Singtel/M1 iPhone 5 Launch Event Details (21 Sep at Marina Bay Sands)

Singtel has updated their launch event details. Sales of the iPhone 5 will commence from 8am on 21 Sep, Friday at Marina Bay Sands. Looks like you will get the phones earlier than your US counterparts! The good thing is that this time around, by holding it at MBS instead of Comcentre should allow for a more organised queuing system. And on a Friday morning, should thin out the crowd a fair bit except for those hardcore Apple fans who might actually take leave to get their hands on an iPhone 5.

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Migrating from iPhone to Android (Galaxy SGS3)

Many current iPhone users are waiting on the fence for the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 to decide if they should continue with iPhone or well, perhaps switch to the Android Camp, namely the Samsung Galaxy SGS3. Apple has lost the crowd favour and more people are definitely tempted by the huge screen for Samsung. Even if Apple increases the screen size to 4″, the Samsung SGS3 provides an additional [tippy title=”39% viewing area”]
iPhone 5 screen dimensions: 90.25mm x 50.6mm
Screen Area : 4566.6mm^2
SGS3 screen dimensions : 106.3mm x 59.8mm
Screen Area : 6356.7mm^2
% of iPhone 5 Screen : (6356.7-4566.6)/4566.6 = 39.1%[/tippy] as compared to the iPhone 5. Simply put, if you frequently watch shows on your phone, switch to Samsung to do your eyes a favour.

Well, its going to be hard to compare an unknown, yet to be released phone with the current market leader. Thus, putting specs aside, before making the switch you need to consider whether you’re willing to switch from the Apple ecosystem to Google’s. Read More

Custom Jelly Bean for LG Optimus 2x (root)

The Jelly Bean version of Paranoid Android for the Optimus 2X is amazing. The LG Optimus 2X was not a popular phone in Singapore but it served me well as a decent dual core Android phone, However, the lack of updates from LG has been plain disappointing. Till now, there is no official graphics driver support beyond Gingerbread Android OS 2.3 and official news releases of them publishing an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM has kept delaying. For this reason, I would not consider buying the LG Optimus 4x, despite the comparable hardware specs to the other top phones like S3 and HTC One X. Thankfully, the community is very strong and they have been very active in developing their own instead.

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Which camps allow Camera Phones?

From Saturday, active servicemen and NSmen can bring their camera-enabled smartphones into 14 army camps. The list of camps are primarily training institutes so if you are a NSmen in one of these area, rejoice! The list would be reviewed in about 6 to 9 months time and would hopefully expand by then. Interestingly, there are only army camps for now, none of the navy or airforce institutes make the list. Well, if you have to visit camps not on the list, how about the Huawei Honor or iNo-One?

14 camps and their Green zones:

– Bedok Camp (Bedok Fitness Conditioning Centre (FCC) )
– Maju Camp (Maju FCC )
– Khatib Camp (Khatib FCC & Artillery Institute)
– Kranji Camp II (Kranji FCC & Motorised Infantry Training Institute )
– Kranji Camp III (Army Logistic Training Institute & Human Resource Institute)
– Jurong Camp II (Infantry Training Institute)
– Clementi Camp (Infantry Combat Training Centre III)
– Seletar Camp (Engineer Training Centres)
– Pasir Ris Camp (Commando Training Institute)
– Sungei Gedong Camp (Armour Training Institute)
– SAFTI Military Institute (Goh Keng Swee Command & Staff College, SAF Advanced School, Officer Cadet School)
– Pasir Laba Camp (Specialist & Warrant Officers’ Institute, SAF Military Intelligence Institute)
– Pulau Tekong Camp (Basic Military Training Centre)
– Depot Road Camp (Central Manpower Base)

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.