Firefly Mobile Inspire Tablet Review

I was asked to do a review of a tablet to be used by a certain office, so I got my hands on a demo unit of a Firefly Mobile Inspire.


Upon receiving the unit, I immediately inspected what the box has to say for the unit. Nothing much is given, since this is a demo unit, but there seems to be an array of icons which represent some of its features such us HD Movie, Web Browsing, Music Player, Wi-Fi capable, Game and HDMI. Not very informative, but at least it gave me a glimpse of what this tablet can do.

Upon opening the box, the tablet was placed neatly on the top with the included accessories below in a separate compartment. The accessories included in the unit is a wall charger, USB cable (Standard A to Mini), USB cable (Standard A receptacle to mini) and a Soft case sleeve pouch. The actual retail unit might have an earphone and a micro SD card included, but I’m not sure.


I didn’t find any information about this unit online, also the Firefly Mobile website doesn’t have any information available on their website at this moment.

  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread
  • Single Core ARM v7 Processor (VFPv3, NEON) 1GHz
  • 4GB Internal Storage (around 3GB available for usage)
  • 360MB RAM
  • 7″ Capacitive Touchscreen 800×480 @ 68Hz
  • PowerVR SGX 540 GPU (OpenGL)
  • Bluetooth
  • Front-facing VGA camera
  • Gravity Sensor
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • USB Host/OTG
  • micro SD support
  • HDMI capable

Form Factor

Lock Screen
Home Screen

The Firefly Mobile Inspire looks like a typical tablet that you see everywhere else. Assuming that we are holding it in landscape (width is longer than height), it’s a black slate with a 7″ screen and a single round physical button in front on the right side of the screen, which serves as a Back button. The front-facing camera is also located above the screen with the Firefly Mobile logo embossed with metal highlights below. The tablet has metal edges which gives the impression of a sturdy build, though the front and back sides are made of plastic. On the top edge lies three physical round buttons. The left-most button is the power/lock button. And I have to say that I was surprised to know that the middle and the rightmost button are not volume buttons, they are Menu and Home buttons respectively.

Buttons on the top edge, Power/Lock, Menu and Home.

On the right edge lies all the I/O ports, (from top to bottom) 3.5″ headset jack, USB on-the-go (OTG), HDMI port, Reset button, USB host, charging port, Transflash slot, built-in Mic.

The tablet measures 197cm x 125cm x 10cm, thinner than the other tablets of its category. I’m not sure about the weight, but it’s not that heavy for a tablet. The back side is simply a black surface with a Firefly Mobile logo in the middle, the same as the logo in front of the device. The speakers are located on the upper and lower right corner of the unit when you are looking at the back side.

My Impressions

I wasn’t really expecting anything groundbreaking from this device. But I have to say that this device really performs quite well, but didn’t really surpassed my expectations. Performance-wise, this device did its job well. With a quadrant score of 1900, it has the potential to outperform some older Samsung tablets and phones. Scrolling through the home screen is good, with some 3D animations that resemble those of HTC phones. I’m too lazy to try and download HD games, so I stick with Angry Birds, and it was fluid and smooth as hell. Also tried playing HD videos, and surprisingly it can support 1080p, which I think plays well with rare to no occurrence of lag. The volume of the internal speaker is pretty bad, good thing there is headset jack available to plugin your earphones and speakers. Regarding the performance as well, when I enabled all the animations on the Settings, the UI stops responding (temporarily) and alerts me to Wait or Force Close the running application involved. It happened many times and I find it annoying, though the Android core itself didn’t crash and is completely recoverable, it’s such a waste of time to wait for an application to respond.

Scrolling the home screen without animations.

Quadrant Score of 1900.

The durability of the product comes to mind when you first see the tablet, since it’s build largely resemble the generic tablets from China that are usually rebranded by most companies. But I can safely say that although it looks cheap, somehow it doesn’t feel cheap, at least compared to generic China tablets. The physical buttons don’t feel like it can stand a beating like the big boys can (Samsung, HTC, Apple, etc.), but are pretty responsive. The capacitive screen is pleasant enough to use without frustrations. Though if you’re used to high-end tablets in the market, you’ll feel a very slight lag in the response of the screen. The screen brightness is good but not as bright as the AMOLED screens of Samsung tablets. I suggest to lower the brightness of the screen since it can really hog most your battery.

