Starmobile vida

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. Vida has a five-megapixel camera with a VGA front for, what else, selfies. The phone has a 3.5-inch multi-touch capacitive screen with 320x480 pixels of 165 ppi display. [caption id="attachment_1589" align="alignleft" width="1200"]Starmobile vida GOOD FOR ITS PRICE. The Starmobile Vida is a decent entry-level phone for its price and product category. (Photo by Max Limpag)[/caption]

Starmobile Vida specs

The device is dual-SIM capable with dual 3G standby. It has HSPA+ connectivity, a standard that offers download speeds of up to 21.1 Mbps. Vida has a 1300mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of up to three hours. I tested the phone for a couple of weeks and found it more than decent for an entry-level device. In fact, had Vida been released a year or two back, it would have made it to the list of mid-range devices, based on its specs. The phone is surprisingly snappy and responsive. I tried a few apps and it worked okay. Entry-level Android devices pose the biggest worry to app developers when it comes to performance. It makes one cringe to see your app stutter and hang on cheap Android phones and tablets. Not with Vida. I even used it to showcase in a press conference an app that we recently launched, the IEC2016 Guide, which is the official app of the International Eucharistic Congress 2016. [caption id="attachment_1590" align="alignleft" width="1200"]Starmobile Vida Clash of Clans CLASH OF CLANS. Playing the addictive game on the Starmobile Vida.[/caption]

Game performance

Since I don’t play games, I asked my son to do it on the phone to test its capabilities. He played Clash of Clans and Into the Dead on the Vida for hours and told me he enjoyed the experience. The display isn’t anything to email home about but for use as a phone, it serves its function. Its camera, however, is great for its price and category. I took some test photos and thought them mediocre at first when I checked these out on the phone. But when I downloaded these into a computer, the photos were actually sharp and of good quality. The Vida has a suggested retail price of P2,490, a good buy for its specs.
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.” “There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile. They are the same,” the conference site said of his talk. “The triumph of mobile means new components in your data center, a new dominant software architecture running your devices, new ways to sell, and new ways to work. It also means operating at a massive scale never seen before. Quite literally, the world awaits. Better get ready.” [caption id="attachment_1582" align="alignleft" width="1200"]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.” 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.”[/caption]

Exponential opportunities

In his presentation "Mobile is eating the world," which Evans embedded in his personal website, he talked about the exponential opportunities presented by mobile. The time spent on mobile apps, he quoted a comScore report, is now more than the time spent on the web. The biggest change is that “smartphones are so much more sophisticated,” he said. “You have this supercomputer with you and it’s watching you, for better or for worse,” he said. Evans said the sensors that come with the phone “create new business opportunities, new ways of solving problems.”

Facebook mobile ads

He said the opportunities do not come just from scale -- there will be 2x to 3x more smartphones than PCs by 2020 -- but that these devices are mobile, taken everywhere, frictionless when it comes to access, equipped with sensors and camera, location-enabled, capable to process payment, social platforms and much easier to use. He said that because of these, the opportunities are exponential: 10x. “A good illustration of that is Facebook, which has built something of a multi-stage rocket; it now has a $6.5 billion run-rate mobile ad business that appeared out of nowhere in 24 months,” he said. He later tweeted a graph that illustrates this phenomenon; indeed it is a phenomenon. Evans said mobile is remaking the tech industry. Smartphones dwarf PCS, he said, and you have 4 billion people buying a phone every two years instead of 1.6 billion purchasing a PC every five years. “Mobile scale eats consumer electronics; smartphone and tablets are now close to half of the consumer electronics industry by revenue,” he said.

