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$100 Huawei Android Mobile Phone is Bringing the Netbook Revolution to Smartphones

By Wayan Vota on September 7, 2010

huawei ideos smartphone

Yesterday, Huawei introduced a revolutionary Android smartphone in the Kenyan market. The tech specs for the IDEOS mobile phone will make any hardware geek drool – 2.8-inch (240×320) touch display, 528MHz processor, 3.2-megapixel camera, 16Gig memory with a microSD slot, HSDPA, Wi-Fi (802.11n), GPS, Bluetooth, and 3G Mobile Hotspot support for up to eight devices. That’s hot and all, but…

It is the $100 price that’s revolutionary

Huawei and Google have noticed that Kenyan mobile Internet use grew by over 180 per cent in past 12 months and have teamed up to offer the IDEOS for 8,000 Ksh, or about $100 US Dollars, to increase that adoption rate.

At $100, the smartphone goes from just a techno elite bragging right to a phone actually accessible for the wananchi. $100 puts phones in range of schools, medical clinics, and other large organizations that need to equip their staff or clients with affordable, powerful information and communication technologies.

It’s the netbook revolution for smartphones.

Do you remember Christmas 2007, when netbooks first appeared? These were small, cheap laptop computers that retailed for $200 yet could do almost as much as high-end $2,000 business elite laptops. Netbooks were born from the One Laptop Per Child program and its “$100 laptop” goal. OLPC’s XO laptop never reached the $100 price point, but you can now buy real, respectable laptops for $400.

With the Huawei $100 Android smartphone, we’re about to see the same revolution in mobile phones. We’re about to see an explosion of cheap, sub-$100 smartphones that rival iPhones in function and cheap Nokias in price. In fact, the $100 smartphone price barrier was first broken when Nokia announced the 2730 Classic and Synchronica released the MessagePhone back in March 2010.

It’s gonna change the way Africa gets online

With more, better, cheaper smartphones, the shift from computer to mobile phone for Internet access across Africa will only accelerate, changing the entire ICT industry. 2 out of every 3 internet users in Kenya connect through their mobile phone, which is already driving cyber cafes out of business and I see ISP’s loosing business to Android 2.2 (Froyo)-enabled WiFi hotspots.

The shift to cheap mobile Internet devices also means there will be less margin for ICT companies. Gone are the days of selling relatively few high-end laptops or smartphones to elite business clients, with businesses trading on technical skills and support to gain market share. The $100 smartphone era will see businesses compete with lowest price, speediest sale, and cheapest staff. A predicament, not progress. C’est la vie



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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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27 Comments to “$100 Huawei Android Mobile Phone is Bringing the Netbook Revolution to Smartphones”

  1. the way smart phones are affecting and changing lives can not me quantified. it bringing along ease and freedom. I will want to know how possible it is to purchase one of these phones in Ghana

  2. can anybody confirm real world prices for this phone?

    i fear that we are overly enthusiastic, as friends from Kenya tell me that the street price is around USD 250.

    that said, i agree with whats being said about the future impact of android devices – cheap phones, pads, tablets on a free platform …

    *** sebastian

  3. joseph says:

    Where can i get such a phone around Nairobi?
    i really need it!!

  4. Haman says:

    Where can i buy the phone if its already in the market, i hope its not again an offer with Safcom!!!

  5. christian says:

    after all the buzz it is a real pitty that i cannot find it anywhere in nairobi (at least not at one of the major resellers) – any pointers?

  6. Anonymous says:

    the phone u are looking i can get for you in nairobi. please contact me , [email protected]

  7. Anonymous says:

    I tried sending u a mail asking how i may be able to buy the phone but it won’t go. Somthing’s wrong with your address. Please check it again.

  8. Salman says:

    I live in the Dubai and was wondering if I could buy it from here, and how much it would cost?

  9. damasta says:

    In Moldova, you can get them for 247 USD, and if you buy that online, for just only 165 USD.

    Follow the link: https://eshop.orange.md/product.aspx?c=17&sc=171&l=1&i=327

  10. Wayan Vota says:

    Woohoo! Moses Kemibaro has just bought a IDEOS Android from Safaricom for Kes. 8,500 – here’s a photo. Kevin Omondi says he bought his at Westgate too

  11. Wayan Vota says:

    Kachwanya has photos from the Kenyan product launch of the Huawei IDEOS – the world’s first affordable smartphone – here. He says:

    “The launch of Huawei IDEOS could possibly mark the beginning of a new revolution on the phone industry in Kenya. The dawn of smartphones to the common man and woman.