Regarding the camera, it is terrible. My decade-old Nokia phone can shoot better picture than this tablet. The picture that it takes is also reversed, just like when you are looking through a mirror. There are only a few customizations that you can do with the camera and most of them can be left untouched. Though we have to consider that this is a tablet and not a camera, if we want better pictures, get a camera instead.

Front-facing camera

The user-interface isn’t that bad, it’s a custom UI that still feels like a typical Android tablet. The notification bar is on the lower part of the screen. There are also additional icon buttons on the left of the notification bar for navigation as the Back, Home and Notification buttons respectively. And I’m pretty sure it was redundant since there are already Back and Home buttons physically on the device. They should’ve opted to place a physical volume button instead since some apps on the market doesn’t have a volume control, such as games, so adjusting the volume would be a pain to do.

Navigation buttons: Back, Home and Notifications

The battery is not up to par with the famous brands, in my opinion at least. I managed to have it on for only 3 hours on a full charge with Wi-Fi on and brightness at max while playing videos. Though charging the unit only takes around 2 hours using the included wall socket charger, proper techniques to preserve battery life must be taken care of. I suggest to always carry the charger with the unit or bring a portable power bank with you when going out for a trip since the battery is built-in, like most tablets, a reserve battery is not an option.

Like most Android tablets, the Android market is pre-installed and can be used to download apps like eBook readers such as Aldiko, Moon+ Reader and FBReader. I don’t think this product is available for retail as of this writing. When I visit their website, it only shows me their email addresses for inquiry, where I can safely assume that they can be contacted for bulk orders and such. No information or even a catalog is available at their website, which raises a question regarding after-sales support. We know that they will replace or repair products under warranty, but what about software maintenance? I’m not sure about how frequent will they release updates for Android, but there is an Updater (they spell it as Updatter) menu under Settings which checks for software updates.


The Firefly Mobile Inspire is just an average, typical Android tablet that offers you what a common tablet can offer. It’s quite hard for me to decide on how to rate this tablet since I wasn’t informed of it’s price. But if the price is under the P6,000 range, I’ll give it a thumbs up. Hypothetically speaking, the price shouldn’t go over P8,000 or else it will be pale in comparison even with other locally-produced (Note: not locally-made) tablet such as the Cherry Pad Turbo and CDRKing Fastpad. But for now, I could say that this tablet will do for an average user who simply reads ebooks and browses the web casually.

Front View of Torque Droidz View, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Firefly Mobile Inspire
Front View of Torque Droidz View, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Firefly Mobile Inspire
Rear View of Torque Droidz View, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Firefly Mobile Inspire

Rear View of Torque Droidz View, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Firefly Mobile Inspire

Another Update: I recently found a stall at our local mall, and the Firefly Mobile Inspire is priced at P6,490. Not that bad, huh?

Zoom G5 Announced

(Updated, see below) Zoom has finally announced another product from their long line of Guitar Multi-effects pedal, the new Zoom G5. The specs:

  • Simultaneous use of up to nine effects
  • Real tube booster for amp overdrive
  • Four large LCD displays with intuitive amp and stompbox interface
  • 3D Z-pedal for multi-dimensional parameter control
  • Over 120 versatile effects including 20 amp models
  • Looper function with 60-second phrase recording/overdubbing
  • Integrated drum machine and auto-chromatic tuner
  • Balanced XLR output for DI use
  • USB audio interface for DAW recording
  • Edit&Share software available through free download
  • Includes Steinberg Cubase LE recording software

Personally, I find the appearance to be a combination of the latest Zoom G3 and the older Zoom B9.1ut. The beautiful graphical interface of the G3’s large LCD screen (Stompbox interface) on top of the sturdy and streamlined body of Zoom’s flagship pedal for the bass, the B9.1ut, without the clutter of LED buttons and knobs. I think this was the answer of Zoom coming from the users’ comments regarding the steepness of the learning curve to customize the sound from a Zoom product. Considering the processor of the G5, I believe it shares the capabilities of the G3, including its processing limit, i.e., not being able to use multiple amps at a time.

If the capabilities of this new Guitar Effects pedal is the same as the G3, personally, I would still prefer the older Zoom G9.2tt. It’s true that the G5 may sound a bit better than the G9, but I would have to go for customizability for this one. The G5 may handle 4 simultaneous guitar effects at a time (3 if you’re using an amp model), but the G9 can do more than that. For example, I can do with a Compressor+Wah+ZNR+Stack Amp+Phaser+Delay+Reverb all at the same time. But the beauty of the Stompbox interface is the ability to switch the order of the effects chain, something that the G9 can’t do effectively.

