Mobile

HDR Screens: All you need to know about this new tech trend

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You might have realized from the announcements made at MWC 2017 that flagship phones are coming with the so-called “HDR Screens” or “High Dynamic Range screens”. This technology has seen some applications in TVs, computers monitors, and even gaming consoles such as the new PS4 Pro and Xbox One S. Not until recently that the trend went to mobile devices pioneering on the ill-fated Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

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Firstly, HDR on cameras should not be confused with the one on screens. Cameras produce HDR photos by taking many pictures with different exposure levels then combining them into one snap that has better rendering. On screens, the tech is much more advanced.

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What makes HDR screen better is a combination of factors which include much larger color representation. Non-HDR screens can output 16 million colors but HDR goes all the way up to a whopping 1 billion color-output. Moreover, it gives images that have richer contrast and darker blacks than traditional variants; the brightness is also much higher than the standard screens.  The result is images that are close to what a human eye sees in the natural world. For instance, with HDR, you can tell something that is “really dark” from another thing that is “just dark”, standard screens or SDR simply shows a general shade of black. Dynamic HDR improves on the Static HDR even further.

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HDR is not tied to resolution, that’s why LG G6 has it on a 2K (1440p) display and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium applied it on a 4K (2160p) panel. In addition, OLED screens tend to render HDR images better than LCD ones. This is because OLEDs have independent pixels that can be completely turn off to give a truly dark color. In the same light, not all HDR screens are created equal, there are several formats available.

HDR10 is the most commonly used format, its open source nature has played a key role in its popularity. Game consoles, TVs and blu-ray players have widely utilized this variant. All other formats in the market use the HDR10 as a basis and build upon it.

Dolby Vision is another HDR format tuned by Dolby. It is fundamentally HDR10 but on steroids. It has increased color gamut of up to 138% of SDR screens and can also reach up to 4000 nits of brightness. This level of brightness is above any TV ever made, HDR or not. Phone screens have not yet been able to crack the 1000 nits brightness level. Unfortunately, to enjoy this added benefits, your device hardware has to support Dolby Vision, existing HDR screens cannot get this improved aspect via software update, so it is a point to bear in mind when shopping for this next-gen displays. Netflix and Amazon have adopted this format of HDR, this will only serve to make it grow in popularity in future.

Technicolor also got into this bandwagon with its Advanced HDR technology. This variant promises to provide all viewers with a consistent experience by delivering HDR to any device regardless of it being SDR or HDR.  The technology will use the capabilities of your device to provide the best HDR rendering possible when watching content shot in high dynamic range.

So next time you see HDR in phone specifications you will be familiar with the tech. It will be interesting to see how HDR grows overtime but signs are pointing to quite a bright future.

 

So you think your octa core can beat the quad core? Think again.

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Every time you look at smartphone’s specifications, you find that processors are labelled either dual core, quad core, octa core or deca core. These names indicate the number of cores available. However, more cores does not necessarily translate to more power, there are a lot more considerations. We will go through the major types of smartphone processor cores to help you understand the fine print next time you check out phone specifications.

ARM

ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) Holdings is the company that is at the center of mobile processor cores. The company provides the architecture that acts as a blueprint to manufacturers of mobile CPUs (Central processing units). The current architecture version is ARMv8 it comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit variants. 64 bit is equivalent to what laptops and desktops have been using as their standard, all it means is that mobile applications using this higher bit level can access more RAM than was previously possible. The ARMv8 has brought forth 5 processor cores that are running in almost every modern smartphone out there, they include Cortex A35, Cortex A53, Cortex A57, Cortex A72, and the latest Cortex A73. These 5 cores are the ones that are used in every smartphone apart from Apple and Intel mobile chip-sets.

The cores are divided into two distinct groups namely, power saving group and high performance group. The power saving cores are focused on carrying out simple tasks such as sending texts, making calls and other basic phone activities. Their main aim is to conserve as much battery life as possible. These cores are the ones that are most active in phones and also come with frequencies that do not normally exceed 1.8GHZ. Power savings cores include Cortex A35 and Cortex A53. The high performance group, as the name suggests, are for doing the heavy lifting. They are the least utilized cores in a phone; they only get activated when playing processor intensive games, recording 4k resolution videos and when running complex apps such as photo and video editors. The 3 remaining cores are all in this group.

ARM Cortex A35

This is the latest power saving core from ARM. No processor from the major manufacturers is utilizing this core. It is an ultra-power saving core that would be most suitable in smart watches due to their small batteries and their low powered tasks which include fitness tracking and syncing notifications.

ARM Cortex A53

This is the most utilized and most versatile core of them all. It is found in all tiers of smartphones from entry level to high end phones. It mostly comes in either quad core configuration or octa core. The popularity of this core can be credited to its power saving features, its decent performance for everyday tasks and low production cost. It can handle HD and Full HD displays when coupled with a capable graphics processing unit (GPU).

ARM Cortex A57

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This core was released the same time as the A53. It was supposed to act as the high performance complement of the Cortex A53. Manufactures made octa-core chip-sets with four A53 core and four A57 cores to balance out the power saving and high performance equation. This kind of setup is called the big.LITTLE (written in small and capital letters in a paradoxical manner) configuration whereby the power saving cores are combined with high performance cores in the same processor; the cores are only activated when needed. For example, when typing a text message, the phone will only activate the power saving A53 cores, when playing a game, the A57 cores are woken up. Manufacturers can have this configuration in all manner of combinations; the most common is octa core with 4 power saving and 4 high performance cores like in the Samsung Galaxy S6. Other manufacturers have used 2+4 to make hexa core or even 2+4+4 to form a deca core. ARM has come up with a better high performance core to replace the A53, meet the A72.

ARM Cortex A72

This core has entirely replaced the A57. It offers 50% more performance than A57 at the same frequency. Unfortunately, only high end phones come with the A72 built in. This core has become the option of choice for manufacturers using big.LITTLE configuration. It also allows all manner of combinations. The bulk of 2016 flagship phones came with this core and thanks to its high performance, 4k video recording and virtual reality were made possible.

ARM Cortex A73

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This core is the latest offering from ARM with 30% more performance than the A72 it is meant to replace. Currently, only one chipset utilizes it, the Kirin 960 from Huawei’s subsidiary called Hisilicon. It allows up to 2.8GHZ frequency levels while at the same time saving 30% more power than its predecessor the A72. It is no surprise that the Kirin 960 found in the new Huawei Mate 9 and the Huawei P10 is the most powerful and benchmark topping chipset currently available in any phone. In 2017, we are going to see a  lot of high end chipsets come with this core. Samsung has already announced plans for using a customized version of it in its next flagship processor called the Exynos 8895.

Custom cores

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It is good to note that ARM only gives blueprints detailing how manufacturers can build processors. Some companies use the blueprints as they are, without tinkering with them. On the other hand, companies such as Samsung and Qualcomm usually alter the blueprints to make custom cores. The Samsung Exynos chipsets recently started using custom cores called Mongoose, the first phone to utilize them is the Galaxy S7. Qualcomm’s latest custom cores are called Kryo, they are found in all 2016 flagship cores in the Snapdragon 800 series. Snapdragon processors are the most popular chipset in android smartphones. Apple’s custom cores are called Hurricane, they are being used in the latest iPhone 7. Altering cores has many benefits such as squeezing the most power out of the lowest count. For instance Apple only uses a dual core setup, yet it has one of the highest benchmark scores of any chipset. Qualcomm uses only four Kryo cores in total, and was the reigning benchmarks champ in 2016 android flagships. Samsung Exynos uses 4 Mongoose cores and 4 A53 cores to make a total of 8, it’s always among the leaders in the android world especially in the power saving sector when compared to Snapdragon chipsets. Mediatek uses 10 non-customized cores yet it was only midrange in terms of performance, thousands of points behind the likes of Samsung and Apple, however, this deca cores are affordable and prioritize on power saving over speed, they are found in the new Infinix Zero 4 Plus and the Tecno Phantom 6 Plus.

