For about two weeks, I’ve been carrying around and using the Nokia N9 running on MeeGo. Being a snooty Nokia N8 user for a year, experiencing the sleek “swipe” driven interface, the look and feel and color palette that’s cool and current to the eyes, the smoothness of the transitions between the screens and shifting between multi-tasked applications, and how everything just appears so simple on the N9 just blew me away. In just two days, I told myself I should have one. At any cost, though “for free” would be better. LOL.
It’s a good thing SMART is offering the unit for free to some already-existing and new post-paid plans. Pre-order started on November 4 and will last until November 18, 2011 online via this link at the SMART website.
Much has been said about MeeGo, how the N9 will be the first and only mobile unit to carry it, and how Nokia should have used this Mobile OS instead of WinMo for future devices if you have been reading about rave reviews of the N9 unit during the past month. The statement has its merits because it’s so easy to fall in love, pardon the term, with this mobile OS. I have not experienced the Nokia Lumia 800 yet as that won’t be available in the Philippines in the near future from what I gathered from friends in Nokia so I can’t really vouch for the idea just yet.
This preview should have with it a video showing you how the transitions and navigations work but I’ll try my best to do that with screenshots, instead. Here’s to hoping it’s just as good as a video presentation. Let’s also leave out the highly technical aspect of a mobile phone unit review, spanning several pages long of ultra nerdiness, and leave that coverage with gsmarena and other similar sites LOL.
On one are your applications, next are your updates with feeds from either or both facebook and twitter and your email or SMS messages, and the next are all your open and active applications that you can readily launch with a tap. On the N9, we shift between home screens with a swipe. While in an active application, swipe left or right or up to go back to one of these home screens. Please left-click on the images below to enlarge.
Pinch the default 2×2 grid of the active apps home screen and you get a 3×3 grid to see more of your launched apps running in the background.
Here’s a change: there currently is no way for a user to close an active app while it is running. There is no “x” or close button. Swipe your way to the home screen containing a preview of your active apps, press and hold anywhere on that screen, and you will have the facility to either close the apps one by one or just close them all at the same time. At first, I found this awkward since I am, and so are most of you, so used to closing apps one by one when we like to exit but not getting a “close/exit app” button on the app itself actually makes things simpler. It’s one less screen press for mankind, one app at a time!
EDIT: Nikka Abes of Nokia tipped that there is a way to close an active app: swipe from top to bottom. To enable this feature, change your N9 settings by going to Settings > Device > Display and turn the “Swipe down to close app” option on. Thanks Nikka! :)
Another nifty feature with MeeGo is how you move around and arrange the icons of all your apps on the home screen. Tap and hold the icon of the app, drag it to the desired location, release, and hit “Done.” That’s it! You can even delete an app you installed via this view. It was a chore to do such a task on the home screen of the N8 and arranging however which way you want just could not be done on the menu screen, but here we have it folks. The ease of doing things epitomized by this tiny bit of improvement on MeeGo and the N9.
The first screen where we input our Security PIN has an exciting green on black going on but that could not be screen grabbed but here’s a run down of how some other apps look when launched.
It bothered me at first that apps may not come in droves for MeeGo but seeing that there’s a readily available (and free) currency converter, measurement converter, and screen grabber via the Ovi Store for this OS, the need for more suddenly felt trivial. I don’t even miss Pulse (the RSS feed reader on the Android) that much any more.
As of press time, I haven’t tried the “Drive,” “Maps,” and “Skype” applications on the N9 just yet. Having subscribed to an unlimited mobile data plan subscription made me fully utilize the social network and web applications/solutions on the N9. From the look and feel of the apps I shared above, I can with true conviction say that the MeeGo operating system delivers a great user experience that long-time users of other mobile OS, moreso Symbian^3, would not have a problem adapting to. The interface, and I can’t stress this enough, is absolutely fluid. The N9 is a great multi-tasking device, has quite a little but reasonable lag times (that I attribute more to the network signal where I’m at than the N9 itself), a splendid shooter, and has an interesting and eye-catching form factor albeit the unibody being polycarbonate plastic (does not feel and look cheap at all).
