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Denis Brunetti, Head of Ericsson Sri Lanka together with Azwan
Khan, Group Chief Operating Officer of Dialog Axiata PLC
Ericsson and Dialog Axiata are partnering to make Managed Enterprise Cloud services available in the South Asian country.
Managed Enterprise Cloud enables operators to create and provide white-label enterprise software services flexibly and effectively. Ericsson will install and integrate the Managed Enterprise Cloud framework in Dialog’s data center and manage it remotely via the Ericsson Global Service Centers. The operator’s customers access the shared enterprise services via a secure web portal.
Ericsson and Dialog will launch the first Managed Enterprise Cloud, with a suite of business applications that can be made available as a service to enterprises in Sri Lanka.
At launch, the available applications will include an e-mail server, a web client, a content management framework, a customer relationship management system and a content management platform in one integrated and easy to access interface. With Managed Enterprise Cloud, Dialog will be able to serve all of its enterprise customers and consolidate other third-party application offerings with one unified platform, enabling efficient provisioning and significantly improved time to market.
Azwan Khan, Group Chief Operating Officer, Dialog Axiata, says:
“This agreement signifies yet another innovative collaboration that aims to grow the nation’s cloud and enterprise business market segment, while in turn driving economic growth through innovative ICT advancements. Dialog has established its position as the premier connectivity solutions provider for Sri Lanka’s enterprise sector, and our strategic partnership with Ericsson will no doubt help strengthen our position.”
Denis Brunetti, Head of Ericsson Sri Lanka, says
“We are extremely proud to forge this strategic and innovative cloud partnership with Dialog, which aims to support Dialog’s ambition to drive innovation and create additional business value for its Enterprise customer base across Sri Lanka. Both organizations embraced the opportunity to partner and collaboratively launch Managed Enterprise Cloud services in Sri Lanka, confirming our thought and technology leadership in Managed Services and the Cloud”.
Managed Enterprise Cloud is just one example of the ways in which Ericsson enables operators to quickly create new commercial cloud offerings that can be sold as a service. Other examples include Enterprise Mobility Management, Cloud based Push-to-Talk and Virtual Enterprise Gateway.
zMessenger, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile marketing solutions provider will bring together top brand leaders from FMCG, hospitality, banking and financial services to the Island’s first roundtable on mobile marketing scheduled for Thursday, 30th October, 2014
The event titled Embracing Mobile Mind Shift – Mobile Moments are the Frontline of Customer Experience will look at the impact of rapidly increasing mobile connectivity on customer expectations.
“Mobile phones are proving to be an effective and affordable marketing channel and in the face of this mobile boom, customers are in the midst of a total mind shift. Their expectations have changed. Whilst they have lost interest in a marketing message, they now demand utility and they expect it now. We thought its timely to focus on how brand leaders across different industries understand this shift and respond to it by creating mobile moments that would transform customer experience and supply them with mobile utility,” Jayomi Lokuliyana, Co-Founder and CEO of zMessenger said.
The roundtable will see expert panelists Siddharth Banerjee, Country Marketing Director – Unilever Sri Lanka, Tharanga Gunasekera, Head of Marketing and Communications – HSBC Sri Lanka, Mangala Wickramasinghe, Head of e-Banking Services – HNB and Co-Founder of the Ministry of Crab and Kaema Sutra restaurants, Dharshan Munidasa addressing the gathering on diverse topics spanning from customer engagement to delivery of financial services through mobile phones and the power of mobile context to mobile services in the hospitality sector.
The mobile marketing roundtable will also highlight and profile various ground-breaking mobile marketing efforts of ‘new-age’ corporate such as Unilever Sri Lanka, a driver of effective marketing.
zMessenger is an award winning integrated mobile media company that offers a wide range of solutions from planning, creating and execution of effective marketing campaigns, branded communication applications and content distribution strategies.
zMessenger that first introduced SMS based applications to local media stations also enjoy a leading position in the overall ‘new media’ marketing space for digital. It is also the only mobile marketing services solution provider in Sri Lanka.
The company recently launched Bigbon, a mobile app that allows customers to pick and choose the best deals offered by credit cards, loyalty cards and favorite retailers and restaurants. Bigbon which is completely customizable allows users to explore the deals at a specific location by turning on the “Augmented Reality” feature which displays a list of deals in close proximity to the user. The app also generates a report offering merchants an insight into customer preferences.
