In case you haven’t heard about the Smart Netphone 701 yet, it’s a Smart-branded Android phone that showcases the SmartNet ecosystem, a hub that features access to social networking, instant messaging and Smart’s services. The Smart Netphone 701 has been officially available to the public for a few days now.
The first time I heard about the Smart Netphone 701 was when I received an invite for the media launch. The invite did not include a photo of the Netphone so I was curious as to how it would look. There was some degree of anticipation on my part since I knew the phone will be carrying the Smart name, so I was thinking of something really impressive, specs wise. In any case, here are the specs of the Smart Netphone 701.
Smart Netphone 701 Specifications
- 600 MHz ARM 11 processor, Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset
- 3.5″ LCD display with 480×800 resolution
- Android 2.2 Froyo
- Adreno 200 GPU
- 512MB RAM
- HSDPA 7.2Mbps; HSUPA 5.76Mbps
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
- Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
- 3MP autofocus camera
- FM radio tuner
- GPS w/ aGPS support
- Li-Ion battery 1250mAh
Design and Appearance
The Smart Netphone 701 is made by ZTE and in fact, in other parts of the world, it is known as the ZTE Blade. When I first saw the Netphone, I was certainly not blown away by its design. Holding the unit in my hand, I quickly realized that the Smart Netphone does not aim to compete with the high-end phones currently ruling the Android universe. It’s not a Samsung Galaxy S II or an HTC Sensation wannabe. It’s just an Android phone that aims to be good for its class. The question now is, for the class it aims to be good at, is the Smart Netphone easily the best choice? Is it worth the price tag of P9,900?
The first thing that came into mind when I first held the Netphone was how light it was. For its size, the weight of the Netphone is quite surprising. It’s certainly good that the Netphone is light, but when a device is very light for its size, one can’t help but wonder the quality of the materials it is made of. Thankfully, the materials used on the Smart Netphone do not seem fragile or cheap.
The Netphone sports a dark grey finish, giving it a brushed metal appeal. This works for the phone as it gives off a premium look. The sides of the phone have silver trimmings, possibly emulating the iPhone. On top of the phone is the power button and on the right side is the volume rocker. On the left side is the micro USB slot.
The Netphone has physical buttons for control which can be found at the bottom of the phone. There are three buttons all in all, one for the Home function, another for Menu and a third for Back function.
I like the decision to leave out the Search button as this is rarely used (at least in my case) and the size of the phone simply would not make four buttons comfortable to use. The buttons are quite nice and have very good tactile feedback. What I don’t like though is they are quite small I size and and require some effort to press at times.
In terms of thickness, the Smart Netphone is just alright — it’s not thin but it’s not thick either. In fact, I like how it feels in my hand. Compared to the iPhone, the Netphone is thicker of course. But compared to the HTC Sensation, the Netphone is just as thick. See the comparison of the three phones below.
If there’s one thing that really stands out with the Smart Netphone 701, it’s the screen. I was surprised at how good the screen of the Netphone is considering its price tag. I was a user of the HTC Desire and I can almost compare the Netphone’s screen with the Desire’s. The screen resolution of the Netphone is simply nice. The colors are rendered well and the saturation is just right. Needless to say, it’s a delight to view photos and watch videos on the Netphone.
The Smart Netphone uses a 600MHz CPU and it’s sad to say this sometimes shows in the phone’s performance. There are moments when the phone just feels slow, although not to a point that it gets frustrating. The sluggish performance doesn’t show when you are simply navigating the Netphone or scrolling between apps or running a single app, but when you load multiple apps, the phone suffers the occasional stutter. But overall, the phone is a pretty decent handset considering its price. Like I previously said, the Netphone is not a Galaxy S II or HTC Sensation wannabe.
The 3-megapixel camera of the Netphone is quite decent. It takes acceptable photos and videos. The quality is sufficient for situations when you just need to take a photo or video, but it’s certainly not a replacement of your digicam. As to calling features, the Smart Netphone delivers clear calls. In fact, reception has never been an issue during my use of the phone.
So the phone is not revolutionary or extraordinary. What then is Smart trying to sell in the Netphone? It’s SmartNet.
SmartNet is a new type of service. If I may make a guess here, Smart is possibly be aware that the next trend in mobile communications is on the social networking and instant messaging front. Text messaging has seen a decline in use while instant messaging and social networking continues to gain popularity. Smart possibly wants to be at the forefront when the shift happens.
SmartNet is a suite of applications that, admittedly, make a Smart user’s life easier and more convenient. Here are the features included in SmartNet.
Safe Browsing Widget
And here are a few details of these features.
The SmartCenter is like your personal customer service line. Using the SmartCenter feature you can do any of these things:
- Check your postpaid bill or prepaid load balance instantly
- See and track your current subscription
- Choose and purchase packages to subscribe to
- Reload your phone without visiting a SMART loading center
- Pay your bill without going to a payment center
In Smart Chat you can chat with your friends on Facebook or Yahoo Messenger or talk to your Netphone friends via the Netphone Messenger. You can send what Smart calls “FX messages” which are special messages featuring sound and video. You can add Netphone friends by sending a “friend request” to SmartNet and Netphone users who can then add you to their contacts via the Global Directory. Friends can also be added via smartnet.ph on the desktop.
This feature is quite useful to Facebook and Twitter users. The Social Stream on the Smart Netphone unifies updates in these social networking sites. You can therefore update your status and see all your Twitter and Facebook updates in one screen. These updates are combined with the Netphone’s MyGroups social network.
What’s cool with Social Stream is you can also view and use it on the web at smartnet.ph.
Global Directory is a form of cloud service. Netphone users can add contacts and friends from SmartNet and other Netphone users and save them in the contacts list. If you’re looking for a friend’s number, all you need to do is find the name in the Global Directory.
The Smart Inbox is where Smart’s updates are. It gives you the latest promos, announcements, service offerings, network advisories and advertisements.
Safe Browsing Widget
This feature makes sure that you don’t accidentally use the internet outside of SmartNet. When you’re on safe browsing mode, you can use the features of SmartNet, a few Netphone applications and some websites free of charge. If you click on links that take you out of the SmartNet services, standard internet rates will apply.
The Smart Netphone is available on prepaid at P9,990. You can also get it free on some subscription plans. Here are the available postpaid plans for Smart Netphone 701.
If you want to know the available Netphone packages and bundles on prepaid, here are your options.
|Packages and Bundles|
(Subscriber must maintain P1 balance)
|Rate||Social Stream||Netphone Messenger||Browsing/ Access||Voice||Text|
|Daily Netphone Power Pack(all in)||P40||unli||unli||30 MB||10 min on net||150 on net|
|Monthly Netphone Power Pack (all in)||P999||unli||unli||1 GB||200 min on net||3500 on net|
|Daily Netphone Connect Pack||P30||unli||unli||20 MB||5 min on net||100 on net|
|Daily Netphone Value Pack||P20||unli||unli||10 MB||n/a||50 on net|
As a stand-alone phone, the Smart Netphone 701 is pretty decent. I like its design and screen. The Netphone may not be the fastest Android phone out there but for the price of P9,990, it fares well against other phones in the same class.
After knowing the phone and the SmartNet services above, the Smart Netphone 701 is a very good proposition since the Netphone Messenger and Social Stream services, including Faceboook and Twitter, are free. But note that they are only free until December 31, 2011. After that, regular rates will apply when using SmartNet.
If you’re one who wants social networking and messenger services in one phone, or who wants to access Smart services and updates from one place, the Smart Netphone 701 could still be a worthy investment, even after the free use expires on December 31.