Mobile remaking other industries

In 1999, Evans said, 80 billion consumer photos were taken on film; in 2014, 800 billion photos were shared on social networks. There are more iPhones and Android phones sold than Japanese cameras ever; “the camera has been eaten by the mobile phone.” Mobile is also remaking other industries. Evans said technology brands already make up 40 percent of the top 100 global brand value. He also cited a study that showed how technology dominates our attention throughout the day. He then shared a separate study by Ofcom on media use by kids aged 11 to 15 in the United Kingdom. When asked what they would miss the most, a substantial majority answered mobile. Mobile was the answer by close to half of boys and more than half by girls. Among boys, PCs and game consoles were substantial second and third choices, unlike the majority mobile choice among girl respondents of the study.
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. [caption id="attachment_1571" align="alignnone" width="1119"]Inbox By Gmail INBOX BY GMAIL. The service is a re-imagining of the email into an “inbox that works for you.” (PHOTO FROM INBOX BY GMAIL WEBSITE)[/caption]

Sorting of messages

A key feature of the app is the use of Bundles that groups together related emails using automatic sorting introduced in GMail with its tabbed inbox feature for Social, Promotions and Updates. The default bundles are Travel, for travel-related emails such as flight confirmations and hotel reservations; Purchases, for receipts, shipping updates and other purchase-related communications; Finance, for bills, bank statements and other finance-related updates; Social, for social networking notifications; Updates, for notifications, alerts and confirmations for online accounts; Forums, for messages from discussion groups and mailing lists; and Promos, for marketing emails and deals. The app is a solid replacement for the existing GMail application although you can keep both. But, and it is a big one, Inbox works only with a personal GMail account. It does not work with custom domains that are part of the Google Apps For Work package.

Custom domains

I only use my GMail account for social networking alerts and sign-ups for services that review. For my main email account, I use [email protected] but manage it using GMail via Google Apps For Work. When I tried using it with Inbox, I got the notification “Your organization isn’t set up for inbox yet.” I don’t know whether the feature will be offered to Google Apps For Work domains, which has been the case for most new Google features. What Google is doing with the service is turning on the power of its algorithms to make email work for users. The bundling of notifications, alerts and updates allows you to focus on important emails. Several tech news sites describe the service as Google Now managing your email. Google Now, for the unfamiliar, is a re-imagining of search into being personal, automatics and mobile to give people the “right information at the right time” on phones and tablets. I’ve decided to set aside Inbox by Gmail and my remaining invitations until it becomes available for use with custom domains.

Mailbox app

[caption id="attachment_1572" align="alignleft" width="500"]SNOOZING A MESSAGE. With Mailbox by Dropbox, you can snooze a message by swiping left and then setting a date on which you are notified about the email again. (FROM THE MAILBOX PRESS SITE) SNOOZING A MESSAGE. With Mailbox by Dropbox, you can snooze a message by swiping left and then setting a date on which you are notified about the email again. (FROM THE MAILBOX PRESS SITE)[/caption] In the meantime, I will keep on using my default email client Mailbox, which is among the pioneers of great mobile email software. Mailbox, which was bought by Dropbox, is free and has apps for iOS, Android and Mac OSX. Mailbox is, for me, the best email client both on the phone and desktop (at least in Mac). With the app, you go through your emails by swiping messages that are displayed on cards---to the right to label it as read and dismiss it from the inbox, long swipe to the right to delete it, swipe left to schedule the email to be delivered again at a later time and long swipe left to put the email on a list. What is striking in the announcement of Inbox by Gmail is the prominence it gives to the mobile experience. Inbox looks good and works well on mobile.

Think mobile

The release is consistent with an industry-wide move to mobile. Services and products are going to where people’s attention already is-- on smaller devices that we carry around with us wherever we go. People are now using mobile more and more for day-to-day tasks - writing and reading emails, social networking, reading information and news, checking the weather, communication with people and even machines. If your product isn’t built, or rebuilt, for mobile, people might bear with it for a while. But soon, they’ll find a replacement. Every day, a new product or service comes out that is built natively for mobile. In today’s environment, the only way to go big or to stay big is to think small.
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.”

