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.

Huawei Honor Non Camera for $398 (Brand New)

Update: Apologies. We were not able to accomplish the deal as the Telco has withheld the distribution of stocks to their resellers. We will continue to be on the look out for better deals in the meantime.

For those interested in getting the Huawei Honor Non Camera, do drop me an email. If there is sufficient interest (high chance as of now), I would be able to get it at $398 each for all of us. Included with the purchase would be an OEM certificate certifying that the camera has been removed (similar to what you get when you purchase the phone from starhub or m1), as well as a invoice from an official Singapore telco retailer.

Check out this review if you need to know more. Hopefully we’ll be able to install Android Jelly bean onto the phone. Otherwise, there is still ICS.

 

The iNo-Sun A908 (iNo-One) Non-Camera Phone

This is the next non-camera phone that is expected to be launched in Singapore. It is a factory removed camera phone model and certification would be provided as well. It is expected to be priced at a relatively low cost of S$228 and would appeal to those whose contract is not up for renewal yet.  It is currently on pre-order and is expected to launch in August. Besides the price, the next interesting feature is that it has Dual-SIM support and could appeal to those with multiple phone lines to manage.At its price point, it could be the next mass phone for reservists to have access to a smart phone, browser, and more importantly, GAMES to pass time during their in-camp-training.

http://www.inomobile.com.sg/

Specifications

  •  Android Gingerbread 2.3.6
  • 1.0 GHz Single Core
  • 512 MB Ram
  • Dual-SIM card slots
  • 4.0″ capacitive 480 x 800 screen
  • GPS and Bluetooth
  • 124 mm x 64 mm x 10.95 mm
  • 4GB internal storage, expandable with microSD

The phone specifications are nothing to shout about and in fact, I would expect some minor slowdown due to the processor and lack of RAM as compared to the superior Huawei Honor. I would only recommend this phone if you are looking to use this phone for short periods of time and/or if the Dual-SIM feature is important, else the Huawei Honor especially at the promotion price of $400 would be a much better deal. Lastly, they really should have came up with a more attractive name for this phone.

Update (11 Aug 12): The iNo-Sun A908 has been replaced by the iNo-One. Read more about it here.

Nexus 7 vs the iPad – Survival!

The Nexus 7 has launched and it has rave reviews for its great specifications and low price. So did Google cut any corners in terms of the build quality?

The above review pitted the Nexus 7 vs the iPad and the Nexus 7 impressively survived and trounced the iPad in the 3 categories that SquareTrade, the Gadget insurance company, had put them through. The Nexus 7 looks like it is going to be worth every penny. I’m not sure if the results were due to luck as to the angle that the iPad fell but perhaps Google had invested in such amazing engineering that precisely compensated the centre of gravity to determine the orientation if it were to be dropped. Well, at least there’s a pretty good chance that your Nexus 7 would survive a fall.

Samsung Galaxy SII Non Camera – Spotted!

M1 is doing the camera removal service for the Samsung Galaxy SII. This is indeed a smart way to clear whatever stock they are holding for the Galaxy SII now that the Galaxy SIII has launched.

The pricing for the non-camera Samsung Galaxy SII White for M1 is below based on my understanding and you can enquire for the availability of the phone through their corporate sales enquiry.
  • Mass plan $418
  • ValueSurf $268
  • LiteSurf $118
  • ExtremeSurf $18

Currently, the Samsung Galaxy SII is still an M1 exclusive and only for those with contracts to be renewed. It is quite expensive in comparison to the Huawei Honor for albeit slightly better specifications only but the Samsung branding is much stronger than Huawei and in terms of custom ROM support, the Galaxy SII stands out with it being ICS ready and likely to be Jellybean compatible as well.
 

SSD Fever

Solid State Disks or SSD Prices have been on the downtrend with discounted prices reducing from approximately US$1 / GB to the current US$0.75 / GB. Amazon is currently selling the Crucial M4 SSD at less than $200. The Crucial M4 SSDs have been on the market nine months, and have built a good track record around mainstream value and reliability in that time. It has fantastic read speeds and strong write speeds as well. The Marvell controller is one of the better reliable ones and at the 256GB price range, this is currently one of the best deal.
However, prices in Singapore are still significantly marked up compared to US! A check on prices in Sim Lim showed that the same model Crucial 256GB SSD is currently retailing at S$379! That’s a significant $120 or 50% more expensive. Foregoing the warranty does seem like a viable alternative to buy from the US. Furthermore, with shipping concierge companies like VPost and ComGateway, make full use of their services plus the lower prices in the US to get an SSD for yourself. The average shipping price should be around S$15-$20 and for first time subscribers to both services, the initial discount should offset the price by approximately S$10, so do make full use of the first time offer! (DBS offers $10 off and 10% for first time ComGateway user.)

If you are considering a lower price point, another alternative for a great SSD is the Mushkin Chronos 120GB. You can buy it directly through Amazon through our Top Deals page. The Mushkin Chronos 120GB is an excellent performer and is currently one of the lowest priced SSDs around. I am using one myself and I am amazed by the speed boost it offers over a traditional SATA harddisk. After shipping, you would still save approximately 40% off the local retail pricing.

Most people tend to neglect hard disk speeds and focus on the storage capacity. An SSD, compared to a normal HDD, has no moving parts which limits the speed of the normal HDD. Similar to system memory, SSDs are microchips designed to store information. However, these are nonvolatile memory chips that can retain information the way hard drives do. For this reason, a computer that uses an SSD as the main storage device boots and shuts down very fast and can resume from sleep mode instantly. Software applications, including heavy ones like a 3D game or video-editing application, also take significantly less time to start and operate, compared with when the computer uses a hard drive as the main storage. For the amount of time we spend infront of the computer, application loading times, waiting for access to files, they all add up. Adding an SSD would reduce this time significantly and with the lower prices available today, now’s a good time to join the SSD fever and find out what you have been missing. A number of my colleagues have hopped on the bandwagon recently and they are enjoying the new found speeds!

A new SSD would help to speed up your computer in several ways:

  • Boot times will be significantly reduced.
  • Launching applications will occur in a near-instant.
  • Saving and opening documents won’t lag.
  • File copying and duplication speeds will improve.
  • Overall, your system will feel much snappier.

Huawei Honor ICS Update – Malaysian Version

The Huawei Honor is out of stock currently but be a little patient. Rumours are that M1 and Singtel would start offering this phone soon so for those non-Starhub contract people out there, there’s hope! Also, apparently during the first day launch, there were a couple of fortunate souls who bought the phone without contract at $428, it is unlikely that Starhub would continue to sell the phone without contract but perhaps one can try when M1 and Singtel launches. Confusion tends to exist with first day chaos.

Since there are more users out there now, here’s an ICS video showing off the capabilities off the phone with ICS loaded. The Huawei Honor comes with pretty decent specs and why restrict it with Gingerbread? Free your phone :)

The malaysian version of the 4.03 ICS ROM has also been recently launched and you can get it from the Huawei Malaysia website here. Apparently this version is non-beta and comes with more features than the Cambodian one. When would there be a Singapore version?