Tecno in partnership with Qualcomm on Thursday Morning announced the launch of the Tecno N3 Android smartphone in Kenya. The dual SIM smartphone is the first Qualcomm Reference Design smartphone in Africa.
The launch was held at the Sarova Panafric and attended by Dr. Bitange Ndemo - Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Billy Owino, Qualcomm's Director of Business Development, East Africa and various Tecno executives including Company Vice President Arif Chowdhury.
The N3 supports two SIM cards with 3G connectivity on one of the SIM cards and only 2G EDGE connectivity on the other. The phone runs on Android 2.3.5 and has a 3.5 inch capacitative touch screen (for comparison, the Huawei IDEOS has a 2.8 inch display). The phone comes with a 3.0 megapixel camera, and a 1,400 milliampere hour battery which delivers 3.5 hours of talk time according to Tecno.
The phone comes in a choice of various colours for the back cover including white, black, yellow, blue, green and pink. The phone's processor is quite fast sporting a 1 Gigahertz Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 (Model MSM7627A) processor.
Tecno offers an 8GB memory card with purchase of every phone, with the device supporting up to 32GB memory cards.
RAM on the phone is 512 Megabytes while Tecno indicates internal storage of 512 MB, though on initial devices we could only get 175 MB available for applications.
Tecno appears to have moved from the characteristic of other Android manufacturers to pre-load apps in internal memory, which makes them very difficult to remove when the phone runs out of internal memory. The N3's preloaded apps are located on the memory card and can be uninstalled.
At the launch, Tecno also announced that the devices would come preloaded with Flash Share and Palm Chat applications. Flash Share uses the WiFi capabilities of two Android Phones to share files fast by dragging them to the other phones, while Palm Chat exchanges Instant Messaging contacts between two Android phones by "shaking them".
Widgets available by sliding down the top notification area of the phone including WiFi and Hostpot (Tethering via WiFi). The phone also has a battery saving application.
The Tecno N3 is currently retailing at Ksh. 8,000 in most outlets in Nairobi.
Billy Owino says that QRD reduces the process and cost that manufacturers undergo to produce phones running on Qualcomm chipsets from six months to 30 or 60 days. This is done by QRD integrating the chipset, software and the board with the manufacturer only having to make minor tweaks and customization. Without QRD, manufacturers have to buy chipsets, make the design and integration with other bits of the phone by themselves.
Tecno has plans to launch more Android models including the Tecno N5 and Tecno N7 towards Christmas or early next year. This will include Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices and possibly Android 4.2 Jelly Bean devices later on.