Thursday, 30 April 2015

HTC’s Desire faces up to Obi's Octopus in East Africa

HTC Mobiles has been one of the established players in the East African smartphone market, where some ripples are being created with the entry of a rather new player, Obi Mobiles, a smartphone company co-founded by John Sculley, the famous ex-CEO of Pepsi Co and Apple. Both companies offer a range of products meant for a varied set of customers. In this review, we have picked up two models - HTC’s Desire 626 and Obi’ Octopus S520 – for a comparative review with the intention to help consumers make an informed choice rather than declaring a winner.

t the very outset, let us understand that there are as many similarities as differences between the two models, which leaves the costumers struggling with the reworking of their smartphone priorities before making a choice. We start by looking at the overall physical dimensions. If HTC’s Desire, with dimensions 146.9x70.9x8.19mm, has a bit longish sleeker look, Obi’ Octopus, with 145x75x8.4mm, gives a more broader feel. However, in both devices the screen size (5inches) and the screen resolution (720X1280 pixels) are exactly the same. This means while the dimensions invoke different visual and holding experience of the devices, which is subject to once liking, the image or movie viewing experience for the users remains the same.

One among the critical components that determine any smartphone’s performance is the processor. Obi’s Octopus, built on Android 4.4.2 Kitkat, is powered by MTK MT6592 1.7 GHz Octa Core processor, where as HTC’s Desire, which runs on Android, lags behind with a 1.2 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon 410 processor. Furthermore, HTC’s Desire comes with 1GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 32GB via SD card support. Obi’s Octopus too comes with 1GB RAM but has an internal storage of 8GB that too can be expanded up to 32GB via SD Card Support, which makes both comparable. However, a more advanced processor in Obi’s Octopus provides it an edge at the level of user experience, as it offers quicker and smoother movement while switching between various apps.
However, HTC’s Desire tries to make up for the processor disadvantage at other levels, which includes camera, battery life and talk/stand by time. While HTC’s Desire has 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera with flash, Obi’s Octopus draws its confidence with its 8-megapixel Sony IMX111 auto focus rear camera with 2.4 aperture and 2-megapixel of front camera. However, with a 2000mAh battery power, HTC’s Desire has a slight edge over Obi’s Octopus that comes with 1800mAh battery. HTC’s Desire also claims an edge over Obi’s Octopus on Talk/Stand by time. From the user point of view, the real difference reflects from the quality of pictures taken using the two devices.

Both the devices support a regular and Micro-SIM with 3G support, come with a WiFi standard support of 802.11/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and other features like GPS facility. However, you have an option of FM Radio in Obi’s Octopus where as in HTC’s Desire it comes as a 3rd part application. Most of all, both the smartphones also have about the same price tag in the Kenyan market, which is around KSh 25,000. In the context of the aforementioned spec-to-spec match, the consumer is left wondering about making a choice between a device that promises high performance making time lag a thing of past and a device that claims to last longer. Of course, the choice is yours.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Huawei’s Ascend could face a challenge from Obi’s Hornbill in Kenya

Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment company, has been an established player in Kenya’s smartphone market. A relatively new player, Obi Mobiles, co-founded by John Sculley, ex-CEO of Pepsi Co and Apple, has recently launched its range of eight smartphone models in the Kenyan market. The ensuing competition could spell some good news for the Kenyan smartphone consumers. For this review, we have picked up two comparable models from the two leading players, which include Huawei’s Ascend P6 and Obi Mobiles’ Hornbill S551. The intention is to juxtapose the facts to help consumers make an informed choice.

Let us first get the similarities straight. Obi’s Hornbill S551 is dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) smartphone with 3G support for each and runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat platforms, where as Huawei’s Ascend P6 was launched with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, with the possibility to upgrade the same to 4.4.2 Kitkat. The first major difference, however, is in the screen size, where Obi’s Hornbill with 5.5inch (720x1280 pixels) size has an edge over 4.7inch (720x1280 pixels) of Huawei’s Ascend P6. This implies that Hornbill users would be able to watch stream videos or movies on a relatively larger screen.

