Econet Starts Selling Android Smartphones

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Econet, the largest mobile operator in Zimbabwe, has started selling Android smartphones at its new concept shops in Harare. So far only the Huawei U8220 mobile phone is available. We visited the Livingstone Avenue Econet shop last week and had a feel of the phone.

The Google Android powered U8220 spots a 3.2 megapixel camera, a TFT capacitive screen, GPS navigation, EDGE, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, a 320×480 resolution display and 3.5 hours of battery talk time. A modest smartphone we’d say. And at US $280, comes at a modest price too. The phone was first released in August last year. If you’ve wanted to get yourself and Android phone, you’d want to consider getting this gadget here. The U8220 is based on version v1.5 of Google Android.

Obviously we haven’t used it yet so we can’t really any more than this. If you have bought the phone, we’d love to know your experience in the comments below.

Android is a Google operating system for mobile devices based on Linux. The operating system competes with Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Nokia’s Maemo and the Symbian Foundation’s Symbian Platform. Google released the first version of Android in October 2008 and it quickly gained massive adoption globally, but especially in the US. The operating system has been open sourced and this has probably contributed to its quick and wide adoption by mobile handset manufacturers. Google itself has made its own Android smartphone called the Nexus One.

Interestingly, just this week Google announced the launch of Google App Inventor, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get tool that lets people without any software programming knowledge, develop applications for the Android platform. It will be interesting to see if any Zim users and ‘developers’ are up for it.

Here are a few shots of the Econet shop and the U8220 we took:



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18 Comments

  1. Eliazer Chikadzi

    Really excited about this especially since im not too keen on being iSheep!!! Not used the device though im waiting for the HTC Desire…:)

    Reply
  2. Andrew

    It seems the Google Android Mobile platform is becoming more popular because of it’s open source nature which allows developers and users alike to create and use various applications, without much hinderance as compared to Apple’s “Walled Garden”.
    And Huawei is a powerhouse in telecommunications and networking, which i assume relatively guarantees a good product.

    For those who can afford it’s definately a good buy!!!

    Reply
  3. jubal cade

    its good news for zim especially the techy early adopters. its just that the handset is loaded with an “ancient” android 1.5 again it looks like econet is not bringing value to the cuctomers a droid x with the latest android 2.2 is retailing for $350 unsubsidized. such old handsets as haewii should be sold just below $100. we need to keep our eyes and ears wide open, econet is taking advantage of us in most cases. it was pricey lines, pricey and non functional 3g, now its pricey cheap fongkongs.

    Reply
  4. Andrew

    i beg to differ coz the last time i checked the same Android phone that econet is selling is was going for about 185pounds in london and when it was released sometime in August/September last year it was approx 265euros. Now if u factor in transport costs and duty(unlike some mobile resellers econet cannot smuggle its merchandise into the country, rather they have to pay duty and tax on everything)the price is a bit costly but not a complete rip off.

    As for the latest Droid X, i believe this version has only been just released and a lot of people are still on the waiting list even in America, so considering where Zimbabwe is geographically and economically i doubt econet would be able to sell this phone just as yet, remember econet has to be able to provide warranty and support for these products and that’s why even the recently released Apple iPad and iPhone 4 have not been officially released to any African resellers until August because of such logistical issues. Econet cannot just wake up and decide to sell the latest iphone or droid phone coz they have to wait in the line with many other such resellers in the world to get approval, support etc from the responsible company.

    I feel the problem with most of us Zim technology consumers is that we tend to 4get where we are coming from technologically, economically and even politically and we tend to demand the latest technologies we come across on the internet etc, but 4getting that any significant national technological development requires a lot of money, expertise and time…Whilst we have been battling with an economical recession for the past 10+ years other countries have been busy making strides in their technological developments and according to our own ministry of finance, Zimbabwe is some 20-40 years behind in terms of various technological developments compared to other countries. So my point is as much as we would certainly want world class standards in technology we have to always remember our unique situation that we find ourselves in and understand the different factors that have held us behind in terms of technology.

    The bottom line is lets be thankful that at least we are making a few small steps towards that technological bliss that we all require and now its just a matter of time be4 we can access all the latest technology that we want and desire, otherwise in other circumstances there would be no 3G or Android phones to talk about coz things could be worse.

