you have to take short course on literature analysis. Mean while,go to coursera.org and register for an on going courrse – how to Argue and discuss. Believe me it will help you. It was clear from the style of Mr Mo’s writeup that he was on the side of his friend, while using the chatchy phrase to draw a healthy interest and discussion. I tire for you ooo

  9. @Jujukemist, don’t be such a bootlicker. it does not speak well of a man.

    thanks for your advice. But keep it to yourself! it is not needed.

    enjoy!

  10. One is not
    sure if they conform to
    standards.

    that, I think, is the greatest problem of unbranded Chinese brands, and unbranded products in general.

    We are surely in God’s hands. I wonder if there are people enforcing standards (or empowered to enforce standards)


  11. @Austin mentioned what has been on my mind. The standards and the health hazards. How much radiation these chinko phones are emitting. Do we get to know their SARS values? Are the components used in making them really safe? Do they pass through inspections before being sold to the public in Nigeria? But then, I ask myself, does the NCC monitor what comes into the country? I read an article on BBC app on my android in July about the move by Kenyan government to seize and destroy all substandard phones come 1st August 2012. I wanted to do an article on that but somehow I lost the link. What is NCC doing to safeguard our health?

    The likes of Tecno have evolved and got refined. Cheap they are but by no means a brush aside. They now compete favorably with western phones and in some aspects, they excel.

    The MIUI interface mentioned above is found only in a limited edition phone from china. We have the emulation in google play store and you only need to download and try it to be convinced that the Chinese have indeed arrived.

    China is a market to watch and as Mr Mo concluded

    Trust me on this one: that is when the smartphone revolution would truly begin, and it is going to be nasty

    That is a prophetic statement.

  12. @Eyebeekay oh, then I had also licked not only your boot too, but also your arse full of the shit you have been thrown around, Remember!

  13. @Eyebeekay oh, then I had also licked not only your boot too, but also your arse full of the shit you have been thrown around here, Remember!


  14. heard of the meizu or whatever d name is,gsmarena did an article of comparison of it against other quad core phones,as expected it failed woefully. the Chinese ui is annoying & irritating, doesn’t matter if they add satellite to it or the wiper thing mentioned *yawn*. annoying loud sound too. lest I forget,most not durable *thumbs down*

  15. The chinese are actually doing it great. As par the hazards chinko phones can cause to the health, that has not been seen by many especially in Nigeria and chinko phones are on a ‘BIG TIME RUSH’

    I currently use a Tecno device and believe me, those guys have a bright future *Dusts Feet*


  16. Usually, I can spew a device specs and identify the model with just a glance but once saw an S3 that wasn’t an S3. When I asked the owner, the dude was mega embarrassed (like I care if its a China phone, ws just irritated that I couldn’t identify it). Returned it promptly though. One you have played with a few ‘chinco’ phones, you have played with em all.

    Tecno shouldn’t be tagged with the ‘Chinco’ community. Their dirt cheap devices (11k and below) are as pretty as a bulldog’s a*se though

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