PLDT, Smart boost open Wifi access in Cebu airport, key hotels for Asian Carriers Conference 2015

LEADING telecoms and multimedia service provider PLDT, through its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, is boosting its Smart Wifi connectivity services covering Mactan international and domestic airports in Cebu and the city’s premiere hotels to accommodate the influx of international and local delegates attending the Asian Carriers Conference (ACC) this year from September 1 to 4.

Delegates can access free Wifi connectivity through Smart-powered access points in the primary areas of the International and Domestic airport including the airport’s entrance, waiting lounges, pre-departure and check-in areas, and Mabuhay lounge.

Guests will also be able to access free Smart Wifi at the Shangri-La in Mactan and Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu City, while LTE and 3G Smart signals have also been enhanced to complement the wireless connectivity in these areas for Smart subscribers.

International gathering

“ACC has become an international avenue for hundreds of global industry leaders from the wholesale fixed and mobile carriers to discuss and share the latest technologies, breakthroughs, and trends in the telecoms field,” said PLDT and Smart President and CEO Napoleon Nazareno. “Through this initiative, we are supporting Cebu’s efforts to build its position as a vital business hub with enhanced connectivity services.

ACC 2015 is anticipated to exceed the number of participants last year which drew in almost 1,500 guests flying in from 45 countries and local carriers and service providers who are constantly utilizing the local connectivity to communicate to their headquarters.

Supporting events

PLDT and Smart have long been supporting local celebrations and international events in Cebu providing the region the resilient and robust communications systems for its residents, business establishments, and tourists flying in to the city including the Sinulog Festival which draws millions of tourists every year.

This year’s ACC also closely coincides with the Senior Officials Meeting and scheduled Ministerial meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) where more than 2,000 officials from the participating countries will gather in Cebu. (Press Release)

People ‘aren’t talking anymore’ and telcos are worried

People have made the shift to data connectivity and it is time for carriers to change the way they perceive their roles and move beyond connectivity, Hot Telecoms president Isabelle Paradis said in Tuesday’s opening of the 11th Asian Carriers Conference (ACC) in Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.

Voice, however, is the foundation of the whole industry and the shift away from the traditional and lucrative “voice calling services” is a threat that must be addressed, said Disruptive Views editor Tony Poulos.

In her presentation “Above and beyond connectivity,” Paradis said the world “is going into a new era and carriers have to evolve with it in order to survive.”

Voice is not dead …. yet

“Until up to recently, carriers were busy connecting specific services,” she said, “now it’s all about connecting individuals and meeting their specific requirements.”

While she said that voice is not dead, she added and stressed “yet.” She said the introduction of the Internet into the handset has created new technology, new services, new competitors and new requirements. It also created a new type of user: the “me, me, me generation.”

“Now everything is about me, what I want and I have the power to get it,” she said.

Everything wireless, IP and data

Paradis said service providers have ceded control to users, who want “everything wireless, everything IP and everything data.” The challenge is that users “want everything for free” and they want them anywhere and at any time.

She said people have already made the shift away from voice. Now, data has become the basis of communication and voice is just one part of it. We can do all that we want with data and if people feel they want to talk to someone, they can call them using data.

Paradis cited a survey that said 64% of 4G users prefer to have access to data instead of voice in times of emergencies.

She said that from being just communication tools, mobile devices have evolve into entertainment devices and will soon be a digital lifestyle device.

Asian Carriers Conference Isabelle Paradis
SHIFT TO DATA. Hot Telecoms president Isabelle Paradis says consumers have made the shift from voice services to data and telcos have to evolve in order to survive.

Voice is a ‘wonderful thing’

Poulos, on the other hand, said telcos had it good with voice services.

“Voice has been the same but we managed to present it differently, we billed it differently. How did it work out that the longer the call distance was, the more we could charge for it? It is a wonderful thing,” he said.

“If you were a hundred miles from the power station or a thousand miles from the power station you still pay the same electricity, it’s the same with gas but in the telephone industry, we managed to charge people more because they were a longer distance away. We were very clever,” he said.

But then things change when smartphones arrived and so-called over-the-top services and products rose.

Threat or opportunity?

While companies like PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc. work with and see OTT players as a business opportunity, some view them as threats.

“Many in the industry are terrified of these people and don’t actually want to talk to them, they want to keep away from them and for some reason they’re not here at our ACC event. It makes you wonder why they are not here. Because if we were so relevant for them running their business, then perhaps they should come along and have a chat with us.”

Poulos said issues on security and privacy on mobile can be a potential new area of business for telcos.

But, he asked, with “people talking less and applications taking over,” are telcos losing control of their networks?

“I’d like to know why we can’t make money like the utilities do. When you buy water from the utility, you pay for the amount of water you use, when you get electricity you pay for the amount of electricity you use. What do we do? We give it away, we created this monster. We allowed people to access data for a set price per year,” he said.

They need our networks

Telcos, he said, should be making money out of data and from OTT players.

“They need our networks. We can provide the thing that they need. None of the OTTs can survive without our networks. We have seamless delivery, we can do quality of service, we can bill for the stuff and they need that,” he said.

He proposed to differentiate connectivity into various service standards. “We can sell gold quality standard to companies that need high bandwidth such as those for videos,” he said.

Internet of Things challenge

“Don’t think videos will be about people watching movies, the problem of the Internet of things is that every monitor or surveillance camera in the world is now connected to the internet and that’s the video that’s gonna clog our networks,” Poulos said.

But net neutrality legislation will stop telcos from doing this, he said.

“Maybe we should change emphasis from constantly improving our networks to improving or even controlling the technology that uses and abuses those networks. Maybe that’s what we should be spending our money on or doing our innovation,” he said.

Telcos need to transform into platforms for digital services: PLDT president

Although networks remain a core business for carriers, these are no longer enough for them to thrive in the digital age, PLDT president and chief executive officer Napoleon L. Nazareno said during the opening of the 11th Asian Carriers Conference at the Shangri-la Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.

“We need to go beyond that to survive and thrive,” Nazareno said.

He said today’s telcos, as with every major industry in the world, have to operate in an environment reshaped and disrupted by digital technologies. He said there is a profound change in the lives and livelihood of people brought about by the widespread move to mobile.

The increasing availability of powerful and yet affordable smartphones “has made it possible to put the magic of the Internet in the hands of more and more people,” Nazareno said.

Mobile, Nazareno quoted the GSMA Mobile Economy Report 2015, “is at the heart of the new digital ecosystem.”

“Indeed, mobile penetration has soared from just about 20% of the population 10 years ago to 50% by 2014. This is expected to further increase to nearly 60% in 2020,” he said.

Massive network investment

That shift, however, requires telecommunications companies to build and run extensive, ubiquitous, and robust data networks.

He said carriers globally are “stepping up to this task.” Mobile broadband or 3G and 4G account for 40% of total connections in 2014 and will increase to 70% by 2020. Mobile operators, Nazareno quoted a 2015 GSM Association report, “will invest US$1.4 trillion in networks until 2020 to support a data-driven future.”

