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itel P33 Review: Affordable Android Go with Few Compromises

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There’s a couple of Android Go smartphones in the country right now. itel’s P33 is one of the few that are really worth considering because of the specs you get vs how much you pay. It is Ksh. 6,999 recommended retail, and for that amount there’s a lot of positives:

  • Dual rear cameras
  • HD+ 5.5 inch display
  • 16GB storage
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Face Unlock and
  • a 4000mAh battery (with a variant having 5000mAh)

However before we dive into praising some things you’ll like about the phone, you should know a couple of things:

  • It doesn’t support 4G networks
  • Charging takes a long while

Unboxing:

Inside the box you get the following:

  • Phone
  • USB cable
  • Charger
  • Earphones
  • Plastic back cover

The main interaction point with any device is its display. Most phones around this price point have small screens. The P33’s 5.5 inch screen is a good size for anyone who wants a big phone. I mean, it is 2019 and we have 6 inch phones as standard, but with the price point, even the bezels on this device are acceptable. They’re greatly reduced, and it has the same design as some 2018 phones.

itel P33 Review

But it a heavy device. Especially when you use the included plastic cover always. Which is something you’ll want to keep to avoid scratches on the removable back cover. The design choice to have the back cover removable is not something I will complain about. I just wish it was easier to open. I felt like it would break when I first popped it off.

It isn’t a Full HD display. It maxes out at 720p. And though it is sort of a high res display at its price, both the choice of icons and font in the UI make it look different from other phones. You sort of feel like you’re interacting with a cheaply done device because of the UI, and also because the display isn’t fully laminated. There’s no app drawer, and to have one you’ll need to install a launcher, and while at it, even change the icons.

itel P33 Review

Performance is not bad. With Android Go, Google has not only optimised Android OS to make it lighter for the little amount of RAM, but you’re also advised to use LITE apps that aren’t as resource intensive as full versions would be. You will find Facebook Lite already installed, and you can, from Play Store, get other apps. It is advisable to keep using these Lite apps where possible, because immediately you install something heavy you will notice the performance will be affected. So don’t expect to play games on this device. Don’t expect to have a myriad of apps installed too, because that may hurt performance.

The usual Android Go apps come pre-installed. But there’s also BoomPlay, Opera News, PalmStore and Opera Mini as bloatware. The good thing is you can disable or uninstall all of them. Also, there’s no ads on this phone once you remove these unnecessary apps. The launcher is clean, there’s no side drawer with unnecessary suggestions and you get to customise your phone to your taste. Some Android Go apps like YouTube Go are really bad, so just never use them. You can install the full YouTube App from Play Store instead.

itel P33 Review

The thing that will probably make many people get this phone is the dual rear cameras setup. I don’t think there’s any other phones in this price range that can take Portrait shots that blur the background. This phone manages that either through software or through the extra VGA lens (I cannot tell, because it doesn’t zoom in like a telephoto lens, and there’s no statement anywhere as to what the lens actually does).

The portrait pictures are not anything mind blowing. You will still see it fail to perfectly apply the blur, something blurring subject’s hands or unevenly applying the blur. You cannot tweak the level of blurring effect, so you have to make sure the shot you get is really good.

Normal shots aren’t bad. But you need adequate lighting for any shots to look good. A little low light and things get bad real quick. Don’t expect to take like super amazing pics. Just expect usable cameras, that stand out in the price range, and can take portrait shots in good lighting.

itel P33 Review

Finally, the battery of this phone is its main selling point for me. The 4000mAh cell lasts very long given the non-demanding screen, and software. If you want crazy good battery life, this is the phone to get. It takes a long while to charge from zero to 100, but that’s a compromise anyone can take.

I wish itel made this a 4G phone, because then for many it would be considerable for a couple of different use-cases: from house landlines, to portable hotspot routers. If you’re getting someone their first smartphone and you’re limited in budget, it is something to consider. But remember Xiaomi’s Redmi Go has 4G support and a Snapdragon 425 processor at just Ksh. 5,499.

