web analytics

Highlights

Smart Netphone 701 Review




After taking some time using the Netphone 701 under the SmartNet, I think I finally got where this is headed and how it is going to boil down. Check out our review of the Netphone 701 and the Netphone ecosystem after the jump.

We looked at two aspects in this review as they are practically married to each other — the hardware (Netphone 701) and the ecosystem (SmartNet).

The Hardware

The choice of OEM, ZTE, for the Netphone 701 is interesting. The ZTE Blade is a successful handset in China and also enjoyed some relative popularity in Europe as the Orange San Francisco.

With a 3.5″ display, the Netphone 701 places itself somewhere in the mid-range category of Android smartphones. Its two-tone black and dark-brown color with silver accent reminds us of a long lost HTC device.

It’s got some heft to it despite the plastic construction and the matte finish all around the body helps prevent the unit from being slippery and prone to fingerprints. The power button and 3.5mm port is on top, volume rocker and speakers are on the right side, microUSB port on the left and mic at the bottom.

The front panel is all glass with a single, thin strip of button at the bottom for the usual Android controls (Home, Menu and Back). The LCD display is bright, crisp and sports a high pixel density of 270dpi at 480×800 resolution. There’s some noticeable LED light leaking out of the side when the screen is set to a dark background — nothing biggie to worry about.


Smart Netphone 701 specs:
3.5″ LCD display @ 480×800 pixels
600 MHz ARM 11 processor
Adreno 200 GPU
512MB RAM
Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset
HSDPA 7.2Mbps; HSUPA 5.76Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
Bluetooth 2.1 w/ A2DP
3MP autofocus camera
FM radio tuner
GPS w/ aGPS support
Li-Ion battery 1250mAh
Android 2.2 Froyo

The 3.2-megapixel camera at the back is said to be autofocus but the focusing is terrible and the images are very blurry and pixelated you can’t even get single a decent photo out of it. There’s no camera flash or dedicated shutter button here too.

Despite the low processor speed, the handset performs well, thanks to that ample internal memory (430MB to be exact). Playing Angry Birds is smooth and flawless, movie playback is good but don’t expect any HD movies here. We got a score of 422 on Quadrant (which is close to the Xperia X10i). You may sometimes encounter some lags or slowness but that’s pretty common to most Android phones.

Capacitive touch screen is responsive and scrolling is smooth. It’s the hardware buttons up in the front that’s a little small and hard to press that’s quite frustrating at times. The virtual keyboard is also a bit cramped in portrait mode but it’s nice that they added some haptic feedback when you type on the keys.

Over-all performance is decent, not very impressive, but is expected in most handsets in this category and price-point.

The Netphone 701 runs on stock Android 2.2 Froyo with no additional custom UI on top, except for the widgets added by Smart.

Contrary to my interview with Smart representatives regarding upgrade to Android 2.3 Gingerbread, it looks like the Netphone 701 will not get any future updates (based on their FAQ).

Will my Netphone support future releases of Android OS?

The Netphone does not support future Android OS releases.

I think it will really depend on ZTE if they’re going to push Gingerbread on this device.

There’s a Netphone/ZTE PC Suite stored in the microSD card which you can install and use to sync data and contacts with the device but it requires that USB Debugging is switched on (an odd thing which indicates the software might not be ready for commercial use).

Smart promises more handsets in the future — probably cheaper ones since they’re really targeting the masses here. The naming system follows the way Nokia does to their handsets (number indicates category, class and iteration), only that with Smart, it will be manufactured by several OEMs.

The SmartNet

The SmartNet is Smart’s own version of a mobile social network and is the heart of the Netphone ecosystem. It is complemented with a suite of Android Apps and widgets developed by Smart to work with the handset and the OS — the Smart Inbox, IM, Social Stream and Smart Center.

I especially liked the widget that displays a running balance of your prepaid account. It’s not really shown in real-time (there’s a timestamp when the balance was last updated) but a nice feature altogether (I think Smart should just release this app/widget to all Smart Android devices soon).

The Global Directory is an interesting feature which lists all Netphone users. There you can search for friends and contact and add them as a friend. The biggest shortcoming though is that the directory is not moderated so anyone can just assume any name (imagine a hundred Sam Pinto in the directory) so it’s pretty hard to verify the identity. This could also be an opportunity for abuse later on (spam and scam, anyone?).

Those who are Twitter and Facebook addicts will love the Social Stream. I just wish they included FourSquare into the package as well.

