The Kenyan smartphone market is still very young, however, Chinese OEMs seem to have noticed the huge potential in the same market.
As a result, there are quite a few interesting phones here, ranging from high-end flagships to the very low-end of the spectrum, be it the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Moto Z, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Sony Xperia XZ, HTC 10, OnePlus 3, Huawei Mate 9 or even Huawei P9 – you’ll find them all at Jumia, KiliMall and other retailers in the country.
But as you know, the above-mentioned phones have price tags of not less than ksh 50,000. In fact, if you are looking to experience what the latest Android 7.0 Nougat OS feels like on your phone, the guaranteed route to take would be the high-end market. The likes of Samsung, HTC, Sony, Motorola, Huawei, OnePlus and of course, Google, have already rolled out the latest Nougat treat to their flagships from 2016. But the story is quite different when it comes to entry-level and mid-range phones in this market.
What if spending ksh 50,000 on a smartphone is not just your thing, despite the burning desire to have the latest Android 7.0 Nougat OS running the show on your phone? Well, fret not for we have found quite a limited number of phones that you can get right now with support for the latest Android version, yet at a price of less than ksh 20,000.
While there may be some other phones in the market that will receive this Android 7.0 Nougat treat at some point in time, this list only talks about the three models that we can guarantee will be updated to the new OS – or already have it!
Tecno L9 Plus
You got to love Tecno, don’t you? Although the tech company at some point disappoints with its underperforming hardware, there are quite a good number of devices that are up there. Still, when it comes to software updates the company – like other OEMs selling phones in Kenya – is still lagging behind the rest of the world.
The good side of the story is that with the Tecno L9 Plus, your only worry would be the monthly Android security updates, otherwise, the phone comes pre-installed with the latest Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. This is a nice gesture from Tecno, effectively becoming the second company to unveil a Nougat-powered phone in Kenya, with General Mobile’s Android One being the first to touch Kenyan soil with the current OS on board back in 2016 (more on this later).
Specs-wise, the Tecno L9 Plus is still a great phone, but as usual with the company, you should expect a few disappoints here and there. There’s a MediaTek MT6753 quad-core processor that is clocked at speed of 1.3GHz and is paired with a Mali-T860 GPU. As for the RAM, you get two options of 2GB and 3GB, so be careful when choosing which model to buy. On the contrary, you only get 16GB storage on either variant, but this can be expanded using an external storage card of up to 128GB.
Even though the display screen is roomy at 6.0 inches, the 1280 x 720 pixels resolution means you don’t get the crispiest views on this phablet. Of course, a 1080p resolution would have been a lot better, but this would also mean you pay more than the current ksh 15,499 price tag.
In terms of photography, the back of the Tecno L9 Plus has a 13MP sensor with autofocus and LED flash while the front has a 5MP sensor alongside a LED flash as well. This ensures that you get the best selfies possible even when there’s completely no light. To keep the phone alive is a monstrous 5000mAh battery unit, but there’s no mention of fast charging technology, which means it could take quite a long time before it charges from 0-100%.
Even though you find the latest features such as a fingerprint scanner, proximity and light sensors, one major downside of the Tecno L9 Plus is the missing support for 4G LTE connectivity. We already have 4G LTE in a number of major cities across the country and Tecno not including support for this connectivity on the L9 Plus is without a doubt a deal breaker.
Huawei Honor 5C
The Huawei Honor 5C is one of the best phones that the company has ever sold in the midrange market. Also known as Huawei Honor 7 Lite, the phone was released in May 2016. It comes with some impressive specs, including a 5.2-inch 1080p resolution screen that promises better quality than the Tecno L9 Plus, although on a smaller panel. Under the hood, the Huawei Honor 5C ships with a HiSilicon Kirin 650 processor – Huawei’s in-house chipset – that is clocked at a speed of 2.0GHz. There’s only 2GB of RAM alongside 16GB of expandable storage.
On the back of the phone is a 13MP camera with f/2.0 aperture, autofocus and LED flash while the front has an 8MP shooter for the same aperture. Like the P9 Plus, there’s no mention of fast charging technology, although the battery is quite smaller at 3000mAh. You still get a fingerprint scanner, proximity sensor as well as 4G LTE connectivity.
Be warned that the Huawei Honor 5C comes preinstalled with Android Marshmallow, however, the phone’s Android 7.0 Nougat update is almost ready. In fact, the OTA update should start rolling out in April, although it might take weeks before all units across the globe actually receive the update. So far, you can grab the Honor 5C at just under ksh 16,000 on Jumia, but the usual price is ksh 20,000.
General Mobile 4G – Android One
If you’ve heard of the Google Nexus phones (of course you have), you will love the General Mobile 4G Android One phone. Unlike the Tecno L9 Plus and Huawei Honor 5C that comes with HiOS and EMUI skins on top of the stock Android experience, this Android One phone runs pure Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, with a ready update to Android 7.1.1 Nougat (and soon v7.1.2) once you power it on. There’re no customizations and you get direct updates from Google alongside the Pixel and Nexus devices, including monthly security updates.
With Android One, you’ll be sure of receiving the update to Android O once it is made available later this year. The OS is already in its first developer preview and Google will make it official in May’s I/O 2017 developer conference.
On specs, this Android One phone is not up there, but for a price of about 11,000, it’s a great package. It comes with the smallest display screen of the trio, where you get a 5.0-inch panel with a 720p (HD) resolution and is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass technology to prevent easy scratches and cracks. Under the hood, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC clocked at 1.21GHz and is paired with an Adreno 306 GPU alongside 2GB RAM. In terms of storage, it matches the rest at 16GB with room for a microSD card.
To keep the General Mobile 4G phone alive is a 2500mAh battery unit that is removable and for cameras, you get a 13MP shooter on the back with dual-tone LED flash and a 5MP lens for selfies. Unlike the other two, Android One handsets are out of stock at the moment, but a Jumia representative has confirmed that the retailer is working on restocking it. Like the name suggests, this Android One phone supports 4G LTE connectivity.
The General Mobile 4G Android One phone is now available for purchase on Jumia at a price of ksh 10,499. You can have it in either black or white color variant. Click here to grab one while stock lasts.
So, what do you think about these Android 7.0 Nougat ready phones? Do you like having the latest software installed on your phone? Let us know in your comments below.