New iPhone 5 Launch in Singapore – Singtel/Starhub/M1

The all new iPhone 5 has generated so much buzz and attention. Following the announcement of the new iPhone 5 model on 12 Sep 12, actual sales of the iPhone 5 for Singapore is going to be on 21 Sep 2012, with pre-orders starting this Friday (14 Sep 12). As evidenced from the last iPhone 4S launch, Singapore, alongside Tokyo has been one of the lucky few of the first-to-launch countries and we are expecting the same this time around. So, do expect the usual long queues and iPhone frenzy at your Singtel, Starhub, M1 launch events. Based on past experience, pre-order is a must and perhaps even ask for the delivery option to save your hassle of queuing up, unless there are some goodie bags at the physical launch event. Read our related posts highlighted below to get more information on the launch and how to pre-order.

 

Update (13 Sep 12):  The Telcos have started to move. Read here for the latest updates.

 

Update (11 Sep 12):  The news is going to be released Singapore time 1 am on 13 Sep. We would be updating live via Facebook on the status. Like us on Facebook to get the latest updates when you wake up on Thursday Morning.

Update (05 Sep 12)Click here for more on the upcoming new iPhone 5 launch Annoucement – including leaked photos!

News

Two-Tone, Unibody Design. The new iPhone design is expected to be housed in a two-tone, unibody design that I think is quite attractive. The new housing design should allow it to be slimmer as compared to the iPhone 4S and overall, thinner and lighter as well. I like the new iPhone 5 design. The two-tone gives it a contemporary sleek look that scores high in the class department. The matte anodized aluminium finish help prevent those pesky fingerprint smudges on a glossy backplate.

Speed Improvements. Like the released iPad 3, the new iPhone 5 will get a speed bump. It might have the new A6 processor, which would promise better graphics capability as well as better multi-tasking. The iPhone 4S and/or the iPad are no slouches in the speed category and would compare quite well with the quad-core Android phones.

New Dock. The new iPhone 5 is expected to have a new, smaller dock connector. It will come with a smaller connector (almost micro-usb size) instead of the usual 30-pin connector which is currently how the iPhone and iPad are designed. What does this mean? New car chargers, new iHome docking stations, new portable speakers that your current iPhone can plug right in to, and a whole bunch of apple related accessories. This will be a bummer for those current apple users with a significant number of associated accessories. While understandably frustrating, it will make the new iPhone 5 thinner and is a design for the future.

Bigger screen. A 4 inch screen finally. While still smaller than the Android flagship devices like the Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S3 and many more, the iPhone 5 is likely to get a bump up from the previous 3.5″ screen that had lasted across the 4 to 5 previous generations since 2007. While a technology leader at that time, it now has to play catch up to multiple devices that have exceeded it in this category. Clearly, size matters, as evidenced from the popularity of the Samsung Galaxy Note. The 5.3″ behemoth was one of the top sellers in Singapore and Samsung is reportedly going to launch an even bigger version soon. However, Apple would not compete head on and will be only  bumping the size up to 4″. In times when the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X, LG Optimus 4X are all sporting 4.7″ and above screens, how would the iPhone 5 screen compare? I think 4″ is a decent screen size for reading and surfing on the mobile phone but I would prefer a bigger screen device. The good thing was that Apple is keeping the width of the same so the general feel of the phone would stay the same.

Considering the Samsung Galaxy S3 or thinking of switching to Android? You may find this interesting.
S3vsIphone
Migrating from iPhone to Android (Galaxy SGS3)

The iNo-One Non-Camera Phone

Rumours were floating about on the possibility of another camera-removed phone model to rival the Huawei Honor. It was the iNo-Sun A908 and we did a short review on it. Did the distributors read GadgetReactor? Apparently, the advice on the naming of the phone was taken and the iNo-Sun A908 has been renamed or rebranded as iNo One Non-Camera.


Details of the iNo-Sun A908 cannot be found on their website anymore and instead they are marketing the iNo-One Non Camera with similar specs.

What’s New?

  • Original non-camera model without holes and mountings for cameras. 
    This is huge! The declaration as an official non-camera model and the flushed casing is a one-up over the Huawei Honor. The Huawei Honor due to it being a camera-removed model, still requires a certification sticker for MINDEF locations. If this is marketed clearly as a non-camera model without any ports for camera, it should be able to be brought into camps just like the blackberry non-camera models. We have heard some areas to be particularly sticky in terms of releasing the certification sticker and this might be a good workaround.

  • Increase in price! (228 -> 268)
    Boo! Any price increase is always a bad thing. I guess some of the charges for manufacturing the new back casing and removal of the lens require an additional surcharge but the $40 here translates to approximately 17% price increase from the original.

  • ICS Compatibility
    The distributor has promised future updates to ICS. It is good that they are committed to supporting the phone and to improve it with new features. However, this skeptical author recommends readers to take this with a pinch of salt. The fragmentation problem of Android is huge and there have been many manufacturers, namely LG and HTC that have defaulted on their claims to update their phone OS to ICS.

