Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro – a Great Budget Android Phone?

Among my usual habits, I will check availability and prices of phones on Incomm and I was surprised to see the Xperia Mini Pro going for B$378.

This phone seems to be a phone I would buy, if I didn’t buy my LG Optimus One, as a great budget Android phone which seems to have the least compromises. Check out the video that I managed to get at Incomm as I played with the device.

Notable Specifications

  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread: the current major version of Android of phones
  • Connectivity: 3G (HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • 3" HVGA (320×480) screen: a bit small in size but good resolution that is widely supported by all apps
  • Slide out landscape QWERTY keyboard
  • 1GHz Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 205 GPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 400MB for apps (according to GSM Arena): a bit small but acceptable for a budget phone and sadly (for Arc users) it is the same amount as the Arc based on Sony’s specs which says up to 320MB (Arc vs Mini Pro)
  • 5MP rear camera with autofocus, flash and 720p video recording (auto focus while recording video, recorded in mp4 encoded with h264, aac)
  • VGA front facing camera for video calls
  • Supports Adobe Flash
  • Plays 720p videos (mp4 encoded with h264,aac)
  • Can open PDFs and Microsoft Office documents (doc,docs,xls,xlsx,ppt,pptx)
  • microSD support up to 32GB
  • 1200mAh battery

Full specifications at Sony Ericsson or GSM Arena

I really like that this budget phone seems to have practically no compromises for a budget phone: there doesn’t seem to be any major show stoppers. Most budget phones will have no front facing cameras and won’t have cameras that can record 720p. A budget phone won’t have a keyboard nor a 1GHz CPU. The CPU couple with a GPU and sufficient RAM should ensure this device is smooth and usable for the regular user.

The main issue is the small 3" size of the screen (iPhone: 3.5", Optimus One & Wildfire S: 3.2", Galaxy Mini: 3.14"): a small size coupled with a high resolution may make some text small to read and will make using the onscreen keyboard a bit difficult. Thankfully there is a physical keyboard on the Xperia Mini that should help alleviate this (as long as the keyboard is good and usable). Also the smaller 1200mAh battery (vs 1500mAh of the Optimus One) may give it less battery life, but that also depends on the amount of work being done: with a better CPU, the same amount of work may require less energy from the Xperia Mini. I guess we’ll just have to wait for more in-depth reviews with battery life scores and this is the main unknown factor at the moment. Another compromise would possible be the UMTS frequency band support with it only being dual (900/2100) or triband (800/1900/2100) depending on where it is purchased but I don’t think this will affect many. Most of these issues/compromises are acceptable for a budget device.

With that said, I think I could tentatively highly recommend this phone to users but only after they take a look at it and try to use the keyboard and check to see if the text is too small on the device; and also after some battery life tests are published – all the features are of no use if the battery life is bad. From my use with it, the screen and text size seem fine but my fat thumbs did have a bit of an issue with typing. It could play 720p video, Flash video and even edit office documents. Overall a snappy device and I’m just very impressed at what Sony Ericsson managed to pack on this device hitting all the right check boxes giving the user minimal compromises. Great job Sony Ericsson, now improve your higher end devices!

Sample Photos (note front camera was covered with a thin plastic film):

Sample Video from rear camera:

Advertisement

Acer Iconia A500 Debunking Misinformation from Brunei Times

I’m pretty happy that @denogoh likes to cover Android but I was pretty sad to see that some of the arguments he made regards to the A500 where just wrong or could be misinformation. This article came out in the Brunei Times on Wednesday 18th May 2011. Below is a screenshot of the E-Paper version

the A500 has a proper-sized USB slot. The list of things you could do with this fabulous gadget include transferring files from pendrive or external harddisk, plug a dongle for Internet wherever you go in the world, very easily find a cable to connect to whatever you want to connect it to)

