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Gadgets Mobile Technology

Tecno Phantom A+ : A “Real Life Use” Review

A QUICK BACKGROUND ON THE TECNO PHANTOM A+

Contrary to popular belief, Tecno Phantom A+ was designed by the Hong Kong based Japanese company, Alps Electric Company Limited, in collaboration with Tecno. Some key components of the Phantom A+ were manufactured by Alps.

Tecno Phantom A+ is not your regular Chinese Phone.

INTRODUCTION

This review is not going to be anywhere near an academic one, my aim is basically to assess the suitability of the Tecno Phantom A+ as a possible replacement for my old Samsung S3.

I will not bore you with any specs comparison, i guess we all know the better featured phone here. However, with all the features stuffed into the S3, what fraction of its “super powers” do we ever put to regular real life use? Well, let us find out if the features of the S3 is an overkill for the regular Joe out there.

ACCESSORIES

Okay, right out of the box, the first thing that struck me was the extreme similarity between the packaging containing the Tecno phone and that of the S3, same design down to the last detail.

The content of the Phantom A+ box were an earpiece, 8GB Memory card, a charger & PC cable combo, a Power Bank and a Flip pouch for the phone. The earpiece is of average quality, definitely the listening experience does not compare favourably with the common white Samsung earpiece but it is bearable, with fairly respectable bass output. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the earpiece and by extension, the 3.5mm earphone socket on the Phantom A+ is that they were made for each other – and no one else. The Phantom earpiece will not work (well) on any other device, and your regular earpiece will not work well on the Phantom.

The Power bank is not a substitute to mains charging. In fact, the Power Bank will not charge your phone to full charge but to about 70% capacity. My investigations revealed that to attain full charge for your phone, you will need a power bank with a higher capacity than the 2200mAh one that was shipped with this phone.

The PC cable is a bit flimsy, and i guess it may be the reason why it always take a while for my PC to access the drives on the Phone when connected. I replaced the cable with an old Blackberry cable and the response was faster.

The pouch does not strike me as one that would last a long time. Plastic with suede-like internals, the metallic colour of the front cover was a colour selection well thought out. I love it, feels Apple Mac-ish.

The Samsung S3 also came with a complimentary earpiece, MicroSD card and a Charger – PC cable connector.

Tecno

BATTERY LIFE

I consider myself a power user and this phone sees me through a day – conveniently – even with a bit of juice to spare at the end of the day. My daily routine consists mainly of frequent making and receiving calls, playing music and with 3G and WIFI on all day to power the myriad of internet based apps on the phone. For my wife, a full charge takes her through 2 days.

Additionally, the Power Bank and the miniature cable connector will conveniently fit into your shirt pocket. With this can give your phone a quick charge when you need it. The Power Bank also doubles as a flash light.

The S3, or any Samsung device at that, are not known for their long battery life. It is an exception if your Samsung S3 phone lasts a day, taking it through the motions that i take the Tecno. Infact, i had a charger stationed permanently in the office with another charger installed in my car. Battery life improved a bit when i purged the phone of Samsung’s bloated ROM and installed Custom Roms. Carbon ROM was my preferred choice.

TecnoAESTHETICS

Honestly, it is hard to decide which of the 2 phones looks finer. I am swayed to the Tecno Phantom A+ for total build quality. It definitely looks (emphasis on LOOK) like it has a more matured looking build, looks less plasticky than the all too obvious plastic materials used for the S3.

For the internals, i tend to pimp up my phone’s desktop with widgets. No performance lag of any sort on the Tecno, its 1GB RAM seems up to the task. To get the look in the image shown to the right, i always install the following apps on my android devices; Nova Launcher, Agenda, HD Widget

PICTURE QUALITY

Let us tip our hats to the S3 on this. Picture quality of the Phantom is quite ok but not comparable. It is not all about the “MPs”, higher Mega Pixels do not translate to better picture quality.

DUAL SIM

What can i say? No show for the S3.

INTERNAL MEMORY

You think the manufacturers of Tecno were generous with the 8GB memory card included in the package? You though wrong. This was meant to compensate for the low internal memory, 4GB.

The default installation drive for your apps is the memory card, with only the system files installed to the internal memory. This option is configurable.

Okay, call me an App junkie, i care less. At anytime, you will find more than 50 user installed apps on my phone. The phone has conveniently accomodated my excesses so far, even with enough space to spare.

GAMING

Out of the box, the Phantom A+ has 3 games pre-installed. Perhaps the most prominent and graphics intensive of the lot is Gameloft’s Asphalt Adrenaline 6, which plays flawlessly on the phone.

BBM CHAT

BBM for Android works flawlessly on this device as any other.