Conclusion

In conclusion, not all cores are created equal. It is wise to look for cores that will fulfill your smartphone lifestyle. Those that do a lot of social networking and little to no gaming can do with power saving cores (A35 and A53), however those that are power users who do lots of gaming and heavy apps need the A72, A73 core. Remember, more cores does not necessarily mean more power. The power factor lies in the type of cores used.

 

Little known TECNO & Infinix sister brand itel mobile pushes image with new brand partnership

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itel mobile, a Transsion brand and sister to TECNO and Infinix has signed Kenya’s Avril, a local musician and actress, as its brand ambassador on a one year contract.

The financial details were not disclosed.

As the main brand image of itel mobile, Avril will grace campus events sponsored by itel mobile, attend CSR activities sponsored by itel, and tweet, share on Facebook or Instagram everything itel mobile.

“I am extremely excited to partner with Itel on their new chapter into Kenya. Great affordable phones help us communicate better and that’s the essence of good living. I’m looking forward to a great partnership” Said Avril.

17156324_1241201635994662_728374758779885845_nAvril has in the past years won several awards, among the latest being, Bingwa Awards – Bingwa ever relevant female artist, best dressed female artiste – Jumia Glamour Awards, and Business Daily – Top 40 under 40.

Chris Zhao, itel mobile Kenya manager mentioned that they decided to work with Avril because she is young and successful which touches the hearts of many hence making her the best choice, since itel is a young brand that is growing at a fast rate and quite affordable to the “common mwananchi”

Launched in 2007 , itel is present in 45 countries. In 2016, itel said it delivered 50+ million mobile phones to worldwide consumers. It’s focus markets are Africa, India and other emerging markets.

Inside Branch, Tala & Mshwari | Which one works for you?

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Kenya has seen the rise of mobile money services since MPESA became a household name. Services range from mobile money transfer, payment services, purchasing solutions, and now the latest trend, savings and loan services. Many companies have come in to offer the loaning services to Kenyans, however, three of them seem to be making the headlines, they include, Branch, Tala, and Mshwari. We will review each one of them and help you decide which one is the best.

Branch app review

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Branch app has one of the shortest and most straight forward registration methods. All you have to do is log in with your Facebook credentials, give your MPESA number and receive a confirmation code. After you key in the code you get via SMS, you are set.

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The app does its magic behind the scenes to decide if you are eligible for a loan. If everything checks out, you get presented with a choice of loans that you qualify for. It starts from KES 200 and builds up with multiples of 500. The loan choices are presented in a beautiful interface of circular buttons which present loan amount and move in a carousel manner. Below each loan amount is the interest fee, duration of loan payment.

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Selecting a loan and confirming it will take you a page that breaks down the installments; it gives you the exact amount you need to pay and even the due date of each payment. You can go further to see the fee details section which  displays the percentage interest rate, and the actual interest amount. The money is sent to your MPESA account after the loan is approved. The interest rate for Branch starts at 14.57% for 500 shillings and gets lower as you request for bigger loans.

The app offers a customer care section that answers your questions but not as fast as I would like, they sometimes take hours before responding. Branch also offers a referral bonus that is deducted from the total loan amount that you have to pay.

Tala app review

Tala, just like Branch, requires you to give your MPESA number in order to get a confirmation code. The similarities between the two apps’ sign up end there. Tala asks you to enter a security PIN which is a great feature considering that this is a financial app.

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Once you finish singing up, you will be taken to the home section of the app, here you find four options presented in a card like interface. The options include “Apply for a loan”, “My savings”, “My Tala status” and “Success stories” section. Clicking on the “Apply a loan” section brings a lengthy questionnaire asking all manner of things from your job details to the possession of the phone you are using.

I like the simpler approach of the Branch app a lot more.

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After being approved for a loan, you will be presented with your maximum limit and will be given a choice to take an amount below that limit. The choices are very few, only two, I wish there were more. After you pick your amount, you will be given the option of choosing your preferred payment schedule. You can pay in single, one month installment or you can have weekly installments. What I dislike about the schedules is that the weekly installments amount to only 3 weeks instead of a complete month (4 weeks). Also, the interest rates of paying the whole loan in one installment are higher than choosing to pay weekly. Tala does not charge a lower interest rate if you take a big loan. The rates are fixed at 11% if you pay weekly and 15% if you pay monthly. It seems Tala wants users to opt for weekly payments.

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“My Tala status” section tracks the loan categories you qualify for. A user starts at bronze status which ranges from 500 to 4,999, a silver status spans from 5,000 to 9,999, and finally a gold status that lets you borrow from 10,000 to 50,000.

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Tala has a savings feature which enables you to deposit cash and set goals. Unfortunately, the feature has not being launched yet. On a positive note, Tala has a referral section that lets you earn KES 100 off your next loan payment whenever you invite your friend. Tala’s customer care is not as informative as that of Branch. Even more, the option of talking with the support team is not obvious at first impression; you have to search it in between the answers of the FAQ sections.

Mshwari review

Mshwari is built into the MPESA menu, unlike Branch and Tala, it has no dedicated native app, but do not let this fool you into thinking it is lacking feature-wise. To access Mshwari, you just click the loans and savings option on the MPESA menu.

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Mshwari lets you save money by simply transferring it from your MPESA account for free. You can have saving goals through the “Lock savings account option on the Mshwari menu”. This section lets you save for a given period of time ranging from one to six months. The saved money earns you interest of 7.35% paid every three months. These are features that neither Branch nor Tala offers.

When it comes to loans, Mshwari lets you borrow after you have been an MPESA subscriber for at least 6 months, have saved in Mshwari and use Safaricom services actively. Loans have no interest fee; they instead have a facility fee of 7.5%. Payment period is set at one month only, regardless of the loaned amount.

 

Comparison

Branch Tala Mshwari
Interest rates Starts at 13.36% on first loan but gets lower as the loan amount increases Fixed at 11% for weekly payment option

 

Fixed at 15% for monthly payment option

Fixed at 7.5 “facility fee”
Ease of use Simplest, beautiful, informative and intuitive interface Has a lengthy questionnaire before applying for a loan.

 

Does have many borrowing options

Interface is text based and straight forward but lacks the visual cues.
Added features Loans borrowing only Savings option coming soon

 

In-built PIN lock for opening the app

Normal savings feature

 

Lock savings feature

 

Earning of interests on saved money (7.35% payed every 3 months)

Doesn’t need internet connection to operate

 

 

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A10.1” with S-pen unveiled in Kenya

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Samsung Electronics East Africa has  introduced the Galaxy Tab A 10.1” with S Pen in Kenya in Samsung Experience stores, Fone Xpress outlets and authorized dealers countrywide.

The new Tab A combines a strong octa core processor, along with a large and vibrant 10.1” display that brings content to life all within a sleek and highly mobile, lightweight tablet.

Users can write notes, draw/sketch and edit with precision. They can even annotate documents and take notes on screenshots or even create GIFs (short animation of a video) by simply using the S-pen to draw around a preferred area of a video as it plays.

The S Pen can translate and pronounce any word when a user hovers over it, as well as select and animate a GIF to share with friends and family.

The Tab A 10.1” also incorporates a new app, Samsung Notes, which combines Samsung’s fleet of writing apps, such as Action Memo, S Note and Scrapbook, in one location for a seamless experience.

With a high resolution (WUXGA 1920 x 1200) screen and a higher pixel density (1.7 times denser than its predecessor), the Tab A is packed with a powerful Octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM and a long-lasting 7300mAh battery.

It has a large 10.1” screen suited for multi-tasking and allows users to run two apps side-by-side using the Multi-window feature. It has a microSD™ card to expand its memory from 16GB up to an additional 256GB.

The New Huawei P10 is just a replica of the previous P9

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At MWC Huawei unveiled their new flagship device, the Huawei P10 and the bigger P10 Plus.

Though the two phones share common specs, the P10 plus comes with a bigger 5.5 inch QHD display and a bigger 3,750mAH battery. What worries me is that the two phones are like a re-branded Huawei P9 from late last year.

