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Smartfren’s New Andromax-u Handset Looks Promising

smartfren andromax u 1

Indonesian handset manufacturer and telco Smartfren released an Android handset yesterday called the Andromax-u. Leading up to launch day, it claimed the handset has had 2,000 pre-orders already. Why the strong early reception? It looks to deliver decent specs for an affordable price.

We dropped into the launch event yesterday and saw that the Andromax-u is a 4.5-inch screen phone that comes equipped with a dual core 1.2GHz processor, 768MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage (expandable up to 32GB). It runs on Android 4.0 which can be upgraded to Jelly Bean (4.1) in the near future too. I think the feature that Indonesian users will be most intrigued with is its impressive camera, capable of shooting at 8 megapixels, with a 2-megapixel camera on the front for video chats.

The handset is quite affordable at only IDR 1.6 million ($165). Compared with other handsets like the LG Optimus L7 (priced at IDR 2.4 million ($248)), the Andromax-u gives generally better specs for a cheaper price tag. Indonesian gadget news site TeknoUp 1 scored the handset 9.6 out of a possible 10.

The catch? From the left: Niels Uffie (Smartfren division head of BlackBerry and smartphone product), Djoko
Tata Ibrahim (deputy CEO of commercial), and Roberto Saputra (head of brand and marketing

smartfren andromax u launch

But how can a phone with nice specifications be so cheap? Smartfren earns a lot of its revenue from data packages. Though the phone supports dual SIM cards (for GSM and CDMA cards), users can only use Smartfren’s data package when they want to use their 3G internet connection, and their GSM cards are only good for 2G/GPRS mobile web speeds. So the strategy of making its handsets affordable so they can earn more from data plans makes a lot of sense.

I don’t think that’s a big deal breaker though, because Smartfren’s CDMA internet connection is quite reliable with 3G speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps. And the company offers 1GB of bonus monthly data for a year for a minimum top-up of IDR 50,000 ($5). Plus, you can still use your GSM number. It should be noted that Smartfren’s CDMA number comes loaded inside the handset, and it cannot be changed for other CDMA cards. So all in all, there’s no contract for the low price, but it is rather tied down.

The phone comes in three colors - black, white, and blue. It is going to be widely available in Indonesia starting on February 9th at Kota Kasablanka. The previous Andromax series, the ‘i’ which was launched late last year, has sold more than 100,000 units so far. For more information about the phone, you can check the Smartfren website.

As we’ve seen in China, budget smartphones will be the key to Android success, not pricey devices like Samsung’s Galaxy SIII.

  1. Disclosure: TeknoUp is an East Ventures portfolio company, and East Ventures is also an investor of Tech in Asia. Read our ethics page for more information.

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