I’m sure that this G5 is just a prelude to something much better. I would love to have the Stompbox interface on the body of the G9, including the Energizer and Accelerator tubes for the analog feel. Also regarding about the numbering, what happened to the G4?


According to Samson Website, the G5 can handle up to 9 stompbox effects. And if we look at the Z-pedal closely, it is very much upgraded and now looks like a single pedal and doesn’t look like two pedals on top of each other. This time, I’m changing my opinion, I definitely want one!!


Cherry Mobile Cutie P9

As I was strolling the mall a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a small phone from a Cherry Mobile kiosk. It looked like a cellphone split into two, length-wise. It reminded me of a phone from Samsung years ago, though I don’t know what model it was (Update: some people told me that it was Samsung SCH-U470, though I’m not really sure). The CM phone was a cute one, small indeed, hence the name Cherry Mobile Cutie. It really was a cutie phone about the size of a pocket MP3 player. I was about to ask the attendant on the CM kiosk, but I figured out that they’re not that sociable, they weren’t so enthusiastic to entertain potential customers, they just sit crouching down near the floor, texting carelessly, ignoring my curiosity. And yeah, it wasn’t the first time that they do that.

Then last week, as I was walking on another mall, I managed to pass by another cellphone store that distributes Cherry Mobile phones and decided to inquire. They were friendly and gladly answered most of my questions. I asked about the Cherry Mobile Cutie and here are some of the specs I managed to get from them, though I can say the specs are very rough, rough estimates especially if it was from a sales lady perspective: (See update below post for the official specs)

  • Colored screen (Probably TFT, not sure about the size, I think it’s around 1.2″)
  • Single SIM
  • Plays MP3
  • FM Radio
  • Bluetooth
  • microSD card slot
  • Available in different colors
  • No camera

The price is at P1,299, not bad for a small phone that packs most common feature that regular-sized phone has. Though I asked them if the unit can play videos, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and they said, “Uh, yes”. And of course I highly doubt it, due to the extremely small display. I believe that this phone has the potential and the cultural impact as the older Cherry Mobile P1 has. It’s an icon that can attract customers not as a for-techie-only object, but as a new meme.

I’ll probably come back later and shoot a picture of the Cutie and post it here.

Update: I added the pics and the specs from the box. And yeah, the person on the store is still snobbish, though they let me take the pictures.


  • 1″ Colored LCD Display
  • Single SIM
  • Dual Band GSM
  • Multimedia Player
  • MMS / WAP / GPRS
  • FM Radio
  • 3.5mm Headset Jack
  • Bluetooth
  • Calendar
  • Calculator
  • Alarm
  • SIM Toolkit
  • Cherry Shop
  • Micro SD up to 8GB

My List of the 10 Cheapest Android Phones

Though the title may seem a bit generic and too plain for an article, I’ll be focusing on listing the cheapest Android phones in the Philippine market as of this writing and try to sort them subjectively from not so decent to very decent. And take note, I won’t tackle on the generic China phones that we always see on sidewalk bazaars. Sure they’re cheap, but they’re on a class of their own.

10: Cherry Mobile Candy (₱3,699)

Cherry Mobile Candy

  • Android Froyo 2.2
  • 2.8″ Resistive Touch Screen
  • Dual Sim/Dual Standby
  • MediaTek 416Mhz Processor
  • ROM: 256mb / RAM: 128mb
  • Dual Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 900/1800
  • Wi-Fi
  • 1.3 MP Camera
  • FM Radio
  • 3.5mm Headset Jack
  • Bluetooth
  • Expandable Micro SD up to 16GB

Number 10 on my list is one of Cherry Mobile’s newest addition to their collection of Android phones. This dual-sim phone is the basic of the most basic phone in the list. It features the common smartphone staples such as WiFi, Bluetooth, camera and an expandable storage. It even has its FM radio, if you got bored of your redundant MP3 playlist. The specs never mentioned of any hint whether the screen can be auto-rotated or not. But based on my experience from products with similar style of marketing, if the feature is not listed, it probably doesn’t exist. The overall look of this phone is like the standard Java phone of Cherry Mobile. It’s like a dumb-phone installed with Android OS.