People have been comparing the N9 to the Nokia Lumia 800 but I think the N9 has much more oomph based on these three hand-picked differences: Screen Resolution (the N9 has 3.9 inches while the Lumia 800 has 3.7), RAM (the N9 has 1GB while the Lumia 800 has 512Mb), and the N9′s front-facing camera that they took out from the Lumia 800.
Other specs worth noting on the Nokia N9 are the following:
From a Nokia N8, despite it still being the best camera phone in the world at this time, I would readily shift to MeeGo with the Nokia N9. We have been hoping for that Symbian Belle upgrade for months and it seems, from talks on some forums I’ve visited, the update won’t be coming so soon. Bummer. When the update comes, however, I’d still give it a try hoping it comes close to what MeeGo’s got going. One other thing that’s sure to hold me back from getting the N9, or three, rather, are my 3 Angry Birds games that have all been three-starred to perfection on my N8. If only those can be ported LOL.
I mentioned that the Nokia N9 is available for the Philippines on pre-order from SMART up to the 18th while first shipment will come on the 21st. If this preview made you want the N9 bad, then we’re lucky that owning one is just a click, a few types, and a few days away. When that time comes, be ready to have your SIM cut micro-SIM size.
Lastly… “Unfollow” (China’s Nokia N9 campaign video with Fan BingBing). Uncanny parallelism is uncanny (slow claps).
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?
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:
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!
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.
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.
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)
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand here are some more Rockman X images for your indulgence. And mine. LOL
Thanks to Smart Communications for the Netphone review unit!Continue reading...
For an awesome dose of galactic proportions, the guy in the vid below will introduce the mysterious phone that’s been the subject of many online guessing games this month of June 2011. You will notice how he appears to be in 3D. That’s because my site has built in 3D converter for any youtube video I embed…. and I’m the crowned King of Atlantis, ya. The magic happens from 0:38, onwards. Volume up, please!
June 21, 2011 marked the grand launch date for the Samsung Galaxy S II in the Philippines at an SRP of P29,990. For a limited time, however, you can get yourself one at P26,990 if you pre-order from June 24 to June 30, 2011. Go beeline to Jayvee’s site for the complete pre-order mechanics for the Samsung Galaxy S II and get P3,000 off the SRP!
I hesitated a bit to share my snaps of the phone screen because I felt the shots would most certainly not justify the user experience when you are physically holding the unit and flicking away at the interface. The photo above is the closest you will see the Home Screen in all its SUPER AMOLED Plus glory. As a first time user of an Android smart phone and seeing just how responsive the UI is and looking at the vivid display with vibrance so amazingly crisp and bright and BIG, I was seriously blown away.
Know what else works great with screen that big? Playing Angry Birds Rio. I finished playing the first three levels on my N8 but experiencing the graphics in large format made me see details I never before thought existed, like the glistening pulp bits detail on half of the orange fruit behind the “play button,” among everything else. I got peeved with the ads that kept popping often because those were never on the retail version on other mobile operating systems. The experience may have been pleasing to the eyes but the ads made me feel so dirty. Hahaha.
First thing I did the Galaxy S II was set up the push email feature. At work, I have the phone propped beside my laptop and, I tell you, it’s amazing how the phone would beep for incoming mail even before my Google Chrome browser shows me an unread number notification on my laptop (I always zero my personal email inbox is why, haha, OC much?). Now THAT’s email received real time in the purest sense!
