Many mobile phone makers, mostly Chinese, are jostling to establish a presence in the East African region with Kenya as the region’s hub.
The dominance of the more established brands is facing a challenge, albeit in its infantile stage, from the smaller ones looking to capture the market segment missing out on flagships. And spaces for the newcomers are emerging with an ever-growing proliferation of network connectivity as telcos continue to improve the quality of network signals in the country and the region at large.
Even so, entry is no easy fete as almost all the upcoming brands are competing on pricing.
Thus an emergent trend with smartphone manufacturers is partnerships with local partners giving the possibility of unique positioning to attract the market.
One such partnership is between maker Cubot, and online retailer Kilimall.co.ke. The latter is the primary retailer of the Cubot line of smartphones with the latest being the Note S.
The device launched midway through the first quarter of 2016 and the partnership is winning the race for a following on two fronts; if bought through the Kilimall portal, the Cubot Note S will only cost a buyer Sh8,888. This is in contrast to a mark-up of up to Sh13,000 if acquired from other outlets.
Cubot are pulling out all the stops with the release of the Note S throwing in a Kenyan themed back cover in the package of units sold in the country. The makers describe the device as the patriot’s smartphone with a play on identity and sentimentality. This is in addition to a colour range of matte black, champagne gold, pearl white and pink that the device is available in.
Secondly the device has a battery-life of slightly over 48 hours with relatively heavy use. This is made possible by the 4150 mAh Li-ion removable battery.
Users are guaranteed more web browsing, more media playback, more talk time, all very vital functions of any smartphone worth its salt.
Other notworthy bells and whistles of the Cubot Note S include an eight megapixel primary camera to cater to the user’s most basic pictures and videos needs. On account of the pricing, users get what they pay for with the camera, so best to keep expectations manageable.
The secondary camera is five megapixels so again users will not get the sharpest of selfies or the most fluid snapchats.
The 5.5” scratch resistant screen comes with an extra layer of security in the form of a protector. It has a high definition resolution of 720p which is alright for most media playback situations.
The device has a mono speaker at the bottom left side at the back which delivers good enough sound, and for more intimate listening it has a 3.5mm jack that should allow any set of headphones to be used with.
The device’s 16 gigabytes internal storage (expandable to 64 gigabytes) allows for storage of all of a user’s favourite applications and content, but will cause noticeable lag if too much is kept in the phone.
The two gigabytes Random Access Memory (RAM) also needs constant purging for applications that run in the background in order for one to get decent use out of the device.
Like most new devices post 2015, the Cubot Note S runs on Android 5.1 operating system which allows for an array of upgrades on many go-to applications.
The device had dual SIM card capabilities though neither runs on the 4G network which means that a user accesses the internet as a slower speed in comparison.
Considering that it is a budget phone, the Cubot Note S is a bargain with the functionalities in tow. And by partnering with kilimall to avail the device on the popular e-commerce platform, the manufacturer may yet have found a way to muscle its dominance in its target market segment.