    At Ksh.8500 Huawei Ideos is aimed at the budget end of the smartphone and could be perfect for the market. The prices of the most smartphones in Kenya are way above majority of people and that is why it will be interesting to watch how the newly launched IDEOS phone fair in the market. I got the sense earlier on that quite a number of people are eager to get hold of the phone or somehow as a matter of curiosity are talking about it.”

  12. Mace says:

    The phone is indeed retailing for that much. In fact, Safaricom has come up with an offer for this phone. For USD$100, you get the phone loaded with KES 1000 (equivalent to approximately USD$12) airtime as well as 600MB for internet use. A very awesome deal actually!!!

  13. Matthew de Gale says:

    I was told by the saleswoman at Safaricom Westgate this evening that this price ends next week and goes up to Ksh 15000. She seemed pretty sure… this makes it more than the 845 which i saw advertised at Ksh13500. Bit cheeky of them to make such a big deal about a $100 smartphone that is only that for a couple of weeks. I got one (they are down to yellow and pink) and its pretty nice – much better than the 845.

    Any chance she (or I ) got the wrong end of the stick?

  14. Tina says:

    I bought the phone, its really nice but im dissapointed with the life of the battery. Just exploring the functionality of the phone reduces the battery to zero in a matter of hours. Does this mean that with ideos, we have to move around with our chargers???

  15. Msafiri says:

    The phone is widely available in all Safaricom retail centres, and from what I hear, they are fast moving smart phones in the market currently. You cannot fault the partnership between Safaricom and Huawei to think of such a product retailing at just over USD 1000 and especially on Android OS.

    Like Tina’s experiences, I am hugely disappointed with the battery despite the functionalities loaded on the phone. I should have realized when buying the phone the USB charger would have been representative of Chinese battery manufacturing standard.

    I would suggest that first, adjust your network setting to 2G from the default 3G, and secondly, disable the auto background sync/increase the time intervals for checking emails etc to longer periods. That way, you might be able to make the battery last till the end of the day.

    Anyone know which similar but better quality battery that is long lasting be substituted for IDEOS manufacturer’s battery? There must be a work around to this problem.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Smart phones are simply mini computers. And can run very many apps in the background. An average smart phone has about 128 MB of ram, making this phone a smart phone on steroids with its 256MB. The only downside is that they use battery power. Trust me even apps in background consume energy especially those that try to maintain a connection to a network e.g. Internet or wifi. I have seen many complaints on battery life so here are a few pointers. Try to minimize running apps to only those you currently need, make sure that the apps you are no longer using are REALLY closed, use 2g networks, turn off gps when not in use, and your battery will last more than 3 days! One other very important thing is “burning in” the new battery. Ensure that you have taken the battery through at least 5 full charge cycles before you start half charging the battery. I also saw somewhere that it’s not advisable to quickly discharge new batts e.g. by over use… Something to do with ensuring that the battery reaches it’s peak performance before you really start sweating it. I’m not sure about the last one but anything will do to improve battery life. This Qwerty keyboard sucks. Only thing that saves it’s ass is the predictive text. Anyway… Great phone for the price.

  17. Anonymous says:

    At this prices and with Nokia’s decision to switch to Microsoft Os’ I think Midcom should be sending a distribution application to Huawei ..

  18. Anonymous says:

    I think this is great news for Africa, technology to the poor. How can i get it in Tanzania?

  19. nana says:

    Where in Ghana can i get such a phone ?

  20. Geeky kenya says:

    I got it and am liking it….. I get my mails on the move… It’s tha bomb

  21. Wayan Vota says:

    I bought one in January and have used it in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi as my own private hotspot for my Macbook and (locked) iPhone. In fact, I am writing this comment using my Macbook, which is getting bandwidth through my phone while at a conference in rural Tanzania.

  22. Anonymous says:


  23. malzee says:

    why this $100 huawei android not common in Ghana in plenty? i love to have one cos i can manage to afford this

  24. Anonymous says:

    Can I get this phone in Nigeria and at what price

  25. richard says:

    can i get this smartphone in ghana? where and at what price?

  26. Anonymous says:

    you can get it at osu and the price is 2 cedis

  27. Israel Femi says:

    The purchase prospects is higher in nigeria than anywhere in africa. Why not try nigeria?