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Military-grade protection for big-screen phones

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Despite improvements in glass technology, cracked screen remain the biggest drawbacks of large-display phones. JOEL DORFAN looks at a solution called Impossible Tempered Glass.

As smartphones arrive with ever-larger displays, they become ever-more vulnerable to damage when dropped. Despite ongoing improvements in glass technology, the cracked screen is still the bane of many phone-users’ lives.

There are a number of hybrid cases on the market that offer high levels of protection, but at a cost in convenience. Typically these are two-part cases with a neoprene or silicone inner plus an ABS plastic outer case. The idea is that, if the phone is dropped, the flexible inner will absorb the shock while the case bears the brunt of the knock. These cases do work incredibly well, but can tend to be a bit bulky.

To address this, Patchworks Global has developed The ITG Level case – for Impossible Tempered Glass. It is a one-piece case, but has a dual layer incorporating  polycarbonate and TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane). This provides the protection of a two part hybrid case, but reduces the bulk.

The case is specially designed 1mm higher than the surface of the ITG tempered glass screen protector. This allows the user to place the phone face-down without worrying about anything coming in contact with the screen.

The version of the ITG level case and ITG PRO Tempered Glass we received was for the IPhone 6, but is available for other devices too.

At firstsight, both products look incredibly well made. Immediately one can see that these products are designed to give maximum protection to the phone.

The ITG PRO Tempered Glass offers 93.7% transparency, giving users clarity and maintaining the Retina display experience offered by Apple.

The glass is marketed as being both scratch and oil resistant. In daily use this means that coins, keys or other sharp objects in your pocket will not damage the screen, and finger prints can easily be wiped off. We tested both of these features and both claims proved true, while the unit maintains the original touch feeling.

Fitting these types of screen protector can be quite fiddly and I did struggle a little, but the job was made easier by using the supplied guide pin to help get things properly lined up.

All the buttons are easy to use. Port openings are wide enough for compatibility with third party chargers and high-end headphones.

It is claimed that, if this case is properly fitted to the phone, it will meet or exceed the military drop test. This means 26 consecutive free fall drops from a 4 foot (1.2m) height at various angles. While we were not brave enough to subject our phone to this abuse, that’s still an impressive claim. However, looking at the construction and fit, there is no reason to believe this not to be true.

The price of the combination of the ITG PRO Tempered Glass plus the ITG Level case is $48.95. Bought separately the pricing is $38.95 and $29.95 respectively. While not cheap, it’s a small price to pay to protect an expensive phone from accidental damage.

* These products are available online from http://patchworks.us/ 

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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