The Netphone Plans

For postpaid accounts, the Netphone 701 is free at Plan 1200 which closely competes with the HTC Chacha, Samsung Galaxy Mini and HTC Wildfire S which are all free at Smart Unlimited Data Plan 1500.

For prepaid kits, the Netphone 701 retails for Php9,900. The price point competes directly with the LG Optimus One, Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro and Samsung Galaxy Fit.

Access to SmartNet is free for now (Smart says until end of December) so after that you will be paying Php999 per month to get 1GB of web surfing, 3 hours 20 minutes of free calls, 3,500 free SMS, unlimited access to your Social Stream and IM.

In essence, expect to spend a maximum of Php999 per month to fully appreciate the Netphone — how else can you use a Netphone if you don’t pay for net access, right?


The Verdict

While Android is the platform that the Netphone rides on, it is important to note that the SmartNet ecosystem is what makes this whole package a Netphone. They complement each other and the Netphone experience is crippled without SmartNet.

It’s like getting a BlackBerry handset without applying for a BIS account. In essence, you can look at it say Smart wants a piece of that BlackBerry pie.

The handset is decent, capable and sits between the low mid-range to entry-level category of Android smartphones. While the processor is typically slow (most entry-level Android phones starts at 600MHz), the amount of RAM (420MB to be exact) is actually generous it’s more than what the old HTC Desire, Xperia X10 or Galaxy S have. Too bad Gingerbread update is not supported according to Smart so you’re stuck with Froyo on this device.

The biggest opportunity for Smart here is to deliver the complete suite regardless of the handset and allow any subscriber using an Android device to just download the suite of apps, subscribe to a plan and become part of the whole Netphone ecosystem.

Disclosure: The unit used in the photos above was among the 10 raffle prizes Smart gave away during the media event last week.



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

You may also like...

93 Responses

  1. It looks like it is not much presentable in appearance.

  2. Calvin says:

    pay 999 per month for unlimited access? then what would the advantage of this phone have over more stylish and premium looking phones? smartnet? which is also going to be available on other platforms?
    i think they will renew the promo next year. may ruling ata DTI about promo dates extending to the following year kaya dec. 31 lang nilagay nila (similar to the blupass).

  3. Arnold says:

    The HTC Cha Cha with Smartnet would have been a better offering at least in terms of phone design and performance. Sana nga ChaCha na lang. Mas appealing pa.

  4. JC says:

    Will my Netphone support future releases of Android OS? -YES… mine is gingerbread now with globe sim. :)

    • toni says:

      JC: reading ur comments gave me hope with this phone. so how did u do it? how can i unlock this phone? i want to use globe sim n this one. help me pls. thanks

    • lexi says:

      hi … same here.. gusto ko rin sana na maging globe sim ang magagamit ko.. could you give us some guide kung paano mo ginawa? lalo na para sa mga newbie na katulad ko. sana sagutin mo ang aming mga kahilingan.. maraming salamat! :D

    • toni says:

      lexi mukang linoloko lng tau ni jc. dinala ko nga sa grinhils tong netphone, walng mkapag open. haist

    • lexi says:

      aww… T__T pero ndi pa naman late.. may makakagawa at makakagawa ng paraan para jan.. think positive (^.^)V.. Though wala pa din naman sakin ung unit.. :)

    • Angry Birdie says:

      JC was not bluffing guys lol, there is an android 2.3.4 for Netphone (zte blade) also once you updated the ROM, the phone would become unlocked

  5. Ernie says:

    Looks like a good android phone for the price which is great because there are thousands of free apps in the Android Market.

    it looks like smart took the time to integrate the service.

    that BBM-like messenger is intriguing especially if it will be made available to other android or other data-capable phones.

  6. chitokingfisher says:

    downgrade if you’re on the i-phone.

    smart should get the i-phone and put bbm in it.

  7. dan_md says:

    It’s weird that the handset won’t be updated to gingerbread when the LG Optimus One, w/c sports the same CPU specs has a gingerbread update on the way.
    The device’s redeeming value w/c sets it apart from other devices in the same price range is the high-res WVGA w/c is usually found in high-end Android devices. However, it’s probably the reason why the device lags… Higher-res means more work for the CPU especially if it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU. All the more reason that the device be upgradable to Gingerbread, w/cis sure to optimize and improve performance.

    • JC says:

      my netphone is gingerbread now with globe sim.

    • JC says:

      my netphone is gingerbread now with globe sim. I bought my netphone from someone chinese man from tipidpc… with smart and netphone logo.