That, he said, is the traditional role of carriers.

He said Internet companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple, “have balance sheets that dwarf those of telecom companies.”

Today, there is an opportunity for carriers “to transform themselves into platforms for delivering new digital services – both their own and those of other players in the digital ecosystem,” Nazareno said.

Compelling content and solutions

“The name of the game is compelling digital content and powerful digital solutions,” he said, adding that these are the ones that drive customer engagement and generate revenues.

Nazareno said PLDT is undergoing “digital diversification by partnering with global digital content and solutions companies” and investing in them or setting up joint ventures “in ancillary businesses that add value to our core network business.”

“We are putting not only money, but also our own innovations into these joint ventures,” Nazareno said.

ACC Napoleon Nazareno Smart TechnoCart
TECH IN EDUCATION. PLDT president and chief executive officer Napoleon L. Nazareno (center) with Smart officials and teachers from Lapu-Lapu City schools that are recipients of the latest batch of Smart TechnoCart units, an education package that contains a laptop, projector, portable WiFi and tablets for use in classrooms. (See separate story.)


Partnership, investments

He said that it was this approach that spurred them to invest in global e-commerce group Rocket Internet. “Alongside that investment, we are setting up with Rocket Internet a joint venture e-payments company that will use our award-winning Smart Money platform. This e-payments service will help power the growth of Rocket Internet’s e-commerce businesses in the Philippines and emerging markets all over the world where the majority of consumers are uncarded and unbanked,” he said.

Nazareno said PLDT has also partnered with companies like Fox and Disney and invested in iFlix as part of its digital diversification.

Enrich connections

The company has also undertaken projects that provide government digital solutions for development work, such as one with the Department Of Agriculture that involved distributing tablets with an app that “enabled municipal agriculture officers to quickly and efficiently calculate and report the fishing capacity of the boats of small fishermen all over the country.”

“As telecom companies, we are here not just to provide connectivity in the digital economy but more importantly, to enrich connections that improve the quality of life of our people,” Nazareno said.

Launch of Philippine Startup Roadmap just the start: GOAB organizer

The Philippine Startup Roadmap, launched at the just-concluded third Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) in Boracay, looks forward to spawning 500 startups with an estimated cumulative valuation of $2 billion by 2020.

Deputy Executive Director Mon Ibrahim of the Department of Science ande Technology-Information Communication Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) led the launch of the roadmap, which he described as a list of what the Philippine startup community needs to do. The roadmap declares that its “main goal is to produce the next billion dollar tech startup from the Philippines.”

“The launch of the roadmap is just the beginning,” said Tina Amper of, the community that organized the annual Geeks on a Beach conference.

Next steps are critical

“The next steps of implementing, funding and constant collaborating are critical to positive impact to the Philippine economy,” she said. Amper said GOAB 2015 generated inquiries to take GOAB to other parts of the country.

“We are open to partnering with like-minded companies who can bring this happiness business to other parts of the world,” Amper said.

According to Amper, “Year 3 produced lots of positive feedback from participants about connections made, lessons learned, dreams re-discovered, and passions stirred.”


“We are so honored to work with some of the best in the country and the world during GOAB3. With the solid support of our co-organizer DOST-ICTO and the groundbreaking launch of the Philippine Startup Roadmap, feels a sense of accomplishment in participating in this collaborative effort to uplift our startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs, she said.

Amper also expressed thanks for the support of the co-presenters:, Smart Communications, Smart DevNet, SmartBro and PLDT Innolab. With their anchor sponsorship, they provide GOAB3 with seed money to start organizing the event long before the audience hears about it.

Strategic partners include, Happy Garaje, PRWorks and Third Team Media with AirAsia, Amazon Web Services, 1337 Ventures, A-Space, Ipanema, Monk’s Hill Ventures, Plug and Play Tech Center, Mingle, One Pouch, Microsoft, Islands, Salarium, Pascual Pharma Corp., Frontier Ventures, RTI International and USAID-STRIDE, Metro Drug Inc., GT Cosmetics Manufacturing, Synacy, Kickstart, STAC-Silicon Valley,, Department of Tourism Region VI, Chef on Demand, RC Victory World Trading Inc., Medifi, Partyphile, and The Tide as main sponsors.

Other partners include Syntactics as official event app partner, Globaltronics as official out of home advertising partners, Agos Boracay as accommodation partner. Media partners are Everything Cebu,, Innovation is Everywhere, Geeks in Cambodia, InnoPub Media,, Tech in Asia, Vigattin Radio, Asian Journal Publications, Balikbayan Magazine,, Speed Magazine,,, and


Organizational partners are Philippine Software Industry Association, National ICT Confederation of the Philippines, Brain Gain Network, Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology, Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines, Developers Connect, Young Entrepreneur Society, Mavericks Web Marketing Solutions. Supporters include Tekworx, E-science, Impact Hub, SkyEye Inc., and ventureLab Growth Partners.

“Do we want to do it again? Yes, we want to continue to impact people’s lives. As a startup ourselves, we have to continue to evolve and move with the times to make sure there is a product-market fit. So, we welcome the public’s feedback and support on how we can make this more worthwhile and sustainable,” she said.

Lenovo launches VIBE Shot in Cebu

With a 16-megapixel camera, a dedicated shutter button and a toggle to activate auto and a pro mode with manual controls, the Lenovo VIBE Shot “gives consumers the best of both worlds.”

“It is a stylish and powerful smartphone that consumers want and an advanced camera that budding and seasoned photographers will love to use,” said Dino Romano, Country Manager, Lenovo Smartphones Philippines.

Vincent dela Cruz, marketing manager of Lenovo Smartphones Philippines, said the Lenovo VIBE Shot is a great camera phone that is exceptional in low-light photography. It also has optical image stabilization (OIS) technology to reduce blurring and shakes.

Lenovo VIBE Shot Cebu launch
Lenovo Smartphone Philippines marketing manager Vincent dela Cruz, National Geographic photographer Hannah Reyes, and Lenovo Smartphone Philippines country manager Dino Romano show journalists some photos Reyes took using the Lenovo VIBE Shot.


First with tri-color LED flash

Dela Cruz said the Lenovo VIBE Shot is the first smartphone to have a tri-color LED flash “that offers the most natural-looking photos.” The phone also has an on-board infrared auto-focusing (AF) system that is “twice as fast as conventional autofocus.”

Dela Cruz also said that the Lenovo VIBE Shot has a dedicated camera shutter button that wakes the phone into camera mode in just a second. It also has a hardware toggle that turns on either a smart auto mode or a pro option that has manual controls. The auto mode has point and shoot composition guides for portrait, food and scenery shots. In this mode, the viewfinder will tell you whether the shot is good or whether the subject is too close, among other tips.

Manual controls

In pro mode, users have controls on various aspects of the camera from aperture, shutter speed, white balance and ISO setting. Controlling the settings is via a slider interface that’s intuitive, dela Cruz said.

The phone also has a panoramic selfie capability that lets users take 3 selfies to include more people and combine these into 1 image.