Huawei Mate 9 unveiled late 2016
Huawei Mate 9 unveiled late 2016

Well, in Huawei’s defense, the P10 is advancement over the P9, but not in many areas, I guess the best way to describe the P10 over the P9 is an “incremental update”.

Everything about the two phones is the same apart from the location of the network antennas, the camera and the slight chipset upgrade. Can you spot the difference from the two phones below?

Huawei P9 Grey Back
Huawei P9 Grey Back
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Huawei P10 Grey Back

The P10 comes with a 5.1 inch IPS NEO display, which is 0.1 mm smaller than the P9 has. The same Full HD resolution stays.  IPS NEO is different from standard IPS screens in that this tech makes the colours richer than the limits of an IPS; blacks are deep like in OLED displays. In other words, the phone gets AMOLED colours without utilizing the expensive OLED panels. Speaking of color, the P10 comes in an array of them.

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Powering the device is the Kirin 960, the same one that was on the Mate 9 last year, accompanied by 4 GB RAM and a 32 GB expandable storage.

The camera rear is a dual 20MP + 12MP Leica optics system. The 20MP is a monochrome sensor that doesn’t have the colour pigments, this kind of setup works together with the 12MP to produce better low light pictures than other Dual camera systems. The P10 camera shares the same aperture size as the P9 from last year. The new changes comes in the 8MP selfie camera, same resolution with the P9, but is now co-engineered with Leica with goodies such as automatic wide angle shots when the phone realizes that more subjects have joined in on the photo. It also comes with a wider aperture to bring in more light in the selfies.

The USB- Type C port returns, with fast charge on board too, the only difference is that the battery has been slightly bumped from 3,000mAH to 3,200mAH. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is still intact.

With 2017 smartphones coming with 4K display resolution, HDR screens, water and dust resistance bodies, quad DAC for next level audio and much more, the Huawei P10 seems like a lazy effort from Huawei. Maybe it has started to get comfortable after achieving the title of “the number 3 top smartphone manufacturer in the world.

The many similarities with the previous Huawei P9, with marginal advancements only in the chipset and camera, make me recommend that one year old phone over this new one. The Huawei P9 from 2016 has now become much cheaper and yet offers almost 80% of the features the new Huawei P10 has.

The Huawei P10 will go on sale towards the end of March at the cost of KES 70,500 (€650). In contrast, the Huawei P9 from last year goes for KES 46,550 at Jumia, and it is even cheaper at Avechi, KES 42,000, that is over 40% savings for over 80% of the tech.

Samsung Introduces the Galaxy A series smartphones in the Kenyan market

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Samsung Electronics East Africa has introduced the latest Galaxy A series; the 5.7-inch A7, 5.2-inch A5 and 4.7-inch A3 smartphones into the Kenyan market.

The Galaxy A comes with a metal frame and 3D glass back and is available in three stylish colours including Black Sky, Gold Sand and Blue Mist.

The Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 devices have front and rear 16-megapixel cameras while the Galaxy A3 has an 8-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera.  The Galaxy A 2017 range of smartphones also feature a Floating Camera Button which you can move freely around the screen, so you can comfortably take selfies with one hand.

Galaxy A  series offers IP68 water and dust resistance and has expandable storage with microSD support up to 256GB. The Galaxy A is equipped with reversible USB Type-C port for easy connectivity including hassle-free charging. It also features Always on Display so users can quickly glance at the time and calendar without waking up the device, saving time and battery.

The new A series range of smartphones feature a fingerprint sensor and a new Secure Folder feature with biometric authentication based on Samsung KNOX.

Samsung Galaxy A7 Specs:

Galaxy A7
Network LTE Cat.6 * May differ by markets and mobile operators
Display 5.7” FHD Super AMOLED
AP 1.9GHz Octa Core
OS Android 6.0.16 (Marshmallow)
Camera Rear : 16MP (F1.9), Front : 16MP (F1.9)
Video MPEG4, H.265(HEVC), H.264(AVC), H.263, VC-1, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8, VP9
Audio MP3, AAC LC/AAC+/eAAC+,AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WMA, FLAC, Vorbis, Opus
Additional features MST technology(Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, S-Voice, Dual SIM option

* Samsung Pay launches may vary by market-readiness

Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth® v 4.2, ANT+,

USB Type-C,NFC (UICC, eSE)

Sensor Accelerometer, Proximity, Geomagnetic, RGB Light, Hall

Fingerprint scanner, Barometer

IP Code IP68
Memory 3GB RAM + 32GB Storage

Micro SD slot (up to 256GB)

Dimension 156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9mm
Battery 3,600mAh, Fast Charging

 

Samsung Galaxy A5 Specs:

Galaxy A5
Network LTE Cat.6 * May differ by markets and mobile operators
Display 5.2” FHD Super AMOLED
AP 1.9GHz Octa Core
OS Android 6.0.16 (Marshmallow)
Camera Rear : 16MP (F1.9), Front : 16MP (F1.9)
Video MPEG4, H.265(HEVC), H.264(AVC), H.263, VC-1, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8, VP9
Audio MP3, AAC LC/AAC+/eAAC+,AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WMA, FLAC, Vorbis, Opus
Additional features MST technology(Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, S-Voice, Dual SIM option

* Samsung Pay launches may vary by market-readiness

Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth® v 4.2, ANT+,

USB Type-C, NFC (UICC, eSE)

Sensor Accelerometer, Proximity, Geomagnetic, RGB Light, Hall

Fingerprint scanner, Barometer

IP Code IP68
Memory 3GB RAM + 32GB Storage

Micro SD slot (up to 256GB)

Dimension 146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9mm
Battery 3,000mAh, Fast Charging

Samsung Galaxy A3 Specs:

Galaxy A3
Network LTE Cat.6 * May differ by markets and mobile operators
Display 4.7” HD Super AMOLED
AP 1.6GHz Octa Core
OS Android 6.0.16 (Marshmallow)
Camera Rear : 13MP (F1.9), Front : 8MP (F1.9)
Video MPEG4, H.265(HEVC), H.264(AVC), H.263, VC-1, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8, VP9
Audio MP3, AAC LC/AAC+/eAAC+,AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WMA, FLAC, Vorbis, Opus
Additional features MST technology(Samsung Pay), Samsung KNOX, S-Voice, Dual SIM option

* Samsung Pay launches may vary by market-readiness

Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth® v 4.2, ANT+,

USB Type-C, NFC (UICC)

Sensor Accelerometer, Proximity, Geomagnetic, RGB Light, Hall, Fingerprint Scanner, Barometer
IP Code IP68
Memory 2GB RAM + 16GB Storage

Micro SD slot (up to 256GB)

Dimension 135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9mm
Battery 2,350mAh

 

Samsung’s Simon Kariithi moves to GOtv Kenya as GM

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Simon on the left with other officials from GOtv

Simon Kariithi, Director – Mobile Phone Division at Samsung Electronics East Africa was last month appointed the position of General Manager-GOtv Kenya.

In his role, he will Report to the Managing Director, Kenya. Simon has extensive working experience in Sales & Marketing within Telecommunications, having worked in Samsung Electronics for over 12 years, rising from sales manager to director of Internet & Mobile, where he extensively covered East and Central Africa Region.

He has also been an Export Manager- Consumer Electronics at Xperts Trading Company UAE. Simon holds a Master of Science degree in Business Management from University of East Anglia and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. In his role, Simon will be responsible for leading, directing and controlling GOtv Kenya’s operations.

Other high profile executive appointments within its East African office include:

  1. Mwendwa Maundu: General Manager – Regulatory Affairs – East Africa

Mwendwa has been appointed the position of General Manager – Regulatory Affairs within East Africa. Mwendwa has extensive work experience in Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Competition Law as well as Intellectual Property (IP)Law.

His last station was at Safaricom Ltd within the Regulatory & Public Policy Department for the last six years having previously worked for Mohammed Muigai Advocates. He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) from University of Nairobi and is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. In his role, Mwendwa will drive regulatory and public policy within the business.

