Sunday, September 4, 2011

Netphone: Smart's affordable smartphone

While smartphone prices have already been on the decline, making it affordable to more and more people, there is still a great majority of Filipinos whose mobiles are not internet-capable. This is true despite the Philippines being recognized not only as the texting capital of the world but also the world's online social networking champ. Almost everyone I've asked has a Facebook account. A friend of mine even has a yaya (nanny) who's got a Facebook account.

Recognizing these patterns, Smart designed its own brand of an internet-ready phone and tailor-fitted its features and apps to the Pinoy's lifestyle and preferences. At a media launch recently, I was introduced to the Netphone, Smart's offering for those who are budget-conscious but love to get on the internet and engage on social media.

By September 10, the public will be formally introduced to Smart's very own brand of internet-capable phones via Netphone 701 (which I hear is a ZTE model). It is only the first model to come out, with other higher-end models being planned in the coming months.

Netphone 701 is an Android-powered phone, running on Froyo (ver. 2.2). This was my first time to play around with an Android handset but I noted that the initial apps loaded on it were pretty good. An FM radio, a Bible app, and even my favorite Docs To Go app was loaded in it. It's got 2 cameras. The back camera is 3.2MP while the front cam is a VGA one. It was pretty light, something I'd always appreciate in a phone. Colors were quite vivid. This handset also allows you to turn your phone into a hotspot and it supports Flash 10.1. It has a 3.5" touchscreen and runs on a 600MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Not being familiar with the menus, I was trying to find out if the phone had wifi or ran on 3G only. Yup, the Netphone is good for both wifi and 3G. 

So far, we've seen features of an Android phone. Now what appears to set this Netphone apart from other smartphones in the market today?

Smart Center - Just a swipe and you can see your load's balance. A few more touches and you can manage your Smart account, subscribe to call, text, data packages, and see any subscription's expiry date/time. There's no need anymore to memorize the text format for subscribing to any of these packages. As soon as new promos and offers are available, your phone's info is updated.

SmartNet - this is a proprietary layer of software built on top of Android that allows social networking (Facebook and Twitter) and chatting (Yahoo Messenger) without having to spend a peso. And no matter how many status messages or chats you post, it does not eat up your load. Just one peso on your phone will still make all these work. 

Watch this video.

Now, you're asking how much, right? Well, the prepaid phone kit costs PhP9,990 (very affordable compared to other Android handsets) but it is FREE when you get a postpaid Datalite plan at P800 (access to select sites) or a regular postpaid plan at P1200.

For those with a limited budget and have been holding off on purchasing a smartphone, the Smart Netphone may just be something to consider.

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