 

Technically, the iNo-One is really no different from the iNo-Sun A908 and the 1 Ghz single core processor with 512 mb ram will chug along in comparison to the quad core monsters such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One X. The unique feature is still the dual-SIM and it’s probably the only non-camera phone with this feature. It will likely appeal to those who travel frequently and often have multiple SIM cards to switch around. The iNo-One is a basic phone at heart that would be able to cope with the usual phone, sms, whatsapp, angry bird or cut the rope-esque type of games, but heavy web-browsing and 3D games will take its toll (Update: Read out latest article on the iNo-One to see why web-browsing is no longer a concern).

Its available for pre-order and the expected availability would be in late Sep / Early October. Stay tuned for more information once its available.

Google Now for Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS)

Of the new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS features, none have been more talked about than Google Now. Google has promised a “more than just another” virtual assistant that competes with Apple Siri and it has the ability to advise you on certain actions through smart “cards”. These cards will help monitor the weather, showing the location and the recommendations of nearby places, recommending information that you need at the right time. They are meant to be unobtrusive, appearing only when you need them.

What the cards do?

  • Traffic, to help users to arrive at the desired place, it works together with the calendar to tell you what time to leave for your destination.
  • Public Transit, presented information on public transportation such as transit terminals, bus stops and so forth.
  • Next Appointment, serves as reminder that will remind users of appointments made and mark the corresponding location on the map.
  • Flights, flight schedule information presented.
  • Sports, to bring the information up-to-date about the sport.
  • Places, helps users find a restaurant or a hotel around the attractions visited and add reviews about the place.
  • Weather, weather information present residential users.
  • Translation, online dictionary based on Google Translate.
  • Currency, presenting information on the currency exchange rate countries.
  • Time at Home, to present information at the time the user is in another time zone.

The idea is that these cards appear naturally as you go about your day, giving you information that you were about to search for anyway. Within the interface, you can swipe them away or tap on them for more details, but you cannot directly re-order them. Rather, you’re just supposed to use Google search as you normally would (preferably extensively) — to search for restaurants, get directions, check sports scores, and the like. As you do, Google keeps an eye on your activities and then offers up the cards it believes are relevant to your interests. The idea is that simply through organic use of your phone, Google Now will be able to predict what kind of information you may need and have it ready for you with a simple swipe up from the home button — and in some cases Google also gives you notifications that there are new cards available.

The feature impressed me so much that I wanted to load Google Now but my Optimus 2x was still running on Gingerbread. Hence, when I realised that the folks at XDA were able to create a package for ICS, it spurred my decision to install Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 on my LG Optimus 2x. While not the most ideal OS, the ability of Google Now, the offline voice searches has won me over. So if you are using an ICS phone, do check out the following instructions to install Google Now. The latest version is amazing and is well-integrated into ICS, with almost all features enabled and generally bug-free. The only problem I have so far is that at times you can’t exit Google Now! with the Back button and have to use the Home button instead.

Download Here!

  1. Download the selected GoogleNow version
  2. Reboot your device into recovery. See your device’s specific instructions on how to do this if you are not sure.
  3. In CWM, navigate to “Install zip from SD” and select that.
  4. Next, highlight “Choose zip from SD card” and select it.
  5. Scroll down to the Google Now zip you loaded onto your SD card, then select it.
  6. Scroll down and select the option that says “Yes – Install Google Now….zip”
  7. Once it has flashed, go back to the main CWM menu and select “Reboot system now”.

I am very impressed by Google Now and as it is, even out of the United States, it is still very much useful to me. It has no problem finding the Esplanade and telling it “Navigate to 238464” for example works as well. Just about an hour ago, I asked my phone where is the nearest gas station and it accurately showed me the way to my nearest Caltex Station. Its off to a great start and I am sure it will only get better in future. Go ahead, load Google Now on your phone and ask it to do a barrel roll!

Top Apps for Android Gingerbread 2.3 (Huawei Honor)

Just like the Huawei Honor, my LG Optimus 2X have no official ICS release. In comparison, the Huawei Honor is in a better position as the ICS ROM while being a beta, is generally bug free. The fragmentation problem of Android OS is huge with only approximately 16% of Android Devices running on ICS today. In fact, if you are a Gingerbread OS user, be proud! You belong to 60.8% of the Android population. This is a sad problem of the Android community with many users stuck on older generation software due in part to manufacturer support.

As with all Android phones, the apps play a big part in the user experience. Hence, even without the newest and greatest operating system, it is often mitigated by the software applications that we install. Hence, I would like to recommend the following list of software for your Gingerbread phone. They were handy in keeping me satisfied on my Optimus 2X Gingerbread ROM.