    According to various international consumer indexes, the Android version that econet is selling is actually ranked on a scale of 8/10 which is excellent by any standard…Also most functions of this phone are similar to the iphone 3G (the version behind the just released iphone 4G), so it’s not really about having the latest mobile operating system platform but rather to what extent is a product compliant with the current general operating standards…

    Reply
  5. Tech

    Either you are an Econet fanboy or very naive about technology and its workings or both. As a consumer we are supposed to always look out for the best. For you to criticize an individual who has found a better price and try to shove an expensive alternative assumes he has no choice and get what Econet is selling because they are our technological savior is pathetic. Econet is never going to be your savior, they have pockets to line.

    Which countries have been making technological strides, the last time i checked all technological products are designed by the same companies as 10+ years back, and are all manufactured in China. We are behind in technology and fortunately we don’t have to design another phone or phone OS. As such when we get the devices we should get the best and the best prices. Don’t justify the huge prices for little costs like tax, they get these devices at farm prices. They can recoup any costs from the device usage on their network which easily surpass the cost of the device many times.

    A smartphone like the android powered phones use a lot of data on average 750MB – 1GB, and better user experience with high data speeds. I don’t know Econet’s 3G speeds, i doubt you can a stream a Youtube video without falling asleep. The telcos should instead be looking at increasing speeds, quality and coverage, and allow local innovation to thrive. This innovation will easily increase handset sales and as network usage (in any case their business is to provide a reliable link instead of throwing around fancy handsets only good for texting. Avoid being a Jake of all trades and master of none)

    Reply
  6. Andrew

    Well that was certainly a strong and personal rebuke, which makes
    wonder if this is still about Econet selling Android phones or a
    direct attack on my personality as a human being. And if u read my
    post carefully, i only directly differed with the writer on the price
    of the phone and i never attacked their personality and standing as u
    are attempting to do, which is really unfortunate.

    For starters yes i am very much an “Econet fanboy” and as for my
    naivity about technology i really do not know coz i consider myself to
    be well qualified for my profession, with enough experience and
    knowledge to discuss at length any technological issues with anyone.

    Anyway the main thrust of my comment was to simply try and highlight
    different angles that could prevent Econet from selling the (June 15
    2010) released Google Droid X mobile phone and not to prevent anyone
    from purchasing whatever mobile device they desire from any supplier,
    coz at the end of the day the final decision lies with the one who
    holds the money in their hand.

    As for being a jake of all trades, could u please kindly clarify
    exactly what u mean because i am not aware of any other impersonations
    that i have tried to shroud myself in, that is why i have not hidden
    my real name coz i have nothing to hide. I believe this site is an
    open platform to discuss technological issues affecting us without
    fear or favour.

    Finally if i offended anyone by my views on this issue, then i forward
    my most sincere apologies!!!

    Reply
  7. Tech

    From parapgraph 1, i see you like reap offs, but would prefer them to be smaller, nice. Certainly paragraph 3, 4 and 5 have nothing to do with Droid X.

    Can you send me a link on the indexes/benchmarks you cite for the Huawei device Econet will be selling.

    The Jake of all trades line is directed to the telcos, there should do one thing and be good at it. Unfortunately i can’t edit my comments.

    I didn’t mean to offend, i wanted to elaborate jubal cade’s observations on pricing.

    Reply
  8. Tech

    I completely agree with you, this device will most likely not support Froyo. I wonder who will pay for over the air firmware updates that can be in between 60 – 250 MB.

    Where can i get Econet’s 3G tariffs, the PDF on their website is for voice calls only. Is 3G available for Kadoma?

    Reply
  9. Kabweza Post author

    3G tariffs as far as I know are a $25 monthly flat rate. of course, even Econet sales persons themselves admit you can’t do any meaningful browsing with it. Not available for Kadoma. u get GPRS there I think.

    Reply
  10. Jabulani Chirinda

    I do agree with you Tech, Andrew shocked me with his intimacy towards Econet. I expected some voice of reason to guide him. I have no doubt he is on Econet PR payroll. Listen Andrew, Econet’s core business as Tech said is wireless communications, Econet needs to subsidize those haewii handsets(what ever you call them) and make tonnes of cash from its wireless infrastructure. Econet may be our “saviour” as u would like us to believe but now yave rovambira if u know what that means in shona. We need both innovation and customer oriented services from all wireless services providers.