Time spent consuming news

Business leaders rely heavily on business intelligence and information and unsurprisingly, the study found that 75 percent of them spend at least 30 minutes every day consuming news, 36 percent for over an hour and 39 percent for 30 minutes to an hour. Sixty percent of them are most focused on news in the morning, 44 percent upon waking up, nine percent during the morning commute and seven percent while getting to the office. Rather than checking news at specific times, the survey found that many executives, at 30 percent, reported consuming news “throughout the day.” [caption id="attachment_1566" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Kindle on an Android phone READING ON THE PHONE. Reading is moving to phones, phablets and tablets with apps like the Kindle.[/caption] Quartz reported that 61 percent of their respondents primarily use mobile devices to consume news, 41 percent on the phone and 20 percent on the tablet. In contrast, only 30 percent reported primarily using computers, four percent for radio, three percent for print publications and two percent for TV.

Email newsletters top news source

When asked about the top news sources they check daily, most list email newsletters at 60 percent. Next was mobile web through the mobile web browser or via links in a social app, at 43 percent. The survey listed 28 percent as using a news app. In contrast, only 16 percent reported visiting a news site on a desktop as top source of news daily. The Quartz study released earlier this year is just one of numerous indicators that the shift to mobile is underway. Mobile is not the future; it is the present.

Reading on phones, tablets

Reading, as with every other facet of our lives, is steadily going digital and mobile. When it comes to ebooks, the industry pioneer is Amazon with its Kindle devices. When it first came out, there was so much excitement at the prospect of having an entire library of thousands of books on such a small device with weeks of battery life. But with smartphones and tablets taking over, reading is steadily moving to these devices. Why carry a dedicated ebook reader when you can install an ebook app into your phone, phablet (which is just about the right size for portable reading) or tablet? A report by the company Publishing Technology said that 43 percent of consumers in the United Kingdom “have read a whole or part of an ebook on their handsets, while an average of 66 per cent of mobile book readers currently read more on their phones than they did last year.” The survey said that half of those who read on mobile in the UK use Kindle while 31 percent use Apple’s iBooks. But the study also found that among 18 – 24 year olds, iBooks is catching up with the Kindle at 41 percent for the Kindle to 39 percent for iBooks. Publishing Technology CEO Michael Cairns said in a report on The Telegraph that “the mobile’s rise in popularity among readers tells a significant story about the future of book reading.”
PH Mobile Internet Users

PH mobile Internet users growing fast: study

Mobile Internet users in the Philippines are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to a study by On Device Research conducted in June and released last week. The research company surveyed 900 mobile Internet users in June for the report. All the respondents were Android users, according to a footnote in the report. That demographic likely had an impact on the findings. On Device uses mobile devices to conduct surveys. Citing data from Tigercub Digital and Oxford Business Group, On Device Research said the Philippines has the lowest smartphone penetration in Southeast Asia at 15 percent. In contrast, Malaysia is at 80 percent, Thailand at 49 percent, Indonesia at 23 percent and Singapore at 87 percent.

Rapid growth

But the Philippines is expected to reach 50 percent smartphone penetration in 2015. The growth is rapid, with the Philippines increasing faster than Indonesia and Vietnam combined, the company said, citing the International Data Corp. Mobile Internet users are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to the report. On Device said lower-priced devices from MyPhone, Cherry Mobile and Starmobile will drive the rapid smartphone growth. The Android phone market is currently dominated by Samsung, which has a 43 percent share. [caption id="attachment_1533" align="alignnone" width="1200"]PH Mobile Internet Users Mobile Internet users in the Philippines are a “small but fast growing group of people,” according to a report by On Device Research.[/caption] The company said Filipinos “are drawn to unlimited Internet packages” with 50 percent reporting an “unli” package for their device. The report, however, said the Philippines has one of the slowest LTE speeds globally and only 41 percent reported being satisfied with their data speed. Among respondents, 34 percent reported being neutral while 25 percent said they were unsatisfied by the speed.