      When I bought it, may custom rom ng netphone with smart netphone messenger etc, di ko gusto yung Smart Netphone ROM dahil Globe subscriber ako kaya I decided to flash it to Gingerbread 2.3. :)

    • marktimes says:

      JC – what custom rom are you using? Cyanogenmod or official GB update from ZTE? how’s the performance compared to stock rom?

    • JC says:

      i used Cyanogenmod GB rom… mas mabilis sya kesa sa stock rom ng Netphone and kesa sa froyo.

    • jens says:

      kahit sino naman pwede iroot ang Android device nila if gusto nila. I think Cyanogenmod’s 2.3 version modified the stock rom obviously para bumilis yung device. Every Android has this custom ROM option naman once rooted. Hindi ko lang ma-gets bakit naka-highlight lagi ang “with Globe Sim”. =)) LOLsss. Wala namang naitulong yun sim sa pagiging gingerbread ng phone mo JC :))

    • JC says:

      Hi jens, di ko binibida yung Globe sim, what I am trying to say is you can use other sim other than Smart, dahil baka isipin nang iba is purely for Smart lang ito dahil naka locked sa kanila yung phone model.

    • Ron_P says:

      Hi guys, is there a site where i can go and do the update myself? if i was able to update the OS, some said it would be unlocked. if this happens, does this mean i wont be able to make use of SmartNet anymore?

  8. SM Sale says:

    Ok ito! mura compared sa ibang phones.

  9. Jelandai says:

    Smart Notphone

  10. Operation Super says:

    Hi Sir Abe, can you post some samples of the photos from the phone? Thanks po.

  11. U. Tinio says:

    Actually mahal sya. Sluggish pa ang touchscreen. I won’t recommend this phone to anyone. Better buy from HTC, LG or Samsung products.

  12. Aldo says:

    Is the SmartNet going to be available as an app for other android devices? I surely want that app for my Android.

  13. Tess Ting says:

    9,900? too expensive,specs not good. \m/

  14. JC says:

    btw, i bought it for only 5k. :)

  15. iamseventh says:

    do you guys think the battery will not disappoint the users?

  16. Guds says:

    Hi,

    I recently got this phone last Sunday thru SMART Retention plan. Firs time to owned Android phone. Just a question if someone can help. How do you delete Contacts? Preferably Select All then delete. I accidentally import contacts from SIM which only copied 200 Contacts(SIM limitation).

    I’m planning of creating Google Contacts for easy sync. Any other suggestions?

    Thanks

  17. Roch says:

    I’m still hoping they’ll keep Smartnet free for everyone even after 2011. That’s mainly the reason why a lot of people want to have the Smart Netphone.

  18. toni says:

    JC: how did u do it? how can i unlock this phone? i want to use globe sim n this one. thanks

  19. arwen says:

    can you sendme all the detail about it. the price andabout the unit….

  20. quackpack says:

    @guds. punta ka ng settings then applications then manage applications. click mo ung all look for contact storage then click clear data. un la na laman phonebook mo.

  21. shaq says:

    jc what username ng binilhan mo gusto ko din bumili!

  22. hellboi says:

    jc- turo mo rin sakin pano iunlock..globe user din ako.tnx

    • jfernand3z says:

      you can get the unlock codes here. http://www.jictechnology.co.uk/calculator/

      Btw, whats the point of getting a netphone then use a diff sim? netphone’s primary service is the smartnet (free social streaming so you need a smart sim) hence if you’ll not use it, netphone will just like be an ordinary android phone. So if you’re planning to unlock your netphone, better not buy one and just get some LG or HTC phone instead.

  23. MaYKeL says:

    Bili sana ako kaya lang sa kabilang supplier ako eh. ehehehe. wait ko kung maglalabas sila ng iba

  24. Noel Garcia says:

    Is Facebook posting and chatting available and at what cost? What about YM and other chatting? Anyone who can answer these questions for me, pls?

    • jfernand3z says:

      Hi noel garcia. Yes, thru SmartNet. SmartNet is an Android application created by SMART for the Netphone (like tweetdeck, seesmic, etc. that have data charges) that will allow you to post in facebook and twitter and chat in YM and facebook for free.

  25. LFI says:

    @Abe O. How bad is the LED light leaking out on your unit? I have that problem also. Mine leaks out at the top right around 1 cm wide and 1 cm tall. I’m thinking to have this replaced. Lugi ang feeling eh.

    Do you have also a two round spots to the left of the Netphone lettering only visible when under direct sunlight? I thought it was a front-facing camera but wala nga pala itong ganoon!

