Last weekend I decided to get myself a late birthday present and buy a new phone. Now being on a budget and a little confused as to my options I put it out on BBM that I was looking to buy a new phone that won’t leave me drinking garri till the end of the month and would welcome suggestions. Thankfully a few friends replied.
This is where it got interesting. An old lady friend of mine recommended Gionee and Tecno, while two guys recommended HTC One M8 and Infinix Zero. And an acquaintance who works at Jumia recommended Innjoo i2s(that’s as chinese a name as I’ve ever seen)
Now for the former I had never looked at any Gionee phones until she mentioned them while I (as well as any Nigerian) am already very familiar with the Tecno brand. As for the latter, HTC One M8 wasn’t an option. Spending N70,000 on a phone was definitely out of the question, I wasn’t go to spend all that money on a phone and have to spend the rest of the month trekking to work so that left me with the Infinix Zero and the Innjoo i2s.
Here’s the thing, there was a time in this country that asian phones were looked upon in derision. Yours included was very guilty of that. If people saw you with a chinese phone you wouldn’t hear the end of it. In fact there were certain ring tones you heard and you just knew “that’s a china right there!”
Ironically, my very first phone was a “chinko”. Bought for me by my dad. Heavy as a rock and louder than a new born baby (on the lowest volume, the alarm could raise the dead), incapable of browsing the internet and coupled with dual sim slots. Constructed out of pure iron. Forget all this talk about gorilla corning glass. If that thing fell on your leg – as it did mine a couple of times – you won’t be bothered about it cracking or breaking or shattering; you would be in pain for a while. In fact in a fight, it could serve as impromptu brass knuckles.
That thing deleted my contacts from it’s memory at random and when it vibrated? Goodness! You’d think you were being tasered. I see you’re laughing, I rocked it well, for more than a year. What was the name again? Oh yes! G-Star.
At the time, you could see a phone with four loud-ass speakers, television, four sim slots, radio, torchlight. You could go to war with those things.
But you see apart from Infinix and Innjoo, ALL the phones I mentioned above are asian. HTC is Taiwanese, Tecno is from Hong Kong, Gionee is straight up China, Infinix is a joint venture owned by Mobiwire formerly known as Sagem. Remember Sagem? Yeah. Sagem is/was from France. While Innjoo is a dubai based company.
But things have changed haven’t they? Almost everybody owns a Tecno phone now because they are affordable and of good quality and because well, not everybody can afford an Iphone or a samsung galaxy. Oh and because Blackberries suck. I say that as a long time “BB” user who is using his Blackberry to type this article.
During the course of my research for a new phone I discovered that generally Nigerians have fallen back to using “chinese” phones! Or in fact anything from anywhere as long as the quality is good and it’s CHEAP.
I came across a discussion thread about the Innjoo i2s and Infinix Zero on nairaland where someone made the mistake of mentioning the Nokia Lumia series and got shredded “naija style” for his troubles. It was amusing to see people bashing Nokia in defence of “chinko” phones. But nobody is bothered by that “stigma” again, if it’s good enough, it’s good enough.
Also, with the rapid rise of Android and the availability of BBM and Whatsapp on the same platform, the demand for android devices has risen exponentially. Some of my friends who use Tecno today you wouldn’t have caught dead with the same phone 6 years ago.
I’ve always believed in being pragmatic, and as much as I love the “big” names and admire their products I’ve never seen the value in shelling out all that money to buy a product because it was made by so and so company. Image isn’t everything. If I see a phone manufactured by a lesser known name that meets my needs, I go for it.
Look at this line of logic: many of the smaller companies have a point to prove, they have to break into a market already dominated by the big names so they go the extra mile to provide more, usually for far less. I’m not going to get geeky and go into technical details but if you do the research you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Even the big boys are beginning to feel the heat. Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, Sony have all joined the dual sim bandwagon. Unheard of a few years ago.
This isn’t to judge those who love them big names, different strokes for different folks.
It’s a policy I also apply to my music selection. Some of my favourite musicians are the lesser known names who still have life in their work, unlike many of the big stars who have run out of fuel and are simply just riding on past success.
As to my final decision, I settled for the Infinix Zero and am impatiently waiting for it to arrive.
As Nigerians are beginning to learn, it’s not all about the image.
NB: I want to issue an apology to my readers for the inconsistency with my posts. I’ve found myself with a lot less time than I used to have a few months so. So I need y’all to bear with me.
Hit me up @arielugorji