Tablets more popular than laptops

Mobile Internet users are also young, with 88 percent of the mobile Internet population in the Philippines under the age of 34. Tablets are also more popular than laptops, with 30 percent saying they own a tablet as opposed to just 25 percent who have a laptop or netbook. On device also reported strong social media activity in the Philippines, saying 42 percent of total screen time in the country is on social media. The company said Filipinos are the top social media users in Asia Pacific, spending four hours a day in social networks. In messaging, Facebook dominates the Philippines. On Device reported that 82 percent of Filipinos report using Facebook Messenger at least one a week. In contrast, only 27 percent said they used Viber and and another 27 percent said they communicate through Skype at least once a week. The three top Asia-based messaging apps did not do as well as they did in other countries, especially their home markets. South Korean Kakao Talk was just at nine percent, Chinese WeChat at 15 percent and Japanese Line was at 10 percent. [caption id="attachment_1534" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Facebook messaging in PH FACEBOOK MESSAGING dominates the Philippines, according to the On Device study.[/caption]

Apps 'extremely popular'

On Device also reported that their survey showed apps are “extremely popular” among Filipinos with 78 percent saying they downloaded an app or game in the last month and 32 percent saying they installed six or more apps per month. The study also said that 45 percent reported paying for app installation or in-app purchases. Of those who reported paying for something on their phone, 29 percent said it was for a game, 19 percent for music, 11 percent for video and 10 percent for stickers. Those who paid for calls worldwide comprised only eight percent. The company also said typhoon relief efforts boosted use of mobile cash. It said ewallet solutions like Smart Money and GCash are the most popular payment platform among its respondents. On Device stressed the importance of mobile for companies. The “mobile market is young and will continue to grow – it’s vital for brands to target these young mobile-first consumers,” the company said.
FACEBOOK PAPER. The social networking giant has more than a billion active mobile users monthly, according to its founder and CEO. (Photo from Facebook newsroom)

Think mobile

In announcing his company’s purchase of Oculus VR, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social networking giant now has more than a billion active mobile users a month. “Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” Zuckerberg said to explain the purchase of the virtual reality company. That’s stunning numbers from a company excoriated in the past for not getting mobile. After their initial debacle with taking a hybrid HTML5 approach to mobile, Zuckerberg turned things around and had the company release native apps for the major mobile platforms. “I think it’s inarguable that Facebook is a mobile-first company,” Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman said in an interview with the New York Times. [caption id="attachment_1518" align="alignnone" width="960"]FACEBOOK PAPER. The social networking giant has more than a billion active mobile users monthly, according to its founder and CEO. (Photo from Facebook newsroom) FACEBOOK PAPER. The social networking giant has more than a billion active mobile users monthly, according to its founder and CEO. (Photo from Facebook newsroom)[/caption] That focus has resulted in a shift in the company’s business – by the fourth quarter of 2013, 53 percent of the company’s advertising revenues came from mobile devices. It isn’t just Facebook, most websites and digital services have been reporting increased mobile access. The increased mobile use of Facebook drives people to view websites and consume content on phones and tablets. This is because people share links to websites and articles on Facebook – and whether you’re prepared or not, users will be viewing your website on their phones. A poorly-designed mobile user interface will impact your brand. According to The Mobile Playbook of Google, 57 percent of users say they won’t recommend a brand with a poorly designed mobile site. What’s more, 40 percent turned to a competitor’s website after a bad mobile experience. The mobile shift has happened in earnest in countries like the Philippines. We used to revel in our designation as the “texting capital of the world.” Now we’re the selfie capital. These reveal a deep attachment among Pinoys to their mobiles. Recently, Millward Brown released its “Ad Reaction 2014: Marketing in a multiscreen world” study which found that in many parts of the world, including the Philippines, mobile has become the “primary screen.” The study said daily screen use per person in the Philippines is now 174 minutes for phones, 143 minutes for laptops, 115 minutes for tablets and 99 minutes for TV. Millward Brown said in its study that to “engage a large number of multiscreen users, most global brands will need to deploy media plans with a far heavier mobile emphasis than they do at present.” Mobile isn’t the future, it’s the present. If your business still hasn’t taken mobile into primary account, you’re in trouble.
TOURISM GUIDE ON THE PHONE. There are a lot of things that you can do better and differently on mobile. Among them is guiding tourists. Photo above shows Sinulog Guide on a Windows Phone. The guide is part of the Digital Tourism program of InnoPub Media, a startup I co-founded.

