Sunday, December 30, 2012

A rant against iPhone 4s, the world's most Africa-unfriendly mobile

(On my improvised workbench with tools to chop off a standard SIM card
down to the size 12x16mm of a micro SIM card to fit into an iPhone 4s:
a razor blade, a tape measure, cissors, etc.)


I just read a rave review of the iPhone 4s written by Joshua Topolsky
and published on The Verge back in December 2011--some16 months after
the release of one of the famed Apple's flagship series.


The review was so wildly laudatory that it contained this glistening
jewel of a blurb somewhere in its middle:

"If this were a car, it would be a Mercedes."

Well, Topolsky couldn't have been more right.

The iPhone 4s is a Mercedes equivalent of mobile phones all right. Fit
for the smooth autobahns of the First World, but unfit for the
rrough-and-tumble African boonies.

I'll go one step further and declare that all Apple products are
designed to annoy and disenfranchise African users.

And I am not just talking about the exorbitant prices of iPhones and
iPads in Africa...

Topolsky again:

"The glass back — while incredibly prone to shattering on impact —
feels as sleek and sexy as ever."

Is this supposed to make me feel good about this product in the Congo?
And, by the way, who's the reporter stupid enough to carry such a
fragile contraption in the field?

And that's only the beginning of the sad and silly story about this
idiots' phone.

In Africa, the quality of a good mobile phone like a Samsung
cellphone, besides sturdiness, is the practicality of swapping, even
in darkness, different SIM cards in your phone on the instant.

And your celerity and proficiency at swapping SIM cards could be the
difference between your staying alive and getting killed.
Now try and change your SIM card in the dark on an iPhone 4s.

Are you kidding me?

The first hurdle would be to find a pin--a paper clip, if you can
believe that!, as shown in iPhone 4s manuals--to insert into a
hair-thin hole to pull out the SIM card holder.

The second major hurdle is to place the SIM card on its holder and
push it back in.
Did I just say SIM card?

We are talking "micro SIM card" here, not the standard one. And the
iPhone 5 has even a tinier one, called "nano SIM card"!

In Kinshasa, most telephony companies' sales representatives don't
even know the first thing about the new tinier SIM cards!

After chopping off a standard SIM card of the Orange carrier down to
the size of a micro SIM card, I went the next day to get a genuine
micro SIM card from one of the shops of my favorite carrier--Vodacom.

The sales representative sold me a nano SIM card instead of a micro
one! I didn't have a paper clip on me to pull out the SIM holder on
the iPhone 4s nor did the sales agent. I only realized the mistake
when I got home.

I'll have to go back to the "vodashop" on Monday to have them correct
this mistake.
Now, go ahead and ask me why I acquired this stupid phone.

I didn't buy it. It's a holiday season gift from my daughter who's in
the US! I am a Samsung guy...


PHOTO: Alex Engwete


lorraine-m-thompson said...

Bonana 2013 mon ami!

lorraine-m-thompson said...

Maybe the solution to your phone issue could be the Elikia by VMK?

VENTURES AFRICA – Congolese gadget manufacturer, VMK, has began selling Elikia, Africa’s first home-grown designed smartphone, in Congo, ...

In 2009, VMK committed itself to giving Africans affordable access to technology in the mobile business where Africa is said to be comparatively behind.

Elikia, which means ‘hope,’ is priced at 85,000 FCFA ($171) by two major telecom operators in Congo – Airtel and Warid, and has a 650 MHz processor, running gingerbread 2.3.6 with 128 MB of on-board storage.

iPhone 4, an older Apple smartphone model, costs around $450 on the continent, though the device comes with enhanced features.


Verone Mankou, the start-up’s founder, says he plans to make a dominant share of the African market use the Africa-designed smartphone and tablet VMK is producing, so that the company can be to Africa what Apple is to the U.S. and Samsung is to Asia.


Elikia can also be bought within the confines of the French Institute of Congo (IFC). Other regions in Congo will follow suit in the coming days.

By January 2013, the pan-African company will begin international marketing for the device.


Alex Engwete said...

Bonana, Lorraine Bilonda! The African phone project is astounding and kudos to those who dreamed it up. But still, at $171 a pop, that phone is unsustainable for this region where that sum could represent 2-month earnings of an household.

congo man said...

Yes kudos to the founders of this company .but that price is just beyond the reach of most Africans.even here in the USA many people are starting to get their phones online at amazon,eBay ,Craigslist ....for a fraction of that price .the elikia with It's 650 MHz processor and a new almost unknown operating system ,should go for maybe 65$ .

lorraine-m-thompson said...

Hi @Alex @Congoman

Granted $171 is a lot of money but in the article VMK claims that it is planning to launch a $50 tablet for students next year (while its original Way-C tablet currently sells for $300).

It will be interesting to see if the company does something similar for its phone. Such a price reduction/product offering (cheaper phone) will be necessary given that VMK wants to be the dominant leader in the smartphone market in Africa