Using the Lenovo VIBE Shot is like “having a full camera but the only difference is that I’m touching the screen and not the buttons,” said National Geographic documentary and travel photographer Hannah Reyes.

Lenovo VIBE Shot launch in Cebu
MANUAL CONTROLS. Multi-awarded photographer Tonee Despojo, Cebu Daily News photography chief, tries out the Lenovo VIBE Shot in taking a culinary photo.


Designed for users

Reyes said during the launch in Cebu last August 14 that the VIBE Shot “feels good in my hands.” She said she liked that it had a dedicated shutter button and you didn’t have to press screen controls to take a photo. She said she felt that the phone was “designed for the user.”

Reyes, who has been using the phone to take photographs, including in Cebu, for an exhibit, said she “liked that there is a lot of manual controls.” She also said that the Lenovo VIBE Shot’s “range of focus is really good, even up close.”

VIBE Shot hardware specifications

The VIBE Shot has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor with an octa-core chip “engineered for multitasking, but is extremely power efficient at the same time,” the company said. It has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage, expandable up to 128GB through a microSD card. The VIBE Shot has 4G / LTE connectivity.

Dela Cruz said the VIBE Shot uses Corning Gorilla Glass front and back with an aluminum outer frame.

The Lenovo VIBE Shot is sold at P17,999 and comes with a free screen protector worth P299 and free back cover worth P599.

Lenovo VIBE Shot launch in Cebu
AUTO, MANUAL MODES. The Lenovo VIBE Shot has a toggle that turns on either a smart auto mode or a pro mode that offers manual control of the aperture, shutter speed, white balance and ISO setting.


VIBE ON campaign

Romano said the phone is part of the VIBE ON campaign for Lenovo smartphones targeted at millennials.

“The VIBE ON brand promise aims to empower individuals to go their own way, by providing smartphones with the latest technology and features that they care about, at a price they wouldn’t expect. VIBE ON is not only a rally cry for millennials to accomplish what matters to them, but also expresses Lenovo’s commitment to making cutting-edge innovation and premium technology accessible to help them achieve that,” the company said.

Vibe Shot photos

The following photos were taken by documentary photographer Hannah Reyes using the Lenovo Vibe Shot. They have been scaled down to reduce file sizes.

Cebu Guide tourism app new version released in time for APEC meetings

Delegates attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Cebu now have access to a handy guide on where the top attractions and latest activities in the province are with the release of the updated travel app Cebu Guide.

Made available by InnoPub Media and mobile leader Smart Communications (Smart) in partnership with the Cebu Provincial Government, the mobile app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store for Android devices and Apple App Store for iOS. The app can also be downloaded from

The guide lists island attractions – from heritage structures like ancient houses and centuries-old stone churches to white sand beaches and island-hopping destinations, a wide range of land and water activities, the best accommodations, food to try, and important contact numbers.

Tapping partnerships

“Cebu is working to make APEC 2015 meetings a success. One of the initiatives is tapping existing partnerships like the Digital Tourism program with SMART and InnoPub,” said Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III.

“By providing delegates with information through the Cebu Guide app, we make their visits meaningful. By using the platform for announcements, we are also helping Cebuanos get the latest updates on APEC activities,” Gov. Davide said.

The app directory also provides a complete listing of Department of Tourism-accredited tour guides, tour operators, transport services as well as consular offices and emergency contacts like police and hospitals.

ALERTS, UPDATES. Cebu Guide can send users notifications from APEC alerts to updates on places to go and things to do in Cebu.
ALERTS, UPDATES. Cebu Guide can send users notifications from APEC alerts to updates on places to go and things to do in Cebu.


Tourist attractions, hotels and other locations featured in the app have GPS data and users need only to tap the “check location” link to be guided on how to get to a place. Contact details are also active and users need only to tap on phone numbers to call a guide, tour operator, police station or any person or organization listed on the app.

Comprehensive, handy guide

“We are happy to support the Cebu Provincial Government in promoting what Cebu can offer to the APEC delegates. A comprehensive and handy guide to Cebu, the Cebu Guide can help the delegates maximize their stay in the country. This is aligned with our digital tourism program which aims to enhance the delivery of tourism information through the use of mobile and digital technologies,” said Smart Public Affairs Group Head Ramon Isberto.

A chapter of the travel guide will carry important Cebu updates, such as developments pertaining to the anticipated APEC meetings scheduled from August to October. The locally-relevant APEC updates will be provided by the Cebu Provincial Government.

The mobile app has a notification function that allows users to immediately receive information on such things as traffic changes like rerouting and road closures for the duration of the APEC 2015 meetings in Cebu.

Nationwide Digital Tourism program

“We are excited to collaborate with SMART and the Cebu Provincial Government to help tourists and APEC delegates make the most of their Cebu visit by providing them with important information on where to go and what to do when in Cebu,” said Max Limpag, InnoPub Media co-founder.

The app is released as part of the nationwide Digital Tourism program by SMART and InnoPub Media in collaboration with local government units and private organizations. The program started in Cebu and is now in Iloilo, Baguio, Albay and Bohol and is set for expansion in key tourism areas in the country.

The program was given an Anvil Award of Merit in February 2014.

Sony unveils Smart B-Trainer running device in Cebu

A GPS device that tracks your runs with a heart rate monitor that doesn’t need a chest strap and a coaching system that taps music tempo, the Sony Smart B-Trainer was developed “with the modern runner in mind.”

Sony unveiled the Smart B-Trainer in Cebu leading to the Ironman weekend earlier this month.

“It’s a fantastic product,” said Jaymie Pizarro, a popular runner and blogger who is also known as The Bull Runner.

Pizarro demonstrated using the Smart B-Trainer during the launch, held last July 31 at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, venue of the Ironman expo.

Heart rate monitor

Pizarro said her favorite feature was the heart rate monitor that doesn’t need a chest strap. The Smart B-Trainer uses a sensor to measure your pulse from your ear.

“You forget that you’re wearing a heart rate gadget,” Pizarro said. She said you can use the Smart B-Trainer to answer calls while on the run if you have your phone with you. She said another feature that she liked was the ability to record voice memos during the run. She said she uses this to record her thoughts and observations while running, a useful feature for a blogger like her.

Pizarro said you can use the Smart B-Trainer even while swimming.

Smart B-Trainer for Running
SMART B-TRAINER. The gadget offers “every fitness feature you need in one device,” Sony said. The Smart B-Trainer is shown above with its companion app, the Smart B-Trainer for Running.

Fitness features

The Smart B-Trainer offers “every fitness feature you need in one device,” the company said in a brochure distributed during the event.

“Its built-in heart rate monitor, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and barometer record 11 different types of activity logs to help you achieve any workout goal,” the company said. These activity logs include distance, steps, elevation, pace, lap, time, cadence, stride, heart rate, calories, and route.

The device comes in a neckband housing that is non-slip.

Basing on a preset user profile and a defined heart rate goal, the Smart B-Trainer keeps track of your heart rate and selects music based on an analysis of tempo.

