Being a Linux enthusiast, I have had this though of buying a phone on which I can try my programming skills apart from using it as a normal phone. For sure Android was my favorite candidate for its open source development platform.
Recently when i saw an ad from Spice on their new android touch phone for 10k, I couldn't hold myself from exploring this phone offering attractive hardware specification.
Initially I was bit skeptical due to limited information and review of this device on the web, some how i went ahead and took the chance to keep my 10k at stake(later on I found tons of information when I searched with different model number-Vibo A688).
Following is the list of pros and cons which i have felt after using it for several weeks,
- Excellent touch response(much better than any other branded phone)
- Size and thickness are comparable with any other branded phone
- Fairly good quality picture(if taken at a good distance and good ambient light condition)
- Android 2.1 update is available.
- Active Android community providing custom ROMs(even Android 2.2 update is already under testing by the community).
- Fairly a good amount of hacking info available in the android community.
- If you are a Hacker, this is a best option to try your android development skills
- Poor Built quality with plastic body
- Poor battery life(dont expect more than 1 to 1.5 days)
- camera is unable to focus for the photos taken at a shorter distance(ex: document scan)
Basically this phone is known with the model name Vibo-A688/Z71 among the android community and as per the android wiki, it is made by Taiwan based company Commtiva. Following list shows different model numbers of same hardware sold in different countries,
- Apanda A60(China):http://www.apanda.com.cn/
- ChinaVision Excalibur
- Cincinnati Bell Blaze f800
- Commtiva Z71
- Muchtel A1(Taiwan):http://www.muchtel.com/products/muchtel-a1.html
- Nexian Journey A890(Indonesia):http://www.nexian.co.id/index.php/product.html
- Orange Boston
- Spice Mi-300: http://www.spiceglobal.com/SpiceMobiles/Model.aspx?Id=167
- Vibo A688(Taiwan):http://www.vibo.com.tw/CWS/Consumer_Netcard,2c9681c62913f646012959ee62a500a0,,,.html#top
- Wellcom A88(Thailand):http://www.wellcommobile.com/th/a88.html
- Videocon is selling the same hardware with modified body called evolve-V7500
After I got the 2.1 update from spice, I was bit disappointed to see that CPU Clock was reduced to 480Mhz from 600Mhz(for improving the battery backup), but I decided Root and update with new ROM called firetrap Sugar 1.1 from boston-maniaWarning: Rooting the phone or updating custom ROM may void manufacturer warranty, dont try this if you dont know what you are doing!!!!!!
Once you root your phone, you are open to the wonderful world of Linux open-source and full control over your phone, as a developer you can do several different things as listed below
- setting the cpu clock(with different cpu clock profiles, you can conserve battery)
- using camera flash as torch
- using ssh to login to phone's commandline access
- using phone's 3G to provide internet access to other computers(wi-fi teathering)
- running your own scripts writtne in ruby, python,pearl, java script etc.. for different automation purpose
- write your own C program and compile with arm-toolchain and run on your phone
Here are some interesting apps which I have installed on my phone and got better control over many things
- Root Explorer(paid app)
- QuickSSHD(paid app, you dont need usb-cable and adb to get linux shell access, use putty to login to your phone and winscp/pscp to copy files from your computer to mobile over wi-fi)
- SetCPU(paid app, its great having control over your cpu speed)
- Cache Cleaner(free app)
- Alarm Clock Plus(free app)
- WebSharing(paid version allows more features)
- Astro(free file browser)
- skype(save money at home/office, use wi-fi and talk using voip)
- Picture Viewer (nice app for picture viewing)
- Talking Tom(funny app for your kid)
- Lookout(phone securing app for tracking your phone in case of lost/stolen mobile)
- Barnacle Wifi Tether(turn you phone as a wifi router to serve internet for other PCs).