Whenever a new smartphone is launched in Kenya, I ask myself whether it has some of the things that Kenyans like. The land of Silicon Savannah has unique people, who were once described as peculiar by Michael Joseph. While the online chatters and the analysts go on and on about the specifications, Kenyans look at more specific issues. In terms of the phone specifications, phones have become more powerful in terms of speed, multitasking ability, storage and the quality of the camera. But to average Kenyans, majority of them now sound more the same.
Last week, BAKE hosted OPPO when they launched their flagship phone OPPO Find X. At the back of my mind while looking at the phone during the launch, were several questions based on what I feel Kenyans look for
- Can I afford it, what is the cost of the device?
From the event itself, it was obvious that the first question in Kenyans’ minds about any device is the cost. When it comes to mobile phones, the cost is normally dictated by the specifications and that is why the tech junkies are obsessed with them. OPPO Find X is a flagship phone, and meant to compete at the very high. And that is why for you to get one on your hand, you would need to part with KES 100,000. The next question is, is the cost justifiable and the answer is yes as we will see that trying to answer the other questions.
On the question of the cost, Africa is considered a market for the low end devices but I feel that can change if the phone vendors change how the high end devices are sold in Kenya and other African countries. In US and Europe, you would see people lining up to go buy iPhones, but one thing that we have to understand is that none of those people have over 1000 dollars on their hand to spend at once in buying the phone. The payment is structured such that they can pay with time. Why phone manufactures would expect people in poor countries to pay for the high end phones at once while structure the payment for the people with money is beyond me. I get the fact that there are a number of reasons why this is not happening in Kenya at the moment but I feel not enough effort has been put on it. Safaricom tried it sometime back but they seem to have dropped the idea and it would be interesting to hear their views on this.
- What is the camera quality, can I take beautiful photos and selfies with it?
It is easy to sell a phone in Kenya based on the quality of the camera. Kenyans like taking pictures and selfies in particular. OPPO spotted this trait, not only about Kenyans but worldwide and has done very well positioning themselves as the king of selfie phones. But when you are talking about a phone for around 100k, then it has to be more than a selfie phone. Majority of the selfie generation might not have the type of money we are talking about here but that does not mean OPPO did neglect this. Actually they took it to the next level. The Find X has a 25MP selfie camera with f/2.0 lens, a true test and confirmation that OPPO is the home of Selfie Experts.
When talking about OPPO, selfies dominate discussions about the camera on OPPO phones, to the extent that you might forget that their rear cameras are just as good. OPPO Find X has dual primary cameras setup with 16 MP and 20 MP. And yes, that does not mean 36MP using Caroline Mutoko’s logic.
3. What is the design, is it beautiful?
Kenyans especially women are very particular on this and will not just walk around with some ugly phones. For me, design is where OPPO has killed it. Smartphones design has remained fairly the same, with nothing to differentiate different brands. It is the reason why accusation of copying or rip-off is quite common within the industry. With touch screen and desired sizes, it is hard to see how unique one can be with their design. When the likes of Samsung came up with the curved screen on their Galaxy S series, it was seen as a huge innovation. And here comes OPPO with the tiny motorized mechanism on the Find X. When you pick it, there is no visible camera anywhere on the Oppo Find X, but as soon as click on camera app, the top section pop up to reveal both the selfie and rear dual camera. As soon as you are through and close the app, the cameras disappear again.
6. Will the battery last or do I have to carry power banks around?
The jury is still out there on this one but the initial signs are good going with what OPPO guys said during the launch. Charge in the morning and go on with your work the whole day without worrying about the battery running out even for the heavy users. The phone comes with a 3750mAh battery. The Find X also supports VOOC fast-charging technology.
- Is there enough storage space for the apps and pictures and even some videos?
This might not be an initial question asked by many but majority of Kenyans think about it immediately they start using a phone. Those who like taking selfies, would like to do so without stopping because of limited storage space. Find X comes with 128 and 256 on board storage space variations. The two are more than enough for anyone.
- What are some of the limitations of the phone…what are the buts?
I love the phones and some of the things that might look like limitations might not be for the normal users. For example, the phone does not have NFC or wireless charging. I don’t think people who are used to using phones without wireless charging might care much about that. Others are
- No fingerprint scanner
- No LED flash for the front camera.
- Lacks resistance