I’ll show you a sample photo and vid taken using the Samsung Galaxy S II’s 8 megapixel camera in a later post. I’ll then compare it with a same composition but taken with my Canon DSLR. LOL
We talk among ourselves, us contest hosts, and we know who among you have duplicate emails and multiple identities/personas. Hahaha. Still, we’re in a giving mood and we agreed to just make sure we don’t draw same-name grand prize winners. So far, I don’t think there’s been a re-draw anywhere. Here’s a recap the winners I’ve drawn during the first two rounds, the Round 3 winners of the USB baller flash drive, and the grand prize winner of a Samsung Corby II smart phone:
- Denn Pablo
- Hideki Beyond
- Joselle Allyssa Frilles
- Mary Mirasol Manayo
- Mica Sobrepena
- John Peria
- Zyra Anne Perez
- Agnes Dela Cruz
- Teresa Hundana
Congratulations to the weekly winners and to Aimee! Thanks to everyone who joined and kept on coming back weekly to send in their entries.
Disclosure: This post and the three previous ones are advertorials by Samsung for the Samsung Galaxy S II.Continue reading...
So far, I’ve talked about this much awaited featured phone’s two key features: Voice talk and the Dual Core Processor. For the third week, and to help you with your guesses, I’ll showcase a product attribute that’s a first with this soon-to-hit-the-shelves new phone: SUPER AMOLED Plus. Super AMOLED Plus promises sharper images, smoother graphics, a clearer separation of whites/light and blacks/dark with high contrast ratios, and better quality text to large screen devices such as this phone’s 4.27 inch display. I took a shot of the phone screen while it was playing a music video, shown below, for reference. No sharpening, color adjustment, brightening, and enhancement was done on the photo, FYI, to closely give you dear readers a near-to-actual experience of this new fangled and legendary Super AMOLED Plus feature.
Sweet! Even yummier up close and personal, seriously.
Out of 112 entries from last week’s contest, here are the winners of 2Gb baller band USBs: Mary Mirasol Manayo, Mica Sobrepen , and John Peria. Congratulations! I’ll email the details on how you can get your prizes within the week. As was the deal from the prior week, all submissions with the right answer for all the three rounds of this contest will automatically get to join the grand draw where a brand new mystery brand smart phone will be given away. Again, the smart phone grand prize is NOT the phone I’m featuring BUT it is still worth much given the means to joining entails very minimal effort. Keep those entries coming and good luck for round 3 and the grand draw!
Same question, sorta different email entry subject line: “Do you know what the all-new smart phone’s brand and model is?” Email me your answer ASAP:
1. email your answer with the subject “What’s THAT Phone? Round 3” to fritz.tentativa at gmail dotcom.
2. deadline for submission of answers is on June 23, 11:59PM
3. please sign your email with your real given name.
4. a person may only submit one entry per round. No multiple email addresses for one person. Alter-egos not accepted LOL
5. winners will be announced and published on June 24, Friday, with the post celebrating (LOL) the grand reveal of the phone being featured in this three-part contest.
6. winners, like before, will be chosen randomly via randomizer.org
7. for the grand draw, should the lucky winner be so lucky to win in two or three other websites holding a similar contest, I will have to draw a new winner from the pool of qualified contestants.
8. randomizer.org results are final
9. winners will be notified via email
Last chance, everybody! Want a new phone? Here’s your chance to win one! Good luck!Continue reading...
For more than a week of using this mystery phone, here are the top three commendations I’ve gotten from peers so far:
1. “it’s so light!” from an iPhone4 user and Apple-worshiper-in-denial,
2. “nice tablet!” because seriously, the screen on this smart phone is way bigger what we’re all used to that when I go back to using my personal phone, I’d have withdrawal symptoms and be miserable for several days until the promised SW update comes along, and
3. “I hate you!” because if I were them, I’d hate me for being so lucky to take this new, powerful, fast, sleek, gorgeous, and vibrant smart phone out for a spin for three weeks!.