“When your heart rate is higher than your targeted speed, a song with slower tempo will be automatically selected to guide you to slow down, and vice versa when your heart rate is lower than the targeted speed,” the company said.

The Smart B-Trainer has a built-in memory of 16GB, enough to store about 3,900 songs.

Smart B-Trainer companion app

The device has a companion app, both for Android and iOS, called Smart B-Trainer for Running. The app helps you manage running logs and keeps track of your training. It also has various training programs that you can choose and send to your device via Bluetooth. The training plans allow you to set running goals such as time, distance, pace or calories burned. It also offers training themes such as “fat-burning training” or “endurance training.”

The Smart B-Trainer, however, can be used on its own and without bringing a phone with you.

Sony said the Smart B-Trainer is water-proof and has an IPX5/IPX8 rating and was tested by being submerged with a swimming earpiece 2 meters deep in water for 30 minutes without damaging the product.

The Smart B-Trainer is available at the Sony Centre in Ayala Center Cebu for P12,999.

Tourism in Southern Cebu gets digital boost from Talk ‘N Text,

FOUR eco-tourism groups in Aloguinsan, Cebu are now ready to move to the digital space after attending the Panalo Community Training sponsored by Talk ‘N Text (TNT), the value brand of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), and organized by Grassroots Travel, a local company working with communities to help promote responsible and sustainable travel.

During the four-day training, the participants were able to create a demo website for their community groups. They also learned about travel trends, branding and packaging, blogging, photography, videography, social media marketing and analytics, online and digital marketing tools, and responsible use of the Internet.

Aloguinsan training
Boboi Costas, founder of Grassroots Travel, talks about sustainable eco tourism during the four-day Panalo Community Training in Aloguinsan, Cebu sponsored by Talk ‘N Text. During the training, members of people’s organizations who run eco-tourism programs in the town were able to create a demo website for their community groups and learned about travel trends, branding and packaging, blogging, photography, videography, social media marketing and analytics, online and digital marketing tools, and responsible use of the Internet.

“We are happy to support Aloguinsan people’s organizations (POs) because we see their commitment to promote their town through eco-tourism. The goal of the Panalo Community trainings is to help them provide better tourism experience by going digital,” said Smart Public Affairs-VisMin Senior Manager Atty. Maria Jane C. Paredes.

Eco-tourism associations

Aloguinsan Mayor Cynthia Moreno, during the closing remarks, also thanked the communities for taking the lead in promoting Aloguinsan. “Kamo, ang mga local community dinhi sa Aloguinsan, ang nagdala sa pangalan sa atong lungsod nga mailhan sa tibuok probinsya sa Sugbo, sa tibuok nasud ug sa kalibutan. Diba, nindot kaayo palandungon? (You (the local communities) made Aloguinsan known in the province of Cebu, in the country, and in the world. That’s really wonderful.),” said Mayor Moreno.

The participants of the training are members of four associations managing four different eco-tourism activities in Aloguinsan: Baetas or Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (Bojo River cruise), Kea or Kantabogon Ecotourism Association (The Hermit’s Cove), Chat or Cultural Heritage for Aloguinsan Tourism (organic farm and culinary), and Arra or Aloguinsan Reef Rangers Association (snorkeling and dolphin-watching).

Atty. Haidee Acuña talks about the responsible use of the Internet during the training.
Atty. Haidee Acuña talks about the responsible use of the Internet during the training. initiative

The Panalo Community trainings are part of TNT’s campaign to promote to empower communities by providing free access to 30 websites using mobile devices.

A Facebook-led initiative, aims to make mobile Internet services available to two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected. Currently, over 4.5 million Filipinos use

Some of the sites that can be accessed without data charges are Accuweather and Rain Check for weather updates;, Bing Search, WikiHow and Wikipedia for general information; BabyCenter and MAMA for pregnancy and childcare;,,, GMA News Online, Rappler and Sun.Star for news updates;

ESPN and for sports updates; for entertainment news; Facts for Life for health and hygiene; and Your Money for personal finances, for job search; Facebook and Messenger; OLX for online shopping; for bus and train directions; TESDA for free programs and training; Wattpad for books and stories; and


First of 3 modules

TNT subscribers who are Android users may download the app on Google Play Store while non-Android users can access the site by typing on their mobile browser. For step-by-step instructions, text INTERNET to 9999 or visit

Participants gather after the day’s session.
Participants gather after the day’s session.

The Panalo Community training in Aloguinsan is the first of three modules designed by TNT and Grassroots Travel to help POs maximize the use of online and digital technologies in promoting eco-tourism in their town. The other two modules will cover resilient and sustainable tourism; and effective customer service as well as online mobile payments, respectively.

The same set of trainings will be held in three other towns in Southern Cebu namely Boljoon, Samboan, and Santander. (Press Release)

Xiaomi products now available in Cebu stores

Xiaomi has made available its Mi products in retail stores across the Philippines, including in Cebu. The company said the offline availability of their products will make it more convenient for Mi fans to easily get their hands on Mi products such as Redmi 2 and Mi Pad. Mi products were previously available only via online purchases with Lazada.

Mi products will now be sold at over 200 locations nationwide, including MemoXpress, Silicon Valley and PC Express stores. More stores will be added gradually, Xiaomi said in a press statement.

Among the company’s products is the Redmi 2, which sells for P5,999. The Redmi 2 features a 4.7-inch HD display and runs on a quad-core 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor for faster and more powerful performance. With dual SIM, dual standby, users won’t have to manually switch SIM cards around with data support on both slots. The 8-megapixel rear camera on Redmi 2 features a 28-mm wide angle lens that is great for capturing photos, while the 2-megapixel front camera supports 720p video recording.


All Mi products will continue to be available online on Lazada Philippines. The suggested retail prices of Mi products at the retail stores will be the same as the online prices. This allows Mi fans to pick the most convenient way of purchasing their desired products, the company said.

In Cebu, the products are now available at:

  • Aerophone SM City Consolacion
  • Aerophone SM City Cebu
  • Aerophone Parkmall
  • Aerophone Ayala Center Cebu
  • Cellcom World in Cyberzone SM City Cebu
  • JR.MX in Savemore in Elizabeth Mall
  • MemoXpress in Cyberzone SM City Cebu
  • Rulls in Gaisano GrandMall in Carcar
  • Rulls in Metro Gaisano Colon
  • Rulls in Gaisano Mactan
  • Rulls in Gaisano Mandaue
  • Rulls in Cyberzone in SM City Cebu
  • Rulls in Cyberzone in SM Consolacion
  • Rulls in Ayala Center Cebu
  • Save n Earn in Cyberzone SM City Cebu

Steve Vickers, General Manager Southeast Asia, Xiaomi, said, “Mi fans in the Philippines have asked for more ways to purchase Mi products, and we’ve listened. In addition to our main online sales channel, we’re excited to offer offline sales as an option. Mi fans will also benefit from being able to try out our latest products at experience zones located in certain stores, before making a decision and buying them on the spot.”

The initial list of products available offline and their corresponding suggested retail prices are as follows.

