South Africa’s SeeTel Android phone closer to launch

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It looks like the much anticipated roll-out of the SeeTel Phoenix is less than three months away – the 5 inch mid- to low-cost device just completed a Google Mobile Services (GMS) check, says Seemahale chairman Dr Thabo Lehlokoe.

“We are now readying the launch of the device into the market and will be looking to appoint agents and distributors across Sub Saharan Africa. We intend to open pre-orders soon and the phone will be available early June 2015,” explained Lehlokoe enthusiastically on his Linkedin profile.

The GMS process is said to be costly, but necessary, if Google apps and services are to be included in the SeeTel Phoenix. The effort to receive a GMS license was conducted by Foxconn in three months and was the final hurdle before the phone could hit store shelves. The device is also ICASA approved and has CE and RoHS certification.

”I am actually using the demo version of the Phoenix to respond to you right now, so it actually works,” said Lehlokoe, speaking exclusively to htxt.africa. (And yes, we can confirm that the phone does work because his response reached us on time.)

The SeeTel Phoenix makes use of an Android 4.4.2 operating system with plans to upgrade to 5.1 in the near future. It is equipped with two cameras, one a 5MP rear camera and the other a 2MP front camera. Internal storage is pegged at 8GB and a microSD slot is included for extra storage. The SeeTel Phoenix is powered by 1GB RAM and a 1700 mAH lithium ion battery.

“Remember it is a [phone] which can take a normal SIM and a micro SIM at the same time, so you can still keep your existing SIM card if you have one,” he adds.

Particular attention was given to keeping the SeeTel Phoenix affordable. Lehlokoe explains that the original price of the device was R2 500, but that that they decided to introduce what he calls an “introductory incentive” in the form of a generous discount.

The SeeTel Phoenix will be sold for R1 899 if you buy the handset out of contract.

SeeTel Phoenix
Meet the SeeTel Phoenix ST5000. [Image supplied.]
Lehlokoe recommends that you buy the phone in a package in order to get the best value for money: As a package, he says, you get 1GB of data per month for 12 months from Telkom for R499 once off. This includes R100 worth of airtime, with an option to recharge thereafter. Also included is a power bank or solar charger worth R200. This package is priced at R2 500.

The SeeTel Phoenix costs R1 700 as part of its package with Telkom.

“The device will presently come with a Telkom SIM card with data to last you a year if you don’t use more than 1Gig a month. It actually works out to be about R41/Gig of Data which is great value for money.”

The SeeTel Phoenix, he adds, is unique in the fact that it is the first 100% black owned smartphone brand that is Google Approved in South Africa.

“Also it will come with an App called Crunch from iCelero pre-installed and we are hoping to include another one called Chatfly also from iCelero. It is picture based messaging app that allows one to chat about where to eat, what to see and where to buy in a pictorially pleasing way,” he adds.

“Most unique is the distribution mechanism which will create jobs in the communities. As an OEM for this phone, We will approach local entrepreneurs in the townships to sell both the phones, airtime and related accessories. Some will be distributors while others will be resellers. Those that are technical can be taught to repair the devices,” he ends.

[Image – Wikipedia cc by 3.0/Dsimic]

Update: The original headline for this article was “South African-made Android phone closer to launch”; it has been changed to more accurately reflect the article’s content.

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