  1. Kenneth Oyolla – General Manager, Commercial East Africa

Kenneth Oyolla will spearhead commercial activities for MultiChoice East Africa as the General Manager in-charge of Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience. Mr. Oyolla brings a wealth of experience in Sales and Marketing to the regional office having held several senior Marketing and Sales positions at Microsoft/Nokia Corporation. He started his career at Unilever Kenya where he held several senior roles in Customer Marketing, Channel Development Manager/National Account Manager- -Durban, South Africa, Trade Marketing Manager, and Brand Manager.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) from University of Nairobi and he is currently pursuing an Executive MBA at London School of Business.  In his new role, Mr. Oyolla will oversee all DStv and GOtv Sales and Marketing efforts in MultiChoice East Africa and will report directly to the East African Regional Director, Mr. Stephen Isaboke.

  1. Mr. Wycliffe Omondi – HR Business Partner, East Africa

Mr. Wycliffe is the new HR Business Partner within East Africa. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Omondi has been working at Tullow Kenya since January 2013 as the Human Resource Manager. He has held several senior HR positions at Philips South Africa in charge of Africa Market, at Aggreko International and at Unilever East and Southern Africa.

He holds a BA, Building Economics and Management and a Higher Diploma from IHRM and is currently pursuing an MBA at Strathmore University.  He will be responsible for all HR functions for the MultiChoice East Africa territories within Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

The move is aimed to bolster the firm’s current efforts at enhancing customer experience on both its GOtv and DStv platforms.

According to MultiChoice East Africa Regional Director, Stephen Isaboke, the business is reshaping to improve customer experience, whenever and wherever they engage with the firm.

“Our strategy is to continuously provide customers with more of their favorite content, at great value. The new team will play major a role as part of the wider team in delivering the experience our customers deserve – and we are determined to put this at the center of our internal culture and values,” said Isaboke.

The executives will complement MultiChoice’s current focus on customer satisfaction and market growth said the firm.

Sony bets high on cameras, introduces Xperia XZs, XA1 and XA1 Ultra

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Sony was on a roll at MWC at Barcelona, it released not one but 4 different phones. Each one of these phones are targeted to a different target market. Apart from the Sony Xperia XZ Premium that we already reported on, the company launched the Sony Xperia XZs, Sony Xperia XA1, and finally the Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra.

Sony Xperia XZs

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The XZs comes with a 5.2 inch full HD display of the Triluminous variety. The phone is wrapped in a glass back and front while a metallic frame runs in between to form a water and dust resistant body. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 820 from last year’s flagship phones, it is backed with 4GB RAM and a choice between 32GB and 64GB internal storage; the space can be expanded via a micro SD card up to 256GB. Photography is catered for by a 19MP Motion Eye rear camera that supports 960fps super slo-mo mode and a 13MP front facing camera. 960fps is a world’s first super slo-mo on a  mobile phone, others don’t go past 240fps. USB type C is on board as well as a 3.5 mm head phone jack and a stereo speaker setup. The whole system runs on android 6.0 Nougat and is powered by a 2,900mAH battery. Lastly, a fingerprint sensor conveniently placed on the side mounted power button handles the device security.

Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra

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This phone comes with a whopping 6 inch screen with full HD resolution and almost no bezels at all, its quite breath-taking. A Mediatek Helio P20 runs the show revealing the midrange nature of the phone. 4 GB RAM will ensure smooth multitasking and a choice of 32GB or 64GB internal space is available, both with expansion slots of up to 256GB. The Ultra XA1 is a targeted to shutterbugs who love taking photos, it is equipped with 23MP rear camera and a mega 16MP selfie camera with an LED flash. The music sector is covered by a 3.5 mm jack which many manufacturers, such as Apple, are abandoning. Android 7.0 is on-board and is kept on by a meagre 2,700 mAH battery; fortunately it supports Pump Express 2.0+ fast charge through the USB-Type C.

Sony Xperia XA1

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This is the low end of them all and obviously the most affordable. It keeps the price low by going with a 5 inch HD display, 3 GB of RAM, a 32GB storage, 8MP selfie camera with no LED flash and a 2300 mAH battery. Sony decided to bring some features from the XA1 Ultra such as the 23MP camera, the USB-Type C with Pump Express 2.0+ fast charge, the same Mediatek Helio P20 chipset and the Android 7.0 Nougat version. Both the XA1 and the XA1 Ultra have no water resistance nor dust protection.

Fero Iris Review: An affordable phone with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7-like eye scanner

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Fero Iris has been making the headlines lately with their iris scanner in an affordable package. The company was generous enough to let us have one Iris in order to bring you a comprehensive review.

I have been using the phone as my main device for several days and I made some notes on it including an unboxing article.

The Fero Iris is an affordable phone going for KES 8,999 exclusively at Jumia, does it deliver a worthwhile experience, or did the company cut on quality to arrive at such a low cost? Find out in the following full and exclusive review.

Design

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The Fero Iris is a beautiful phone; the front is all glass with capacitive touch buttons at the bottom. Surrounding the glass is a chrome –like ring that subtly reflects light to make the phone have a premium look.

The top part is quite busy, it houses the selfie camera, the Iris scanner, the light sensor, proximity sensor and the earpiece. The back looks like metal at first impression, but after you hold the phone on your hand you will notice that it’s made of smartly crafted plastic.

Fero even went ahead to put faux metal antennas and even hairline textures to emulate brushed aluminum. The back hosts a camera and one LED flash and below it at the bottom is the loud speaker grill. The rear cover is removable to reveal a battery, two micro sized sim card slots and a memory card slot. The battery is removable so it eases replacements.

Display

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The display, according to me, is the most appealing feature of the Fero Iris. It’s a 5.18 inch display with a HD resolution. It the best I have seen on an affordable phone.

The colors are rich and deep, they almost look like AMOLED renders,  however, the screen is of IPS variet , the higher quality ones, I must say. Blacks are pitch black and whites are bright.  Sunlight legibility is top notch too, the Iris screen can be super bright to see even under direct sunlight.

However, when it comes to pitch dark environments, the brightness of the display does not go low enough to let you read the screen comfortably.

The Iris scanner

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The headline feature for this phone is the Iris scanner, it’s the tech that gives the phone its name. Fero did a great implementation of it, the scanner works reliably and can be used as one’s primary method of unlocking the device. It works even in pitch darkness which is quite amazing.

During the launch, the Fero executives praised the tech saying that even identical twins cannot crack each other’s security. If someone makes you touch your phone’s fingerprint sensor while you are sleeping, they will have full access to your device, the same exploit cannot be done with an iris scanner, so that’s a plus for the Fero Iris.

Camera

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The Fero Iris has an 8 MP back camera that produces great pictures in daylight. When there is sufficient light, you will get saturated pictures with good amount of detail.

The dynamic range of the phone is really good too, the sky will not get overexposed. You can have your subject photographed against the bright sun and still end up with blue skies at the background.

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The trick in the Iris camera is waiting for the focus to lock in. Sure the focus is fast but, in some scenarios it takes a moment before it locks on your desired subject. Images in-focus and under good lighting come out great.

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In low light scenarios, photos do not share the same appeal,  they appear noisy and make the subjects look grainy. Activating HDR helps a bit though, but in overall do not expect wonders in this scenario.

The selfie camera is terrible, the two megapixels produces soft looking images with no detail at all. Even under direct sunlight, they still under-deliver.

The video recording is capped at 720p HD on the 8MP rear camera. Fero does not explicitly tell you what resolution you are recording at, the settings are simply categorized them as low, medium, high, and fine.

The HD option is the “fine” setting. The videos require you to continuously tap on the subject to have it on focus, otherwise you will end up with blurry looking footage.

The quality of the footage is acceptable especially under bright light. The selfie camera can record 480p footage but I wouldn’t recommend it.

A nice touch with the Iris camera app is that it bumps up the brightness to max when you launch the camera. It lets you see the viewfinder in its full glory; this way, you can judge the quality of your photo before you take it.