Furthermore, Obi’s Hornbill is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor supported with 1GB of RAM and with 8GB of inbuilt storage, which is further expandable via a micro SD card up to 32GB. On the other hand, Huawei’s Ascend P6 runs on a 1.5GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 processor aided by a 2GB RAM, but has the same inbuilt and expandable storage capacity as that of Hornbill. While Ascend has the advantage of extra 1GB RAM, Hornbill comes with a more latest version processor, which reflects in the choice of cameras. While both have a 5 megapixel front camera, the difference is in the secondary camera, which is 13 megapixels in the case of Hornbill and only 8 megapixels in Ascend P6, which gives Hornbill a slight advantage.

Most of all the battery life is a significant criterion for any smartphone user. At this front too, Ascend P6 with its battery capacity of 2000 mAh slightly lags behind Hornbill whose battery capacity is 2200 mAh. Both the devices share the same Wi-Fi capabilities (802.11b/g/n), however, Hornbill has a v4.0 Bluetooth where as Ascend has a v3.0 Bluetooth. From the connectivity point of view, Obi’s Hornbill offers 3G, GPS and Micro-USB, where as Ascend comes with both 2G GSM: 900/1800 MHz and 3G, WCDMA 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz, which gives Ascend P6 an advantage.

The idea of overlooking brand value is increasingly becoming common as smart-customers evaluate smartphones based on what all they have to offer for the price tag they come with. At the price front, both the devices make for a good pocket friendly choice, but Obi’s Hornbill priced at around KSh18,000 has some advantage over Huawei’s Ascend P6, which is priced around KSh23,000. On the whole, Obi’s Hornbill acquires an edge on account of larger screen size, battery capacity, secondary camera and price, where as Huawei’s Ascend P6 may come handy due to the option of 2G connectivity in some parts.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Can Obi’s Crane fly higher than Tecno’s Phantom in Kenya?

The new player to enter the smartphone market in Kenya is Obi Mobiles, co-founded by John Sculley, ex-CEO of Pepsico and Apple. Obi has recently launched their eight smartphone-models named after various animals that could pose competition to existing smartphone players in the Kenyan market. One of the leading smartphone players in the Kenyan market is called Tecno Mobile. In this review, we are comparing Tecno Mobile’s PhantomA+ Mini with Obi Mobiles’ Crane S 550, which are a very close match, but with some price and design variations.
We start with similarities. Both, Obi’s Crane S 550 and Tecno’s Phantom A+ Mini are dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) smartphones and support a regular SIM and a Micro-SIM with 3G support for each. Obi’s Crane runs on the recent Android 4.4.2 KitKat and comes with a 5.5inch (540x960 pixels) qHD TFT IPS display. The Phantom A+ Mini too runs on the Android 4.4.2 KitKat but has a 4.5inch IPS display (540x906 pixels). This offers Obi’s Crane an edge over Tecno’s Phantom, as a larger display is always a plus to have.
Both the Crane and the Phantom A+ Mini are powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek (MT6582) processor coupled with 1GB of RAM and with 8GB of inbuilt storage, which is further expandable via a microSD card (up to 32GB). Furthermore, if Obi’s Crane sports an 8 megapixel rear autofocus camera with LED flash and a secondary 5-megapixel front-facing camera, so does Tecno’s Phantom A+ with a flash and features like geo tagging and auto focus. But it is the quality of photos that distinguishes the camera in the two smartphones. The secondary camera in Crane gives you good output in low light, while the photos clicked through Phantom’s secondary camera come a bit grainy in the low light. However, on these indicators the two models are more or less comparable.

The two smartphones features the same Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi options, however, there is an important difference on the connectivity front. While Obi’s Crane S550 offers 3G, GPRS/ EDGE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Micro-USB and Bluetooth options, Tecno’s Phantom comes with 2G GSM: 900 / 1800 MHz 3G WCDMA: 2100MHz GPRS: up to 48kbps. Another significant front where Obi’s Crane takes an edge is the battery, as it packs a 2400mAh battery rated to deliver up to 6 hours of talk time and up to 180 hours of standby time. Tecno’s Phantom A+ Mini, on the other hand, comes with an 1800 mAh battery that is much lower, especially considering the price.

