The Google IDEOS U8150 Android Phone: My Review

As I promised, here is a long review of the Google IDEOS U8150 Android Phone. (a mouthful huh!?).

  1. Introduction

The first time I heard about the phone was around the same time I heard about a new operating system that would rival the likes of iOS and Symbian OS. I was still very green about smart phones and at the time I was using a Nokia 7230 (which runs on the S40 version of Symbian, I think). Jeez I sound so techie right now gatho! Anyway, I got excited even more when they said it would be the cheapest android enabled phone running the latest version of AndroidOS (i.e. v2.2 Froyo). They said it would cost just about $100 which would easily translate to like Kes.8,500 and true to their word, when it finally landed on Kenyan shelves, i.e. the Safaricom shops, it was that exact price. I got mine just about the time it was launched in the market. That was late January this year.

  1. The Operating System: Android

As I’ve said above, I have very little knowledge about different OS’s and therefore this is just my view of the one I’ve been interacting with, Android. I like it! The one thing that I really love is the multitasking abilities. It just does it so swiftly I loved it to the end when I first began interacting with it. The Android OS has a grey and green finish to it. They’re the main colours for Android. There are five homescreens on the phone that can be accessed by sliding on either side. These screens are also where one puts the most accessed widgets, shortcuts and folders as one wishes.

  1. Internet Connectivity

There is no doubt that most buyers of this phone are heavy internet users. The IDEOS has 3G connectivity, EDGE and GPRS plus Wi-Fi. That’s more than enough (although users of 3.5G may feel left out). Personally I use the EDGE connectivity more than the 3G since 3G uses more battery than EDGE. Does that mean that its slower? Well yea but EDGE is still pretty fast for me and since its a 2G network that means I have less chances of losing network (the 3G reach is far less than the 2G). I’ve also used the Wi-Fi and since its fast enough, it basically goes with the speed of the provider.

The browser is great and you can download opera mini from the market for better browsing. To me its comparable. Both can work.

An interesting aspect of the IDEOS is the tethering/hotspot feature. You can turn your phone into a hotspot or into a modem in an instant! Just make sure you buy enough bundles. Ive tried it and fell in love with the speeds! Wah! Unfortunately safaricom is too expensive and I tried and tried but failed to do it with an orange line.

  1. Applications

Its true that there are thousands of free applications on the Android Market. The android market comes pre-installed, together with other apps such as Facebook for Android, Twitter for Android, Gmail, Google Maps, etc. Which ones do I use most? I’d say the above plus twicca, calendar, whatsapp, foursquare and daily money. I have others installed but I don’t use them much. If you have too much apps open and/or downloaded they tend to slow down the OS. Much like a computer.

  1. Social Media

I like the facebook and twitter apps for android. I do think they spoilt the twitter for android after the last update since nowadays it just behaves funny hence pushing me to use twicca rather than tw for droid. The facebook app works just fine for me though sometimes I have to get online to do some facebook stuff. Like accessing pages and so forth.

I like the fact that foursquare for android is easy to use and is geo-tagged for better location sensing and adding new locations (such as the one I added recently).

  1. Messaging and Calling

Nowadays its easy to forget that one of the main reasons why you have a phone is to call, receive calls, send and receive text messages (and m-pesa, zap, orange money, yu cash); i.e. the usual stuff. These are seamless. I like the threaded message view since its easy to see the flow on conversations and you can have as many messages saved under one contact. My limit is 200.

Another thing I should mention is that the IDEOS is a touch screen phone. A capacitive touch screen. Is there a difference between the capacitive and the resistive? YES! Capacitive is better, way better than resistive. I didn’t fully understand the jargon on that link but through experience, I know that resistive touch screens are those that require you to tap using the nail or a ‘pen’ while capacitive requires thumb touch and does not respond to taps (like using your nail or a pen). I find this better since there is less chance for the screen being touched by mistake.. from my experience. Plus I find typing using a capacitive screen much much easier than a resistive especially when I’ve cut my nails short or need to type fast!

Calling is pretty simple too since the phone has a call and end-call button with an trackpad at the centre for when you need to scroll without using the screen.

  1. Sync Features

Since the phone is a google phone, one advantage (or disadvantage) is that one must have a google account to be able to use the phone. It uses your google account to sync all contacts by number and email and if this is done well then the same contacts you have on gmail are the same ones on your phone. Pretty cool if you ask me! You can also sync your facebook account with existing contacts and even be able to retrieve numbers of your friends on facebook that you do not necessarily have on your phone. One disadvantage is that new numbers are saved on the phone (and your gmail ac) and thus if you ever change the phone you don’t have these contacts on your sim card. The upside of that is that if ever you lose your phone (plus sim) the contacts are saved on your google ac. In addition to the facebook sync is where after its synced the contacts, then your friends’ profile picture become the ones on your phone book. eg. When someone who is your bud on fb calls you you see their number and their prof pic! The same can be done with your twitter account. I’ve had a few setbacks with that where the phone syncs a contact on my phone with another on twitter where they share the same name but are different persons! I had to delete the contact and save it again with a slight change to the name. One other downside is that I haven’t figured out how to copy contacts to my sim card. Someone please let me know if they know how to.

  1. Battery Use

This is pretty simple. Using 3G eats away on your battery. Using wifi, the same. Leaving your bluetooth on, the same. Leaving the auto sync on, the same. The cool stuff cannot be done without eating away on battery charge. Again, considering my slightly heavy use, I have to charge the phone everyday otherwise if I don’t it wont last a whole two days. If you must use 3G all the time then consider carrying your charger around!

  1. Shape, size, physical features

The IDEOS is a cute phone. The front areas are black with a glassy finish. The screen is 2.8inches and as mentioned above, has an trackpad and the two usual call buttons. On the screen are four distinct buttons: the back button, quick menu button, home button and the search button. On the home screen are the small ‘dots’ for switching screens, two on each side (making them 5 screens), the call menu button, the main menu (apps) button and the browser button. The top grey bar is the notifications bar where notifications land (messages, missed calls, twitter/fb/4sq etc) most of the times you will find yourself ‘pulling down’ that bar. It Is also where the date, time, battery, network, bt, wifi indicators are.

It has volume keys (that can be used for scrolling) on the left side, the power button on the top and the 3.5mm jack hole (I think) on the top too. The cover is the one that comes in different colours. Mine is a blue one. There is yellow, pink and black too.

  1. Multimedia

Im not a big fan of using my phone for music and others but I do save songs on my phone. I have a 2gb card on my hindiot and it serves me well. I rarely use radio but it works okay. The main reason why I don’t listen to music on the phone often is because of battery use! However, it doesnt mean that its not great. The sound quality is really good but can be better. I don’t think the phone was meant to be really good on this. Point to note though is that the youtube app is good for watching videos on youtube.

The camera is a 3.15mp and is fine. Ive taken good pics with it so I cant complain. The one thing to focus on when taking pics is not to shake and good lighting.

Sample pic (click on image to view full)

You can also share these items with bluetooth and with the usb cable which by the way is a standard micro usb.

Final Words

I love the phone. And ive said the good things about it. Let me say the bad things now. Nowadays its slower. I have no clue why but it gets to points where its so slow that I feel like smashing it on the wall or something. Mind you its not like I have any open apps that are running and making it slow or anything, it just decides to PMS on me! Nkt! Another thing is that battery use. So frustrating.

Check out the specifications on GSMArena. Also, please help improve this review by adding your own experiences on the comments section. Asante!

On the good side, its a phone that I will stick to till I can afford a Samsung android phone. I hear they’re stronger and more stable.

*Over & Out*

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