  • Redmi 2 – P5,999
  • Mi Pad – P10,999
  • 16000mAh Mi Power Bank – P1,299
  • Mi In-Ear Headphones – P849

Offline buyers will also enjoy the same great after-sales support from Xiaomi, which includes chat support and a hotline service. They can also visit any of Xiaomi’s eight service centers, one of which is an Exclusive Service Center. Products can also be sent to Xiaomi for inspection through offline dealers, giving users even more choices for service support.

Xiaomi aims to bring innovation into the hands of everyone. Making Mi products available both online and offline in the Philippines will allow more users to experience for themselves Xiaomi’s high-quality products offered at incredible price points.

Xiaomi was founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Lei Jun. With more than 61 million handsets sold in 2014, and products launched in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, India and Indonesia, Xiaomi is expanding its footprint across the world to become a global brand.

Philippine Government’s goal: 500 startups by 2018

Develop at least 500 startups with a total worth of US$2 billion by 2018.

That is among the “ambitious” goals of a Philippine Startup Roadmap that’s currently being formulated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) under the lead of the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO).

“We would like to establish a framework for the development of startups…The various sectors in the (Philippine startup) ecosystem believe it is possible to achieve these goals,” said Frederick Amores, director of the DOST-ICTO Visayas Cluster 1 field operation office.

There was a debate over suggestions to propose higher targets but a consensus was reached on “more realistic” figures, he added.

Rik Amores Geeks On A Beach
STARTUP ECOSYSTEM. Frederick Amores, director of the DOST-ICTO Visayas Cluster 1 field operation office, says that under the 2018 goals of the Philippine Startup Roadmap, government will be able to foster 1,250 startup founders that will lead to the generation of 8,500 high-skilled jobs.

500 startups

To achieve its goal to create around 500 startups in three years, Amores said they would need funding of US$200 million and are looking at the private sector to help them out.

According to Amores, under the 2018 goals of a Philippine Startup Roadmap, government will be able to create no less than 1,250 startup founders that will lead to the generation of 8,500 high-skilled jobs.

“This will all depend on the cogs of the ecosystem working together,” he added, citing that events like Geeks on a Beach play a significant role in shaping the country’s startup community.

The third installment of Geeks on a Beach or GOAB 3 will happen on August 20-21, 2015 at the Boracay Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, said founder Tina Amper. Techtalks in organizing the event in collaboration with and other parties.

Geeks On A Beach
GEEKS ON A BEACH 3. (From right) Frederick Amores, founder Keith Lumanog, founder Tina Amper, Dave Overton of and Dulce Lada of during the launching of Geeks On A Beach 3.


DOST-ICTO supports GOAB 3 because it can help with the department’s targets for Philippine startups, added Amores.

Aside from promoting technopreneurship, GOAB 3 will help generate leads for tech startups and introduce them to possible venture capitalists and angel investors.

DOST places the tentative number of startups in the country at 100. Amores said the more immediate objective is to define what a startup is and vet the current numbers against this definition.

“When we give figures, it will be based on this definition. We will then be able to come up with a complete inventory in the next few months,” he cited.

Microsoft, boost startups with free tools, seminars in Startup Camp series

Most startups focus on their application of technology to solve a problem but fail to think about how to monetize this, Microsoft Philippines technical evangelist for Azure Arnie Locsin said over the weekend.

Locsin was in Cebu for the Startup Camp, a one-day workshop on technology and entrepreneurship held last May 9 at the University of San Carlos in Talamban, Cebu City. The event was organized by Microsoft Philippines in collaboration with

Startup Camp discussed free software and services that startups can use to build their business. A key focus of the event was Microsoft’s BizSpark program, which offers startups free software and credits for Azure cloud services for 3 years.

Startup Camp Cebu
STARTUP CAMP. (From left) Microsoft Philippines technical evangelist for Azure Arnie, Dulce Rose Lada, founder Tina Amper and Edison Go Tan of during the Startup Camp held in the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.

Providing support

“It’s really about providing support and visibility to startups,” Locsin told in an interview during the event. He said the free Azure cloud services credits are a big help to the startups that many work to be included in the program primarily because of it.

Apart from the software and services, BizSpark helps startups through networking. “We set up a community networking environment. We also link startups with other entities that can help them,” Locsin said.

He also said the company helps startups through business mentorship.

Locsin said Microsoft also helps boost startups by introducing them to and bringing their products to “actual customers” that are some of the biggest companies in the country. He said the company has account managers working with top firms who can help introduce startups under their fold.

BizSpark membership

He cited as example Tudlo, a Cebu-based startup, that they introduced to different local governments through its Microsoft Next program.

Locsin said there are 700 startups in the Philippines who are part of BizSpark. About 15 are in BizSpark Plus, a program for more advanced startups.

During the event, Locsin highlighted the capabilities of Azure including the ability to run non-Microsoft Windows and open source technology like Linux. Among the topics discussed in the Startup Camp were free tools, the cloud, and building apps.


In Startup Camps, “the participants will learn about tech startups or Innovation-Driven enterprises as well as ways to start their own businesses. Entrepreneurs and members of the business sector will gain more knowledge on the ways to enhance their businesses with technological tools,” said founder Tina Amper.

The first Startup Camp was held on April 11 in Batangas and was co-organized with Microsoft partnered with for the Startup Camp last May 7 in Tagbilaran City. Succeeding Startup Camps will be organized in collaboration with

3rd Geeks on a Beach summit set in Boracay in August

Tech startups, technoprenuers, businessmen and designers from all over the world will meet again in Boracay Island this August for the third installment of Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) organized by in collaboration with partners.

“Also known as the International Summit for Tech, Startups and Design, GOAB 3 eyes to create productive discussions on building products that make a difference and enhancing​ the lives of everyday people with less hype but more action,” said Tina Amper, founder.

Banking on the successes of its past two events, GOAB will be held on August 20 and 21, 2015 with more innovative minds, funding opportunities, and fun, fun, fun.

Amper said she already received confirmation from 17 tech champions who will be speaking before an expected 600 to 1,000 participants from across the globe.

Geeks On A Beach 3
(Image credit:


Some of the speakers include IdeaSpace president Earl Valencia, Monk’s Hill Ventures managing director Kuo-Yi Lim, Kickstart Ventures president Minette Navarrete, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, SMART Communications developer evangelist Paul Pajo, Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Office (DOST-ICTO) deputy executive director Mon Ibrahim, and 500 Startups Managing partner Khailee Ng.

“GOAB will be maintained as an honest-to-goodness, no holds-barred conference where people exchange their share of truths about startups, technology, and design—minus the long sleeves, coat and tie,” said​ David Overton, founder and CEO of and chief geek for GOAB.

Two days are set aside exclusively for the main event, but all geeks are welcome to join the week-long run of workshops, training sessions, networking opportunities, pitching events, and product demonstrations.

Providing a backdrop to the conference is the postcard-sized tropical paradise Boracay Island, voted by Travel+Leisure Magazine at its Best Overall Island of 2012. The island is famous for its powdery fine white sand beaches and coastlines.