  26. Got mine @ 5k. definitely wala nang reklamo. will try to upgrade this to gingerbread…hhmmm…
    http://www.tipidpc.com is offering this at around 7-7.5k.

  27. Angry Birdie says:

    “I especially liked the widget that displays a running balance of your prepaid account. It’s not really shown in real-time (there’s a timestamp when the balance was last updated) but a nice feature altogether (I think Smart should just release this app/widget to all Smart Android devices soon).”

    actually mahirap mangyari na realtime ang pag update ng load dahil ma-stress ang server nun.

    about upgrading your ZTE to gingerbread pwede yan, google lang katapat :)

    about the screen, wag kayo maniwala kung panget screen ng Netphone, AMOLED na siya at responsive naman, baka dun lang kayo sa switching ng screen nababagalan which is normal lang sa android. try to update to 2.3 may settings ang animation para maging smooth tignan

    • cowscrubber says:

      Actually HINDI AMOLED ang screen niyan.
      Long story short, ordinary LCD na ang screen ng mga Blade ngayon.

  28. Basti2682 says:

    //Will my Netphone support future releases of Android OS?

    The Netphone does not support future Android OS releases.//

    Game Over. I think the Optimus Net outclasses this for the same price

  29. adobongmanok says:

    posible bang ilagay din ang SmartNet sa ibang android devices? meron kasi akong google nexus s. pero ayaw ko naman mag’downgrade’ sa zte/netphone.

  30. m says:

    How to improve your Netphone experience:
    (1) Use Launcherpro for the Phone’s Launcher
    a. Remove all animations
    b. Use a static wallpaper
    c. set all opening speeds to 4
    d. Use elastic scrolling
    (2) Install a fingerprintless screen protector
    (3) Use the Android Keyboard instead to Touchpal
    (4) Install Power Widget
    (5) Install Sense Analog Clock
    (6) Install Advance Task Killer
    a. Leave only Advance Task Killer and
    Clock, tick all other apps.

    Hope this helps…

  31. mark says:

    how much can buy it now in the lowest price?

  32. ben says:

    i just checked online and it is priced at around 7k, where can i buy it at 5 k, one netphone user said he got his at 5k

  33. Moi says:

    smartphone 701 is good but the battery last for no less than 6-8 hrs. only

  34. How can I have a postpaid plan from your company. Whom i have to talk with?
    Thank tou and more power..

  35. cerah says:

    im disappointed with my smart nephone 701..after downloading android facebook,hard to find its log out tab. added to it, the BATTERY do not last long!i hate charging phone every now and then or twice in a day especially if i am mobile.

    • jfernand3z says:

      Hi cerah, facebook for android is a third party application available to all android phones. its not Netphone’s alone. Smart didn’t developed that as well. :) Netphone’s FB service resides at the SmartNet widget in your phone.

      Btw, You can find the logout button of facebook app in its menu. click the *News Feed* (in the blue bar) above, once you are in the facebook’s menu, click the Menu button of the Netphone. You’ll see the logout there.

      Btw, using the orig facebook application will incur data charges. You can only have free FB and Twitter if you will use the SmartNet’s Social stream. :)

      Hope this helped you. :)

    • jfernand3z says:

      Hi cerah, facebook for android is a third party application available to all android phones. its not Netphone’s alone. Smart didn’t developed that as well. :) Netphone’s FB service resides at the SmartNet widget in your phone.

      Btw, You can find the logout button of facebook app in its menu. click the *News Feed* (in the blue bar) above, once you are in the facebook’s menu, click the Menu button of the Netphone. You’ll see the logout there.

      Btw, using the orig facebook application will incur data charges. You can only have free FB and Twitter if you will use the SmartNet’s Social stream. :)

      Hope this helped you. :)

      P.S.
      regarding the battery, all android phones and even iphone do not last long because of 3G usage (data). but you can conserve your batt if you will switch to 2G (GPRS, lower speed).

      To switch to 2G.
      Go to Settings > Wireless & Network > Mobile Networks > GSM/UMTS Option > then check the USE ONLY 2G Network

    • wachapak says:

      Hi Cerah,

      I hate stupid comments…

    • nori says:

      try to turnoff 3g when you’re not using it. this will help a lot in saving your battery.

  36. jfernand3z says:

    Hi cerah, facebook for android is a third party application available to all android phones. its not Netphone’s alone. Smart didn’t develop that as well. :) Netphone’s FB service resides at the SmartNet widget in your phone.