Performance

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The quick start up guide paperwork in the box states that the Iris packs a Mediatek 6737, but upon close inspection with CPU-Z app, we discovered that it is the Mediatek 6735 running the show. Well, I guess there are different chipsets being packaged for different markets. The difference between the two chipsets is very minor so you won’t be left wishing you had the other.

The Mediatek 6735 inside the Iris is coupled with only 1GB of RAM and has an antutu benchmark of 31,111.

In real life performance, the Iris is smooth and consistent. If you try multitasking heavily, the phone will stutter. I noticed the stutter when transitioning from Google Play music to Google Keep. If you stick to one app at a time then the performance becomes lag free.

Gaming is okay in light titles. Heavy games such as Asphalt and Sim City will also play but in low graphics settings. Multitasking while playing a game, however, is not recommended due to the low RAM.

Software

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In terms of software, the phone ships with android 6.0 and a mainly stock interface which has a light custom launcher. Fero only changed the stock home screen launcher and left the other bit of android 6.0 untouched. This maintains the overall smooth operation of the phone.

My only wish is that they could have left the stock launcher intact since their custom one does not have an app drawer; this means that all apps are on the home screen and it can get messy and unorganized at times.

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A nice touch with the custom launcher is that the wallpaper keeps changing automatically every few moments. The wallpaper seems to have been selected specifically to show off the brilliance of the display.

Apps installed are mainly stock with no bloat-ware apart from the sweet selfie app for taking selfies with an array of filters, and WPS app that is an editor and viewer of all Microsoft office documents and PDFs too.

Telephony and Multi-media

Despite all the advancements of the tech industry, a phone’s primary role still remains to be communication, that is, calls and messaging. The Fero Iris has a loud ear piece that makes it easy to listen to the other person talk without straining. The quality of the audio is decent, not very crisp, but good overall.

Messaging happens via the stock text app, the keyboard got me a couple of days before getting the hang of it. Google Keyboard app comes preinstalled, it’s a great keyboard but the size of the screen makes the layout require a slight learning curve but once you get used to it, texting becomes a breeze.

In terms of multimedia, the earphone jack produces super loud music; I really loved the output. I would go as far as recommending the phone to audiophiles on a budget. The quality easily beats the Tecno Boom J7 which was marketed as a music-oriented gadget.

The only issue is that you will need to invest in a decent pair of earphones, the one that come in the box are not as good and their wires seem very weak, they can snap at any moment.

The loud speaker is also great, it is quite loud and doesn’t distort even at the highest volume. Fero even made small bumps around the rear facing speaker grill to make sure the audio doesn’t get muffled when you place the phone on a flat surface.

Battery

The phone comes with a 2500mAH battery; it has a decent battery life that can take you through a whole day of use, provided you use the phone sparingly. The Mediatek chipset, the optimization of android 6.0 and the HD screen make it possible to achieve decent battery life. Charging however is excruciatingly slow. It takes over three hours to charge from 0-100% using the charger that comes in the box.

Conclusion

The Fero Iris is a great device for the price, it has a display with rich colors, takes beautiful pictures under bright day light, has a reliable iris scanner, decent battery life and a quick affordable price tag. At KES 8,999, the Fero Iris is an obvious recommendation.

LG G6 Unveiled: The best LG phone yet

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Last week we made a post that was summarizing all the leaks and rumors surrounding the LG G6. As predicted, LG went ahead and released the phone last weekend. Most of the rumors turned out to be true but there were some new surprises as well.

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The LG G6 comes with a breath-taking screen which has the smallest bezels of any LG phone so far. The screen covers over 80% of the display and has a Quad HD+ resolution (2880 *1440) under a new 18:9 aspect ratio. This ratio means that the phone’s display height is twice the size of its width. Additionally, the display can be divided into two perfect squares. LG has customized the software to take advantage of these squares such as camera modes where the top square acts as a view finder and the bottom one becomes a preview of the most recently taken photo. Still on the screen, the phone comes with Dolby Vision HDR. This technology promises to widen the color representation of the phone to produce deeper colors and richer contrast. Since this is a HDR display tuned by Dolby, it will have a lower battery consumption of up to 15 % compared to other HDR implementations.

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Speaking of specially tuned features, LG packs not one but four audio DACs. They are tuned by Bang and Olfusen, a premium audio company that LG has worked with before on the LG V20 which turned out to have one of the best audio production of any phone ever made. The Quad DAC gauge your earphones capability and they decide how many DACs should be activated, well you still have the option of activating them all manually if you want. The audio setup can power everything from simple, affordable earphones to premium, high end headphones which demand more power. Unfortunately, this Quad DAC feature will not be available in all markets, the US is not getting it but we hope Africa does. Nonetheless, LG promises top notch audio in all its variations.

The body of the LG G6 is graced with an aluminum rear casing and a glass front. The corners are rounded to help disperse shock from drop impacts effectively protecting your device from glass shutters. The back hosts two cameras and a fingerprint sensor that doubles as the power button. The body is water and dust resistant, a first for LG flagships.

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The cameras are both 13MP but one has a normal angle of 71 degrees of view while the other has 125 degrees wide angle.  The  cameras work together to enable a lossless zoom similar to the Apple iPhone 7 plus, however in LG’s implementation, there is no transition stutter as seen on the iPhone.  Wide angle photos can be taken by the second camera so you no longer have to keep moving backwards to picture the full width of your subject. The camera square mode comes in handy for shooting Instagram sized photos and the food mode lets you adjust white balance with a slider to ensure you get the colors perfectly. The front has a 5MP with 100 degrees wide angle camera to ensure all your buddies fit in the selfie. Most other phones max out at 88 degrees.

All these features are built into the latest android 7.0, Nougat but under a deeply customized LG skin. The G6 is the first phone outside the Google Pixels to come with the intelligent Google Assistant out of the box. Powering the device is a Snapdragon 821 with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage expandable up to a mind boggling 2TB. The chipset may not be the latest Snapdragon 835, but the phone still flies through all its tasks with buttery smooth performance.

The battery department is catered for by a 3,300 mAH battery that has Quick Charge 3.0 support. The battery is not removable unlike other LG flagships but at least the phone supports wireless charging. Wired charging is done through a USB- Type C port.

LG G6 to me is the best phone of 2017 so far, sure the Sony Xperia XZ premium has 4K HDR display, water resistance and slo- motion videos, but LG offers features that I think are more essential to users and will ultimately impact on their lives better than Sony would. LG is also known to be a value-oriented company in that its phones are a bit cheaper than its competitors. The price has been predicted to range between KES 50,000 to 70,000, however, Cho Juno president of LG mobile division has confirmed that Korea will be the first market to get the phone on March, 10 and it will carry a price tag of 899,800 Won (Around KES  79,600). Sure that price is a bit steep, but it is lower than what its main competitors the Apple iPhone 8 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 will carry.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium comes with 4K HDR & 960fps Super Slo-Mo videos

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Sony took the floor at MWC to launch the world’s first 4K HDR mobile phone display. This technological milestone was fitted in the new Sony Xperia XZ Premium, a successor to the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium which also had a 4K display without the HDR. Well you might be wondering what the fuss with HDR is; it’s the display technology that came after 4K, some manufacturers even market it as ‘Beyond 4K Screens’. HDR displays have a wider and richer range of colors than the standard screens, 138% wider color range. They give images you are viewing a more dynamic look and deeper colors, not to mention a whopping 807 PPI on the 5.5 inch screen of the Xperia XZ Premium.

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Sony did not stop there, they introduced the world’s first 960fps slo-mo camera on a mobile phone. Most other phones with slo-mo recording cap at 240fps. At this extreme slow motion, if you record a water bubble being busted, you can see the individual micro droplets of the bubble disintegrating during playback; it’s quite amazing as you can see in this video that Sony made. All this tech has been built into a 19MP Motion Eye camera, yes 19 not 20 megapixels. The front facing camera is a whopping 13MP and can record full HD videos.