Pros: Comes with the standard features that an Android phone has. Has a plethora of colors to choose from.
Cons: It has the lowest specs overall. 416MHz for a processor is a bit too slow if you want to do more on your phone.

Why is it in number 10? It is because of the poor specs. Honestly, I could’ve placed it higher on the list since some phones I listed below have almost the same specs. The turning point was the terribly low ROM and RAM. Other phones have at least twice as much ROM and RAM than this device.

More Info: Not yet on their official website, though you can find a lot of sources from bloggers and Cherry Mobile Facebook page.

9: Cherry Mobile Candy Ch@t (₱3,699)

Cherry Mobile Candy Ch@t

  • Android Froyo 2.2
  • 2.4″ Resistive Touch Screen with QWERTY Keypad
  • Dual Sim/Dual Standby
  • MediaTek 416Mhz Processor
  • ROM: 256mb / RAM: 128mb
  • Dual Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 900/1800
  • Wi-Fi
  • 1.3 MP Camera
  • FM Radio
  • 3.5mm Headset Jack
  • Expandable Micro SD up to 16GB
  • Bluetooth

Cherry Mobile Candy Chat (also written as Cherry Mobile Candy Ch@t) is the sibling of the Cherry Mobile Candy. The specs between the two is almost the same aside from the noticeable physical QWERTY keyboard of Candy Chat. Like most touch-type phone, the screen is smaller than its full-touch counterpart with the screen menus located at the side of the screen rather than below. In conjunction with the statement I mentioned earlier, Candy Chat doesn’t mention Bluetooth in its list of features, but a recent confirmation from Cherry Mobile states that indeed it has Bluetooth. Well, considering that the price of Candy and Candy Chat is just the same, Candy Chat proves to be the pound for pound king against the CM Candy.

Pros: It’s a touch-type phone having a physical QWERTY keyboard. It’s easier to write SMS than using a resistive touchscreen phone. Different colors to choose from.
Cons: Same as the cons of Cherry Mobile Candy. How about some auto-rotate?

Why is it in number 9? First, I placed it higher than the Cherry Mobile Candy since it has a physical keyboard. QWERTY phones has always been very appealing to me, though I still prefer full-touch ones. But why didn’t it got any higher in my rankings is due to the lack of Bluetooth support. I would’ve ranked this at least one place higher if not for this missing feature that seems to be necessary for me. Most phones doesn’t support NFC yet, and Bluetooth is the next best alternative. Networking and sharing files from your phone is somewhat bleak yet, well at least for me.

More Info: Not yet on their official website, though you can find a lot of sources from bloggers and Cherry Mobile Facebook page.

8: Torque Droidz Glee (₱3,699)

Torque Droidz Glee

  • Dual SIM / Dual Standby
  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • 2.8″ QVGA Resistive Touch
  • MTK6516 416MHz CPU
  • Quadband GSM
  • ROM: 512MB / RAM: 256MB
  • 1.3MP Camera / Video Record
  • Java / EDGE / GPRS / MMS
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
  • 3.5mm Stereo Headset Jack
  • FM Radio / Multimedia Player
  • Micro SD up to 32GB

Another phone with a 3.7K price. If we would compare this to the Cherry Mobile Candy, Torque Droidz Glee slays it completely. It has almost identical features with Candy except in the storage department. This one doubles the ROM and the RAM, including the allowed expandable memory. Glee surpasses Cherry Mobile’s entry-level phone with flying colors. Well, the only thing that the Candy outweighs Glee is the variety of colors to choose from; Droidz Glee only has one color, black.

Pros: Includes the standard smartphone features. But compared to Cherry Mobile Candy, this one is a better bang for the buck. With the two having identical hardware, this one doubles the ROM and the RAM giving better performance and more app storage than the latter.
Cons: Aside from the cons that I’ve written about the Candy, I guess it’s only losing edge against it is its looks. Glee only has one design and one color to choose from.

Why is it in number 8? It’s because it triumphs over the previous Cherry Mobile phones, not in the physical appearance, but in hardware performance. Though I’ve never personally tried the UI used in Torque phones, I could only assume that it is quite close to the native android UI. Also, based on the price range, this one is the best in its class. Regarding the durability, I think it’s OK, but don’t expect it to be tough like your old Nokia 5110.

