Saturday, November 17, 2012

The quest for the most bang for the buck android phone

I replaced my trusty Samsung Galaxy Ace which I have given to my son with a CherryMobile W100. It was a steal for Php 3,500. It had a 1 Ghz processor that can smoothly play Temple Run, it accommodated 2 SIMS, and took decent photos. It served me well for more than a month, but unfortunately I lost it in a cab. While we hear news of wads of dollars left in taxis that honest drivers/ passengers return to the rightful owners, you never hear of lost phones finding their way back to the owners. But that's another story.

I wanted to replace my lost W100 with another W100 but then I heard of the new CherryMobile Flare introduced 3 weeks ago. The specs sheet say it had a dual core 1.2Ghz Snapdragon, dual camera, dual SIM, and a middle of the road GPU. Many other phones could beat those specs. But no phone could beat the giveaway price of Php 3,999. Other phones just a notch ahead in specs command twice the price, so I sought out where I can buy this model.

It turned out that CherryMobile, after introducing Flare last October, had scheduled its launch at an undetermined date in November. The long wait whetted the Android fans' desire to get one. The low price convinced many that the price would go up later, since similar cheap-brand phones cost least 75% more. On the other hand many hope that MyPhone and Starmobile would also drive down their prices.

And then the announcement came that Flare would finally be sold on November 17 in just 2 stores. The local blogging world had been anticipating this news. Forum buzz indicate a heavy turnout. CherryMobile is giving away a powerbank worth Php 999 to the first 50 buyers. And learning from a similar buzz sale 2 years ago, when the announced a 50% discount for LG Optimus One and Nokia C6 caused chaotic queues at Megamall, I ventured out early to grab one.

So I arrived at SM North Edsa at around 9:30am. The mall opens at 10am yet but a handful of probably Flare fans are buzzing at the entrance. When the mall opened, the small throng quickly scaled the escalators. I followed in earnest, confident that I would be among the first 50, for how could all these people be going to the same store? But when I got there, I saw to my dismay that at least 150 people arrived before me.

Selling will start at 1pm said the store clerks. But despite some minor hassles, the store and the mall management kept the lines organized. They gave I think around 500 cards to those at the line.  Listening to the chatter of those who waited, I glimpsed that there is a strong community of Android fans that can tweak their phones. I may have gained a few friends that I can turn to when I want to root my phone.

Everyone that stayed the course got what they queued for. Practicality permeates more in them than pa-sosyal effect. So congratulations to CherryMobile SM North Edsa for the successful sale. The new Flare phone is not the best phone out there, but it surely gives the most bang for the buck.

Unpacking the box at home: The phone's UI looks generic. There are not that many specialized apps pre-installed. There is no FM radio, and the video is not HD at 480p. The battery is a thin 1500mah, expect it to last at best a day. But as I said, at sub 4k pesos, this phone is the winner.

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