    That is not to say econet is not doing well, its a shinning star in Zimbabwe, but again it depends on how bright the star is and how dark the environment is. Let us have guts to criticize where necessary, let us not be enslaved to some patronage ideals. That way we can achieve far greater things.

    Reply
  11. Andrew

    Dear Jabulani Chirinda

    The problem is you are personalizing this issue in the wrong way. Am i
    no longer allowed to express my opinion as i see fit, whether be it in
    support or against econet ? And for you to state that i am on econet’s
    PR payroll and even going to the extent of accusing me of enslavement
    by some patronage ideals, i think u are taking it a bit too far.

    I have no problem with constructive criticism, but such a personalized
    attack on me is rather unjustified and unfortunate. Just because u
    have issues with econet does not mean everyone shares the same
    opinion. Frankly i am quite satisfied with the services i am getting
    from econet.

    If u had simply stated ur opinion about econet needing to subsidize
    the handsets and improving their network, i would have gladly accepted
    ur comment and maybe even learned something from it, but for u to
    attempt to lecture me about interpersonal, cultural and social
    relationships is uncalled for. I do not need to be told anything about
    psycho-social interactions concerning enslavement of the mind. I
    believe u are the one who is suffering from patronage enslavement and
    delusions of your belief that everyone should be of the same opinion
    with u.

    Reply
  12. Andrew

    i have no problem at all with your view and observations coz i believe
    it’s a fact of life that everyone has a right to express their opinion
    without any fear. And yes to a certain extent you are correct that i
    might have over generalized my take on jubal cades observation on
    pricing.

    As for liking reap offs, i believe any company that is in business to
    make a profit will inevitabily end up ripping of their clients in one
    or another only that it’s the percentage of rip off that will differ
    from company to company.

    Otherwise no harm done at all.

    Reply
  13. Kabweza Post author

    Normally, a network would subsidize gadgets if they can tie you to a contract (1 year/2 year etc.. depending). The U8220 is not tied to the Econet network and doesn’t come with a contract. If Econet subsidized the phone, how would they recoup the cost if you switched to Telecel a week after buying it?

    Reply
  14. tendai sithole

    Good news but phone its to expesive I think econet its taking advantage coz there are only netwrk to sell ths 4ns,Thngz can be better if NET1 & MTN finalise the deal we can start to see competition and things can start to change

    Reply
  15. Omo

    Netone and MTN . . . what’s the nyaya?
    As for the U8220 I’m calling econet on Monday to see if I can buy from Bulawayo and have it sent to me. Almost bought fake iPhone yeG-tide family I think . . .it was $150 so I wouldn’t mind paying an extra $100 for something genuine. I have been using an old LG model KS360 coz I can’t go fake (which is what I see all around me . . . dual seem stuff and crape). Most of Zimbos are so used to buying cheap clones that are all over the market . . . That’s why one would want to buy a shipped google fon released just year for less than a $100. Get a life . . . zwinonaka zwinodura. I would buy from anyone selling iPhone 3g o 4 at a good price.

    Reply
  16. Malaika

    Econet leaves a lot to be desired, why push a product when you are struggling with international bandwidth… sort out bandwidth first and then release a product.
    Have been looking at http://www.econetwireless.co.uk, their new UK venture… as with all their other websites, noone seems to update them properly.. for example.. .I have been looking for 3G costs for my not so technical people in Zim and when you go to http://www.econet.co.zw … there is nothing to say how and how much it will cost… tried the same with their new UK product… you go to http://www.econetwireless.co.uk... and they claim you can get the sim cards from the listed shops.. but if you visit these shops, they know nothing about Econet Wireless..

    Reply
  17. Tinashe

    Right coming from an android development background i do not see the point in going back to old technology for that price Econot can retail from Orange UK & vodacom etc and get later on android 2.1 cheap cellphones from LG etc..

    Huawei is not a renowned lable and at 250 I think its a rip off

    Reply

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