The UP Mini (top) and UP Lite.

REVIEW: Starmobile UP Mini, UP Lite: good phones on a budget

Except for their prices, the Starmobile UP Mini and UP Lite don’t come off as cheap. Their build quality is excellent and the phones are very responsive.

Starmobile's UP Mini and UP Lite.

Starmobile’s UP Mini and UP Lite.

I passed the UP Mini around and asked friends and colleagues to feel its finish, check out the device’s responsiveness and guess its price: P15,000 said one, P13,000 said another. The lowest guess was P5,000 with most saying it’s price was higher than P8,000.

The UP Mini actually sells for P3,690 and what a device for such a price. It has a 1.3GHz quad core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU with Android 4.4, a 4GB built-in storage expandable via micro SD, 8MP rear camera with Backside Illumination (BSI) and 1080P at 30FPS video capture. The device is dual SIM with dual 3G standby. Continue reading →

Unboxing Huawei Ascend Mate7

REVIEW: Huawei Mate7: This is the ‘droid you’re looking for

WHEN you first hold the Huawei Mate7 in your hand, what is immediately apparent is how sleek its design is. At 7.9 mm thin, the Mate7 is a well-built device with top-of-the-line specifications worthy of a flagship device.

I tested the phone for a few days this week and found the device a great option for those who prefer their phones with larger screens.

The Mate7’s 6-inch screen is bright and sharp. While it’s not quad HD, the difference isn’t by much, at least as far as I can see. I use an LG G3, which is a quad HD phone, and I didn’t see any glaring difference with the Mate 7’s display.

The phone packs a powerful octa-core CPU that’s more than up to the task of running any app or game. In my few days of using the device, I found it very responsive and quite zippy. I loved using it for work – managing emails with Mailbox, taking down and organizing notes using Google Keep and Evernote, working with interns in our startup via Slack, writing and editing using Google Docs, reading articles and keeping up with news updates via apps Flipboard, Pocket and Zite. Continue reading →

Agent Android

Tech and ambient information

WHEN are you due? I asked a PR professional last week, two months after she gave birth. In my defense, I was seated when she approached me and I looked up at her face, not at her tummy. She said it was obvious we haven’t seen each other for some time, while, involuntarily I think, patting her tummy.

A colleague looked horrified at the faux pas. Technology, I said to explain myself, failed me. I had emailed her just a few days earlier and got a vacation auto-reply about her being on maternity leave.

Had I been on Facebook, I would have known about her giving birth. But I have been mostly off the social network and didn’t know this. Continue reading →

Dr Rene Catan of Arthrologic

IdeaSpace Foundation looks for ‘next big idea’

When orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rene Catan introduced to his fellow doctors some years back his plan to manufacture a local joint replacement, it was dismissed as a “backyard project.” When he presented it to a group of physicians last week, they snapped up shares, even at P12,000 apiece, of the company he built to bring his idea to life.

The difference? Catan won last year a nationwide competition for startup ideas conducted by the IdeaSpace Foundation, the largest privately-backed technology incubator in the Philippines. IdeaSpace has a P500-million fund for five years, pooled together from the resources of Manuel V. Pangilinan’s group of companies.

Catan’s project was borne out of frustration — of the increasing number of people who need joint replacements every year, only about two percent get it because the process is expensive. Parts for the total knee replacement can cost up to P150,000, not counting the costs of the procedure, medicines and other related expenses. Continue reading →

Google Play Books

Better on mobile

More than just a device by which we make calls, today’s phones are portable computers that we carry around with us wherever we go. And what a portable computer it is. The processing power of devices by which we hurl Angry Birds to space is more than that of the system that brought man to the moon.

Yes, we still use phones to make calls but this is the least of the things we do with the device. The IBM Mobile First blog, for example, listed earlier this year 99 devices and services that have been replaced by mobile phones, running the gamut from landlines, to cameras, flashlights, to business productivity tools. US consumers, for example, now spend more time on mobile devices than watching TV, according to Yahoo-owned mobile analytics company Flurry. That’s also the case in the Philippines, according to the “Ad Reaction 2014: Marketing in a multiscreen world” study by Millward Brown.

For many people, phones have become the primary computing device. Certain tasks lend themselves well to the phone. The smaller screen is more than made up for by the device’s portability, accessibility and increased functionality brought by things like location data. Here are tasks that are better done on mobile: Continue reading →

Starmobile vida

REVIEW: Starmobile Vida: entry-level phone packs a punch

WITH all eyes on the latest and greatest flagship devices of the different phone manufacturers, it’s easy to lose sight of the bottom end of the lineup — the entry-level phones that will connect the next billion to the Internet.

Starmobile’s Vida is such a phone. Its technical specs are good for an entry-level device: 1GHz dual core ARM Cortex-A7 processor with a 512MB RAM and a 4GB built-in memory with provisions for up to 32GB expansion via a micro SD card. It comes with Android Kitkat.

Continue reading →

FUTURE IN YOUR HANDS. “There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile,” said Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, “they are the same.”

‘Mobile is eating the world’

IT won’t be long, tweeted Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans, “before people who use Facebook’s desktop site at all will be a minority of users.” The tweet came with a graph of Facebook’s monthly active users (MAU) with mobile-only already millions above a declining desktop-only MAU and closing in on the number of users who use both mobile and desktop.

Evans gave a presentation last week to the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD conference and the a16z Tech Summit by Andreesen Horowitz. If you’re interested in tech and the future, his talk makes for informative viewing and reading.

Evan’s session, at least as listed in the tech summit, was about “The Triumph of Mobile.” Continue reading →

Inbox By Gmail

Re-imagining for mobile

A FEW days back, Google released a new email product called Inbox By Gmail. It is a re-imagining of the email, an “inbox that works for you.”

Google said the product, currently available only by invitation, was built on things they learned from their pioneering email service, GMail. It is, according to the service’s website, a “fresh start that goes beyond email to help you get back to what matters.”

I got into the service and found it visually refreshing. It incorporates Google’s Material Design style guide for consistent look and interaction across all devices. It is much more visually appealing than current email clients, including the existing GMail application. Continue reading →

Kindle on an Android phone

News, reading on mobile

FOURTY-four percent of executives are “most focused on news” immediately upon waking up, according to a global survey of 940 executives by Quartz, the business news website of the Atlantic Media Company.

The Global Executives Study by Quartz Insights polled 940 business leaders in 61 countries, including the Philippines, and 36 industries in an effort to “better understand how the world’s smartest, busiest people consume news every day, source and share industry intelligence, and respond to advertising.” Continue reading →

Rotary phone

What’s a phone?

THE first time I used a phone I wasn’t able to dial the number. I was in grade school and with a friend who was asked by his mother to call his dad at his office. We went to the emergency room at a nearby hospital, the only phone we could use at that time.

My friend and I had never used a phone till then. I dialed the number clockwise and couldn’t move the rotary face. He did the same. Try as we did, we couldn’t move the rotary dial. It’s not working because of the brownout, we concluded and then went home. When his mother corrected us that phones still worked even during a brownout, we returned the hospital to ask to use the phone again and were guided by a staff member on how to properly dial the number.

In college, I would line up at the payphone booths in the UP Diliman shopping center to call a trunk line in the company office in Makati City to be connected to my father in his office in Polomolok, South Cotabato. We were lucky we had this facility, my classmates had to spend a fortune (we’re talking enough money to pay unli-LTE for days today) to call long distance. Back then, you had to schedule phone calls ahead to make sure the parties were near the device to pick it up. Continue reading →