“With the journey we’ve come so far, it’s only benefitting for zMessenger to hold the country’s first ever Mobile Marketing Roundtable. We believe that this endevour will help broaden our horizons and consolidate our position in the Island,” Lokuliyana said.
Event is invite only but will be live streamed via MMRColombo.
These days we do a lot more than making calls on our mobile handsets. Many spend much more time on internet browsing or instant messaging than using the device for calling someone. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t see any innovation on the voice call front; given the ultimate purpose of phones, is to call others. In the last few weeks Mobile HD Voice has been one of the much publicised topics in the country. As the name suggests, we are talking about high quality voice calls in mobile networks, with an improved user experience.
A new innovation?
HD Voice service was first introduced to Sri Lanka by Dialog, back in early 2012. Dialog was the 42nd operator, globally, to introduce the service to their customers. Last month Etisalat became the second operator in Sri Lanka (and 107th operator globally) to add this feature to their network offerings. So, clearly it is not entirely new to Sri Lanka.
So what exactly does HD Voice mean? And how does it work?
To start with, HD Voice is an umbrella term that refers to the technologies that enhance the quality of an audio call (or even the ‘audio’ part of a video call). Yes, that means there are more than one technology used together or separately to achieve the ¨HD Voice functionality¨…or rather the improvement.
HD Voice improves the quality of the voice call. It provides more natural sounding calls. HD Voice also helps people hear better in noisy environments by reducing the background noise, using noise cancelling techniques. Which means, with HD Voice, your caller’s voice will sound less robotic and you will be able to differentiate between ‘s’ and ‘f’ easily. Overall HD Voice improves the user experience. This is not something new. VoIP services like Skype has been using such feature for a long time and probably you have used it too, but we are talking about bringing the feature to mainstream mobile voice communication.
The technology behind HD Voice
There are three mechanisms that are widely used to achieve the HD Voice functionality.
Frequency Range: Narrowband vs Wideband. (Image Source: road2it)
First, doubling the audio bandwidth. Instead of limiting a voice call to the current narrow-band frequency range of 300 Hz and 3.4 KHz, HD Voice makes use of Wideband audio technology that transmits at the range of 50 Hz to 7 KHz. To achieve this, operators use an audio codec called Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMR-WB), which doubles the audio bandwidth compared to traditional telephony. In ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) terms AMR-WB is codified as G.722.2 codec.
Secondly, improved acoustic design. This is more or less something that the device manufacturers need to focus on. Since HD Voice utilizes greater bandwidth with the help of AMR-WB codec, the devices too need to be designed in a way to utilize the greater bandwidth offered to them. Here’s where acoustic design comes into play. Components like the microphone and speaker need to be of good quality and they need to be well integrated to the device, in such a way to optimize the HD voice features.
Thirdly, redesigned signal processing algorithms. Processing of the audio (in the background ) is an essential part of the whole process. The algorithms that handle this part, are capable of handling higher ‘sampling rate’ compared to regular voice calls. Regular voice calls take 8000 audio samples per second (8 KHz) to process the call. In HD Voice it is doubled to 16000 audio samples per second (16 KHz). Hence, users will be able to hear ‘more details’ from a person’s voice. Another algorithm used in this process is a noise suppressor. This helps in reducing the background noise while a person is using HD Voice.
According to the latest report published by Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) on 2nd June 2014, 109 mobile operators across 73 countries around the world have launched the HD Voice service for public. And Sri Lanka is one of the 22 countries which has more than one operator offering the service.
HD Voice: Global Availability.
(Image Courtesy: Global Mobile Suppliers Association)
As I mentioned before, Dialog (the largest mobile service provider in Sri Lanka) introduced the service on their 3G/HSPA network back in February, 2012. Etisalat joined the club last month (May 2014) by upgrading their 3G/HSPA framework with this capability. On GSM/HSPA platforms, all it takes the operator is to upgrade their existing network infrastructure(i.e no need to add new base station components), in order to offer HD Voice service. Since HD Voice feature is an upgrade to the operators existing infrastructure, they will not be charging you extra for the service. You will be charged the regular rates when you make a call, while the call quality gets better. Sounds cool, right? Well, read further!
Requirements to experience HD Voice
That brings us to the important part. As an end user (customer/ subscriber) what does it take you to experience mobile HD? Well there are few requirements.
1- Your phone and the phone on the other end need to be HD Voice compatible.
Imagine this like calling someone on Skype. Just like you both need to have Skype installed on your devices to make the video call, both devices need to be ‘HD Voice compatible’ to use the HD Voice service offered by your mobile service provider.