Besides the price advantage which may be rather small - Obi’s Crane S 550 at KSh 14,399 and Tecno’s Phantom A+ Mini at KSh15,799 – Obi’s Crane has three significant differences, which include a larger display (5.5inch), large battery (2400mAh) and 3G connectivity.  In addition, we suggest you also look out for the design and the feel that Obi models boast about, which is basically a matter of personal choice. However, the buzz is that Obi Mobiles likes to focus on exceptional designs as the distinguishing marks of their products. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Obi Mobiles’ Hornbill S551 is sure to enchant Africa

Obi Mobiles, co-founded by John Sculley, ex-CEO of Pepsico and Apple, has recently entered Africa, starting Kenya and Tanzania, with a range of eight smartphone models. One of the flagship models is Hornbill S551 which is among the front runners. What makes Obi’s Hornbill smart and indeed stylish are its features and sleek design that come at a very attractive price point too. The phone comes in black and white colours with the leathered texture back that makes the phone do the talking.
Talking about specs, Hornbill is packed with a 1.3 GHz Quad-Core- Processor from MediaTek with 1GB of RAM. This is where you might be thinking of wanting more on the storage front but the phone doesn’t disappoint as it is quick and sharp with its functioning. No hiccups whatsoever anywhere as you actually start getting work done out of your phone. This little beast in glass, metal and leather look alike is no let down.

Hornbill has a 13 MP primary camera with a flash and auto focus feature that is placed at the very centre on the upper end of the leathered texture back. The space for the camera has been nicely crafted-out to give it a very stylish look, something that really stands out. The smartphone also has a 5MP secondary camera in the front to fulfill your selfie clicking needs. You shall have a good experience clicking your photos.

Hornbill has a large HD IPS 5.5 inch touch screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. The space outside the touch screen is equally distributed on the two sides at the upper and lower end with 3 capacitive keys on the lower end of the phone. The earpiece, secondary camera and sensors are on the top. The bottom occupies just the microphone while as the top has the audio jack and the USB port. The right side has the power key and the volume keys are on the left side that is a regular on most phones. The smartphone has its branding on the back side on the lower end just above the speaker grille that is of a decent size. The back thus looks luxurious.

It is a dual-sim phone. The sim cards are placed just next to the memory card slot. Point to be noted is both the sim-cards support 3G, which is quite impressive for such a price. Hornbill is a 145g bar shaped device that is easy to carry in your hand in spite of a large looking screen. It looks compact and is light with your hands. The metallic band on the sides with seen screws is a good attempt at making the device look premium. The phone is slim at 7.9mm giving it nice sleek look and thus comes easy in hand.

The Hornbill supports Android KitKat 4.4.2 OS that shows the intelligence the phone gives you. You get equally good views of the screen from most angles. For lazy geeks, the features won’t disappoint them. You can launch searches, send texts and play songs by giving speech commands with the ‘Okay Google’ on the home screen. If you are fond of large screen phones that are easy to carry and keep in your hand, hornbill is just the thing that too at incredibly friendly price at a time when prices for other phones have been a touch higher. Hornbill just might give a solid competition to the competitors.

What more, you also get a royal looking, premium leather flap cover and an equally good scratch resistant screen guard if you opt to buy the Hornbill from Obi Mobiles. We are sure that Obi's Hornbill is bound to enchant the African customers.

Obi Mobiles enters Africa with its animal series smartphones

Obi Mobiles, co-founded by John Sculley, the former CEO of Pepsi Cola and Apple, has recently entered the Africa smartphone market with an interesting range of smartphone models named after animal names. Obi is the latest entrant in the East Africa’s mobile market, starting with Kenya and Tanzania. Considering the options available in the market to choose from, Obi distinguishes itself with its Silicon Valley lineage. 

This series of Obi smartphones are particularly aimed at young people. “The youth all over the world sees smartphones as expression of their personality and an extension of themselves”, says Sculley. The story shall be no different in Africa where, where young people are keen to associate themselves with beautifully designed, high quality smartphones. Various models are interestingly named after animals such as Racoon S401, Fox S453, Wolverine S501, Leopard S502, Octopus S520, Crane S550, Hornbill S551 and Power GO F240 and come on attractive price points. The devices are more than your regular smart phones. They are stylishly smart.