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The rest of the phone is still very top notch too, the build breathtaking with a Gorilla glass 5 on the front and a chrome-like shinny one on the back. You also get the new Snapdragon 835 chipset, which would make the Xperia XZ Premium the first phone have it. RAM is at 4GB, 64 GB internal memory that can be expanded via a Micro SD card slot of up to 256 GB.

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A 3.5 mm headphone jack is still in place together with a USB-Type C that comes with Quick Charge 3.0 which will come in handy when filling up the 3230 Mah battery. Security matters are handled by a fingerprint sensor that is placed on the side on the power button. Lastly, the phone is water and dust resistant with IP68 rating.

 

5 things that would make the Fero Iris greater

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In order to deliver a well informed and comprehensive review of a phone, I get the pleasure of using that very device as my daily driver for a while, during this time, I get a first-hand experience of the strengths and weaknesses of that gadget. This week I am using the Fero Iris and these are the 5 aspects that I think would have made this phone greater.

Bigger battery

The Fero Iris only packs 2500 mAH battery, this setup can take you through a whole day if and only if you use the phone sparingly. Leaving the 4G data on all day will get you looking for a wall socket by mid-afternoon. A 3000 mAH battery would have done the trick.

Fast charging

We are living in the era where 5 minutes of charge enables a user to have 10 hours of call time like on the Infinix Note 3. Other phones like the LG V20 take around 90 minutes to charge from zero to 100%. The Fero Iris takes nearly 3 hours from 0-100% charge, its excruciatingly slow. Infinix produces budget oriented phones and they manage to have some form of fast charging feature built in so Fero has no excuse.

Better selfie camera

Selfies are all the rage nowadays, companies have been built around this trend alone. A decent selfie camera has become a standard in all phones the same way flash become a mandatory complement of the rear cameras. Fero Iris has a 2MP camera that does terrible photos. The 2MP part is not the issue since the Samsung Galaxy S4 has the same resolution but stil manages to produce beautiful selfies, the Fero team either used a weak sensor or they did not work on the photo processing software bit. If only they released an update that makes the selfies to have less noise and retain more detail, that would be great.

More RAM

Fero Iris only brings 1GB RAM to the table, this amount is sufficient for doing mundane tasks but start multitasking like switching between the Google Keep note taking app to Google Play music and you will notice a stutter of the interface. I can only imagine playing games while doing other background tasks will not be pleasant. 2GB RAM would have been great, there are phones that cost less than 10,000 like the Infinix Hot 4 that come with double the 1GB RAM that the Iris offers.

Fully stock software

The Fero Iris comes with stock software, that’s true for the most part but there are some inconsistencies. For instance, the launcher has no app drawer which means that all your apps are scattered on the home screen, It can be a mess real quick. In addition, the android navigation buttons have been altered such that the multitasking button has to be pressed and held to bring up the multitasking panel, a single touch brings up menus. Basically, the button works the same way as menu key that used to be in older android versions. Android 6.0, which is running on the Iris, only needs one tap to take you to the multitasking panel, but Fero changed that.

Fero Iris: Unboxing and First Impressions

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Fero Iris was launched early this week in Kenya by Midcom  targeting to gain market share against players TECNO , Samsung and Infinix.

The device comes with a 5-inch HD display with a 1GB RAM and is powered by a 2500mAh battery. The phone retails at  KES 8,999.

We got a review unit and here is a brief introduction about the device.

Key Specs

Dimensions 1.44729.0mm

Dual sim

5.0 inch HD IPS Display

Android 6.0

Mediatek MTK6737

1.3GHZ Quad Core

1 GB RAM

Internal storage  8GB

External storage upto 32GB

8.0 MP Rear camera

2.0 MP Front camera with Iris Scanner

2500 mAH battery

Price: KES 8,999 Exclusively at Jumia

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In the box

Battery

Screen protector

Clear cover

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Quick start guide

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Display and design

The Fero Iris comes with a plastic body which might trick one into thinking it’s of metallic build thanks to the aluminium looking back cover. In fact Fero really wanted people to think it’s metallic that they even added faux brushed surface on the back cover. Fortunately, the ‘brushed’ texture, enhances the grip of the phone.

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On the front we have a 5.0 inch IPS display of 720p, otherwise called HD, resolution. That might not sound much but my goodness that screen is beautiful! The colors are very punchy, at first I even thought that the screen was AMOLED when it was being unveiled on stage. I think the display alone is enough to persuade buyers to settle on this phone it’s not only saturated, but also bright too; you can use it under bright sunlight without legibility issues. The only caveat with the display is that it gets oily smudges really fast.

Performance

Under the hood, Fero Iris comes with a Mediatek 6737, it’s a quad core 64 bit chip that uses four A53 cores coupled with 1 GB RAM.  This setup can easily handle a HD screen with no lag as evidenced from the hands on moment we had, however, people looking for hardcore gaming should look elsewhere. Nonetheless, we are going to try some gaming in preparation for the main review and report the findings.

Software

The OS running things in Fero Iris is the android 6.0. Honestly, no phone being launched at 2017 should come with anything less than android 7.0 nougat, in fact android 7.1 is already running on other phones, it’s a let down from Fero. On a happy note, the OS on the Iris is basically stock with a light launcher skin that does not have an app drawer. Going stock keeps things running lean and smooth, but it also makes you wonder what excuse Fero has for not just booting android 7.0 stock right out of the box, its not like they needed time to tweak the interface.

Camera

The 8MP rear camera has very beautiful photos when in good lighting. The autofocus is fast and accurate and the HDR mode is present too. Low light pictures are a no go zone, they come out grainy and with lots of noise.

The selfie camera is capped at 2MP, as expected with such a low resolution, the pictures are not good, the subjects end up with washed out details.

Battery

Iris comes with a 2500 mAH battery which is small in today’s standards. However, the A53 cores in it have proven to be power efficient in other phones. At the launch event, the battery levels decreased at a low rate so that’s a good sign. We will put the phone under rigorous use and update you on battery matters in the full review.

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The Iris Scanner

This is perhaps the part you have been keenly looking forward to. Well, no disappointments here, the iris scanner truly live up to the phones name.  In the past, only countable phones have offered such a feature, most notable among them is the the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, a phone whose price tag was north of KES 80,000, does a phone that costs a tenth of that deliver? The answer is a resounding yes! At the launch event, the head of Fero demonstrated, multiple times, how to unlock the phone with the eyes. The Fero Iris responded positively every time, it even works with people wearing glasses. During the keynote, a person from  the audience was called to try unlocking with their eyes, the phone rejected them instantly. I personally set up the device with my eyes and after completing the process, the iris unlocking feature worked every time. It’s a remarkable achievement from such an affordable phone.

The Competition

The Fero Iris will have to compete with the likes of Infinix Hot 4 lite, Hot 3 which offer bigger batteries (3000 and 4000m AH respectively) , bigger screens (5.5 inches) and better cameras (8MP with better quality photos) at a slightly cheaper price not to mention a manufacturer that has become a household name in the Kenyan market.

Cubot Note S is also a phone that has been advertised heavily and falls in the same price category. The Cubot however has a bigger battery (4000Mah) , bigger screen (5.5 inches) and much svelte body (8.8mm) than the Fero Iris.

X-Tigi  A10 also brings the heat at this price tag but packs bigger screen (5.5 inch), bigger battery (3800 mAH) and higher resolution camera (13MP )

It will be interesting to see if the beautiful, saturated display and the iris scanner will be enough to sway the customers to the Fero Iris.

Motorola is back into the Kenyan Market with a Bang! It unveils super slim phone with modular hardware attachments.

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It has been a while since Motorola phones graced the Kenyan stores. The company has been going through a transition from being bought by Google and later being sold to Lenovo. This new owner already has a presence in Kenya; it was therefore a  matter of time before they brought back the Motorola brand. In the early hours of Tuesday, Lenovo through its subsidiary Motorola Mobility launched the Moto Z; a super slim flagship phone with modular technology in the name of ‘moto mods’ that attach on its rear to add functionality and open a world of possibilities.