GSM RECEPTION

Highly subjective. Glo reception on the Samsung S3 was mostly unreliable. A little surprising that places that i had hitherto received shaky network reception fare better on the Phantom A+

SCREEN QUALITY

Unbelievable screen quality. The first thing that will strike you about the phone is how vividly the large 5.0 inch HD screen renders images. Not exceptional, especially coming from a S3 but definitely not a walk over either.

ROOTING & CUSTOM ROMS

I rooted the Phantom A+ the same night i unboxed it. A lot of resources are available online for this product, especially on nairaland.com. Custom ROMS are also available though i am not swayed to try them out yet as they do not offer convincing competitive advantage over the stock Rom. Also, the Roms are all Android OS 4.2.2 and not OS 4.3.1 or better still, Android OS 4.4 (KitKat)

PRODUCTIVITY

Document scanning using Camscanner is not as good as that of the S3, a throwback to camera quality perhaps. Scanned documents are however very passable.

CONCLUSION

Yes, i will not mind having a flagship phone from Samsung, perhaps the Samsung Galaxy S5 (Rumoured to be announced/released by February 2014) or the Samsung Note 4. However, ownership of any of these phones is strictly to satisfy my insatiable lust for gadgets and probably for bragging rights.

Obviously, the Phantom A+ is not the best featured phone out there but as far as functional phones go, the Phantom A+ definitely meets all my daily productive needs.

The problem with Tecno phones adoption in Nigeria is no longer about its durability but its affordability. Nigerians do not want to be viewed as being cheap, even when they can ill-afford the cost of a high end device. An average Nigerian would rather starve to put up a facade of affluence.

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Gadgets Hack Mobile

Easily Expand The Internal Memory Of Your Toshiba Thrive

Out of curiosity than anything else, i decided to try out the procedure i found on the internet which promises to Increase the internal memory  of the Toshiba Thrive tablet.

No, it does not require any screw drivers or the likes. It is purely a software affair. Basically, what i set out to do was to make the device recognize the external memory card as an internal memory.

Mine was a case of “if i can do it, so why not?”. The thing is, the Thrive as it is, has a generous 32GB internal memory which can accommodate as much apps as any download junkie may wish for. But my curiousity got the better of me.

Here goes:

  • Expectedly, you would need to root your tablet first.
  • Install a 3rd party file manager with root access. Astro file manager or File Manager HD (Tablet) would do.
  • By going into the directory /etc/ and with rw access you need to modify /etc/ vold.fstab
  • You need to change the lines

dev_mount storage /mnt/sdcard 8 /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.3/mmc_host/mmc0
dev_mount sdcard /mnt/sdcard2 auto /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.2/mmc_host/mmc1

To

dev_mount storage /mnt/sdcard2 8 /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.3/mmc_host/mmc0
dev_mount sdcard /mnt/sdcard auto /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.2/mmc_host/mmc1

Then save and reboot your thrive. This will change your external sdcard BACK to /mnt/sdcard rather then /mnt/sdcard2

I recommend you do this on Android 3.2 Honeycomb.

Categories
Gadgets Hack Mobile

Rooting Your Toshiba Thrive

Old habits die hard, someone said. Nothing sums up my perpetual need to extend the limits of my devices.

It’s been a little over a week since I took delivery of my Toshiba Thrive tablet but it took me just a couple of days to realize that they was a need to push the limit of this tab beyond what the manufactrers intended.

Restrictions on the Android 3.x Honeycomb platform which is the OS of choice on the Toshiba Thrive is by no means as choking as that of the IOS platform. However, some tablet manufacturers, like Toshiba, try to stuff bloatwares (undesirable softwares) into the OS, taking up valuable internal memory.

The following softwares were loaded into the device from the factory;

o Kaspersky Tablet Security (Trial Version)
o LogMeIn Ignition
o Hardwood Backgammon by SilverCreek Games
o Hardwood Euchre by SilverCreek Games
o Hardwood Solitaire IV by SilverCreek Games
o Hardwood Hearts by Silvercreek Games
o Hardwood Spades by Silvercreek Games
o MOG Music
o Printer Share™
o Quickoffice® (Trial Version)
o Need for Speed™ Shift by EA Mobile (Trial Version)

About the only way to uninstall these softwares is via gaining administrative access to your device. This process is called ROOTING.

The process was surprisingly simple and details of how to go about it can be found at the Thrive Forum.

I promptly uninstalled all the Trial version softwares using the app Titanium backup.

Root access gives equivalent of “administrator rights” in windows, with associated power to change things for the good. Ability to uninstall bloatwares,install custom system ROMs, and apps that require root access like ad-hoc networking etc. However, root access also gives associated power to change things for the bad if not careful. You will also not be able to do Toshiba “Service Station” updates (Unless you return the Thrive back to stock recovery and ROM).