Windows Phone Headed To The Middle East, North Africa

During the Mobile World Congress last week, Microsoft managed to secure a deal with MENA (Middle East and North Africa) carrier Zain Group that is set to bring Windows Phone devices to Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and South Sudan later this year. Commenting on the deal, Nabeel Bin Salamah said this:

“The smartphone has become a necessary item in today’s society, and this agreement with Microsoft, one of the world’s leading technology companies, is just the beginning of yet another example of Zain delivering on its brand promise to achieve our vision of ‘A Wonderful World’. We have the utmost confidence in the capabilities of Windows smartphone technology and believe such an appealing offering will further attract, empower and enhance the lifestyles of our customers.”

Guastavo Fuchs — Microsoft Mobility Director, Middle East and Africa — mentioned that the region is projected to see smartphone growth of 38% in the year 2012. While the specific devices that will be available in the region are currently unknown, it’s safe to say that we can expect to see lower-cost handsets such as the Lumia 610 or ZTE Orbit hit the shelves. Tailored towards emerging markets, the lower price point of these Windows Phones are sure to get smartphones in the hands of many users. That isn’t to say, though, that a higher-end smartphone market is nonexistent; I think that such devices will thrive here as well.

It definitely will be interesting to see how well Windows Phone performs here. Perhaps the platform will see great success in these emerging markets.

The Gestures Supported In Windows 8 And Their Mouse Equivalent

Earlier today Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The touch friendly Metro interface for Windows 8 is not restricted to tablets. Microsoft has followed a dual-UI strategy for Windows 8 and replaced the traditional start menu with a Metro version start screen. Since one UI is meant for the traditional keyboard/mouse interaction and the other for finger interaction (no pun intended), Microsoft has shared a simple chart explaining the gestures supported in Windows 8 and what they do along with details about how to perform the same tasks using a mouse:

(Click image to enlarge.)

Samsung Galaxy S II Awarded The Best Smartphone Of The Year By GSMA

Today is the last day of Mobile World Congress. The last 3 days have been absolutely crazy, with insane amount of new handsets and tablets announced, including a phone with a whopping 41MP camera! This year we saw Android manufacturers competing with each other not only on specs, but on other key factors like the camera and build quality.

Last night at MWC, the GSMA body awarded some prestigious awards to the notable products and companies of last year. The Samsung Galaxy S II won the prestigious ‘Best Smartphone’ of the year, while Sammy itself was awarded the ‘Device Manufacturer of the Year award’. Considering how the Samsung Galaxy S II and Samsung itself have dominated the Android sales chart last year, this really should not come as a surprise.

“The GALAXY S II has set a new standard for smartphones, taking speed, screen and content to a whole new level,” said JK Shin, President of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics. “Building on the phenomenal success of the original Samsung GALAXY S, we are honored by this award and proud of how this device has changed the way the market and consumers experience mobile technology.”

Unsurprisingly, the ‘Best Tablet’ of the year award was bagged by none other than the…yeah you guessed it right…the Apple iPad 2. As things currently stand, the iPad 2 still has no worthy competitor, and single handedly manages to outsell all the Android tablets, combined, out there.


Canonical Shows Off Ubuntu for Android at MWC

Just last week, we reported Canonical’s announcement of Ubuntu for Android. MWC has recently showcased Ubuntu for Android at MWC, and it is impressive with some great tricks up its sleeves. Initially, it might look like a desktop remote control for your Android phone, but there are innumerable features and behind-the-scene events that will change this outlook soon.
Ubuntu for Android shows all our Android applications, contacts and calls in a Unity style application dashboard. It also lets us read and write text messages remotely, from the desktop. All this is facilitated with a custom Linux kernel, and this custom kernel will let us run Android and Ubuntu in parallel. Once we plug our computer into the dock, it will automatically switch to Ubuntu. However, the part that impressed me was where Phil from Android Central tells us that we can use this phone as a thin-client to connect to an application server and demoed it by launching MS PowerPoint from a Windows 7 server.

Mark Shuttleworth announced the plan of Ubuntu for Android, saying,

We’ll show Ubuntu neatly integrated into Android at Mobile World Congress next week. Carry just the phone, and connect it to any monitor to get a full Ubuntu desktop with all the native apps you want, running on the same device at the same time as Android. Magic. Everything important is shared across the desktop and the phone in real time.

Although the feature was showcased at MWC, it is not ready for a public release yet. The release declaration of this year-end still holds. There is a long wait before we can go ahead and use Ubuntu for Android. Until then, this hands-on review from Android Central will keep us interested.

Huawei Ascend G 300 Unveiled, Yet Another Budget Droid

Huawei has always been one of the underdogs compared to Samsung, HTC and other biggies in the smartphone arena, but it put on a really good show at MWC 2012 with the new Huawei MediaPad 10, the Huawei Ascend D Quad and its new quad core CPU.