Mobile now

MOBILE isn't the future; it's the present. That's the gist of recently released Internet usage reports. Last month, more Americans used smartphones and tablets than desktops or laptops to access the Internet, according to a study by analytics company comScore. Also last month, Nielsen released its Digital Consumer Report that found, among many other things, that Americans in 2013 spent an average of 34 hours every month using apps or mobile web browsers on their phones as opposed to 27 hours using the Internet on personal computers. Using mobile browsers and apps on the phone placed 2nd in the ranking of how US consumers spend media time, next to watching live TV at 133 hours. But smartphone use logged a +9.52 increase from 2012 while live TV had a -2.44 drop in the same period. Using Internet on a PC, on the other hand, logged a -1.54 drop last year.

Drop in PC sales, rise in smartphones

All these on a backdrop of plummeting PC sales and surging smartphone adoption. Global shipment of PCs fell 9.8 percent last year, the worst drop on record, according to the International Data Corp. (IDC). According to the market research company, “the outlook for emerging markets has deteriorated as competition from other devices and economic pressures mount.” PC shipment is expected to drop 6.1 percent this year. Smartphones , on the other hand, are recording stratospheric growth. IDC said “annual smartphone volume in 2013 surpassed 1 billion units for the first time, accounting for 39.2 percent growth over 2012.” IDC expects volume growth this year to be at 19.3 percent.

Mobile shift

The mobile shift has happened in many parts of the world. It is in its early stages and the opportunities are vast. It almost feels like the late 90s all over again, at the cusp of the Internet going mainstream. [caption id="attachment_1511" align="alignnone" width="1300"]TOURISM GUIDE ON THE PHONE. There are a lot of things that you can do better and differently on mobile. Among them is guiding tourists. Photo above shows Sinulog Guide on a Windows Phone. The guide is part of the Digital Tourism program of InnoPub Media, a startup I co-founded. TOURISM GUIDE ON THE PHONE. There are a lot of things that you can do better and differently on mobile. Among them is guiding tourists. Photo above shows Sinulog Guide on a Windows Phone. The guide is part of the Digital Tourism program of InnoPub Media, a startup I co-founded.[/caption] Looking back today, you’d see through the clear lens of hindsight how the top players now were able to build a business and grab market share by being first and more nimble than the slower-moving incumbents. In blogs, for example, people were able to build a publishing business to rival mainstream companies mainly by taking advantage of the new publishing format early and grabbing market share. That opportunity opens up again in mobile.

Apps, mobile web

But it’s not just about making your website mobile-friendly. Nielsen said in its report on the monthly usage of app and mobile web that 89 percent of US smartphone users spent media time on apps while only 11 percent do so on the mobile web. The report by comScore, on the other hand, said apps made up 47 percent of Internet traffic in the US while mobile browsers only accounted for eight percent. While the data is of 2013 usage in the US, it renders a picture of the Philippines several months from now. More so in a country like ours that is known for its mobile adoption. For businesses to protect future growth and market share, mobile should be a primary consideration. The things you can do on mobile are vast and disruptive.

Mobile shift

There is a big chance you’re reading this on your phone. A bigger chance this year than in 2012, anyway. A common pathway to this article would be from social networks like Facebook and Twitter, services that people are increasingly logging into through apps on their phones. This year, an article in the BBC announced, is the year “we all went mobile.” And it isn’t just about using small screen and portable devices, it’s about a state of mind, said the article written by business reporter Matthew Wall. “We’re talking mobile workforces staying connected in an out of the office and using their devices for work and play. We’re talking mobile data, stored in the cloud; and mobile corporate structures trying to adapt to the new age of data sharing, collaboration and crowdsourcing,” the BBC article said.