Organizers and the DOST-ICTO have partnered once again with, Happy Garaje, and PRWorks Vis-Min, with major sponsorships by SMART DevNet, IdeaSpace, Microsoft, and Monk’s Hill Ventures.

DOST-ICTO continues to team-up with to encourage Filipino startups to get mentoring and funding in the country instead of going abroad.

​GOAB is open to anyone who is interested in the tech and startup industries in the Philippines – including those looking for tech and entrepreneurship learning events, business and investment opportunities, outsourcing partnerships, and connection with leaders in startups or “innovation driven enterprises” (IDE) in the Philippines as well as Southeast Asia.

​Interested participants are invited to view event details or register at Early bird discount is up to 45% off and is valid until May 15 only. Those interested to be sponsors are invited to contact GOAB at [email protected]., organizer of numerous startup gatherings in the country including GOAB and Startup Weekend, is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, supporting, and empowering Filipinos tech entrepreneurs and promoting the Philippine tech sector to the world.

Internet vital to businesses, groups told in ‘Panalo Ang May Alam’ Communities launch

Online promotions and word of mouth referrals through social networks helped a community in Aloguinsan build its eco-tourism project into what it is now: a sustainable project that has become a benchmark for other places embarking on a similar program.

Jomelyn Manigos, vice president of the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETA), stressed the importance of the Internet in spreading word on businesses like theirs during the launch of the “Panalo Ang May Alam” Communities by Talk ‘N Text and Smart Communications, Inc. in Boljoon, Cebu.

Manigos said marketing is about providing information and the Internet is where people get information from nowadays. She said BAETA was able to grow largely because of word of mouth through social networks. She also cited the importance of the Internet in educating people. The group has a Facebook page where people can contact them to book tours.

Panalo Ang May Alam launch
CONNECTIVITY, RETAILER PACKAGES. Representatives from partner communities in Aloguinsan, Boljoon, Samboan and Santander receive connectivity and retailer packages from Smart and Talk ‘N Text. The packages include a laptop, a pocket Wi-Fi, printer, and Android phones.

Award-winning eco-tourism program

Many now know about Aloguinsan and their tours because of the Internet, Manigos told in an interview.

BAETA is the group behind the award-winning eco-tourism program centered on the Bojo River. The group was organized by the local government in collaboration with Boboi Costas of Grassroots Travel.

During the event on Tuesday in the Boljoon Sports Complex, Smart and Talk ‘N Text introduced to members of partner communities from Aloguinsan, Boljoon, Samboan, and Santander.

Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama said people now understand the importance of social media and the Internet and their use in boosting tourism.

Connecting to mobile Internet

Representatives from Smart and Talk ‘N Text demonstrated to those present how to connect to the Internet using feature phones and smartphones. They also walked them through connecting for free via the program, which is being implemented in partnership with Facebook. is a program that offers free Internet access to a group of websites that provide important information. In the Philippines, Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun subscribers can get free access to 24 websites, among them Accuweather, ESPN,, Interaksyon,,,, Rappler,, Wattpad, wikiHow, and Wikipedia.

“A groundbreaking app, the provides Filipinos with free access to an initial list of 24 informative and useful websites, including Facebook and Messenger, so that more are able to benefit from the wealth of information available through the mobile Internet,” Smart said in a press statement.

The launch on Tuesday is the first in the country, company officials said during the event.

‘Panalo ang may alam’

The program’s rallying call “Panalo ang may alam” (loose translation: knowledge wins) stresses the importance of information in a global knowledge economy.

“These communities are admirable for their own panalo or winning stories, and we see them achieving more as they learn to harness the power of free online information and services through TNT and the app by Facebook,” TNT marketing head Cherish Canizares-Tupaz said in a press statement.

Even in the purchase of airtime load, more people are buying for Internet connectivity, said Glenn Loayon, Smart Communications retail sales manager for the region. He said this shows Filipinos are increasingly going online.

He said the event was “just the start” and that Smart and Talk ‘N Text would engage with the communities in helping them do business. He cited as example one of the company’s retailers who is now a millionaire after 10 years of selling airtime load.

Panalo Ang May Alam launch
PANALO ANG MAY ALAM LAUNCH. Smart and Talk ‘N Text officials and representatives from various communities in Cebu mark the launch of “Panalo Ang May Alam” Communities in Boljoon with a groufie or group selfie.

Business training

Apart from lessons on going online, the program also covers “business training specially designed according to their needs,” Smart said.

The partner communities were also given connectivity and retailer packages to help them in their respective programs. The packages include a laptop, a pocket Wi-Fi, printer, and Android phones.

“Through this unique program, TNT hopes to assist deserving communities in creating new opportunities and reaping the many real-life benefits of mobile Internet. For example, they can easily promote their products and services on Facebook and coordinate with peers through Messenger,” said Canizares-Tupaz in the Smart statement.

TNT launched with Facebook last month, which is the first in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, the company said. Facebook director for global operator partnerships Markku Makelainen said during the launch that is a tool to “address the barriers that prevent people from connecting and joining the knowledge economy.”

Smart, Sun to bring Google’s Android One smartphones to Philippines

After introducing free mobile internet access, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is set to bring Google’s Android One smartphones to the country, strengthening further its bid to get more and more Filipinos to experience and harness the benefits of the Internet by making available an array of cutting-edge, yet affordable mobile devices.

“We believe the Internet should be experienced by as many users as possible, which is why we have launched digital inclusion initiatives like our free Internet offer that have encouraged more people to go online. This partnership with Google for Android One will surely accelerate our ‘Internet for All’ initiative that paves the way for more Filipinos to experience the best of the Internet using their mobile phones,” said Charles A. Lim, EVP and Wireless Consumer Division Head at Smart and Sun Cellular.

“As the telecom operator to exclusively offer the first Android device in the Philippines back in 2009, Smart has always been at the forefront of this initiative, and we’re scaling it even further with our Android One offers,” Lim said.

Caesar Sengupta, Google Vice President of Product Management, said, “Data connections have been a serious barrier to getting the Internet into more people’s hands. We are thrilled about Smart’s plan to reduce costs on app updates and downloads for people with Android One phones — a key step to making extraordinary smartphone technology more accessible and affordable.”

Google Android One Cherry Mobile MyPhone
INITIAL OFFER. For its initial offering, Smart has partnered with Cherry Mobile and MyPhone to bring the Android One experience to both Smart and Sun subscribers nationwide.

Attractive, affordable offers

Android One, Google’s global initiative to bring high-quality smartphones to as many people as possible, aims bring affordable and high-quality smartphones to users in the Philippines through partnerships with phone manufacturers and telecom operators like Smart.

For its initial offering, Smart has partnered with Cherry Mobile and MyPhone to bring the Android One experience to both Smart and Sun subscribers nationwide, with attractive postpaid plans and prepaid SIM bundles that come packed with free mobile data for Google Play app downloads and the latest Android OS updates.