According to GSA report of March, 2014, there are at-least 329 mobile phones from 19 manufacturers that support HD Voice (AMR-WB, currently available. Most of the new devices introduced daily, are compatible with the feature. You can have a look at the device list here.
Does my phone needs to be a smartphone?
Not really. AMR Wideband was first developed by Nokia. HD Voice technology was first implemented in 2009, when the number of smartphones were limited. And Nokia was one of the first manufacturer to integrate the technology in their handsets including the ones that ran S40 and Symbian S60 OS. Hence, your device does not need to fit into ‘smartphone’ category to experience HD voice. But it should be compatible with AMR-WB. Most new devices released these days support it. (So, in my opinion, ‘lack of smartphones in the market’ is not the only reason for ‘less public awareness’ about the service, over the years). Given many phones don’t come with extensive user manuals these days, you can simply Google the model name or refer to this list provided by GSA to check the availability of AMR-WB on your device.
2- Both devices need to be connected to HD capable base station
Both the caller and receiver need to be connected to the HD Voice capable base station of their respective network. In Sri Lanka’s case it should be 3G/HSPA stations of Dialog and Etisalat since both networks support HD Voice over 3G/HSPA network. (Instead of GSM(2G) or LTE).
Does that mean you need to be connected HSPA (Data)?
No. Actually some media outlets have reported that you have to be connected to 3G (as in data) to experience this. Even Etisalat’s media report claims you need to be ‘connected to 3G’ – but what they actually mean is that you need to be connected to a 3G capable base station.
This should not be confused with VoLTE or Voice over LTE which puts voice and data in a single radio layer. Here calls are carried over IP technology (same as data) instead of circuit switched path (regular calls) used in HSPA networks like Dialog or Etisalat. VoLTE supporting networks are currently limited to 8 worldwide, and VoLTE supporting device are limited too. LTE offered by Sri Lankan networks is limited to data only at the moment. (i.e – you can’t make voice calls when your network mode is set to ‘LTE Only’ on Dialog or Mobitel)
Again, just because your carrier supports HD voice does not mean they support it all around the country. Reason is, there are places that have only GSM(2G) base stations instead of HSPA ones. So if your device is connected to a 3G base station and your friend’s is not, even though you both have compatible devices, then you will not be able to experience it.
Interoperability: Another less publicised, but very important requirement for HD Voice is that when the call involves two different networks, they both need to be using HD Voice on compatible network modes in-order for HD Voice to work. (Wait, what?) Yes, that is because HD Voice technology is not inter-operable at the moment. At the time of writing, as I mentioned above, both Etisalat and Dialog support HD voice on their HSPA network. But, I have not got enough data that confirms that both networks are compatible with each other. Which means there is a chance that caller and receiver need to be on the same network to experience the feature. The problem widely exists in the US since different networks support HD Voice in different modes like GSM, CDMA and LTE. And not many devices are compatible with all these modes. Now, you know why HD Voice has not got great public attention over the years. That is because not many people have been able to experience it even though they have a compatible phone and they are on a compatible network.
Growth of HD Voice
(Image Courtesy: Global Mobile Suppliers Association)
So that brings us to the important question…is HD Voice another gimmick?
I will safely say it is not. It has been practically proved that HD Voice improves user experience by increasing call quality and reducing background noises. (Simply do a YouTube search to check some demos). In my opinion it should be supported by default on all handsets and all networks should adopt to it. What is keeping us behind is the compatibility issues, which is a shame.
What does the future hold?
Sri Lanka has been one of the first countries to bring latest mobile innovations to public, thanks to our wonderful service providers (yes, seriously). We are one of the first to have LTE in the region. VoLTE or Voice over LTE is seen as the next big trend in voice communications. GSA says that Sri Lanka is actually testing this service. I foresee a future where major networks in Sri Lanka adopt to VoLTE that provides seamless connectivity and HD Voice on the same platform without any hassle. It is always good to be optimistic!
Blue Ocean Ventures and the Indian Angel Network collaborate for the third successive year to host Venture Engine 2014, a project aimed at fostering entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. Over its brief two year duration, the project has served as a springboard for 12 businesses, garnering Rs. 200 million in investment collectively. In addition to opening the door to financial backing, Venture Engine provides startups with access to a breadth of expertise in the form of workshops and mentoring sessions via Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and the Indian Angel Network (IAN).