Just because there is a USB port doesn’t mean it will support any USB device: it needs the necessary drivers for the OS to communicate with the USB device. For instance, there is no mouse support yet (but is supposed to come soon with an over-the-air upgrade). It seems some people are working to get a 3G USB dongle to work with some success but it doesn’t look like something for a regular user.

not to mention it’s quite light (lighter than the iPad 2)

But it is not lighter than the iPad 2 which according to Apple specs is 1.33pounds (601g) for the Wi-Fi only model and 1.35 pounds (613g) for Wi-Fi+3G model. The Acer Iconia A500 is “0.4 pounds heavier than the iPad 2” according to Laptopmag.com while Gigaom reports the weight to be 1.69 pounds and Carrypad reports: 765g. All 3 different sources say that it is heavier.

The video capabilities of the tab is not something to boast about as well, but you do get 1080p later this year

While it does not support extra codecs, the standard H264 in MP4 format, AAC, MP3 should all work fine and they are the typical formats available: similar to the iPad 2. Otherwise software decoding could be used though players like RockPlayer Lite to play files that is not initially supported. Currently 720p output is available with 1080p output to come in the future.

Currently the A500 32GB version is going for B$728 at Concepts which is cheaper than a 32GB iPad at B$798 (however there is a 16GB iPad2 which is cheaper, currently it seems that the 16GB A500 is not brought in). @mfirdaus and I will try do a (possible live stream) video later doing an overview of Honeycomb and the device itself

iPad 2 Launch in Brunei

So today was the launch of the iPad 2 in Brunei and @mfirdaus and I managed to do a bit of live streaming coverage. I got there just before 9am and noticed that there already was a queue of about 10 people but soon after that when the AV staff arrived on the scene they put up a proper queue with queue posts and a with a nice little sign.

I asked the AV staff on hand about how many units they have, and was told “alot” and not to worry. But sadly about 15 minutes after that @JustCinful went in to get hers, but was told that there were no more 3G models in stock and could only pre-order. She was about 50th in the queue, so there weren’t that many people before her. I honestly wish AV gave a specific number of units rather than a vague terms like “a lot”.


Above is a Photosynth panoramic image at 10:08am after the first batch of 20 went in.

At about 3:30pm after recording a uploading the video and did some other recording, I went to AV and they still had Wi-Fi models in stock. Final prices are below and contact AV on Facebook, Twitter (@ave_brunei) or call them at +673 223 7650 (Kiulap) / +673 245 6436 (Mall)

iPad 2 Wi-FI

  • 16GB: B$668 / B$696 (Cash/Normal)
  • 32GB: B$798 / B$832 (Cash/Normal)
  • 64GB: B$928 / B$967 (Cash/Normal)

iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G

  • 16GB: B$848 / B$884 (Cash/Normal)
  • 32GB: B978 / B$1019 (Cash/Normal)
  • 64GB: B$1108 / B$1155 (Cash/Normal)

Check out the edited live coverage video below

Brunei iPad 2 Pricing from AV Electronics

I believe I’ve stumbled upon the iPad 2 pricing for tomorrow’s launch. Cash price is matches as Singapore’s prices.
** hint: check the Facebook link for iPad 1 and improvise ;-) **
**update: yup prices are confirmed correct**

iPad 2 Wi-FI

  • 16GB: B$668 / B$696 (Cash/Normal)
  • 32GB: B$798 / B$832 (Cash/Normal)
  • 64GB: B$928 / B$967 (Cash/Normal)

iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G

  • 16GB: B$848 / B$884 (Cash/Normal)
  • 32GB: B978 / B$1019 (Cash/Normal)
  • 64GB: B$1108 / B$1155 (Cash/Normal)

Health Promotion Campaign

The Health Promotion Centre is currently holding a Health Promotion Campaign that started last week. As you can see below from the schedule that have sent out this week is vaccination week and according to their Facebook page there will be a “Healthy Cooking Demo” by RBC and Serikandi at 9am and 230pm on Friday. It is free and a first come first serve basis.