More Info: (The official website is down)

7: Cherry Mobile Eclipse 2.2 (₱4,899)

Cherry Mobile Eclipse 2.2

  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • Dual SIM / Dual Standby
  • MediaTek MT6516 416MHz
  • 3.2″ WQVGA Resistive Touch Panel @ 320×480 pixels
  • ROM: 512MB / RAM: 256MB
  • Expandable Micro SD up to 8GB
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / GPRS / EDGE / GPS
  • FM Radio
  • 3.5mm Stereo Audio Jack
  • Standard Micro USB 1.1
  • 2.0 Megapixel Camera
  • Dual Band GSM / GPRS / EDGE 900 / 1800

As I’ve posted before, I’m torn between choosing this phone or the Alcatel OT Blaze Duo 890D since my wife’s phone was broken. But that was back in August, when these two phones were the cheapest among the cheap. Oh, just look at how fast technology can be marketed, in just a short span of three months, the first in my list of the cheapest android phone was pushed back to number 7. The main selling point of this phone is the larger 3.2″ resistive touch screen in comparison to the previous phones I’ve listed above. Basically, if we would compare this with number 8 above, the Torque Droidz Glee, this phone has a larger screen and better camera with 2.0 megapixels. Economy-wise, we should ponder if the ₱1,200 price difference from the previous phone is worth it, bigger screen, better camera, but lower expandable storage. Yes, too sad to say that this phone can only support up to 8GB of expandable memory, compared to 32GB of most Android phones. But still, let’s just say that after-sales support of Cherry Mobile is better than that of Torque, so this phone places at number 7.

Pros: The biggest screen and resolution so far for the 416MHz-ish processors.
Cons: Can only support up to 8GB of expandable storage.

Why is it in number 7? Personally, I don’t mind a smaller screen, so the bigger screen of this phone has only a little effect on my ranking this above the Droidz Glee. Performance-wise, Eclipse 2.2 doesn’t seem to outperform the Glee, but the reason I placed this above Torque’s cheapest phone is that I feel that Cherry Mobile’s after-sales support is better than that of Torque. I’ve seen Cherry’s website, and it gives much more frequent update, even firmware updates for it’s lineup of Android devices. On the other hand, Torque’s website, as of this time of writing, is still down. The last time I checked it when it was working, updates were a few months delayed.

More Info: Not yet on their official website, though you can find a lot of sources from bloggers and Cherry Mobile Facebook page.

6: Alcatel One Touch Blaze Duo 890D (₱4,799)

Alcatel OT Blaze Duo 890D

  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • MediaTek MT6516 420MHz
  • 2.8″ TFT Resistive Touch Screen, 256K Colors @ 240×320 pixels
  • ROM: 512 MB / RAM: 256 MB
  • 150 MB Internal Storage
  • Upgradeable storage up to  16 GB
  • 2.0 Megapixel camera
  • Dual SIM / Dual Standby
  • GPRS / Edge Class 12 / WAP 2.0 / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP / A-A-GPS
  • FM Radio
  • MMS
  • SMS with Predictive Input CooTek
  • G-Sensor
  • MicroUSB 2.0

The Alcatel OT Blaze Duo 890D is the first international brand to be included on my list. This phone sports 3 vibrant colors, Fuschia, Orange and Steel Grey, which can highlight and help show your personality. As I’ve said before, this phone and Cherry Mobile’s Eclipse 2.2 have almost the same performance as they were powered by an almost the same set of hardware. With a smaller screen and resolution than that of Eclipse 2.2, it redeems itself with a faster CPU! Well not that fast, with 420MHz, it outperforms the Cherry Mobile’s Android phone 4MHz better, and I don’t think it makes a noticeable difference. Other than that, it can support microSD cards up to 16GB, double than that of Eclipse 2.2.

Pros: Sturdier build than the previous phones mentioned above. Variety of colors to choose from. Includes G-Sensor.
Cons: No 3G. If we were to consider the hardware limitations this device has, I could say that this is as fast as it gets.

Why is it in number 6? This phone has most of the features that mid-range Droids has, camera, G-sensor, Assisted GPS, but with the slow CPU, I believe this is as high as this phone can get on my list. Compared to the phones above within the 416MHz range, this is the best out of all of them. But compare this to an average Android phone, this phone will feel slow.