Tablet, smartphone penetration in Philippines

While the Philippines may be behind richer countries in gadget adoption, we’re headed there. [caption id="attachment_1503" align="alignnone" width="1300"]LG GPad TABLET ADOPTION. Photo above shows an LG GPad, a great Android device for its price range. Tablet adoption in the Philippines more than doubled from just 6% in 2012 to 14% in the first quarter of 2013.[/caption] A first quarter 2013 survey by Ericsson ConsumerLab said tablet penetration in the Philippines more than doubled, from just six percent in 2012 to 14 percent at the time of the survey. Nielsen placed smartphone adoption in the Philippines at just 15 percent in a survey reported in September. While still low, this will definitely speed up as the months go by, fueled by low-cost Android devices that are flooding the market. Have you seen the phones and tablets being sold by local brands like Starmobile, Cherry Mobile and Cloudfone? The gadgets in their mid-range are nothing to scoff at. They are actually pretty good. In the Cebu launch of a local tablet in 2012, the press relations officer of the company actually seemed apologetic that the raffle item was one of their tablets. He had invited a few well-heeled friends of his and he had to explain to them that the tablet was actually good. It was.

Low-cost Android devices

These devices, some designed in the Philippines but manufactured in China, others rebranded white-label products assembled also in China, are fueling mobile adoption. More people will go online using mobile devices than through desktops and laptops. I don’t have the comprehensive figures for usage in Cebu or even for the Philippines. What I have are anecdotal snippets of how increasingly, phones and tablets have become people’s main computers. Just look around you and count the number of people using a smartphone (what’s a smartphone, you ask? Any phone that can connect to the Internet and download apps is a smartphone.) I don’t know if it’s because of the circles I find myself in but when I do this exercise, I always find that more than half of people within my vicinity use a smartphone.

Shift to mobile

That shift from desktop to mobile will have far-reaching impact on a lot of things. This may not have been the year when Filipinos all went mobile. That may happen next year or the year after. But the shift is underway. And along with it will come threats and opportunities that will disrupt industry after industry. RESOLUTIONS? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT. Tomorrow midnight, many of us will do our annual ritual of promising to do better – to finally exercise, quit smoking, read more and be a better person. And as with anything at this age, there is an app for that. Lift, which you can download from the App Store and in Google Play Store, allows you to keep track of habits you want to either start or lose. It allows you to keep track of milestones and provides motivation as well as community support. With the app, you “check in” to a specific habit – like Run Daily or Drink More Water or Spend More Time With The Kids – and track how close you are to your goal. After you come up with this year’s batch of resolutions, download Lift and start tracking the things you want to do using the app. Happy New Year!

The LG G2 is a great high-end Android phone

THE first thing that strikes you when you turn on the LG G2 is how beautiful the display is. It is sharp and vibrant and comes on such a big screen. It’s almost realistic you’d find yourself gingerly pressing the glass. And as you start using what is currently LG’s flagship device, the next thing that will strike you is how responsive it is. Opening apps, switching between applications and moving between screens feel fluid and seamless. And as the day wears on, you’d find the phone’s large battery capacity kicking in, allowing you to use the device for an entire day without having to recharge. I tried the LG G2 for several weeks and found the phone, which comes with Android Jelly Bean, a joy to use. [caption id="attachment_1489" align="alignnone" width="1200"]LG G2 GREAT ANDROID PHONE. The LG G2 packs a formidable processor with high capacity battery to make for a great mobile device.[/caption] As a heavy phone user, I use my phone as my main computer. It’s the first device I check in the morning and the last one I open at night. Throughout the day, I use it for various work and personal tasks. The phone is my main email and reading device. And as a journalist, the phone is a personal newsroom where work and play coexist.