As a takeaway from this campaign, I hope this sets an example for other departments/organizer to invite bloggers and also to organize events during non-working hours for people with regular day jobs to attend. Perhaps also a full program with times for each program so it will be easier for people just to pop by if they are free. Perhaps I’m being too idealistic but if they want participate, and not just newspaper coverage, it needs to be done after office hours. I commend the Health Promotion Board for being proactive in inviting bloggers and also being active on their Facebook and Twitter pages: other organizations should take some tips from them

P.S. I would like to thank Shahiran (or @TalkingAloudBru as he is known online) for formally inviting to Bruneian bloggers (myself included) to participate in the 3 week program. Sadly last week was a very busy week as I was involved with some Easter preparations on top of a regular 8-5 day job. Hope to check out a few of their things events / exhibitions soon.

Brunei’s Mobile Network Code

This stems from a comment by faye. Seems that the phone usually detects the values from the SIM card as my Android phone auto populates the MCC and MNC fields but for some non-mainstream phones these values may need to be manually entered

A Mobile Network Code (MNC) is used in combination with a Mobile Country Code (MCC) (also known as a “MCC / MNC tuple”) to uniquely identify a mobile phone operator/carrier using the GSM, CDMA, iDEN, TETRA and UMTS public land mobile networks and some satellite mobile networks. The ITU-T Recommendation E.212 defines mobile country codes.
The following tables contain the complete list of mobile phone operators. Country information is provided for completeness, though this information is best obtained from theList of mobile country codes page, where ISO 3166-1 country codes are also cross referenced.
The MNC and MCC values within the table are decimal numbers.

Source: Wikipedia

Getting Android to play nice with DST’s Internet and MMS APNs (and bmobile too)

It all started off with a tweet from @marul69:

@thewheat do you have DST mms settings working for Android OS?

and so begun the quest to get MMS settings working on Android. Several months ago I tried configuring it on my sister’s HTC Desire, but unfortunately that fight was lost many a times. But today, triumphantly and after some fussing around I managed to get it working. Finally. Settings are below

b-mobile users refer here but I can’t guarantee that it works as I’m not in Brunei and don’t have a bmobile line to test

Internet APN:

  • Name: dst.internet
  • APN: dst.internet
  • Proxy: <Not set>
  • Port: <Not set>
  • Username: <Not set>
  • Password: <Not set>
  • Server: <Not set>
  • MMSC: <Not set>
  • MMS proxy: <Not set>
  • MMS port: <Not set>
  • MCC: 528 (for other carriers this should be different. this value was automatically set by the phone)
  • MNC: 11 (for other carriers this should be different. this value was automatically set by the phone)
  • Authentication Type: <Not set>
  • APN Type: default

MMS APN:

  • Name: dst.mms
  • APN: dst.mms
  • Proxy: <Not set>
  • Port: <Not set>
  • Username: mms
  • Password: mms
  • Server: <Not set>
  • MMSC: http://mms.dst.com.bn/mmsc
  • MMS proxy: 10.100.6.101
  • MMS port: 3130
  • MCC: 528 (for other carriers this should be different. this value was automatically set by the phone)
  • MNC: 11 (for other carriers this should be different. this value was automatically set by the phone)
  • Authentication Type: <Not set>
  • APN Type: mms

If all goes well, the APN screen will be as shown below, with only the dst.internet APN being selectable with the radio button on the right. This signifies that when mobile data is enabled, it will use dst.internet for Internet access. If APN Type of “mms” is not specified, there will be a radio button next to the dst.mms configuration which needs to be selected in order to send and receive MMSs. The problem with that is, the dst.mms does not provide Internet access so you will not be able to access the Internet unless you manually select dst.internet as the APN which is very inconvenient. This led me to find out the importance of the APN Type value that was found after trying some Googling and landing on Ausdroid’s APN page. So thanks to Ausdroid and hopefully this will help all those having trouble with their Android phone and MMS.