More Info:

5: Alcatel Blaze One Touch 906 (₱5,499)

Alcatel Blaze OT-906

  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • GSM Quad band (850/900/1800/1900) UMTS(900/2100) HSDPA up to 7.2mbps EDGE/WAP 2.0/Wi-Fi
  • 2.0 megapixel Camera
  • microSD up to 32GB
  • Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
  • Assisted GPS
  • 2.8″ TFT Resistive Touch Screen 262K Colors @ 240×320 pixels
  • Qualcomm MSM7227 600MHz CPU
  • ROM: 512 MB (200 MB accessible)

This one looks and feels like its sibling, the Alcatel One Touch Blaze Duo 890D, but with a more fluid UI response. It is like an upgraded version of 890D with a different CPU, support for microSD card up to 32GB and 3G support. Other than that, it seems like it didn’t deviate from the previous phone. The screen is also resistive, which means that playing Fruit Ninja would be a challenge.

Pros: Faster CPU using Qualcomm MSM7227 at 600MHz. Support for microSD up to 32GB. Supports HSDPA up to 7.2 Mbps.
Cons: Resistive touch screen. It would have been perfect if it was capacitive.

Why is it in number 5? Hardware-wise, as a phone that feels like an upgraded version of 890D, this phone should rank higher than that of number 6. The only thing that pulled this phone down to number 5 is because of it’s resistive touch screen, otherwise, it could have been, at most, at the top 3.

More Info:

4: Cloudfone Ice (₱4,990)

Cloudfone Ice

  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • 600MHz CPU
  • GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 / HSDPA 900 / 2100 / Wi-Fi / Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • 3.2″  TFT Capacitive Touchscreen, 256K Colors @ 320x480px
  • Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor
  • microSD card up to 32GB
  • Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
  • microUSB 2.0
  • 3.15 megapixel camera
  • Digital Compass
  • A-GPS
  • ROM: 512MB / RAM: 256MB

This phone was like the result of an impulsive decision of Globe Telecom to directly rival Smart’s launching of it’s Smart Netphone 701. It was released in a spur of the moment, suddenly appearing on advertisements on national broadsheets. Globe’s Cloudfone Ice is a rebranded Huawei U8500 but some sources say that instead of the stock Android 2.1 (Eclair) of the original, this one comes with Android 2.2 (Froyo). The specs it has is pretty decent for an entry-level phone, 600MHz CPU, 3.2″ capacitive screen with accelerometer for UI auto-rotate plus a 3.15MP camera. Seems pretty good for a phone less than ₱5,000, right? Actually, the sad part is that this phone just seemed to disappear without anyone knowing. One moment this phone is on sale on Globe Business Centers, the next thing we know, the stocks are out without any idea when the next batch of phones will ship. This phone is like a mushroom, appearing out of nowhere, then disappears without any trace. I remember that this phone suddenly appeared on the list of Globe’s handsets for postpaid plans, then one day disappeared without notice. Everytime I ask Globe about it, they say that the phone is out of stock. Too bad huh?

Pros: Pretty decent specs, pushing the CPU to around 800MHz would’ve been perfect. The price is cheap for less than ₱5k and can be lowered to ₱499/month if you apply for Globe’s postpaid plan.
Cons: It’s now just a figment of our imagination and we don’t know when it will appear again on the market.

Why is it in number 4? To say it frankly, with a set of hardware specs like this, this phone could’ve jumped directly to number 2 in my list. But since it’s now just a figment of our imagination, it sits here at number 4, waiting to be forgotten. R.I.P. Cloudfone Ice.

More Info:

3: Torque Droidz Mate (₱4,999)

Torque Droidz Mate

  • Dual SIM / Dual Standby
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • 3.2″ WQVGA Capacitive Touch
  • SC6810 550MHz CPU
  • Quadband GSM
  • ROM: 512MB / RAM: 256MB
  • 2MP Camera w/ Flash
  • Video Recorder
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
  • GPS Support
  • 3.5mm Stereo Headset Jack
  • FM Radio / Multimedia Player
  • microSD up to 32GB
  • G-Sensor / Proximity Sensor

Here is another challenger from the local market, Torque Droidz Mate. Based on the looks of the phone itself, it looks like a Google Nexus S with a Torque logo. I haven’t seen it personally, but based on what I saw from other Torque phones, the body is probably made from a not-so-high-grade plastic. The screen is big enough for an average Android phone with its 3.2″ screen. With it’s price being around ₱5k, this phone seems economical enough, considering it’s features per peso ratio. The slight problem with this unit is it’s slower than average CPU with only 550MHz. But with a price like this, asking for a faster Qualcomm or Nvidia Tegra CPU is way too much.