Excellent phone display

Coming from an iPhone 5, the G2’s screen really stands out. It’s just about right for reading on the phone - big enough to make the reading enjoyable and small enough to still be handy. The LG G2 comes with a 5.2" Full HD IPS display with a 423 pixels-per-inch resolution. The company said the Full HD screen will give you an “authentic view of whatever you’re looking at.” The G2 is a great reading device that comes with an auto-brightness capability that works. Whether catching up with news on Flipboard or Zite, going through long reads saved in Pocket or reading ebooks on the Kindle app, reading is a great experience on the G2. The G2’s HD display also makes viewing movies on the phone a great experience. I store movies at home with a network attached storage and stream these using an Android app - a setup I took full advantage of with the G2. I watched episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (at 1 hour and 30 minutes each), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (55 minutes each) and The Blacklist (45 minutes) in bed and find the phone still on when I wake up. On the iPhone, I’d find the battery drained. [caption id="attachment_1490" align="alignnone" width="1200"]LG G2 Sinulog Guide GREAT DISPLAY. The LG G2 comes with a sharpand vibrant display with a screen big enough to make reading enjoyable and small enough to still be handy. Above, the phone shows the Android app version of our Sinulog Guide.[/caption]

Battery capacity

Battery capacity is one standout feature of the LG G2. It comes with a 3,000 mAh battery unmatched by phones in its class. With the G2, I could leave home without a charger, confident the phone will last me the day. This is particularly useful for my job - as a journalist I need to be constantly connected to keep up with news and updates and to do work. The battery is the bane of modern phones but with the G2, it is its best feature. Even with my son playing graphics-intensive games on the phone, the G2 still had enough power for me to do work. And power is one thing the G2 has plenty of - it comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor with 2.26Ghz quadcore CPUs. For people of a certain generation reading about processor specifications of desktops that used to be launched annually, it boggles the mind to find these numbers on today’s mobile devices. The processor serves the G2 well, allowing you to indulge in the vice of modern living - digital multi-tasking - without the device freezing or slowing to a stuttering display.

13-megapixel camera

The G2 also comes with a good camera: a 13-megapixel device that comes with an optical image stabilizer technology to steady the image, even with our shaky hands while doing selfies. It also comes with multi points auto focus to help you get clearer shots. [caption id="attachment_1491" align="alignnone" width="1200"]G2 sample photo SAMPLE PHOTO. This photo was taken with the LG G2. This image has been edited and scaled down. For the unedited version, check the image in Flickr.[/caption] The G2’s controls are different from other phones - the buttons are placed at the back of the device, right where your index finger is when holding the device during a phone call. It needs a little getting used to, and for me it took a couple of days. The phone also has a different way to wake up. You just need to double tap on the screen to make it active again. It also comes with audio zoom that will allow you to focus on an audio source by zooming in on it while recording the video. LG said the feature “uses three stereo mikes, which amplify sound from the specified angle and deemphasize the surrounding noise, so you can zoom in on the sounds you want to hear, and tune out those you don’t.”

Quick Window case

The LG G2 also has a unique phone case with a “quick window” capability. It offers you a peek, via a small cutout display on the front cover, on such things as the time, missed calls and messages. The Quick Window case comes free with the G2 package as part of the company’s promotion. The device comes with a plethora of features: high-speed connectivity with LTE, NFC-capability, plug and pop that presents icons related to listening as soon as you plug in a headphone, guest mode to allow other people to use the device, among other technical specs. [caption id="attachment_1492" align="alignnone" width="1200"]LG G2 quick window phone case QUICK WINDOW. The LG G2 comes with a free phone case with Quick Window capability.[/caption] What I don’t like about the device is its lack of a memory card slot to expand storage. But this is easily dealt with by cloud storage services and apps. I wasn’t sold on its default launcher and Android customization but, in fairness and to be honest, I never gave it a chance. The first thing I’d do on any Android device is to replace its home launcher. My current choice is Nova Launcher, which worked well with the device. But all in all, the G2 is a top-class Android phone. It’s suggested retail price is P29,990, which is not bad compared with other devices in its range. The G2 is a top-class Android phone. Its suggested retail price is P29,990, which is not bad compared with other devices in its range. If you’re considering a high-end Android device for your Christmas phone upgrade this year, the LG G2 should be among the first devices you should consider.
WEChat, Line and KAkaoTalk

WeChat, Line, KakaoTalk battle for users; no clear winners yet in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is the battleground for a bruising competition among a set of cute mobile phone applications: chat apps. Up north, the battle has largely been won in their home markets, with Line taking Japan, WeChat in China and KakaoTalk in South Korea. In SouthEast Asia, however, there is no clear winner yet, said Junde Yu, the vice president for AsiaPacific of App Annie. Line, WeChat and KakaoTalk are battling each other across the region through TV ads, billboards and celebrity endorsements. “We send our heartfelt condolences out to good old-fashioned SMS,” App Annie said in a blog post on the subject. Yu said the fight is more than just about getting the top market share in social messaging. The apps are “entry points to dominate mobile.”