The Redmi Go doesn’t have a 4000mAh battery however, you don’t get 16GB internal storage, neither do you get a fingerprint scanner, nor earphones, and a plastic back cover included in the box. But that’s what it is with picking up any phone: there’s always a compromise. To get something with everything you have to pay much more. The itel P33 has its compromises, and if you don’t mind lack of 4G, and want more storage space, it is something to check out.

What are your thoughts?

Itel p33 Review

itel P33 Specifications and Price in Kenya

Display Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen
  Size 5.5 inches, 68.9 cm2 (~73.2% screen-to-body ratio)
  Resolution 720 x 1440 pixels, 18:9 ratio (~272 ppi density)
 
Platform Operating System Android 8.1 (Oreo, Go Edition)
  Chip Mediatek MT6580
  GPU Mali-400MP2
 
Memory RAM 1GB
  Internal 16GB (expandable to 32GB with external Micro-SD)
 
Network SIM Dual SIM Support
  Support 2G/3G only
 
Cameras Main 8MP+VGA
  Front 5MP
 
Battery Size 4000mAh battery (5V/2A fast charge)PLUS version has 5000mAh battery
 
Colours Champagne Gold, Deep Blue, Gradiation Blue
 
Features Rear Fingerprint Scanner, Face Unlock
 
Price RRP KES. 6,999



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KawiSafi Ventures raises $70m for clean energy accelerate in East Africa

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Acumen today announced that its for-profit fund, KawiSafi Ventures has raised approximately $70 million to drive energy access for millions of low-income people in East Africa and scale the clean energy sector.

Acumen, through Acumen Capital Partners has invested $22 million of patient, philanthropic capital across the off-grid ecosystem and impacting 81 million lives. Acumen is now going into for-profit investments away from philanthropic capital.

KawiSafi will use the funds to accelerate growth of clean energy companies in East Africa. Some of KawiSafi’s early supporters include anchor investor the Green Climate Fund along with Steve Jurvetson, Chris Anderson and the Skoll Foundation. Acumen, as sponsor, holds an equity interest in the fund.

According to Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen, “We created KawiSafi to prove that renewable, off-grid energy can be a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to electrify the continent. By building scalable solutions that can bring power to low-income communities that have lived without electricity for too long, we can create a seismic shift in off-grid energy, releasing immense levels of human productivity and minimizing impact on the environment. Given that Africa’s population is expected to nearly double by 2030, a clean energy strategy is good not just for the continent but for everyone.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 600 million people currently live without electricity and spend $17 billion a year on dirty, inefficient energy. KawiSafi aims to deliver clean, affordable energy to 10 million people, at least half of whom live in poverty, and displace more than one million tons of carbon dioxide in the next 10 years, to address energy poverty and help avert the current climate crisis. To date, KawiSafi has invested $21 million to impact 4.3 million people and avert 360 thousand tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“The energy landscape has changed drastically in the last decade, and we have seen proven, profitable businesses emerge that are already transforming how low-income people access electricity,” said KawiSafi’s Managing Director Amar Inamdar. “These companies need early-growth capital to scale so they meet customer demand and drive innovation in a rapidly evolving ecosystem. KawiSafi will fill critical market gaps to create a sustainable, off-grid ecosystem, supporting countries to realize their UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal energy access.

d.light, a longtime Acumen investee, is one of KawiSafi’s first investments. The company, which manufactures and distributes a broad range of high-quality, affordable solar products, has impacted more than 90 million lives and offset 21 million tons of CO2. d.light recently closed $41 million in Series E financing, demonstrating how KawiSafi can help accelerate growth for companies with proven business models poised to generate significant financial and social returns.

KawiSafi is managed by Acumen Capital Partners LLC, an Acumen-owned subsidiary that structures and manages funds investing in social enterprises poised to scale to transform the lives of low-income people everywhere and solve some of poverty’s greatest challenges. .


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BBM to shut down on 31st May

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BBM is shutting down on 31st May 2019, a statement on the BBM blog notes.