Endorsing the event for the third consecutive year are platinum sponsors Expolanka and Orion City and gold sponsor Dialog Axiata, organisations consistently at the forefront of the Sri Lankan business arena. Venture Engine is run, mentored and filtered by Lankan Angel Network, Sri Lanka’s first alliance of angel investors.
The competition is open to owners of startup businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. An open call for business plans was officially launched on the 29th of April and the close of submissions is scheduled for May 26th, after which a rigorous selection process will ensue. A panel of potential local and overseas investors will review business plans of applicants, selecting a minimum of 20 applications to move on to the second pitch round, and provide valuable critique and insight during this segment of the process.
The top applicants benefit from valuable opportunities to enrich their business plans through a series of workshops and one to one mentoring sessions with successful local and international investors. These entrepreneurs will make a final pitch to a panel of local and international investors with the most exceptional business plans announced at a finale.
“A salient feature of Venture Engine is that the entrepreneur is granted the opportunity to pitch directly to the investors. The selected candidates are mentored by LAN and IAN, and there is no ceiling on funds made available through the angel group. Thus any fundable startup in the top ten has a good opportunity to gain the required investment to set up and expand their company,” explained Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Managing Director, Blue Ocean Ventures.
Mr. Prajeeth Balasubramaniam, Co-Founder of Blue Ocean Ventures addresses the audience
“We were charting new territory in 2012 when we launched the first Venture Engine programme. With foreign investors eager to capitalise on post war growth and budding entrepreneurs looking to spread their wings, the need for an effective startup ecosystem was identified. Over the last two years we have witnessed an impressive display of talent and drive, reinforcing our decision to launch Venture Engine in Sri Lanka.
“The success of startups from the last two events has seen our investor base expanding. Sustainability is key and Venture Engine’s role effectively extends beyond the immediate capital infusion. Our team of mentors continue to provide insight and guidance after the new ventures are underway,” added Balasubramaniam.
“Venture Engine is a unique initiative. It has inspired entrepreneurship and also driven angel investing in Sri Lanka. Year on year, it has brought critical money and mentoring to young Sri Lankan entrepreneurs. IAN is proud to have helped found Lankan Angel Network, partnered VE and brought in investors from around the world to the island nation,” said Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network.
“From simple beginnings as a small fruit and vegetable exporter in Dam Street, Expolanka has risen to a diversified conglomerate ranked amongst the top ten business entities in Sri Lanka with a global footprint across 18 countries. Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone upon which our success is built and we understand the challenges of venturing out on new territory. We see immense value in the exposure and guidance VE provides its participants and its cascading effect on the economy,” stated Hanif Yusoof, Group CEO, Expolanka.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are such fundamental principles of the IT industry that the terms have almost become synonymous. The most significant technological advancements have been brought about by entrepreneurs with marketable ideas and unwavering drive. Without platforms such as VE, we run the costly risk of these ideas never reaching realization. Orion City, once a startup itself, understands this need and is committed to developing the Sri Lankan IT sector. Furthering this goal, we are excited to announce the launch of Orion Nest, a dedicated facility for start-ups,” emphasised Jeevan Gnanam, CEO/Director of Orion City.
“The Venture Engine amply demonstrates the value creation potential of a synergistic platform which brings together Innovation, Risk Capital and Domain Expertise. World over, Venture capital has proven to be an essential ingredient in driving innovation and national competitiveness. Dialog is privileged to be a partner in the Venture Engine competition for the third successive year and it is particularly rewarding to note that within a short space of two years, the Venture Engine programme has succeeded in seeding several business ventures which are globally competitive,” said Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Group Chief Executive of Dialog Axiata PLC.
Venture Engine has made substantial headway not just in facilitating startups, but in creating general interest in entrepreneurial ventures amongst investors and potential candidates.
Information on the programme, previous years’ events, and past participants are available on the project website www.ventureengine.lk. Application process information and resources are also available on the website with entries accepted on firstname.lastname@example.org. Further assistance will be provided on contacting email@example.com.
