Tecno Phantom A+: First Impression and how to root

Soon after being relieved of my second Tecno smartphone I stuck to my policy of buying electronics. Its pretty simple buy more expensive in the event that I am careless and loose or are relieved of said gadget. I decided to always replace any gadget I loose with a better and more expensive one as soon as I can.

In order to adhere to the Mwangi policy, I proceeded to call up one Gideon Sigei, my go to guy for all things Tecno.  Since buying the N7 there have been several launches of droids sporting Android 4.2 most in the mid-range on price and feature sets. I wasn’t that interested in getting something I had previously owned. I thus went for the Tecno F7 (They call it the Tecno Phantom A+ but ain’t that such a mouthful?)

I gotta say I expected way less for the 20,000/- that was asked for the unit. I get a quad core  processor, a gig of ram, a GB of internal storage and an 8GB men card. Comes with a 5 inch screen in a better form factor than the Tecno N7 which was/is quite bulky in the hand, pocket and even on the desk. Its also lighter and easier on the eyes.

I tend not to store much on the phone apart from say a couple of pics and using the storage like portable storage. Tecno however need to try and up the internal storage, its really lagging behind competitors on this front anyway.

The 971mb ram seems to be handling tasks just fine with barely any lag or jittery operations.

Tecno Quadcore
Tecno Quadcore

Holding this phone in your hand makes you wonder exactly why you would buy a Samsung    phone. I know I am NOT getting a software upgrade to KitKat while some Samsung handsets will get an upgrade. I also have less internal storage but is that sufficient to warrant double the price for similar specs?

Well I will stick to my broke lanes while holding a gadget faster than my PC for half what it cost me several years ago.

Now for all the tinkerers out there here is how to root the gadget.

Requirements:

  • Windows 7 PC/laptop
  • ADB drivers(Just download the Android SDK and it should have all you need.)
  • eroot v1.3.3 found here

Now simply connect your phone to the PC and run the eroot software. Its in Chinese so you won’t understand much of what is going on(unless you are chines that is.) The only button you need is labelled ‘root’ and just click on it and thats it. Your Tecno F7 is rooted.

I doubt there is a need for a custom rom at this stage unless you are some kind of modding freak. Anyhow I have not explored past here.

 

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Tecno n7

Being an Android loyalist, for the purpose of preserving the notes in my wallet, I only buy android handsets. They happen to be the only kind of smartphones that can hold 2 SIMs. This helps alot when I need MPesa but also need Orange Kenya’s cheap internet.

Samsung products are in my opinion overpriced for what they wind up delivering compared to their Chinese counterparts. But then again these may just be sentiments from a broke guy and I might have to eat my words sooner rather than later.

The first phone I tried out due to its price point was the Mi-Fone A351 for about 6,000/-. It was bought in a hurry since I was travelling and needed a smartphone. It also seemed to have reasonable specs . Humongous mistake. The build quality was atrocious, it crashed every other hour and simple things that even the Huawei Ideos could handle it struggled with. For instance when an app crashes, I cannot report to google the play store keeps crashing.

Later I got a chance to get something better and I decided that Tecno deserved a chance. Their previous offerings have been solid in performance and basically delivered precisely what was suggested on the box without fail. That tends to be important.

I fired up Olx and looked for the nearest deal. long story short I got a Tecno N7 for a steal and was pretty proud of myself, for a while.

It has pretty much what you would expect in a midrange phone with features balancing out. It has a dual core processor, 5 inch screen, 4GB internal storage(About 700MB available for apps and 2GB for your other stuff) a 5 MP shooter at the back, 1.3 MP at the front and the usual sensors, compass, accelerometer, GPS etc.
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I was pretty proud of myself until I updated the google play store. There is this app called Google Play Services that is supposed to do mysterious things on behalf  of google for developers of apps or vice versa. All I know is some of the apps I need want it and refuse to work otherwise. Case in point Foursquare. For those with space issues, the app is humongous like 20MB and so it is not popular with them. I hate it for a totally different reason though am not sure whether its Google or Tecno at fault here.  The app simply refuses to install claiming it is incompatible with another app with the same shared user ID. Google just gives me people with similar issues albeit its not so widespread.
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The soft keys at the bottom of the screen also only work when they are in the mood. I donno if this is a flaw with my particular handset or if this happens to all Tecno N7s.

But Aside from that everything else works fine and the humongous screen is just the best when watching the downfall of Miley Cyrus.

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Gtide E7 Vs Samsung Galaxy Pocket

Am an Android Freak. And that’s only because windows phone is feeling sexy punda (Phrase borrowed from @machomoja) with East Africa and their definition of an entry level smartphone hops along with a Kshs 16,000  price tag. No thanks.

Seeing as we have established my cheapskate credentials, allow me to introduce the latest Chinese smart phone from the company locally known as G Tide (and internationally going by whatever you feel like calling it that morning) that has been rocking my world for the past 4 days.

I have a Samsung Galaxy pocket that has disappointed me severally with a plethora of problems that custom ROMS have not resolved yet. The teeny-weeny screen, plasticky feel, average battery life and pre-installed bloat crapware drove me nuts.

*side Rant-\

The galaxy pocket comes with the following pre-installed and nonremovable on the stock rom without rooting the device.

