New from Smart: Netphone smartphone with SmartNet

New from Smart: Netphone smartphone with SmartNet

Written by Fritz

Topics: Reviews, Tech

Up until I got my hands on Smart’s Netphone, even after witnessing a demonstration as to what “Safe Browse” and “SmartNet” is during its launch, I still only had a vague notion of what sets this low-priced smartphone apart from the rest. After a week of playing with my Netphone unit, I have been publishing updates via the Netphone to my facebook, twitter, and SmartNet accounts all in one push AND for FREE. Netphone users only need to maintain a P1.00 balance on their Smart prepaid numbers when using the Netphone to avail of this free service. Not bad at all, yes?

Netphone with Android 2.2 Froyo

Foremost, let’s get some terms out of the way. The Netphone is the new low-price point Android smartphone being offered exclusively by Smart. It is relatively cheap at P9,990 with a prepaid bundle and it comes free with some postpaid plans starting from as low as P800 monthly (visit the Smart website for details). The NetPhone comes with a locally developed app: SmartNet. SmartNet lets you update your facebook and twitter social streams and send chat messages to contacts that you may find via SmartNet’s ever growing global phonebook (contacts should accept your friend request first before you can send them chat messages, which makes total sense). Through SmartNet via the Netphone, you can also read notifications and updates by friends from your facebook and twitter streams. At no cost. I should know because I have been monitoring my load balance on the phone and it has remained the same since the last time I topped up 5 days ago.

Here’s how your updates would look both on twitter and facebook:

Netphone SmartNet (compose message)
This is where you compose your message on SmartNet, where one sending means three.

SmartNet twitter message, twitter view
twitter web view of an update I sent via SmartNet during the Samsung Cheerdance Competition last Saturday, where UP won. Of course. Pardon my bladder.

Smartnet facebook message, facebook view
And here’s the facebook update of the same message. Again, pardon the bladder and congratulations to the UP Pep Squad!!!

Another nifty feature that you may enjoy right now on the Netphone is send chat messages to SmartNet contacts, again, at no per sending cost from your end. Via the “Chat” icon (see first full Netphone image on this post with the icons), choose a contact by clicking on their name, type in a message, and press send. It’s just like going to your inbox and composing an SMS then sending. Only difference is, you guessed it, it’s free. LOL. You may only send free chat messages to contacts who are in your “Social Stream’s” “Friend List.” The process of adding friends is pretty straight forward: (1) Search for a friend’s name from SmartNet’s global directory, (2) send them a “friend request,” and (3) after they approve your request, you’ll begin to see them on your “Friends” list. When I’m being a cheapskate, I send my contacts chat messages instead because they will receive the message right away anyway, just like SMS, BBM, and a WhatsApp messaging. You get the picture.

During the launch, I only had one question in mind: whether or not push gmail (since the mobile unit runs on Android and it would be a waste if you do not fully utilize this feature) can be availed for free with Smartnet. We were told that Smart considers gmail as a “third party” and that each time you told the phone to sync, you’d be charged unless you avail of the messaging service for an additional fee (like Nokia Messaging for push email on a Nokia handset). When I initially set up my Netphone, I also configured gmail to sync twice daily. Surprisingly, even though my Internet connectivity is set to SmartNet, I have never been charged even as the phone syncs to my gmail as twice daily, as scheduled. It may be a glitch that will get patched eventually but until then, I’m getting gmail push email for free, too!

Smartnet internet access setting on the Netphone

What can’t you do for free via SmartNet just yet? Liking facebook statuses and uploading photos on facebook and twitpic. Not being able to “like” while mobile and for free is a bummer, haha. Believe me, I tried and failed. Gotta reserve the “liking” activity at home on the lappy, then. LOL. However, Smart prepaid subscribers, via the Netphone, can subscribe to daily or monthly services that can let you surf the web via your phone for as low as P20 daily and P999 monthly. This “subscription” is pretty useful when there are links to updates that would require you to view sites not covered by SmartNet for free. Details below:

Netphone Value Pack (Daily) at P20: Unlimited Social Stream and Chat + 10Mb Internet Browsing + 50 Texts (Smart-Smart)

Netphone Connect Pack (Daily) at P30: Unlimited Social Stream and Chat + 20Mb Internet Browsing + 5 minutes calls (Smart-Smart) + 100 Texts (Smart-Smart)

Netphone Power Pack (Daily) at P40: Unlimited Social Stream and Chat + 30Mb Internet Browsing + 10 minutes calls (Smart-Smart) + 150 Texts (Smart-Smart)

Netphone Power Pack (Monthly) at P999: Unlimited Social Stream and Chat + 1000Mb Internet Browsing + 200 minutes calls (Smart-Smart) + 3500 Texts (Smart-Smart)

I’ve been on a Smart postpaid subscriber for only about a decade and I’ve always either had the regular subscription, consumable plan, or, for a year already and counting, the unlimited data plan. The consumable calls and texts for said plan subscriptions always covered calls and texts to any network so I’m a bit iffed that the ones I mentioned had the dreaded “Smart-Smart only” clause.

For now, the SmartNet service can only be had on the Netphone. By design, however, if would be deployed to almost all mobile handsets, except for iOS because they’re snooty beyotchiz of proprietary reasons. And yet, this just in, Smart representatives have in passing hinted on a possibility of having the SmartNet app on the iOS. Hmmm, remains to be seen, then. People from the Smart Netphone team at the launch said that the SmartNet app deployment should come soon, as would higher price point versions of the Netphone.

Netphone menu screen, running on Android 2.2 Froyo

In summary, the SmartNet social media platform offers solutions for our constant need to be in touch with our contacts on facebook and twitter plus the ever growing global directory composed of Smart subscribers in both prepaid and postpaid (by just maintaining a P1.00 balance on prepaid). Introducing the said service on the proprietary and low-priced Netphone Android OS device, fully customizable with a host of free apps via the Android Market to suit every personality, deserves nothing short of a solid two thumbs up. More on the Netphone, the nuances of the device, its make, the feel, and specs on a follow up post this week so stay tuned.

Netphone with the Pulse app
Netphone home screen with the Pulse app running, can’t do without it since BatangYagit introduced the app when I was testing the SGSII

Netphone, the flip side
The Netphone’s flip side

And if you can’t get enough of the shot on the header showing the Netphone with my Rockman X D-Arts action figure, here’s a full image (do left click for a larger view)

D-Arts Rockman X action figure with the Netphone

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand here are some more Rockman X images for your indulgence. And mine. LOL

D-Arts Rockman X action figure 02

D-Arts Rockman X action figure 01

Thanks to Smart Communications for the Netphone review unit!

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