Dialog eZ Cash has become the world’s first fully integrated mobile money service after joining hands with Etisalat, another leading mobile service provider in Sri Lanka. There were speculations from last month about this landmark deal which has been in works from last year, after Dialog announced that the next phase of eZ Cash service is to expand it to other service providers. Even the outgoing Etisalat CEO Dumindra Ratnayaka recently said in a local interview that Etisalat is considering joining hands with eZ Cash and mCash, for mobile banking solutions, rather than starting their own service. And yesterday, the two companies hosted a joint press briefing where they officially announced the expansion of the service, after relevant approvals were obtained from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
According to GSMA, there are more than 225 mobile money deployments around the world, as of March 2014. And this is the first time that such a partnership has been formed between two rival service providers to deliver end to end interoperable mobile money service. Speaking at the press meet, operations expert from the GSMA’s Mobile Money for the Unbanked programme, Gerald Rasugu stressed the importance of awareness on the mobile money/ mobile banking initiatives to the general public.
eZ Cash: Introduction and Current Status
Dialog, Sri Lanka’s leading mobile service provider launched the revolutionary eZ Cash service around 2 years ago, approved by CBSL under the payments and settlements act No.28 of 2005. I used to have a personal blog at that time and did a post on how eZ Cash works on any USSD enabled mobile phones. You can check it out here. eZ Cash turns your mobile phone into a secure mobile wallet, and allows you to make transactions or send and receive money around the country. Last year when the service completed its first anniversary, the GSMA published a detailed infographic showing the growth of eZ Cash in Sri Lanka. According to that, Dialog – the market leader in Sri Lanka has around 8 million mobile subscribers and Etisalat, third in line in terms of market shares boasts more than 4.5 million subscribers.
The new partnership will bring the eZ Cash service to around 12.5 million Sri Lankans around the country, which by number, is equivalent to more than 60% of the Sri Lankan population. Last June, Dialog announced 1 million registered users for the eZ Cash service out of which 20% were active users. Dialog also reported that they handled Rs.6 Billion worth of transactions last year and currently they are processing Rs.700 million worth of transactions per month. These numbers are bound to rise with Etisalat joining the club. Speaking at the press conference, Dr. Hans Wijesuriya, Group CEO of Dialog Axiata PLC, thanked the CBSL for maintaining open regulations that let to the success of the eZ Cash service.
For The New Users: What Can You Do With Ez Cash
Dialog eZ Cash allows anyone to send and receive money through mobile phones. One can top up for eZ Cash at any merchants and then send the money to anyone around the country. The receiver has the ability to withdraw the money at a similar merchant outlet. This hassle free method also becomes useful to those who can’t utilize the conventional banking facilities. eZ Cash model offers more secure and widely available service options. (Verification PINs are sent to the user’s handset before completing the transactions). Ez cash also allows the users to pay various bills including utility bills (CEB, NWSDB etc). It also gives the option to pay insurance premiums through mobile phones. The service provides secure option for users to make payments for their online purchases. There are also more than 100 partner merchants who accept eZ Cash payments. Dialog also has a dedicated hotline (7111) for eZ Cash. They have also launched a very informative website for the service as well as an Android app for ease of use on smartphones.
How Does The New Inter-Operable Model Works?
As you already know, eZ Cash services can be accessed through #111# USSD commands on the mobile phones. Etisalat subscribers who register for the eZ Cash service will be able to use the same method to perform the transactions. The USSD menu will consist of the same options which are offered for Dialog customers. The user experience will not be affected for different service providers. Even the costs (service charges) born by customers will be the same. Dialog currently has over 16000 eZ Cash merchants around the country. It will continue to remain responsible for managing this agent network, while adding any customer service networks of the new providers on request. As a first step Dialog has added the flagship stores of Etisalat that are located around the country, and selected service points to this network. Dialog will also manage overall customer service issues that arise during the transactions. But Etisalat will be requested to look into any issues faced by customers they bring into the service. Hatton National Bank continues to act as the custodian bank for the service and the service will be further secured by a trust agreement administered by Deutsche Bank. A third party service provider like KPMG or PWC will act as a Customer Profile Manager in between the eZ Cash platform and Etisalat.
eZ Cash: World’s First Inter-operable Mobile Money Service (Pic. Courtesy: GSMA)
There will also be a revenue share agreement between Dialog and any other provider joining hands with them – in this case, Etisalat. Accordingly, Etisalat will be sharing the transaction revenue from the eZ Cash service with Dialog,
1- for using the eZ Cash brand which has been established and marketed by Dialog
2- for making use of the eZ Cash platform built by Dialog and
3- for benefiting from the already established & managed Dialog merchant network
On Dialog’s side, they will be getting additional revenue and wider user base for their eZ Cash platform. And from Etisalat’s point they get to offer mobile banking service to their customer base at a fraction of a cost that they would have encountered to deploy their own service.