  1. Holo Launcher (link)

    Holo Launcher looks like ICS, but supports Android 2.2 and higher. You get the same look and feel as the default ICS launcher, complete with long-press to edit folder and shortcuts (and their icons), a scrollable dock with up to seven icons on it, multi-touch gestures to launch apps right on the home screen or preview running apps, and ICS icons, logos, and design for your apps and menus. Thumbs up for its simplicity.
  2. Go Launcher Ex (link)

    Go Launcher is one of the most popular launcher / homescreen replacement for Android. It is feature rich, with many default widgets designed for it, support for themes and icon packs, and unique transitions. The Go Calendar widget is amazing, as it is one, if not the only, free widget that provide a monthly calendar as well as agenda view. The Go Calendar widget is the deal breaker for me and the other weidgets such as Notes aren’t too shabby either. In fact, the other Go applications such as GoContacts or the SMS are pretty good replacement for the default apps on the Huawei and LG default ROMs which are rather dated.The trade off is the bloat and while I generally find it responsive enough, it might be considered slower than others such as Holo Launcher.

  3. Dolphin Browser (link)

    Have you tried Dolphin Browser? It’s a great, feature rich and yet fast browser that puts the original Gingerbread browser to shame. On ICS or Jelly Bean, there are more options such as Chrome but on Gingerbread, I am a staunch supporter of the Dolphin Browser. The additional plugins make it easy to bookmark sync, translate, export to PDF, and browse in full screen mode which are important features to me. It has recently been updated and the new web render engine should speed things up quite a bit as well, especially if you come from the default browser.

  4. ICS Keyboard (link)

    The default ICS keyboard is easy to type on, with better touch and spell prediction features. I am not a big fan of the default Huawei or LG keyboard and an alternative keyboard is always one of my first installs. It doesn’t support Chinese input though. The Huawei keyboard TouchPal appears to be designed for use on a much larger screen, with the buttons appearing too close together. This means that taking advantage of the features is fiddly and requires a fair amount of finger dexterity, and therefore more often than not it’s quicker typing on the basic Android keyboard. If you still need Chinese input, how about the Google Pinyin IME? I feel that its a good alternative for those who still need chinese input.
  5. D7 Reader (link)

    RSS feeds are still an easy way to aggregate information for me without needing to constantly visiting to all my websites of interest. Our GadgetReactor feed is here. D7 Reader is a simple, fast and powerful Google Reader client for Android, which is always in sync with Google Reader. It has a nice reading interface, both day and night modes, and generally very fast.

  6. Google Maps & Navigation (link)

    Never carry a paper map again. The ability to use my phone as a GPS turn by turn navigation tool is a great feature. My trusty phone has brought me on road trips all across France and England without too much of a problem. In the future, this will only get better especially when how it all integrates together such as in Google Now, and that will be discussed at a later date. Read our related GadgetReactor post to see how to install it in Singapore.

  7. Google Play Music (link)

    Listen to all your music instantly. Anywhere.

    See our related Gadgetreactor post to find out how to get Google Music. All your music is stored online, so no need to worry about syncing or storage space. Music purchases from Google Play automatically appear in the app. Access your entire music library instantly with the Google Play Music app, and save your favorites for offline playback.

Google Handwrite: Search by Scribbling

Google has just added a new feature called “Handwrite” to its mobile search. Handwrite allows you to write on the screen of your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet when you’re on the Google search page.

The best way to understand what all this is about is to watch the short Google video below:

To use Handwrite, go to the Google search (mobile), scroll down until you see “Settings,” and click on it. There are lots of choices on the menu, but the one you want is Handwrite. Click on the button and you’ve got it. Apparently, it only works for the default browser but I tried with Dolphin on a Huawei Honor and it worked well. Is it easier to use than a keyboard? I am not sure. The small size of the screen does make it hard to scribble a long search word and perhaps it might be useful if I’m in a bumpy vehicle or I am driving, which then, I shouldn’t be using the phone, right? I would think the voice search function might work better instead.

 

Google Maps Navigation – Enabled anywhere in the world

Google Maps Turn by Turn Navigation is one of the best features of having an android phone. It can navigate to any location that you can identify in Google Maps, has turn by turn voice instructions including street names, live traffic updates, street view and its one of the best app for an in-phone GPS. The live traffic updates and street view are but two features that commercial GPS would find it hard to match. The deal breaker for some is that requires a data connection to operate and  there isn’t an offline navigation feature yet.
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How to terminate your starhub digital voice line

If you didn’t know, it’s going to cost money for the digital voice line that you’ve been getting free as part of the Starhub Hubbing pack. Although Starhub is still advertising the Starhub Hubbing pack as inclusive of a free digital voice line, the small print says the following:

Valid till 31 August 2012. A promotional rate of $2.10 per month applies thereafter.

Which means that you will have to start paying $2.10 on top of your hubbing pack if you would still like to enjoy your digital voice line. However with VOIP and our mobile lines, few might see the value of paying for an additional digital voice line.

To cancel your digital voice line, visit this link and fill up the digital home line termination form. Starhub will be sending mailers to all their customers to inform of this upcoming change.

Of course, if you have signed up as part of a promotional package, then you should be fine. Do take note of extra charges once your contract expires though.