Smart and Sun brands will be offering the Cherry Mobile One phone through attractively priced postpaid plans, which will also include free data allowance for Android OS updates and Google Play downloads for the first six months of the subscription. This will allow subscribers to enjoy Google’s app updates without the worry of additional data charges.

Smart Prepaid will also offer free data allowance for Android OS updates, Google Play downloads, and Google search for those who will purchase the MyPhone Uno phone in their retail outlets nationwide.

Every Android One phone sold in the Philippines will come with the latest Android “Lollipop” mobile operating system pre-installed, and will receive timely Android OS updates once Google releases them to users worldwide. Android “Lollipop” brings a suite of enhancements to Google’s mobile operating system, including a new design language called “Material Design,” notification improvements, a battery saver feature, and multiple-user capability that allows for separate user accounts for friends or family members, among many others.

Additionally, Android One phone users will be able to download paid apps on Google Play and make in-app purchases using their prepaid loads or charge it to their postpaid accounts. They would simply have to click “Enable Smart Communications billing” when they make a Google Play transaction so they can enjoy their favorite apps and games even without a credit card.

Digital inclusion

“From the very beginning, Smart had the singular objective of bringing the mobile phone into the hands of each and every Filipino. That has been our dream from the start, and this year we’re partnering with Google to bring not just devices but also fast and reliable mobile Internet connection to more users across the country,” Lim added.

Known for its groundbreaking innovations in the telecoms industry, Smart has pioneered several digital inclusion efforts over the years that have sought to allow more users to connect and access information with the help of mobile technology.

Aside from offering the first Android phone in the country, Smart has also introduced the Smart Amazing Phone, one of the first smartphones launched in the world that allowed users to access the Internet and features that used to be only available through laptops and desktop computers. In 2011, Smart also unveiled the Netphone during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which debuted a line of Android-compliant, path-breaking smartphones designed for emerging markets. It is also the world’s first smartphone backed by an operator-managed platform.

There’s a new Outlook for mobile and you should install it on your iPhone or iPad

The best Gmail client on iOS was built by Microsoft, several reviewers said on the first release of Outlook, months after the tech company bought Acompli, the mobile email client it is now based on. It’s a “powerful productivity app,” Walt Mossberg said in his review on Outlook in Re/Code. Another reviewer said he deleted Gmail on his iPhone a few minutes after installing and trying Outlook. It was that better than the Google client, he said.

After reading tech writers rave about the app, I installed it on the iPad mini. Like the reviewer who deleted Gmail on his iPhone, I also deleted mine, along with my previous mail app of choice: Mailbox. I found Outlook more responsive than Mailbox on the iPad Mini.

But it is in the integration of email, calendar, files and contacts where Outlook stands out.

Outlook calendar integration
CALENDAR INTEGRATION. The Outlook app works seamlessly with Google Calendar, providing a convenient pane that displays your agenda and schedules.

Calendar integration

You can manage your calendar events or browse through your agenda without leaving Outlook. You can add a calendar event with the typical range of options: designate alerts, invitees and even the calendar it will be added to (including your Google calendars). It even has provision for notes on the event. The feature is a full-fledged calendar system at par with other stand-alone calendar apps.

In my experience, it worked seamlessly with Google Calendar, which then takes care of making sure the event is added to all my devices and shared to the appropriate group of co-workers in the Sun.Star Cebu business section, in our startup and in the other projects I’m involved in.

A tip: if you don’t find your events displayed on the calendar pane, tap on the left hamburger menu (the three lines) and turn on the display of calendars you want to view.

What’s exciting about this robust implementation of calendaring in the Outlook email client is its potential future deeper integration with Sunrise, a great multi-platform calendaring app and service that was recently bought by Microsoft. It will also be great if Outlook can integrate with tasks and project management services and apps in future versions.

Outlook also allows you to view the files in your Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and Box accounts. From there, you can then choose to attach the files to a new email. In writing a new email, you can also attach files from these online file storage accounts.

Outlook iOS
GREAT EMAIL APP ON THE IOS. With its features, Outlook presents a strong case for being your main email app on the iPhone and iPad. (Screens taken from App Store listing)

Attaching files from online drives

Mailbox, my previous email app of choice, allowed attaching files but only from Dropbox, which eventually bought it. I did not bother using this feature because all my files are in Google Drive. With more services options, Outlook’s implementation is so much better.

The People tab in the Outlook app allows you to go through your contacts and when you tap on a name, view the emails you exchange with that person.

Another area where Outlook shines is its wider compatibility with various email systems and providers: Google (including Google Apps for Work),, Yahoo! iCloud, IMAP and Exchange. Many email apps do not work with Exchange servers but Outlook does.

Outlook has an Android version but it is still a preview release and I did not bother installing it after reading user comments. For Android, Mailbox is still my app of choice. While Inbox by Gmail is a great Android email app, it only works with Gmail and not with custom domains enrolled with Google Apps for Work.

I’ve been using the Outlook app on the iPad Mini for two weeks now and the initial reviews are right: it is the best email app in iOS.

Asus Zenfone 5 Lite: big-screen smartphone for the budget-conscious

MaxBlogBUILDING on the success of Zenfone 5, Asus recently released a cheaper version of the handset in time for end-of-the-year upgrading – the Asus Zenfone 5 Lite.

The Zenfone 5 Lite has a dual core Intel Atom 1.2 Ghz processor with 1GB RAM and an 8GB internal memory that is expandable via microSD up to 64GB. The phone comes with a 5-inch qHD display of 960×540. It has an eight-megapixel rear camera with auto focus and LED flash. It comes with a .3-megapixel selfie or front camera.

The phone has with a non-removable 2,500 mAh Li-Polymer battery that should, in regular use, take you through a working day. The Zenfone 5 Lite is dual SIM and has HSPA+ connectivity.

The Zenfone 5 Lite comes with Android 4.4 or Kitkat with Asus ZenUI, the company’s custom Android skin.

Asus Zenfone 5 Lite
BUDGET SMARTPHONE. The Asus Zenfone 5 Lite is a good option for those wanting to upgrade to a smartphone on a budget.

Budget smartphone

I used the phone for a couple of weeks in December as test and found it a good enough device for those looking to upgrade to a smartphone but are on a budget.

The test unit was the white version and it looked good, even in comparison to other higher end devices. The phone is designed well and looks to have excellent finish. It also feels well-built and tough.

The phone was responsive enough to use although it doesn’t stand out compared with other units within and below its price range that I tested at about the same time. Starmobile’s UP Mini and UP Lite, both of which are cheaper, are more responsive and smoother. The Starmobile phones have quad-core processors although Intel, in its previous presentations on their processors, take pains to insist it’s not just about the number of cores but also about their quality.

Asus Zenfone 5 Lite
POWERED BY INTEL. The Asus Zenfone 5 Lite is powered by an Intel Atom dual-core processor.

Sleek Asus ZenUI interface

I used the Zenfone 5 Lite as main work phone for more than a week and found the experience okay. My go-to apps — Mailbox, Google Keep, Evernote, Trello and Slack – worked well enough as to go through a regular workday. Save for one incident of the keyboard freezing, I did not encounter any major hiccup while I was using the device.