Looking at the customer base numbers after the new partnership, eZ Cash service looks less challenged by the competitor mCash service offered by Mobitel. But it is also notable that outgoing Etisalat CEO recently noted that they are also considering to join hands with mCash along with eZ Cash, though I’m not sure whether there will be any need to proceed with that move.
Challenges and Future
The primary challenge I noticed when the service was first announced, was the adaptability issues faced by merchants. The merchants were reluctant to allow customers to withdraw money since the business model was new and strange. But Dialog had taken much efforts to educate merchants on the benefits of the service.
According to experts, there are more than 225 mobile banking services deployed in various ,markets. It shows the growing trend of mCommerce. But it is notable that many of the services around the world are facing adaptability issues due to various reasons and Dialog’s interoperable model is expected to be adopted by many other service providers around the globe.
Scheduled to start at 5.30 PM at the Crystal Upper Ballroom of Taj Samudra followed by a Cocktail session.
Have an eye on this space for more info.
What we like:
High speed 4G LTE connectivity
Nexus like OS experience
What we don’t like:
Limited amount of internal storage
Average camera performance
Around an year ago, Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s largest and leading telecommunication service provider, took a bold step with the launch of their own “Dialog branded” smartphones to the local market. The Dialog i-series as it was known, offered smartphones running Android OS at less than Rs.9000. Decent hardware offerings and competitive pricing made the devices popular around the country. This led Dialog to launch an upgraded K-series later that year.
Meanwhile, Dialog also became the the first operator in Sri Lanka to introduce 4G LTE for mobile devices, last year. Mobile LTE brought unprecedented high speed internet on smartphones at affordable prices. On the other hand, it also had hardware limitations since subscribers needed to have 4G enabled smartphones, that cost a fortune in Sri Lankan market. To overcome this limitation, and as part of expanding their self-branded device line-up, Dialog has launched Dialog Q 143L – an affordable 4G enabled smartphone to the Sri Lankan market. This Android powered device has been priced at Rs.34,990. Dialog also offers free voice, SMS and data bundles along with the device for a limited period of time. Dialog also offers credit card payment plans to their customers who want to purchase this device. And yes, the device is network locked for Dialog.
This Android powered device has been priced at Rs.34,990.
We were lucky enough to try out the device at the time of launch. I have been playing with the device for a while now and even took the risk to use it as my daily driver for few days.
Inside the Box
Inside the box: Power adapter, Data cable, Headset, Battery, and the Device
The device comes in a simple packaging. Inside the package, you get a wall adapter, a USB cable that can be used for charging and data transfer, and a standard headset along with the device itself and a battery. For a detailed look, check out our exclusive un-boxing video below:
Hardware Specifications and Design
The Dialog Q143L can be considered as a mid-range device, considering the specifications and price. The device is manufactured by ZTE, which holds a huge market share in many Asian countries along with competitor Huawei. To be more specific, Dialog Q 143L is a re-branded version of ZTE Grand X LTE T82, which was originally released during the latter part of 2012. True, the original hardware is pretty old for 2014, but it still manages to stack up well against the mid range offerings available today.
The Dialog Q143L packs a 1.5 GHz Dual Core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon chipset powered by ARMv7 processor, a power efficient model in the market. The device has 1GB of RAM along with 4GB of internal storage. If that sounds underwhelming, note that it supports upto 32GB of external storage support via a microSD card and thankfully the device comes with a 4GB microSD card preinstalled. I did not encounter any issues related to internal storage during my temporary usage. But I do think installing large games and apps might pose an issue if you are a heavy user, and specially if the apps cannot be moved to external storage. The Q143L sports a 4.3 inch qHD screen (540 x 960 pixels) with around 256 ppi of pixel density. The screen looks crisp. I did not encounter any specific issue while browsing or playing games. The device measures 130.9 x 65 x 11.2 mm and weighs around 150 grams. The device does feel a bit bulky once the battery is inserted. I did feel the difference since my current device weighs around 20 grams less than Q143L.
But I do think installing large games and apps might pose an issue if you are a heavy user, and specially if the apps cannot be moved to external storage
Front View: Plain and Simple
The front display looks plain, except for the speaker grill on top. There are no physical buttons on the front. The nexus-style onscreen buttons appear only when the device is unlocked. The silver-outline gives the device a premium look. The device does not feel cheap on hand. The overall design is compact, and well suits one handed usage. The rear of the device has a textured finish which provides a good grip. It also has a little hump at the bottom edge, which reminds me of the Galaxy Nexus. Another notable addition is a rear flap next to the camera, which, once opened, reveals the external antenna connector. Even though we rarely see this on devices these days, it can be useful if you are planning to use the device as a 4G hotspot and require steady coverage.