  • Accuweather.com app though there is an inbuilt android weather app.
  • Some Yahoo! finance nonsense
  • Samsung apps app plus it forces you to download some other Samsung ad things and push services
  • Operamini 6.5 that CANNOT be upgraded.
  • Some educational and music apps that I really did not care about.

Now the pocket comes with a GB of  phone memory and 2GB of user memory so storage and app installation even without a memory card is plenty. The thing however hangs for me every single day without fail like clockwork and goes to a crash upload mode that rarely ends and when it does, just for dramatic effect, the screen goes off, the phone becomes unresponsive and it proceeds to enter an epileptic vibration mode which only ends when the charge runs out.

The 3G is also extremely flaky and I am forced to restart the thing every few hours just to keep myself connected to the internet.

Not Impressed.

*End Side Rant-/

The Gtide E7 is an Android based smartphone running gingerbread on a 1GHZ ARMv7 based processor. No GPU as far as I can tell and sports a 3.5 inch capacitive HVGA screen, 2 mp back camera and a 0.3 mp front facing camera. And of course all the other usual suspects, GPS, HSDPA, 32GB memory card support, WiFi, Bluetooth, gyro sensor, gravity sensor, ambient light sensor etc

Now what sold me (refer to cheap skate inference above) was the price. You get all this for Kshs. 7,000 . Thats right just 7 Ndovus.

The galaxy pocket costs Kshs. 10,000, has fewer capabilities and is loaded with crapware. Granted the G-tide doesn’t come with the fancy e-warranties and support declarations from the parent company but solid performance is delivered nonetheless.

Below are some rudimentary  photos I took of the phone. I haven’t figured out how to take screenshots of the phone yet but will post as soon as I can.

 

Samsung Galaxy Pocket Custom ROM

Having been bored to the core by the constant hanging, crashing and general nausea of the stock OS on this thing. I figured the custom roms would not be any worse. I mean if your nagging wife is replaced by a nagging BUT hot girlfriend, its a trade right?  No?

Anyhoo I set out to right this universal wrong on Mwangikind (am working on a copyright) I shopped around the only place anyone with an android phone should go with OS issues, XDA . I figured someone else with more skill, time or resources than me would have built a custom ROM for the damn thing already.

Sure enough, there are several ROMS including Mak-droidJellyMod, and Repencis

I went with JellyMod and at first had issues with the deodexing manenos but I managed.

Here are some screenshots.

What surprised me was the stability of the ROMS which are generally worked on by hobbyist developers and rarely attract financial benefits for their makers.

The ROMs are based on the stock roms so they still run on Gingerbread. I have however seen a significant bump in responsiveness, stability and general awesomeness. Cant wait for an ICS based phone!

Update:

Here is a useful PDF I found on the inter-webs that should greatly aid in rooting your Galaxy pocket or related Samsung android phones Universal  Gingerbread Root & Unroot 2.3.3 – 2.3.7+

And here is the Deodex File I used. Also downloaded from a site I cannot remember now.

Happy rooting and custom ROMing!

 

Samsung Galaxy Pocket

I finally got rid of the Blackberry storm after thoroughly being disappointed by its battery life, app store and general pain in the tush in using internet services.

The way they market the BIS service you would think it has some kind of über superior advantage over the regular data network but it’s actually more limited. You can’t YouTube. On Orange Kenya network, BIS totally refused to connect on 3G for me at least. I understand why Blackberry is dying now.

I moved swiftly lest the condition of being smart phone less caught on and became permanent (nimetema hayo mate!) and scored myself the cheapest android phone I could get that had the best bang for buck. At the time my options were the Alcatel one touch 918 and the Samsung Galaxy Pocket .

Of course Safaricom sales agents being the regular douche-bags they are did not tell me that Huawei were about to upgrade the U8150 Ideos with a pimped cooler snapdragon sporting older cousin in the form of Huawei Ascend y 100.

But the heart was firmly with the Samsung pocket and the 2 year warranty wasn’t sounding too bad from where I was seated. I still haven’t gotten my free 500mbs from safaricom and am getting rather bored with the back n forth exchange with the customer care.

The phone is rather nice to hold and feels too plasticky as have all Samsungs since time immemorial. This I remember is why I detested and resisted buying a Samsung handset for many years. In retrospect this may be a reason why I should buy Samsung phones since I drop my phone more times than I sneeze. Compact solid phones dropped on hard surfaces crack. Plasticky phones just bounce. Samsung 1 Others 0

I will spare you details on the specs. These are easily googled and I am not google. I love the battery life since i easily do a whole day on intensive use. The camera is a hopeless 2 megapixel  machine. Absolutely nothing to talk about. The galaxy moniker is thoroughly embarrassed by this camera. This touchwiz interface is also annoying and ugly at times I don’t like the rigidity much and would rather have the vanilla android interface.

That being said , I cant wait for the fellas over at XDA or Cyanogen to come up with a proper custom ROM for this baby and I will jump ship faster than you can say a ship. And the 1 gb system memory and 2 gb user memory means I can install as many apps as I want without worrying bout space or pushing them onto an sd card. That is just awesome. Samsung 1 Others 0

I am also annoyed by its random hanging and crashing and leaving me with a crappy screen with a droid and ” CP crash upload mode” displaying.Till I have another smartphone to use I am not about to take it back to the shop. I have 2 years warranty anyway.

Other than that its awesome.

 

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