Asus ZenUI is also a sleek interface that’s easy on the eyes. My current favorite Android launcher is CM Launcher but ZenUI isn’t too shabby either. It’s actually quite good. My favorite feature is the “What’s Next” component, which helps you keep track of and reminds you of your schedules. I also liked the way it presents the caller screen, with its sleek design.

The phone’s camera is also good enough for its price range. Eight megapixels is pretty standard for most mid-level phone cameras nowadays.

Asus Zenfone 5 Lite promo

The Zenfone 5 Lite retails for P5,595. If you buy it from any of the Thinking Tools branches in Cebu – On Junquera Extension, in Ayala Center Cebu and in the Cyberzone in SM City Cebu – you will get a free 8GB microSD card and OTG cable for free. (NOTE: Please check with the store ahead because this promo information was given in December)

For its price and build quality, the Asus Zenfone 5 Lite is a good budget option for those seeking to upgrade to a smartphone with a big enough screen, a good finish, sleek design and the brand backing of a major global company.

AsusZenfone 5 Lite unboxing
UNBOXING. The Asus Zenfone 5 Lite out of the box.

REVIEW: Huawei Mate7 is a good, powerful big phone

MaxBlogWHEN you first hold the Huawei Mate7 in your hand, what is immediately apparent is how sleek its design is. At 7.9 mm thin, the Mate7 is a well-built device with top-of-the-line specifications worthy of a flagship device.

I tested the phone for a few days this week and found the device a great option for those who prefer their phones with larger screens.

The Mate7’s 6-inch screen is bright and sharp. While it’s not quad HD, the difference isn’t by much, at least as far as I can see. I use an LG G3, which is a quad HD phone, and I didn’t see any glaring difference with the Mate 7’s display.

The phone packs a powerful octa-core CPU that’s more than up to the task of running any app or game. In my few days of using the device, I found it very responsive and quite zippy. I loved using it for work – managing emails with Mailbox, taking down and organizing notes using Google Keep and Evernote, working with interns in our startup via Slack, writing and editing using Google Docs, reading articles and keeping up with news updates via apps Flipboard, Pocket and Zite.

Huawei Mate7
PHABLET. The Mate7 has a 6-inch display, about the right size to use your phone as your main portable computer. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Powerful octa-core processor

I also used the phone to watch a couple of episodes of my favorite TV series The Newsroom, Person of Interest, Forever and The Flash and found the experience even better than watching these shows on the G3, primarily because of the larger screen and the more responsive performance of the Mate 7.

And what a processor it is. According to the company website, “boasting octa-core architecture, Mate7 has an intelligent Huawei Kirin 925 processor made up of four large A15 1.8 GHz and four small A7 1.3 GHz chipsets which are activated in different configurations depending on the power needs of a specific app or function so the smartphone can be smarter with power management.”

The phone saves up to 50 percent of battery life by using smaller A7 cores to run standard apps, which the company said consumers use “at least 80% of the time.” The phone uses the bigger A15 processors for high-demand use such as in gaming.

That explains why the phone was such a joy to use when I tried out a few games in it.

Huawei Ascend Mate7
UNBOXING THE ASCEND MATE7. The Huawei Ascend Mate7 is a great phablet with long battery life

Great battery life

The Mate7 has a 4100 mAh non-user removable lithium polymer battery – a beast considering its svelte frame. I got the device about half-way charged on a Monday and it still had power even by Wednesday night, after more than a day of heavy use taking photos – often trying its rapid-fire multiple shots capability by pressing continuously on the shutter button – watching TV shows, listening to music and podcasts and trying out a few games.

I gave it a full charge Wednesday night and used the phone for reading, checking emails and keeping up with news on Thursday and then doing a factory reset on Friday before returning the device and it still had more than 85 percent battery charge. Like I said, a beast.

The phone comes with an ultra power saving feature that the company said “is designed to intelligently shut down the most battery draining features as your phone starts to lose power, meaning that you get extra life with the last 10 percent of your battery.”

Emotion UI

The phone comes with Huawei’s EMUI or Emotion UI and it looks good. I’ve long used Nova Launcher and when I tried EMUI for the first time with the Mate 7, I found it visually refreshing and actually liked the experience of using that interface with the phone. I tried out a few of its themes and the selection was good.

The phone comes with Android 4.4 or Kitkat, the penultimate version as of this year.

Fingerprint scanner

The Mate7 comes with a fingerprint scanner located just below its camera lens. The company said the phone is “possibly the market’s first six-inch smartphone with instant single-touch fingerprint access to put an end to password fatigue.”

“It enables users to unlock the phone at least 80 percent faster than devices that use a slower sweeping recognition option,” Huawei said in its website.

I tried it on the test unit and it does live up to the company’s promise. The phone took only one touch to unlock the device using my fingerprint – a pretty nifty feature that saves you a lot of time (multiply the time it takes to enter your PIN by the number of times you check your phone in a day and you’d get a peek into how much time the system saves for you – time you can then on the latest viral mobile game).

Huawei Mate7
THIN FRAME. The Mate7 is just 7.9mm thin and looks very sleek.


The Mate7 comes with a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. It’s front camera is 5 megapixels. I used it to take a few test photos and liked the results, especially those taken in low light condition. It’s at par with my favorite cameraphone, the LG G3. The phone can do 1080p video recording and playback.


The phone comes with 16GB built-in memory that is expandable through a microSD card up to 128GB.


The company says the Ascend Mate7 uses a “dual antenna optimized to provide fewer dropped calls and smooth 4G LTE navigation.” It said the the device is compatible “with a wide range of network spectrums worldwide . . . and uses smart antenna switching to intelligently detect the strongest signal, choosing the ideal source for emission or reception of data.” The company said the device uses Cat6 4G LTE technology with a download rate of up to 300 Mbps within a compatible network.

The test unit I used was the amber gold model and it looked really good.

The package comes with a good quality folio case.

The Huawei Mate7 retails for P27,890 in regular phone stores and in retailers like Thinking Tools, which lent the unit used for this review.

For its price, the Huawei Ascend Mate7 is a great phablet that should be on top of your list if you’re planning to upgrade your phone this year.

Huawei Mate7 Test Photo
TEST PHOTO. A test photo taken with the Huawei Mate7 of the wooden robot on top of my computer in the Sun.Star Cebu central newsroom. Click on the photo to view the full size. I did not edit the photo and merely compressed it to save on file size using the TinyJPG service.

Huwaei Mate 7 specs

ROM: 16 GB
Display: 6 inches FHD Screen,1080p (1920 x 1080), 368PPI, 16M colors
CPU: Hisilicon Kirin 925 4×1.8GHz + 4×1.3GHz + 1x230MHz
OS: Android 4.4/Huawei Emotion UI 3.0
Camera: Rear: 13 megapixels, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus with LED flash, 1080p at 30fps; Front: 5 megapixels, 720p
Battery: 4100mAh
Height: 157.0mm
Width: 81.0mm
Thickness: 7.9mm
Weight: 185g (including the battery)