“Today we’re announcing that we will be closing BBM consumer service on 31 May 2019.”

BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, like we all used to call it had a good run.

Back in the day, being on BBM was almost a status symbol in some quarters.

You know, long before the smartphone era began in earnest, those who had BlackBerry devices from RIM (Research in Motion, what the maker of BlackBerry phones used to be known as), had this exclusive club where they could chat with each other for hours on end. Heck, those who not only managed to break into that exclusive club but could also afford to splurge even more on the limited edition BlackBerry smartphones from Porsche Design had special BBM PINs to announce their status to the world.

Such were the good old days.

However, like many other technologies and technology companies before it, BlackBerry failed to move with the masses and the times. Not only did it miss the mass movement occasioned by the arrival of the iPhone, it also held on to BBM for far too long instead of availing it on every platform and attracting new users. It’s not lost on us the irony of Apple being accused of doing pretty much the same thing with iMessage today.

As BlackBerry took its sweet time, other messenger apps took root. WhatsApp, which had existed briefly in the pre-iOS/Android era, slowly built itself up as the messenger app of choice for the masses, including even BlackBerry users since both the sender and the recipient both needed BlackBerry devices in order to use BBM.

By the time BBM was being made available to other platforms, like our beloved Android, in May 2013, its would-be users were already hooked to other services and that move only served to, mostly, excite existing BlackBerry users who were increasingly beginning to sample what was on offer on other platforms.

As the blog post announcing the service’s shuttering next month correctly notes, “users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”

It is worth noting that the BBM service being shut down is the consumer service. Those who rely on BBM for their workplace chatter are still safe as the enterprise version is staying put.

Those who had made in-app purchases – like BBM stickers, for instance – on the Android app can request for refunds and those will be processed through Google Play. BBMoji purchases, however, are not eligible for any refund.

It is rather sad to see BBM go but it would be dishonest to say it will be missed. What with the likes of Telegram Messenger and their endless capabilities around.

UPDATE

BlackBerry, just like it had done with its hardware services, had outsourced BBM to Indonesian firm Emtek. It is Emtek that is responsible for pulling the plug on BBM as communicated today. As a result, BlackBerry is opening up the enterprise version of BBM to ordinary users who will still want to stick around after May 31st. The BBMe app is available on the Google Play Store.

It is worth noting, though, that the app is not as full-featured with all the fun stuff (BBMojis, stickets and all) as the consumer version and just caters to the usual stuff – chats, video calls. Importantly, it emphasizes on the security credentials that BlackBerry has been known for for years. After the first year, though, it will cost upwards of Kshs 250 to keep on using the service.





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Airtel Kenya and LG Kenya team up to offer up to 30% discount on electronics and appliances

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Both Airtel Kenya and LG Electronics are marginal names in their respective arenas here in Kenya. Perhaps with something common between them, the two have decided to team up and offer discounts of up to 30% off on LG electronics and appliances sold through the official LG Brand Shop.

Airtel Kenya and LG Kenya are running a promotion that could save you a good amount of money going into Easter holidays, but unfortunately, this discount can’t be utilized on our favorite Android gizmos, smartphones. This is because the said LG online shop doesn’t stock LG smartphones, but there’s still plenty of Android over there, including some of the best Smart TVs on the market.

In order to get the (up to) 30% discount off your next LG purchase from the LG Brand Shop, you must make your payment through Airtel Money. We all know how unpopular Airtel Money is compared to industry leader, M-PESA, but with this promo, Airtel Kenya hopes it will see an improvement in the service’s intake.

Similarly, LG hopes to see a jump in purchases of their electronics and appliances as more Kenyans look to take advantage of the offer and make savings of up to Sh 40,000.

A great move, no doubt, but as noted earlier, both Airtel and LG are not names that regularly pop up in conversations around mobile devices. We all know how essential mobile devices are if either is to realize any significant success from this partnership.

What is still unclear is for how long this promo will be around, so be sure to take advantage of it while it lasts. That is, NOW!





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