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Vodacom gets 4G Smarts

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Vodacom has launched two new 4G smartphones to bolster its suite of branded devices designed and priced to appeal to the value-conscious customer. The Smart V8 and Smart N8 both ship with the latest Android Nougat operating system.

“Affordable devices like the new Smart 8 range are proving to be the biggest contributors to the uptake of smart devices on our network,” says Jorge Mendes, Vodacom’s chief officer for consumer sales and distribution. “In turn, this contributes to the overall sustained growth in data demand.  Our Vodacom branded devices combine high quality design with making the latest mobile and Vodacom technology available at a great price for our customers.”

In the past financial year, Vodacom sold over 3.4-million branded devices, accounting for over 30% of the total device sales.

Since launching the range 11 years ago, the Vodafone Group has shipped more than 100-million devices to its various businesses across the continent. The devices were first launched in 2006 to reduce the cost for customers to own the latest mobile technology. The Vrange includes 3G and 4G smartphones, tablets, mobile data products and broadband routers.

Vodacom provided the following pricing and specifications on the new devices:

Vodacom Smart V8- @ R199PMx 24 months on a uChoose Flexi 150. Prepaid price R3 599

The Smart V8 has top of the range features like a fingerprint sensor, 5.5” Full HD screen with reinforced 2.5D Dragontrail glass, high spec 16 megapixel (MP) rear and 8MP front camera with dual flash and 3000 milliamp hour battery. It has already won a 2017 World iF Design Award for the premium look and feel, underpinned by its elegant and durable full-metal casing. Its powerful processor can stream media at speeds of up to 300 megabits per second (Mbps) over Vodacom’s 4G network.

Vodacom Smart N8- @ R129PMx 24 months on a uChoose Flexi 110. Prepaid price R1 999

The Smart N8 (another winner at the 2017 World iF Design Awards) has a fingerprint sensor which provides increased security and enhanced parental controls on the device. Parents can control which apps their children can access, or temporarily unlock apps as a reward using their fingerprint.

The Vodafone Smart N8 is also great for those wanting to watch videos anywhere at any time, with a 5” screen, dual front speaker, 10GB of available storage (that can be increased by up to 32GB with a microSD card) and good battery power.

Vodacom expects to launch another two devices later this year- the Smart Tab N8 and the Smart Vodafone Smart E8.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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