Not just about stickers

“They are not just looking to get sticker revenues although it is big for them,” he said. Although the apps are free, they sell virtual stickers that you send to your friends in your chats. “They are looking to use it to drive app downloads, to drive game downloads,” Yu said. He said Line was able to push one of their games to top the charts in just a few hours by promoting it in their messenger. “This is something carriers can do when rolling out apps. You can send out text to encourage people to install and instantly you are top of the cart, you don’t need to buy ads,” he said. [caption id="attachment_1467" align="alignnone" width="1932"]WEChat, Line and KAkaoTalk WECHAT, LINE, KAKAOTALK. These social messaging apps are “entry points to dominating on mobile.” More than messaging, these apps are also social networks. According to an app analytics company, there are no clear winners yet in most of Southeast Asia.[/caption] Chat apps and other so-called over-the-top or OTT services, which are services you use on the network of your telco provider, dominated discussions in last week’s Asian Carriers Conference in Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa. OTT services are disrupting the telecommunications industry and cannibalizing its revenues. Apps like WeChat, Skype or Line allow you to send messages or make calls for free through an Internet connection, whether via Wi-Fi or your telco’s network.

Revenues lost

Telcos will lose $32.6 billion to OTT messaging applications this year, according to Ovum, an analyst and consultancy company headquartered in London. By 2016, Ovum said the losses will add up to $54 billion. Add to that the $52 billion telcos are projected to lose to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) applications by 2016 and the future does look challenging, an analyst said last week. There is an opportunity for telcos to do well in the new digital landscape dominated by OTT players, another analyst said. They just have to get out of that operator mindset, said Bubbly CEO Thomas Clayton. “Operator guys, you got to react faster,” Clayton said. He said that when a chat network dominates a country, it also helps drive smartphone adoption. He said people would want to be in the dominant network and would buy smartphones to be there. Telcos’ responses to OTT services, according to Ovum, range from adopting a wait-and-see attitude to blocking their services to working or even competing with them.

Massive change ahead

Oscar Veronese, InternetQ SVP for Southeast Asia, told operators to partner with OTT players. “You have the consumers…they have the speed, the creativity.” Veronese said the market will “explode” in the next six months. “You’re gonna see a massive change with people using feature phones going to smartphones,” especially cheaper Androids, Veronese said. In the Philippines, both Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom have started offering prepaid buckets that offer unlimited use of WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk services. Yu said Filipinos are already top downloaders of mobile phone applications. He said the country is ranked 18th globally in downloads from Google Play, which is “really high” for a country with its population and GDP figure. In the Philippines, revenue erosion is not as apparent as that in Europe “simply because the cost of call and text here is already very low,” said Sun Cellular senior vice president Ricky Peña.

Experiment, learn lessons

“We have the benefit of learning from the experience of other operators. The way forward is to experiment and learn the lessons the OTTs are teaching us. It’s all about giving the richer experience to customers,” said Peña, who is also the head of communication of Voyager Innovations, Inc., the innovation arm of the companies under Manny V. Pangilinan’s group. Peña, however, said the issue is more than just messaging. “It’s all about building a digital life experience. Right now, the buzz is all about messaging. But the bigger picture is how will this technology change people’s lives? That is what really will make your customers stickers. You will change for the better how they live, how they work, how they play,” he said. “It’s not just all about messaging. Sure, communications is the glue that holds everything together. We also have to address the need to digitize other facets of their life like education, health, commerce - all of these things will be part of that ecosystem,” he said.