    Btw, You can find the logout button of facebook app in its menu. click the *News Feed* (in the blue bar) above, once you are in the facebook’s menu, click the Menu button of the Netphone. You’ll see the logout there.

    Btw, using the orig facebook application will incur data charges. You can only have free FB and Twitter if you will use the SmartNet’s Social stream. :)

    Hope this helped you. :)

  37. pogi says:

    hi jfernand3z and wachapak,

    you are only saying that because you are employees of Smart Communications. You think i didn’t know? i know who you are! stop pretending! im more handsome than both of you!

  38. Jake says:

    i like this phone! Will definitely get one..

  39. hardchaps says:

    i will get netphone 701 by next week.

  40. john says:

    na oopenline ba tong smart net phone?

  41. cerah says:

    hi jfernandez3z…

    thanks much for the info’s…i was able to figure it out by the way. Being a newbie to this phone,i need to learn more from it.

    Unfortunately, SMART NETPHONE 701 battery sucks! I am really really disappointed with its battery even if switched to 2G, still dont lasts that long. I need a battery that lasts for at least 24 hours the least.

  42. cerah says:

    to wachapak!

    i think u are the stupid one here! this forum was created for what it is intended to be. i am just airing out my sentiments and disappointment to this sucker SMART NETPHONE 701 because i am really not so happy having it. i so so so regret for buying this crap!

  43. Dk says:

    who can share the SmartNet.apk? pleaseeeee! email me @ dksandimas [*(at)*] gmail.com :D

  44. Netphone User says:

    FYI, for battery problems, search for Battery Calibration ZTE Blade, there are instructions on how to improve your battery. Netphone is very customizable, you can upgrade it to Gingerbread, rooting and using custom ROMs will automatically “OPENLINE” your phone. there’s a SMARTNET.apk out there. just need to search, and yes it can run on any android devices using a smart SIM. For custom ROMs, use Cyanogenmod

  45. Ram_gurL says:

    Adobe Flash Player is not compatible with Netphone 701.. But I need Flash Player to run other apps. What will I do?? Please help.

  46. smarttalagaang smart says:

    seriously: meron ako neto walang kwenta phone at features (smartnet) nato, bininta ko nalang nang 5k almost 2month pa lng sa akin. very disappointing phone… not recommended!

  47. aerish says:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Netphone701/265505140158226
    puntqa po kqayo sa fanpage ng netphone and turuan ko po kayo kung panu i root den install na den po ng dcyanogenmod…

  48. tj says:

    im using this for about a year now, this is truly a badass low end cp…ive recently installed cyanogen mod cm7 stable and guess what…i now run a hacked version of adobe flash fully optimized for arm v6 device…pagaralan nyo lang kung paano magroot tapos install kayo ng cyanogen mod na rom and youre good to go! i even watch live streaming pinoy channels in my blade and so far walang problema.

  49. krizzel says:

    HI IM SELLING MY NETPHONE FOR 7000. COMPLETE WITH BOX. 2GB MEMORY CARD. RUSSSH! TEXT 09226923930. ALMOST BRANDNEW.

  50. paolo says:

    I would get this. Pero FROYO?! Kung kailang may GINGERBREAD? ICE CREAM SANDWICH?! JEEZ.

    Thank god for the Cyanogenmod for this thing.

  51. jescel says:

    How can i delete my contacts? :( Ayaw eh..

  52. lemonexe says:

    meron na pong official gingerbread update, pwede na para sa 4,999 na price

    • Quincey Lestat says:

      para ba ito sa mga hindi bumili ng plan? if yes, san pwede magpa upgrade?

    • Sir I would suggest to use ICS available na po ang ROM, if you know how to root your fone, download nyo nlng ColdFusionX ICS for ZTE Blade na ROM. Sulit. Faster, more battery life, much updated interface. :)

  53. allan says:

    why cant i transfer some files from the netphone to the sd card? do i need to install apps for this?

  54. Jom says:

    My Netphone was stolen last May and it was from a Smart plan. Is there any way to locate it? I was in the state of denial the last months but now I realize how mch I’ve lost. THat phone was barely a week old when it was stolen.

  55. arcee says:

    anong specific folder makikita ang games for my netphone 701?

  56. Mary Mae says:

    Saan po ba pwedeng mkabili ng netphone 701 LCD?

  57. arlene says:

    hi paano mag delete ng history sa youtube gamit yung netphone kasi marami ng nakasulat sa browser ko bago pa kasi to hindi ko makita yung pag clear

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Open

Close