Textured back. The little hump reminds me of Galaxy Nexus.
Dialog Q143L is equipped with an 8MP camera with autofocus capabilities and an LED flash. It is also capable of recording 1080p videos. There’s nothing extraordinary here. But 8MP is the best offering on a mid-range device. It more than enough for the daily Instagramming needs one might have. But I must admit, I am not a fan of the camera interface. It takes up almost half of the screen thereby limiting the viewfinder area. The camera software does not have anything special to offer either. The device also has a 1.3 MP front facing camera which can be used with video calling apps.
The device is powered by a 1900 mAh removable battery which is one of the positive aspects of the device. The device has been optimized well that it easily managed to last more than one day of average use, with 4G data switched on almost all the time.
Connectivity: LTE for the win!
If you are not aware, Dialog offers it’s mobile LTE connectivity on 1800 MHz band.
The connectivity options are what make this device stand out from the rest and make it worth the buck. Apart from supporting, the usual 2G, 3G and even DC-HSDPA (dual carrier) the Q143L provides support to 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz LTE bands on category 3, which means download speeds upto 100 MBPs. If you are not aware, Dialog offers it’s mobile LTE connectivity on 1800 MHz band.
The OS: Outdated but doesn’t disappoint.
The Dialog Q143L runs on Android 4.0.4 aka Ice Cream Sandwich. In my opinion, this is the only notable area (apart from internal storage) where I would have loved improvement. The reason is that the OS is pretty outdated for 2014, even though there are large number of devices still running ICS. But since ICS is visually similar to Jelly Bean, you will not need to worry much. It also offers support to almost all the latest apps in Google Play. Google recently released Android 4.4, aka Kitkat, a much smoother and updated version. Notable part of KitKat is that it is designed in a way to run smoothly even on low end devices with standard hardware configurations. I do feel Dialog should consider providing an OS update to KitKat on Q143L which will definitely improve the quality of the device.
The UI gives a Nexus feel
Since this is a Dialog branded device, Dialog has added their personalized booting animations to the device. Dialog Q143L also comes pre-installed with many Dialog branded apps including D-App, MyTV, Star Points App and My Traveller App. It also has SETT browser, which supports browsing local language websites, pre installed. It is specially useful since Android ICS does not offer full support to local language font rendering. Overall experience feels smooth since there is no noticeable visual changes done to the default look of Android (unlike Samsung or HTC devices). The UI almost feels like that of a Nexus device. Other little additions are the unlocking pattern/animation and the shortcut options available on the home screen when you swipe the unlock icon. It is enabled through the Mi-EasyAccess app that comes pre installed.
The overall performance is good. The device feels snappy. I did not face any issue in running most apps. Those who love to play games on their phones need not to worry too. Dialog Q143L is powerful enough to run most of the games, including the ones with heavy visual effects. But when running heavy apps, I did feel a slight lag. It is rather common in any device of this specs in my opinion. I do feel this can be overcome with a software update. I also ran some benchmarks tests on the device. The Q143L scored 10879 on AnTuTu Benchmark; slightly higher than galaxy S2. It also scored 1633 on PassMark performance Test. In this case slightly lower than Galaxy Nexus. On Quadrant Standard, the Q143L performed better much better than Galaxy Nexus and got a score of 4577. On CF-Bench, the CPU and memory benchmark tool, the Dialog Q143L once again scored better than Galaxy S2 with a score of 11727. Even though the benchmark scores are affected by various factors, the Q143L gave some consistant results mostly in the range of galaxy S2 and Galaxy Nexus, two extremely popular Android devices.
So how does the Dialog Q143L stack up against the competition in the current market? Is it really worth spending 35K on this 4G enabled smartphone? As I mentioned earlier, the options available for 4G enabled devices in Sri Lankan market is very limited, specially when it comes to affordability. So the Digit team did some market research and came up with a head to head comparison of the cheapest 4G LTE enabled handsets in the Sri Lankan market. There are two types of offerings in the local market. One is from the authorized dealer of a certain brand. The dealer provides the warranty and after-sales service. Prices are standardized by dealers for the local market. Usually smartphones sold through Sri Lankan mobile service providers also come through these authorized dealers. Apart from dealers, there are mobile phone shops that import the devices directly and sell it locally. The warranty and service is provided by the respective shops.