However, it also unveiled a few more devices at MWC 2012, which were overshadowed by its other high profile releases. One of them was the Huawei Ascend G 300, a new budget Android smartphone.

Huawei Ascend G 300 Specifications

The Huawei Ascend G 300 comes with a 4 inch WVGA display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It is powered by a 1 GHz processor, and offers a 5 MP camera. It will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread at launch, but will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It will presumably offer 512 MB of RAM.

While the specifications are unremarkable compared to most of other phones being showcased at MWC 2012, the Huawei Ascend G300’s killer feature is expected to be its price.

Huawei will be pricing it much lower than current smartphones with similar specifications. Huawei should launch more details about its exact specs soon. For now, here’s an image of the device, courtesy Engadget.

Huawei Ascend G 300

Samsung Admits It’s Not Doing Well in Tablets; Hopes to Change That

At a recent press conference at MWC 2012, a Samsung executive has finally admitted that the company is not doing very well when it comes to the tablet market. Unlike the smartphone market, where Samsung has done exceedingly well and is now the top smartphone manufacturer in the world, its offerings have failed to catch on when it comes to tablets.

“Honestly, we’re not doing very well in the tablet market,” said Hankil Yoon, a product strategy executive for Samsung, during a media roundtable at MWC. No shit, Sherlock.

Though it is one of the top Android tablet manufacturers, it still lags miles behing the top dog – Apple – which leads the market by a huge margin. Apple has traditionally offered only one model with different capacities, but Samsung has been throwing everything it can make, in all sizes and specifications at consumers hoping that at least something would stick. Unfortunately for Samsung, nothing has.

Samsung has unveiled two more tablets at MWC this year – the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0 and 10.1) and the Galaxy Note 10.1. However, both of them have failed to impress me, and I doubt, they will be the iPad killers that Android fans want them to be.

However, now that Samsung is past the denial stage, we can hope that it at least understands the problems it faces, and will bring us a tablet which is far better than the current range of Android tablets.

In the meantime, Apple is apparently getting ready to launch the iPad 3 on March 7. Expect it to blow away the competition in terms of sales, at least in the coming quarter.

Nokia Asha 202 And Asha 203 Announced; Comes With 40 Free EA Games

Last year, Nokia launched the Asha series of entry-level phones at the Nokia World 2011. The Nokia Asha phones are currently available in more than 100 markets globally. Today, the company unveiled the new Nokia Asha 202 and Nokia Asha 203 Touch and Type phones at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012 in Barcelona. The specs of both the handsets are almost similar. However, the only difference is the dual-SIM feature packed in the Nokia Asha 202. These handsets allows you to access your Facebook and Twitter networks from the preloaded social application.

“Since outlining a new strategy a year ago, we’ve taken significant actions to deliver against it,” said Mary T. McDowell, Nokia’s executive vice president for Mobile Phones. “We’ve been connecting the next billion people to the mobile world and its benefits through contemporary feature phones and internet services. Today, we are taking another step in that direction, with a compelling combination of smarter mobile devices packed with innovative services.”

Nokia Asha 202:

nokia asha 202

Nokia Asha 202 features a 2.4 inch QVGA, resistive touchscreen display, Symbian S40 OS, dual-SIM (GSM + GSM), 2 megapixel camera, social networking apps, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, 10 MB internal memory, microSD card slot, 32 GB expandable memory, MicroUSB, dedicated SIM manager, 3.5 mm headset jack, music player, enhanced stereo FM radio, up to 16.5 days of stand-by time, up to 5 hours of talk-time, and a 1020 mAh battery. This handset measures 114.8 mm x 49.8 mm x 13.85 mm and weighs just 90g. The Nokia Asha 202 will be available in 5 colors – Black, Silver White, Dark Red, Dark Grey, and Golden White.

Nokia Asha 203:

nokia asha 203

Nokia Asha 203 features a 2.4 inch QVGA, resistive touchscreen display, Symbian S40 OS, 2 megapixel camera, 3.5 mm headset jack, music player, Nokia Life, Nokia Maps, inbuilt speaker, social networking apps, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, 10 MB internal memory, microSD card slot, 32 GB expandable memory, MicroUSB, dedicated SIM manager, up to 27 days of stand-by time, up to 5 hours of talk-time, and a 1020 mAh battery. This handset measures 114.8 mm x 49.8 mm x 13.85 mm and weighs just 90g. The Nokia Asha 203 will be available in 3 colors – Silver White, Dark Red, and Dark Grey.