This week’s smart phone feature highlight: the Dual Core Processor. The response speed of this phone is a-ma-zing, be it in launching multiple apps, staying online 24/7, and operating multiple tasks all at the same time. I have yet to encounter a lag with it. Uhm, what’s a lag, again? I forget. Anyway, the Cortex A9 Dual Core processor promises to help give butter-smooth video recording at full 1080p HD at 30fps with the smart phone’s build in 8 Megapixel camera. Do I hear the crowd say “Fritzparazzi tiemz?!!!” I promise to show sample pics and vids with my full review post.
I’ve been lucky to get an HSPA signal most of the time whether I’m at work or at home (and it pays to have an unlimited data plan with my post paid line) making the browsing experience too enjoyable that even with the new and supposedly more powerful 1650mAh battery, I end up charging the unit by the end of the day. Still, that’s a stretch given that the unit sports 4.27 inches of super vibrant display. The plus side of the phone’s HSPA+ readiness is I get to finish my browsing and readings faster which in a way helps save power.
Can’t wait for me to name the brand and unit of this phone, yes? Me neither. Since June 21 is right around the corner and I’ve miscalculated on the days until the grand reveal, I’ll squeeze in two rounds of the contest this week. Round 2 will end by June 17, 11:59PM and Round 3 by June 21, 11:59PM. I’ll then publish the grand prize winners by June 22. Deal? The mechanics of Round 2 will be a bit different from Week 1′s just so I know who among the joiners are reading the fine print. I’m watching you because I’m a masochist like that LOL.
Out of 123 entries from last week’s contest, here be the winners of 2Gb baller band USBs: Denn Pablo, Hideki Beyond (seriously, that’s your given name? LOL), and Joselle Allyssa Frilles. Congratulations! I’ll email the details on how you can get your prizes in the days to come. But that’s not what prompted you to join, right? Right! As promised, all submissions with the right answer for all the three rounds of this contest will automatically get to join the grand draw where a brand new mystery brand smart phone will be given away. I repeat, the smart phone grand prize is NOT the phone I’m featuring BUT it is still worth thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pesosesosesoses! Email lang ang katapat, san ka pa?!
Do you know what this exciting and all powerful smart phone is? Do send in your wild guess (like it’s that hard, ya):
1. email your answer with the subject “ZOMG Whuzzat Phone? Round 2” to fritz.tentativa at gmail dotcom.
2. deadline for submission of answers is on June 17, 11:59PM
3. please sign your email with your real given name. I’m looking at you, Week 1 winner, Hideki Beyond! LOL
4. a person may still only submit one entry per week despite his/her extensive database of dummy email addresses (ang madaya daw ay hindi nagwawagi in life and the afterlife! LOL)
5. winners will be announced and published on June 18, Saturday, with the post celebrating (LOL) the third round of this contest.
6. winners, like old times, will be chosen randomly via randomizer.org
7. for the grand draw, should the lucky winner be so lucky to win in two or three other websites holding a similar contest, I will have to draw a new winner from the pool of qualified contestants.
8. randomizer.org results are final
9. winners will be notified via email
Email na! Good luck and spread the word to your suking magtatapsilog, the cafeteria server na ka-berks mo na, kunduktor sa bus, your best friend na kunyari platonic lang daw feelings mo with him/her, yung mukhang isprikitik mong katabi, yung maganda mong ka-text, yung kakikilala mo lang sa facebook, mga ka-guild, and your restaurant/cafe/pet/war/MMORPG neighbors sa lalong madaling panahon dahil 4 days lang tong Round 2 na to! *heart attack sabay kawai*Continue reading...
4G Internet services promise noticeably faster mobile Internet speeds as compared to its 3G forerunner and, as would you and the thousands of net critters like us, I said “I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE” when I experienced firsthand how FAST Smart’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G service could really go. Imagine watching full-HD Youtube videos without the pain of letting them stream for hours on pause before watching them sans buffering. To understand the technology better, I tried reading through net materials on 4G and, not surprisingly, my brain would numb off when I force it to get as much supposedly life nurturing nerdy juice from them as I can. Right after my third failed attempt, I concluded with firm resolve that if I become Emperor of the known world, I’d ban techno-jargon from reaching the consciousness of ordinary mortals, this Mensa genius included, because of their arbitrary harmful effects, quite similar to getting too much UV, glucose from non-diet non-zero sodas, and fat from those delicious yet ordinary glazed donuts.