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Moto Z is an aluminium phone that has stainless steel frame outline cramped into one of the thinnest bodies on a phone so far, 5.19mm to be precise. Despite the super slim dimensions, Moto Z comes with cutting edge features which includes a 5.5 inch Quad HD AMOLED screen which shares the same resolution and display technology as the Samsung Galaxy S7. Powering the beautiful screen is the Snapdragon 820 coupled with 4GB RAM and a choice of between 32GB and 64GB internal storage. In case you need more space, a micro SD card slot that can hold up to 2TB of space is at your disposal. Perhaps the only demerit with the specs sheet so far is it’s lowly 2600 mAH battery, a far car from the 3000+ mAH other flagships are launching with nowadays. Fortunately, the phone has fast charging technology on-board. On a sad note, Moto Z does not come with a 3.5 mm head phone jack, users have to use the USB Type-C port to listen to audio or go completely wireless with Bluetooth earphones. Only wired earphones are bundled in the box.

In the camera department, the Moto Z comes with 13MP camera with laser autofocus and optical image stabilisation (OIS) for stable photos and video shooting. On the front is a 5MP wide angle lens camera that comes with a flash for better low light selfies.

Unlike the Apple iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7, Moto Z does not offer immersion waterproofing; however, it will survive splashes, rain, and spills thanks to a water repellent coating on its entire body. A fingerprint sensor is here as well now that biometric security is becoming standard on flagships nowadays.

Now on to the really fun part, the moto mods; these are hardware attachments that snap on to the back of the Moto Z via magnets. Motorola made the process as hassle free as possible, a simple magnet attachment instantly integrates the phone with the features of the add-on. Various moto mods were launched, each comes with its unique bundle of possibilities. These mods include:

Hassleblad True Zoom

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  • Has 10 times optical zoom
  • Xenon flash which traditionally has better object illuminating than LED flash
  • RAW format photo capture support
  • Has a physical shutter button as well as zoom controls
  • Comes with Hassleblad’s Phocus software for editing photos
  • Has automatic and unlimited free storage for 2 years courtesy of Google Photos

JBL Sound Boost

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  • Has stereo speakers
  • A kickstand
  • A built-in battery that Motorola claims can add 10 hours of music playback
  • Has a speakerphone for answering calls
  • Costs Kshs. 15,000

Insta-Share Projector

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  • Projects up to 70 degrees on a flat surface
  • Has a kickstand to adjust angle of projection
  • Has a built-in battery that offers one extra hour of projection time.
  • Costs Kshs. 26,000

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There are some moto mods that are available in other countries but are yet to be launched locally such as the Incipio Offgrid Power Pack mod which adds a 2200 mAH battery to the 2600 mAH of the Moto Z making a total of 4800 mAH effectively overcoming the main demerit of the phone. As far as price goes, the phone is selling a Kshs. 69,999.

 

Fero Mobile partners with Jumia to launch mid-range smartphones in Kenya

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Fero has unveiled its latest smartphone device Fero Iris in the Kenyan market as the firm targets to gain market share in the country against players TECNO , Samsung and Infinix. 

The device comes with a 5-inch HD display with a 1GB RAM, powered by a 2500mAh battery.  

During the launch, Fero Mobile announced a partnership deal with Jumia Online Retailer to make Fero Iris and other Fero devices available across the country.

The partnership will see consumers enjoy the best mobile phones at the most competitive prices.

This device is available on jumia.co.ke for pre-orders and will retail at KES 8,999.

In addition to Iris Technology, The IRIS is a 4G LTE enabled device equipped with a high resolution 5.0 inch, 1280 x 720 HD IPS+ display, which provides the user with an impressive visual performance and powered by superior imaging technology providing improved clarity, lighter and beautiful vivid colors. The phone comes with 2500 mAh Battery, Quad core processor and an incredible 8MP back camera.

Other phones launched today include;

ROYALE A1

Unlock your phone using your own voice and look cool with its classy design. 5,000 mAh MEGA Battery plus superfast charging capability that will keep you entertained for long hours. Royale A1 comes with 8 Megapixel back camera, 5 Mega pixel front camera with Flash, Xensation glass with enhanced display protection, Quad-core processor, 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal Memory. 

Feature phone – Selfie series

Introducing the newest range of feature phones from FERO Mobile, with Selfie Camera. The 1.8 inch F1805 (S), 2.4 inch K2401 (S) & 2.8 inch K9 powerhouse. Start clicking selfies and show the world your fashion sense, confidence & personality. The phones are further enhanced with extended battery life that lets you go click pictures all day long. To add to the list are its great looks, crystal clear display and feature-touch keys.

L100

With 4G support, the phone has a 5.0 inch HD IPS screen comes with Dragontrail glass protection and a 2350 mAh battery. The phone also sports 5 MP Camera in the front to capture some great selfies and also a 5MP camera at the back.

PACE

The Fast, smart and secure PACE comes with fingerprint sensor which means you and only you can open your phone. FERO PACE’s rear fingerprint is perfectly positioned for the way you hold your phone. It unlocks in just 0.2 seconds*. Sporting a 5.5 inch HD IPS display, 2,800 mAh big battery and 8MP back + 5MP front cameras makes PACE offer you to experience good times.

 

Fero will also be launching below models exclusive with Jumia:

  •         Fero Iris @ 8,999 /-
  •         Fero Royale X1 @ 9,999 /-
  •         Fero Pad 8 @ 11, 999/-

 

 

HMD Global launches the iconic Nokia 3310

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HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, has launched the iconic Nokia 3310, reborn with a modern twist on design. The new Nokia 3310 is thin, light and incredibly durable and boasts an incredible 22-hour talk-time and month long stand-by battery life.

The Nokia 3310 is available in WarmRed and Yellow, both with a gloss finish, and Dark Blue and Grey both with a matte finish and will retail at an average global retail price of €49 (Kshs 5,356).

Nokia also unveiled the bright and colourful 5.5” full HD screen Nokia 6 crafted from a single block of 6000 series aluminium. Available in four colours– MatteBlack, Silver, Tempered Blue and Copper–theNokia 6will retail at an average global retail price of €229 (Kshs 25,034). The Nokia 6Arte Black Limited Edition has 64GB storage and 4GB RAM and will retail at an average global retail price of €299 (Kshs 32,686).

Other brands include the  Nokia 5 with sculpted Corning®Gorilla®Glass laminated 5.2” IPS HD display. Powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 430 mobile platform and the Qualcomm® Adreno™ 505 graphics processor, the Nokia 5 brings robust structural integrity, attention to detail and the quality of a high-end flagship to everyone. Available in four colours– MatteBlack, Silver, Tempered Blue and Copper – the Nokia5 will retail at an average global retail price of €189 (Kshs 20,661).

The Nokia 3 comes with an aluminium frame forged out of a single piece of aluminium, a sculpted Corning®Gorilla®Glass laminated 5” display and seamlessly integrated 8MP wide aperture cameras (front and back),theNokia 3 packs a truly premium quality smartphone experience into its compact and elegant form. Available infour distinctive colours– SilverWhite, Matte Black,Tempered Blue and Copper White– theNokia 3 will retail at an average global retail price of €139 (Kshs 15,195).

The Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 mobile platform which offers a rich feature set for smartphones: integrated X6 LTE, cutting-edge camera technology with dual-Image signal processors, next-generation Qualcomm Adreno 505 GPU all means Snapdragon 430 supports fast downloads and uploads, stunning graphics and photos with battery life to spare.”

The new portfolio of Nokia smartphones and feature phones is on display at Mobile World Congress.  Local availability will be announced in markets in Q2, 2017. All phones launched will be available in single SIM and dual SIM variants.

 

 

Inside Uber’s Revamped Hailing App

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Uber has become a household name; its cab hailing service has gained a popularity over the years despite competitors popping up left and right.

Uber intends to maintain its market leading position by constantly innovating new features and refining old ones. We looked at the new app to see what new updates the app has and if its any better to its competitors or to its old version.