The Nokia Asha 202 and Asha 203 are the first Series 40 devices to offer EA games. The owner of these devices will get EA’s 40-game pack of worth 75 euros for free. You heard it right! The EA’s 40-game pack includes popular titles such as Tetris, Need for Speed, The Run and Bejeweled. The Nokia Asha 202 and Asha 203 will be available from the Q2 of 2012. These handsets come with a price tag of just 60 Euros (approx. $80 /Rs.4000) excluding taxes.

One Year On: Nokia Has Come a Long Way, Still Has a Very Long Way to Go


Nokia kicked off the Mobile World Congress (MWC) with its press conference on February 27, in Barcelona. Stephen Elop, President and CEO of Nokia took stage and described the progress they have made since the last year’s event. If you recall, it was last year’s MWC when Nokia had officially announced that they were going all in on Windows Phone.

After the initial update on Nokia’s latest endeavors both on the low-end Asha phones, and also on the higher-end Windows Phones, the talk shifted to the new stuff. First up was the Asha line of phones, and 3 new devices were announced, along with Nokia Life services which bring life skills, parenting, education, agriculture and entertainment services to Series 30 and 50 phones in India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria.

However, I want to focus on Nokia’s progress with Windows Phone. Late last year, Nokia announced and launched two brand new devices, the Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710. These devices were released ahead of schedule, and were available in parts of Europe first, and then slowly to other geographies over the next months. The launches everywhere were accompanied with a lot of marketing muscle – from concerts and light shows to flash mobs and video shows. Some examples:

Yet, I was surprised that based on a recent report by Strategy Analytics, Nokia was able to go from no market share to the highest share among all Windows Phone device makers. It is even more remarkable when you consider that the phones were not even available for the entire quarter, and not across most geographies where other device makers were already selling Windows Phones.

Nokia Unveils The Asha 302 Budget QWERTY Phone With 1 GHz Processor

Along with the Nokia 808 PureView 808 and Nokia Lumia 610, the company also announced the entry-level Nokia Asha 302 QWERTY phone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012 in Barcelona. The Nokia Asha 302 is Nokia’s first Series 40 phone to support Mail for Exchange, which lets the user to access their emails, contacts, and calendar on an exchange server. This handset allows you to stay connected with your friends and family on the go.

Nicholas McQuire, research director enterprise mobility strategies EMEA for IDC, said,

“By making Mail For Exchange available for the sub 100 euros mobile device market, Nokia has taken a significant step in helping businesses across the globe, including those from high growth economies, achieve the productivity and employee satisfaction benefits that greater mobility affords them.”

nokia asha 302

Nokia Asha 302 features a 2.4 QVGA display, sporting a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, Symbian S40 OS, 1 GHz processor, full QWERTY keyboard, 3.2 megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom, Nokia Browser, Social Networking apps, Mail For Exchange, Bluetooth 2.1 with enhanced data rates (EDR), and so on.

Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, music player, enhanced stereo FM radio, 140 MB internal memory, microSD card slot, 32 GB expandable memory, 3G Connectivity, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, MicroUSB, up to 29 days of stand-by time, up to 9 hours of talk-time, and a 1430 mAh battery.

This handset measures 115.2 mm x 58.9 mm x 13.5 mm and weighs just 106 g. The Nokia Asha 302 will be available in 5 colors – Dark Grey, White, Plum Red, Mid Blue, and Golden Light. This handset is specially designed for young entrepreneurs and professionals. The Nokia Asha 302 comes with a price tag of just 95 Euros (approx. $130/ Rs.6300) excluding taxes.

Samsung Announces The Android Powered Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 Media Player

Samsung has already announced some amazing devices, including the Samsung Galaxy Beam, Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy Tab 2 at the MWC 2012. After unveiling the smartphone and tablets, Samsung went ahead and announced the Android powered Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 media player at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012 in Barcelona. This device is the successor of the not-so-popular Galaxy S WiFi 4.0 media player. According to the company, the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 is not just a media player, but it is also a powerful gaming device.

samsung galaxy s wifi 4.2

The Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 features a 4.2 inch WVGA display, sporting a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, 1 GHz C210 processor, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) Operating System, TouchWiz 4.0 user interface, 2 megapixel rear-facing camera, VGA front-facing camera, Music Player with SoundAlive, Front Stereo Speaker, and more.

Other features include a 3.5 mm headset jack, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Samsung Apps, Social Hub, Readers Hub, Music Hub, Game Hub, Android Market, 8 GB/ 16 GB internal memory, microSD card slot, 32 GB expandable memory, 512 MB RAM, Samsung ChatON, Samsung Kies, Samsung AllShare, Samsung SmartView, and a 1500 mAh battery.

The Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 comes pre-loaded with EA’s popular game, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit. This device features the SoundAlive audio system which offers great sound through a front stereo speaker or headphones. The price and release date of this device is still unknown.