However, if there’s one thing I learned from my net-readings, it’s this: 3.5G and HSPA+ will be far FAR inferior compared to a 4G’s premise like, in my mind, somewhere along a 1Gb download in under 10 minutes while you play your favourite resource-hogging online flash or client-based MMORPG . Sounds ridiculous, yes? Actually, not with LTE.
Smart will soon release its 4G LTE service late in the year and they have been fearlessly inviting several discerning users, yours truly included *chest thumps*, to try it out. The techno-masochist in me had a field day thinking of possible stress test scenarios for this special purpose.
When Bim from Smart said “download anything you can think of. Anything that’s legal, of course, LOL,” only one thing came to my mind: the massive 5.06Gb Adobe Creative Suite 5. To add to the challenge, I used the same browser to watch a full HD 1080p trailer of Summer Wars while the download is ongoing followed by me playing GodsWar Online, a flash-based MMORPG from IGG (that would on normal occasions freeze intermittently after around 30 minutes of continuous game play). Below’s a screenshot of the activity:
The shot of the screen above was set up with a direct-to-PC connection at the briefing hub in Astoria, Boracay. My download speed averaged 1MB/s or 8Mb/s. The real test, for me, however, should be when I take the Smart LTE dongle up to my room, a considerable distance away from Astoria, and see for myself how this would fare wirelessly from there. Proceeding to download Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 trial version that’s around 1Gb in size, thinking the LTE technology would fail to deliver anything better than the 1MB/s speed from hours before, it finished in 8-9 minutes tops at speeds between 2.19 to 2.3MB/s ( or 17.52Mb to 18.4Mb/s!). More than twice as fast from my previous experience! My laptop must have felt euphoria that time because the 1Gb download finished in 8-9 minutes LOL.
“LTE is a mobile standard which promises, at present, actual download speeds of up to 70Mb/s (as proven during the launch in Boracay) or roughly 35 times faster than that of the current 3G standard. It is 100% future-proof as it is designed from the ground up to handle massive amounts of data.
“With this, end users can fully enjoy multimedia streaming and downloads on their mobile devices faster than they could even on fixed-line DSL and cable internet connections” – Smart Communications.
I raised several questions during the test and briefing: when do consumers get it, who gets it first, and how much can we have it for? Smart LTE is currently slated for public release in December 2011 but the infrastructure is now established in Metro Manila and Boracay. Cebu, Davao, and other major Philippine cities and municipalities will follow shortly, Anne Binuya of Smart shared. There may be times when the 4G signal would go down to lower speeds depending on the location, similar probably to what I experience on my mobile phone with Smart’s HSPA when mobile. They mentioned that pricing would definitely be higher than the current rates for mobile broadband but there’s no final plan amount yet. Hopefully it’s friendly on my budget because I’m missing the speed already and I’ve been itching to change ISPs for a while now.
Traveling to Boracay on a Saturday and back in Manila again on Sunday was worth getting a taste of something exciting from the near future, all thanks to Smart. Since we’re in one of the best beaches in the world and since we were afforded some free time, we got to beeline towards a small store called Jonah’s Fruit Shake (not an advertorial, mind you), the undisputed must go to place in Boracay for fruit shakes LOL, thrice in 24 hours! Thanks for suggesting the Avocado-Banana variant, Bim. IT WAS THE BOMB LIKE YOU SAIT IT WOULD BE!!!
Disclosure: airfare, living, and accommodation expenses for the one-day LTE testing event in Boracay was entirely paid for by Smart Communications.Continue reading...