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Interface

The interface is crucial to every app, it’s the first impression a user gets even before they try out the features. Uber has made their interface very simple and straightforward for new users; the moment you open the app you will get the Uber logo and a space to enter your phone number. You then proceed to type a code sent via SMS and then key in your email and password and you are set.

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The home screen interface of the app is dead simple, you get a “where to” text space to fill your destination and below it is a messages tab  that informs you of tips and tricks of making the most out of the app. The remaining graphical aspects of this home page include a hidden slide out menu, and a small icon on the top left to switch between your personal and work Uber profiles. The simplistic and uncluttered interface might fool one into thinking that the app is bare-bones but once you start booking rides, things start building up.

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The navigation through the interface is simple, it’s a combination of swipes and icon presses. Swiping up bring up the messages, whereas swiping from left to right reveals a menu which includes ‘payment’ section which lets you choose your preferred method of payment; ‘your trips’ section which lists down your rides history and gives you a chance to file a complaint; ‘free rides’ section lets you redeem codes in exchange for free transport services; a ‘help’ section which offers guides and, a settings menu.

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Settings menu has a section for defining your personal and work profiles. Additionally, families can have one Uber account where they can share payments and track each others rides. In the settings menu resides a sub-menu labelled ‘advanced settings’ it enables the user to delete any contacts they might have saved into the app.

Functionality

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Uber has been expanding the scope of its services. They want to transform from a ride sharing company to offering a bouquet of services that may appeal to people when traveling. Ordering a ride has been made very intuitive. Once you type in your destination in the ‘where to’ section, a card pops up with the information of fare price estimate, car capacity, car category and the Uber profile you are using. Most Kenyan destinations only offer the UberX category which fortunately is the most affordable class. In other markets, you get three tabs namely, Economy, Premium and Extra seats and More. Each category is self-explanatory but the ‘More’ section offers specialized transport for people who may need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle or a baby car seat.

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Once you choose your category, you are prompted to confirm pickup and the fare estimate. This is the part that the Uber magic then happens; a ride is searched for you based on your current location; you get your drivers profile details, an estimate of how long they will take to get to you and the option to cancel the ride in case you change your mind. However be cautious about cancelling too many times, Uber gets angry and stops you from requesting a ride for some time. But if you follow through your trip, payment is deducted automatically from your credit card and you get a chance to rate your driver.

Uber has included some value adding features into its latest app update.

A user can stream music through Pandora while on transit. You can also learn about places of interest of your destination through Foursquare. In case you are meeting up with a friend, you can have the driver take you to them by having your friend share his or her location with you within the app.

UberEATS enables you to find places to order food so that you can have it arrive at your destination the moment you get there. The app has also gotten smarter at its core ride sharing feature, now you can see shortcuts to your destination as well as the various pricing options for each route. Also, instead of simply rating a driver, you can comment on them too.

Pros

  • One of the fastest ways to get a ride.
  • Simplistic and intuitive user interface.
  • A very informative help section to guide you through the app
  • Chock full of value adding features such as music streaming and food ordering.
  • Many sharing options from sharing of fare prices, to sharing locations.
  • Constant updates mean that the app will only keep getting better.

Cons

  • The fare price surges can be very high at times.
  • Not all Kenyan towns have Uber services at the time of writing.
  • Other Uber car categories are yet to be introduced in Kenya.
  • Competing ride hauling apps have lower fare prices.

 

Samsung introduces Galaxy Grand Prime + Limited Edition Pack in Nigeria

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Samsung Electronics West Africa has unveiled the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime+, Limited Edition Pack in Nigeria.

The device features a sturdy case design with a non-slip rear grip pattern, giving the smartphone a firm grip at all times. It also comes in a selection of stylish colours to suit customers various tastes.

The Galaxy Grand Prime+ runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the OS refined to make it more user-friendly allowing users set app permissions, adjust settings, and more with ease. It also uses the latest version of TouchWiz, Samsung’s touchscreen interface.

The Galaxy Prime+ comes with a 5 MP front camera and the front LED flash. With the Smart Switch feature, people can easily transfer from existing devices to the Galaxy Grand Prime+. Featuring a 5-inch 540 x 960 quad high definition resolution display, the 8 mega-pixel on the back captures clear and sharp shots, in addition to the 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Videos are captured at 720p and played back smoothly, with focus adjusting as the scene changes. Users can easily trigger the front-facing camera with their palm or voice command. With the Multiple modes feature, consumers can also set up a wide selfie for a larger group, or create an animated GIF.

With the upgraded RAM support and enhanced chipset performance and 4G/LTE, users can enjoy seamless webpage load times for a more responsive multimedia and gaming experience. Its optimal 5.0” display is just the right size to view what is on screen for maximum enjoyment.

The Galaxy Prime+ comes with two SIM capabilities and available in black, gold, silver, and pink gold colours.

LG G6: Leaks and rumors round-up.

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It’s a new year and as customary to the mobile phone industry, new hardware is released to keep up with the technology advancements. LG is prepping up to announce their flag bearer for 2017, the LG G6, it’s the successor to the very innovative LG G5. The phone is scheduled to be unveiled this coming Sunday, 26th February, at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona . Many rumors and leaks have cropped up as the day of the announcement nears, we have gathered all the information you need to know to paint a clear picture of what to expect that day.

Design

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Just as the LG G5 last year, the new LG G6 will also come in a full metal unibody. LG went ahead to include a brushed rear surface to give the phone a more premium feel to the hand. Speaking of the rear, the company designed the fingerprint sensor to reside at this location, it will also double as a power button.

Display

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The phone will come with a new display named FullVision, it’s a 5.7 inch QHD+ display with a resolution of 2880 * 1440. The most appealing feature of the display is its super slim bezels, the thinnest of any LG made phone. The minimal bezels have made it possible for LG to fit a 5.7 inch screen on a body form factor that will have no trouble fitting on the average sized hands. The display comes with a rather unusual 18:9 aspect ratio that Juno Cho, president of LG Electronics Mobile Communication Company, says it is the perfect format for watching cinematic content as recommended by the movie industry.

Camera

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LG G6 maintains the dual camera legacy of recent LG high end devices. It comes with dual 13MP rear camera one of which has a 125 degrees wide field of view for covering more objects within the shots. The front camera is rumored to be 13MP with a 100 degrees wide field of view to make sure all your friends fit in the selfie.

Processor

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The best offering from Qualcomm so far is the Snapdragon 835, unfortunately, Samsung has reserved all of these chipsets for the Galaxy S8 and the S8+; this leaves the LG G6 to settle for the Snapdragon 821 but with a whopping 6GB RAM. This chipset is already powering some already released smartphones such as the Xiaomi Mi 5s and 5S Plus as well as the Google Pixel and the Pixel XL. The chipset has been documented to be a powerful option despite having only 4 cores; LG fans should not take it as a deal breaker since it can handle pretty much all applications and games that android has to offer.

Software

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Since LG has already launched a phone with the latest android 7.0 nougat, the LG G6 is expected to build up on that development. The G6 is rumored to put a high emphasis on Artificial Intelligence this year through a partnership with Amazon for its Alexa voice assistant. The software will also be made in a way that utilizes the 18:9 screen ratio. This screen ratio makes it possible to have perfect squares during split screen multitasking and camera modes.

Battery

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Unlike the LG G5, the G6 will have a non-removable battery. This is a first from LG which has maintained removable batteries since the dawn of android and it will be interesting to see how legacy LG fans will react from the move. Fortunately, there are signs that the G6 will come with wireless charging owing to the fact that LG released a charging pad in October yet none of its devices utilizes it .

Extra features

LG G6 has been confirmed to come with IP68 water and dust resistance by a teaser video released by LG. Additionally, the company will introduce the perfect audio capabilities of the V series line to the G6 through a 32bit Quad DAC chip and tuning by Bang and Olufsen (B&O), and yes, the 3.5mm jack will remain intact unlike the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Price and Release date

The LG G6 will be announced at February but will be in stores at April as per the rumors. The price has been pegged at 60,000 or $600 which is about the same as LG G5 at the time of its release.