The difference I am trying to highlight is the price. In the local market the authorized dealer prices are usually very high compared to prices at mobile phone shops in places like Liberty Plaza. Also availability of certain variants/ models of the smartphones also differs between authorized dealers and non-dealers. Taking all this into account we came up with the following chart.
Note that there is a wide gap between price ranges. For example the cheapest of the list, LTE enabled Galaxy Ace 3 variant was available only at selected shops. (Not with authorized dealer). The closest competition to Dialog Q143L in terms of price were, Xperia V and Lumia 820. But then again their prices from authorized dealers were clearly higher than that of Q143L. Overall, considering the warranty, after sales services and the additional benefits, I feel Dialog Q143L can be considered as the most affordable 4G LTE enabled smartphone in the Sri Lankan market. This is specially applicable if you are a Dialog customer.
Q143L is a mid range Android device targeted at Dialog customers who want an affordable device to experience the high speed internet offering. In other words, Dialog has tried to bridge the gap between high end specs (LTE) and affordability, with the Q143L. It is a welcoming move. It is also a bold step taken by a Sri Lankan service provider to launch their own branded device which may lead to them launching latest devices with affordable contract plans like in many other countries. Looking at the specs and network limitations, the Q143L may not be for the expert users who like more customization. It is rather suitable for new users looking to convert to Android from other platforms (like Blackberry) or users who want to try a smartphone for the first time. The LTE connectivity is definitely the winning point of the device while the OS and internal storage could have been better.
The second workshop for UX Colombo Meetup group is scheduled to happen on 30th of January 2014, at the Dialog Future World Auditorium. More info, here.
stay tuned for more Live updates as the event commences.
After the huge success with the IdeaMart App Competition, Its time to felicitate the Winners and the participants.
Incorporation with Dialog Axiata , this award ceremony will take place on 12th of October 2013 at Dialog Future World Auditorium.
Check the Facebook Event Info for more information.
The Kingsbury Hotel Colombo was buzzing with enthusiasm and anticipation on the evening of 27th Friday (September), as many corporate and individual quiz teams gathered to battle it out at the ‘Quizathon’ organized by SLASSCOM. This was the second edition of the annual quiz competition that acts as a testament of SLASSCOM’s objective of acting as a catalyst for growth of the Sri Lankan IT and BPO industry.
Forty teams in total took part in this year’s edition of Quizathon, which was immensely competitive and intense compared to previous year. Quiz teams representing IT companies, BPO/KPO companies, Schools and Educational Institutes, Finance and Banking sector were present. Individual teams and teams representing ‘Other’ category too had registered for the event. All the teams appeared to have done their home work and were prepared for a closely contested Quizathon.
The Quizathon consisted of five rounds and was hosted by Imran Furkan who himself is a prominent Quiz Master in the country and also the Executive Director of SLASSCOM. Every round consisted of ten questions that ranged from general knowledge to finance and accounting, from the exact age of papa Smurf to World politics. Every round produced a winning team, which had answered most questions correctly. In case there was tie, three more questions were presented as a tie breaker.
Vindhana Ariyawansa’s team emerged as the Overall Champions of Slasscom Quizathon 2013
IFS – Ostrinus became the Runners up of SLASSCOM Quizathon 2013
After an intense competition that expanded for five rounds, the team led by Vindhana Ariyawansa emerged as the Overall Champions of Slasscom Quizathon 2013. IFS R and D International become the runners up and Nalaka De Silva’s team achieved the overall 3rd place. In addition to this, winners were selected from each team category after evaluating the aggregated scores after the five rounds.
- Banking & Financing Sector – The Obvious Experts of Team Seylan
- Business Process Management Sector – HSBC Team No. 1
- Schools and Educational Sector – National Institute of Business Management
- Individual Teams – Vindhana Ariyawansha’s team
- Other Category (teams that did not belong to above categories) – Team Dialog
Most of the contestants were keen on winning another award that was exclusively presented for the ‘Best Dressed Team’ during the Quizathon. Here we saw a brilliant display of imagination and creativity from the teams and after what appeared to be a tough decision for the judges, Team ‘SoWrong’ who were dressed in sarongs was selected as the team that dressed best for the occasion.
At the end of the Quizathon, teams and the audience had the opportunity to network, to make new friends and share a word while enjoying the sumptuous dinner provided for the event. It was indeed a wonderful event that lasted throughout the Friday night and ended on a high.
For full photo coverage from the event, visit our Facebook Album here (Photo credit Sameera Wimalaratne).
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