Monday, December 31, 2012

Android-powered, first African smartphone launches in the Republic of the Congo

The world's first African-designed smartphone has finally hit the market. The phone, dubbed Elikia (which means "hope" in Congolese), was originally scheduled for October, but its launch was delayed “because of an explosion in demand,” according to Verone Mankou, 27, who spoke to AFP on Saturday.

Android-powered, Elikia doesn't rival Samsung's Galaxy S III in terms of specs. It has a 3.5-inch 480 x 320 pixel screen, a 650Mhz processor, 512MB of RAM and -- interestingly -- front- and rear-facing cameras that both come in at 5-megapixels.

That's certainly not earth-shattering, but the main point of the device is its price: $170 off-contract. This sort of low pricing is precisely the reason that Android has become the top smartphone OS in the world; it's something that iOS simply cannot match.

Problematically, Google Play won't take Congo's credit cards, so VMK, the manufacturer, has its own app store and prepaid gift cards.

The phone is shipping with the obsolete (but still in use, thanks to Android fragmentation) Android 2.3, but it comes with the Holo Launcher pre-installed to simulate Android 4.0.

Local carriers Airtel, MTN, and Warid are reportedly carrying the Elikia.

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