Pros: Decent features for a small price. Capacitive touch screen.
Cons: A bit slower CPU at 550MHz. Software updates are likely to be rare, but we never know as there is a separate download of Torque’s Phone Suite software especially for Android phones.

Why is it in number 3? I have to admit that the Cloudfone Ice’s specs are better than this one, but since it has disappeared on the face of the earth, Droidz Mate overtook it to this position. Well, unless we would compare it to a Huawei U8500, then the Torque Droidz Mate is pwned!

More Info:

2: Cherry Mobile Cosmo (₱5,499)

Cherry Mobile Cosmo

  • Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • 3.2″ HVGA Capacitive Touch Screen
  • Qualcomm 600MHz Processor
  • Wi-Fi / Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot / 3G / GPS / Bluetooth
  • 2 MP Camera
  • 512 Internal Memory (Micro SD up to16GB)
  • RAM: 256MB

The second on my list is the Cherry Mobile Cosmo, and the fourth one from the line of Cherry Mobile Androids. It really amazes me how Cherry Mobile can bring their products much cheaper than other mainstream brands. Cosmo is a 3.2″ Capacitive Touchscreen phone powered by a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor. Perhaps the only specs that made me choose this over the Torque Droidz Mate is the Wi-Fi hotspot feature. This is pretty handy since I frequently visit rural places where Wi-Fi isn’t available, packed with a laptop, it’s more essential to have a portable Wi-Fi hotspot and browse the web using the laptop, than browse using only the phone. Another thing, I didn’t see any mention of an accelerometer/G-sensor on the specs of this phone, but based on some reviews I’ve read about this phone, nobody mentioned that either, which probably means that it can at least rotate it’s UI. Well, bloggers may have complained about auto-rotate if it were not present, am I right? With the 600MHz processor, the UI is fluid enough for scrolling, but expect some lag sometimes.

Pros: Faster processor than what the Torque Droidz Mate can offer. Has Wi-Fi  hotspot feature. Not sure about USB tethering though.
Cons: Plastic build.

Why is it in number 2? Once again I have to reiterate, Globe’s Cloudfone Ice is way better than this phone, but since it’s not available right now, this phone takes the 2nd spot away from Ice. And again, if we’re just considering Huawei U8500 and not Cloudfone Ice, U8500 will probably take the competition away from this phone. But compared to the number 3, the Torque Droidz Mate, this one bests the Droidz with its Wi-Fi hotspot feature and the 50MHz difference of processing speed.

More Info:

1: Samsung Galaxy Y GT-S5360 (₱5,700)

Samsung Galaxy Y S5360

  • Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread)
  • 832MHz ARMv6 Processor
  • 2.0 megapixels (2x Digital Zoom)
  • GPRS / EDGE / 3G /  Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n / Bluetooth v3.0 / USB 2.0 / A-GPS
  • 180MB User memory
  • RAM: 290MB
  • 2.8″ TFT QVGA Capacitive Touchscreen @ 320x240px
  • microSD up to 32GB

Finally, the Android phone that is one of the cheapest in the Philippine market with every features worthy of the every cent you spend on it, the Samsung Galaxy Y GT-S5360! Most people today associate Android smartphones with Samsung, and it’s because of the quality Samsung gives on every Android phones they make. On one look, you can notice the sturdy build of this phone, the metal highlights on the side and the tough plastic that Samsung uses on their series of Galaxy phones and tablets. We have to take note that the back cover of the phone is made of plastic with metallic gray finish. Too bad, the capacitive screen does not have Gorilla Glass, so a screen protector might be handy for this device. Most features of a Galaxy phone is included in this tiny package, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, tethering, TouchWiz UI and proximity sensor. Probably the striking difference that you will immediately notice compared to the line of Galaxy phones, is the small screen. With only 2.8″ of screen, typing and composing SMS would be tough. Also compared to the other phones on this list, the Galaxy Y has the fastest processor overall at 832MHz, fast enough for an entry-level smartphone.