Sculley personally attended the Nairobi launch. Apart from the launch event, a cultural ceremony was held to ordain Sculley as an elder of the famous Massai tribe of Kenya, which was an interesting way to establish a cultural contact with the people. Sculley also announced that his venture capital firm Obi Ventures would invest in select East African entrepreneurs, and that he would extend Obi Ventures to other countries in the regions as the brand established itself. Understandably Obi Mobiles has tied up with DESPEC, a leading distributor in EMEA, to handle the dictribution of obi devices to key retailers in the region.

There was a buzz that Obi Mobiles is soon going to launch its next series of smartphones that are expected to offer a combination of state of the art technology, superior specifications and some exceptionally innovative designs.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Alligator S454, Obi's smartphone has a lot to impress

Obi Mobiles founded by John Sculley launched its first range of smartphones named after animal in India in 2014. Over a period of few months, Obi Mobiles has moved to Middle East and recently entered Africa. Considering the smartphone options available in the market to choose from, the Silicon Valley lineage provides Obi devices an edge. In this article, we particularly look at the model called Alligator S454.

Obi’s Alligator comes with superior features as well as surprisingly friendly price tag. Our curiosity to explore different aspects of this model has generated this review that we are happy to share with those who may be considering a move from a feature phone to a smartphone. Alligator S454 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and offers dual-SIM support (regular SIM + Micro-SIM). It features a 4.5-inch qHD (540x960 pixels) IPS screen. The device is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek (MT6582) processor with Mali 400 MP2 graphics, with 1GB of RAM. A lot of technical stuff out there, right? Wait till we break it down for you.

Isn’t it all about the looks? Alligator comes in a candy bar form. The device has a sturdy build and looks compact. The device is available in black and white variants. The back of the device is nicely textured and looks glossy with the brand logo, speaker grille and primary camera giving it a complete look. The phone has a good design that you can carry with all the elegance. Obi with the promise to give us stylish smartphones has not disappointed with the Alligator.

It gotta feel great, no? The phone comes in dimensions of 133mm x 66.6mm x 8.2mm. At 120 grams weight, the smartphone is surely light to carry, in your pocket and in your hands. Alligator flaunts a 4.5inch (11.43cm) display with TFT IPS Screen with Capacitive Touch. The phone claims to have superior graphics that you are able to see when you switch to watching movies or surfing videos. The viewing angles are decent and throw nice looking colors across the angles, a feature of the IPS screens.

Hey, how does it capture the mood? Well, when it comes to recording and clicking all your special moments, Alligator with its 8MP, auto focus rear camera serves the purpose with ease. The LED Flash fills your photos, shot in night with light. The 2MP front camera is good but could have been better but again at such a price isn’t a bad deal to go with. The camera comes with digital/optical zoom that serves you well.

It must last too. The Alligator has a removable Li-Ion 1600 mAh battery type (removable) that can make you think twice before going for it if you use a lot of battery draining apps on your phone. Battery life is one of the cons of the Alligator with a talk time of 8 hrs. Furthermore, for all your storage needs the phone supports 8GB of inbuilt storage that is expandable via micro SD card (up to 32GB), which is great for the price tag.

But, it must ensure good connectivity. Obi’s Alligator is 4.0 Bluetooth enabled and comes with GPRS, EDGE and WiFi features. The dual sim feature of the phone though comes with a catch. The Sim 1 supports 3G but the Sim 2 is only 2G enabled which shall be a bit of a block if you are really keen of having a strong connectivity on both your connections. The Alligator comes with built-in applications like Google Talk, Twitter, Facebook chat, Yahoo!, YouTube, Gmail, Google Search, Google+ and WhatsApp.

The Obi Alligator has a good combination of hardware and software that gives it a slight edge at the price that it comes. If you have just started to venture into the smartphone category of phone moving out from your feature phones, Obi Alligator S454 might just impress you. Go for it if you are looking for more in less.