Thanks to the spread of fibre networks and reductions in data costs, South Africa is set to start benefiting from true smart home innovations and ship new smart home appliances to local shores in 2017.
“2017 will be the beginning of an exciting new phase in SA’s evolution to smart living. Now that the high speed connectivity infrastructure is in place and data costs are dropping, the foundations are ready for highly advanced, connected digital appliances to take their place in South African homes,” says Michael McKechnie, Director: Digital Appliances at Samsung South Africa.
While South Africans have enjoyed the benefits of Samsung smart TVs for several years, the smart home revolution is now moving beyond the TV. Early in 2017, Samsung Electronics will change the South African smart home game when it starts shipping its Family Hub fridges to South Africa.
Family Hub fridges are the next generation core for the connected family. These appliances, with built-in screens on the doors, Smart Things sensors and Smart Power Outlets, serve as the centre for all devices. Families are able to centrally monitor, control and secure the smart home, all from the fridge. They can share diaries and schedules on the screen, enjoy video and music while in the kitchen and even check what’s inside the fridge from wherever they are, all just by connecting to the fridge with their smartphones.
The arrival of the Samsung Family Hub fridges is just the beginning, says McKechnie. Over the next 18 to 24 months, Samsung South Africa will distribute more of its smart appliances, including washing machines, additional smart fridges and even smart cooking appliances. These will add to new levels of convenience which Samsung is already bringing to market through product solutions such as its AddWash washing machine, allowing people to add forgotten laundry items during mid-cycle and the new top mounted freezer with independent ‘twin’ cooling technology.
Appliances and smart hubs will set the scene for smarter lifestyles for South Africans, mentions McKechnie. “A key driver for Samsung in 2017 will be enabling a happier home. By providing a range of intelligent, linked home appliances to South Africa, we are opening the door to new lifestyle possibilities, giving people more ways to connect and reducing the time they must spend on household chores – all of which contributes to a happier home.”
Samsung expects South African premium customers to be the first to buy into the smart home concept, with mid-to-entry-level markets to quickly follow. Since Samsung’s smart appliances will be available in a range of models suited to all budgets.
“Consumers might see smart home appliances as a gimmick at first, but as soon as they experience the convenience of living within that smart and connected environment, they will look to build on their smart home ecosystems. South African consumers are more value-focused than ever before, they depend on brands such as Samsung, with a trusted history in the country, a solid warranty and service offering and a well-deserved reputation for innovation, to take them into the smart home future,” concludes McKechnie.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.