But of course, not all phones are perfect, and this one has its own imperfections as well. The main issue that I encounter with this phone is its small internal memory. 180MB of user storage is not enough for a power user like me, but it’s like sufficient for non-techie persons. Though the storage is expandable up to 32GB (yes, according to the user manual, it supports up to 32GB and not 16GB from the website), some applications take up space of the internal storage and cannot be transferred to the SD card. So if you install a lot of applications, chances are you’ll hit the memory limit.

I think if you’re wanting an entry-level Android phone, and you have more than ₱5,000, this is the best choice for you in the long run. Take note that Globe and Smart gives the phone a tag price at around ₱5,990, just ₱10 short of 6k. But when I roamed around malls and cellphone dealers, the average price is around ₱5.7k. But there was a store where they sell it for just about ₱5,500, about the same price than that of Cherry Mobile Cosmo, and they sell it cheaper than that of the Samsung store that I visited.

Pros: Fast CPU at 832MHz. Fully packed with features common with Samsung Galaxy phones. Sturdy build. Crisp and bright display, perfect to use even under the sun. As of this writing, an update to Android 2.3.6 is available via Samsung Kies application.
Cons: Small user memory, just about 180MB. Small display. Low-resolution camera at 2.0MP. No support for Flash Player.

Why is it the number 1? First and foremost, this is the cheapest Android phone that Samsung has. If you’re brand-conscious, I know that you’ll go after Samsung than Cherry Mobile or Torque. And we all know that Samsung is way better than these other local brands. So, if you seek economy and quality for your new Android phone, I suggest you choose this one. Though some other phones on this list has bigger screen size, performance-wise, this phone kills them all.

More Info:

Of course, sorting these phones subjectively tends to have an objective criteria to prevent the list from getting too biased. There are some factors that I considered before ranking them based on my own whim. Probably the factor that tends to affect the decision is the device’s screen type, whether resistive or capacitive. Other things that I considered is the screen size, CPU speed and internal storage. I would like to take note that never did I consider the Android versions of the phones that I listed. This is due to the nature of the Android OS, most phones can be upgraded to a higher version via firmware updates from the manufacturer. Other devices that seemed to be abandoned by the manufacturer can be rooted and installed a custom firmware in some ways or another.

I would like to say that though these phones are cheap, I know that it can last longer if taken with proper care. Though if you really strive for extreme quality, there are other ways to get your phone cheap like subscribing to a postpaid plan. Telecom companies usually gives you a discount or sometimes free mobile phones in exchange for your soul an exclusive service lock-in period of around 2 years or so.

And now I’m searching for the cheapest tablets for myself this Christmas. If I can, I’ll post a list of the cheapest tablets that I will find.

MIYU: A New Guitar Diva to Watch Out For

A new girl will soon be conquering the YouTube bandwidth! Watch out for the début of this promising new guitarist, MIYU, all cute on the outside, rocking hard on the inside. Unlike musicians of her generation, she’s not Taylor Swift nor Miley Cyrus whose knowledge of music spans 5 chords. And yes, you won’t see any of those annoying screaming fan girls around her.

As I was browsing YouTube a couple of weeks ago searching for Takayoshi Ohmura videos, I accidentally stumbled one of her videos doing cover songs, mainly from Western artists. After the tedious process of verifying the guitarist’s gender (yes, videos can be misleading *cough*TissueHime*cough*), which I can safely conclude that she was a girl, I took notice of a promotional video about her début album this coming November 9, 2011.

According to her website (I suck at Japanese, BTW), the album will be titled “World Maker” featuring 6 tracks:

  2. Somebody’s voice
  3. Story
  4. Awakening
  5. End of sorrow
  6. Break out

Interestingly enough, the album credits Takayoshi Ohmura as the Sound Producer and the bassist in the album, which, also according to her website, was her teacher while studying in MI Japan.

I listened to the demo songs featured on her Audio Leaf account, which features 3 out of the 6 songs on the album (without vocals), with KOHAKU, being the de facto carrier single, included in the demos. The songs carry heavy metal riffs, common in Japanese metal songs with feel good lyrics typical of JPop. It’s like having a pop song sung with a metal band.

In my opinion, her guitar skills is not that polished compared to other known guitarists like Takayoshi Ohmura, Syu or even Orianthi. But I can assure you, in terms of guitar prowess, she’s better than the Jonas Brothers combined. Her style is not unique, though a bit refreshing if you get tired of the same old pop songs on the radio. And yeah, I’ve always admired girls who can seriously play the guitar.