Full screenshot reference of APN configurations:

DST Internet Settings
DST Internet Settings
DST MMS Settings
DST MMS Settings
ICS settings
Android 4.x DST Internet Settings
dstAPNICS2
Android 4.x DST MMS Settings

bmobile

I can’t guarantee these values work as I’m not in Brunei, so please test and let me know in the comments.

Internet APN:

  • Name: bmobilewap
  • APN: bmobilewap
  • Proxy: <Not set>
  • Port: <Not set>
  • Username: <Not set>
  • Password: <Not set>
  • Server: <Not set>
  • MMSC: <Not set>
  • MMS proxy: <Not set>
  • MMS port: <Not set>
  • Authentication Type: <Not set>
  • APN Type: default

MMS APN:

  • Name: bmobilemms
  • APN: bmobilemms
  • Proxy: <Not set>
  • Port: <Not set>
  • Username: mms
  • Password: mms
  • Server: <Not set>
  • MMSC: http://mms.bmobile.com.bn/was
  • MMS proxy: 129.9.10.20
  • MMS port: 6500
  • Authentication Type: <Not set>
  • APN Type: mms

SMARTER Seeks Help to Develop App for ‘e-pad’

When I read this article about SMARTER Brunei seeking for help with regards to developing an e-Visual Communication System (VSC) to help their autistic individuals, I thought it would be a great opportunity for the community to help out. They plan to use an Android 2.2 tablet called an “e-pad”. I have pledged to code the application and am seeking out anybody else willing to help out in this project. So far there is some support from @emmagoodegg and @bahit. Anybody else interested do comment and specify what you can help out on.

Things to do in the near future: talk to the people in charge and get the specifications on the application.

Streaming UBD FM

With UBD FM recently being featured on ProjekBrunei and EmmaGoodEgg’s tweet I thought this would be an appropriate time for me to post this.

It seems there is no easy surefire way to get the URL’s to play on all platforms. Some players recognize all URLs some recognize only some. The best bet is to try each one I’ve summarized most below:

Hope that helps you enjoy UBD FM on any platform that you may have =)

School Term and Public Holiday Dates for Brunei in 2011

Source: CFBT (PDF file), Brunei’s Information Department

Term Dates for School & Colleges

Term I: Mon 3 January to Thurs 17 March (51 days)
Term II: Mon 28 March to Mon 6 June (50 days)
Term III: Mon 20 June to Thurs 18 August (47 days)
Term IV: Mon 05 September to Wed 30 November (52 days)

Term Holidays for School & Colleges

Term I: Fri 18 March to Sun 27 March (10 days)
Term II: Tues 7 June to Sun 19 June (13 days)
Term III: Sat 20 August to Sun 4 September (16 days)
Term IV: Thurs 1 December to Sat 31 December (31 days)

Public Holidays

Sat 1 January: New Year’s Day
Thurs 3 February: Chinese New Year
Tues 15 February: Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
Wed 23 February: 27th National Day
Fri 18 March to Sun 27 March: 1st Term Holidays
Tues 31 May: Anniversary of RBAF
Tues 7 June to Sun 19 June: 2nd Term Holidays
Wed 29 June * : Israk Mikraj
Sat 16 July: HM the Sultan’s 66th Birthday (in substitution for Fri 15 July)
Mon 1 August * : 1st of Ramadhan
Wed 17 August: * Revelation of the Koran
Tues & Wed 30 & 31 August * : Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 1432
Sat 20 August to Sun 4 September: 3rd Term Holidays
Mon 7 November * : Hari Raya Aidil Adha
Mon 28 November * : 1st Hijrah 1433
Mon 26 December: Christmas Day (in substitution for Sun 25 December)
Thurs 1 December to Sat 31 December: 4th Term Holidays

* Subject to alteration