By TAN KIT HOONGbytz@thestar.com.my
YTL is hoping to eclipse the competition with an Android smartphone that promises the best of two worlds.
LIKE the speed of the Yes network for surfing and whatnot, but at the same time, you feel attached to the phone number you got from Maxis, DiGi or Celcom? Or perhaps you just need the 3G line for international roaming or business?
Well, if that's what you want, the folks at Yes have just the product for you with the Eclipse. It is an Android 2.2-based smartphone that also comes with a slot for a regular 3G SIM card, which means it can also run on a regular 3G network while also having the advantage of Yes speeds when surfing.
Out of the box
The Eclipse is actually quite good looking - it's mostly plastic but the fit and finish look good, and the phone is lightweight. The design is suitably minimalistic, with the usual Android button layout - power button on top, volume buttons on the side and, of course, the camera button.
The device comes with all the usual accessories such as a charger, a USB cable and a pair of earphones.
We also got a 4GB microSD with our review unit although we are not sure whether it is included in the retail bundle.
Remove the back cover and you can install a regular 3G SIM card - it's the normal SIM and not a micro SIM, by the way.
The Eclipse comes installed with Android 2.2.2 (Froyo) which should be familiar to most users who use Android, as it's the most widely-installed version of the operating system.
There is no indication whether Yes will upgrade the operating system to the latest Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) but looking at the pretty beefy hardware headlined by the 1GHz Snapdragon processor, there's no reason why an upgrade is not possible in the future.
In any case, while it is largely the standard Android OS here, there are some customisations present such as a Yes World app which has a list of localised app recommendations and the TouchPal custom keyboard which gives you an extended keyboard as well as the option for voice dictation.
So how does the Yes network work together with a 3G carrier? Well, you essentially have two telephone numbers - the default Yes number and the one that comes with your 3G carrier.
You also have a unified inbox for your text messages, where messages from the Yes number and 3G carrier will be shown in one place.
When making phone calls, you can choose to either use Yes to call or the 3G network.
When surfing, the phone will prefer Yes when it is available and will default to 3G when it is not.
Talking about surfing, one of the drawbacks of Froyo is that you will have to live with the default browser and there is no option of installing the superior Google Chrome browser, which is only available with Android 4.0.
As we said, hopefully Yes provides an upgrade to Android 4.0 soon.
That being said, surfing speeds on the Yes network are fast, and coverage is really pretty good, at least throughout Selangor.
Since the Yes account already has a phone number attached to it, you can actually use the phone even without a 3G SIM installed. Battery life should last at least a day.
If you're already using Yes for Internet access on your PC, then Eclipse is an interesting option - you get to take advantage of the speedy 4G network on your smartphone, yet still be able to use your regular 3G carrier and keep your mobile phone number.
As far as the smartphone part of it goes, if you're familiar with the Android OS, you should be able to take to the Eclipse without much problem.
The list price of RM1,688 is a bit steep but there are a number of postpaid Yes plans which will bring the price down substantially.
The only real hiccup in this equation is the absence of the latest Android 4.0 OS - while there's nothing wrong with Froyo, the ability to install Google Chrome browser alone would improve the experience.
Pros: Best of both worlds with Yes and your favourite 3G carrier co-existing on one phone.
Cons: Doesn't run on Android 4.0.
(YTL Communications Sdn Bhd)
Android 4G smartphone
NETWORK: GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz), EDGE/EGPRS, WIMAX IEEE802.16
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.2.2
DISPLAY: 4.1in capacitive touchscreen (480 x 800-pixels)
CAMERA: 5-megapixels with autofocus, LED flash; VGA quality video recording
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, WiFi, USB 2.0, GPS
MEMORY: 512MB RAM; 2GB ROM for storage
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 90 hours/7 hours
DIMENSIONS (W X D X H): 122 x 65 x 12.9mm
PRICE: RM1,688 (without plan)
Review unit courtesy of YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, 018-333-0000