Sunday, November 16, 2014

All Abroad the Aliexpress

Y'all, this article has been in the making for a little while now. It's been a bit of a struggle trying to figure out how to put this into words, because it's a bit of a two-parter.  I recently bought a new phone. I seriously wanted it, and I guess you could say that I just ended up spoiling myself. I'm an adult. ...Dammit.

Now, usually one would make this decision in person to get a feel of what they want and also because phone shopping can usually be done at cell service retailer, like T-Mobile or Verizon. Usually, and I wanted to buy an HTC in person, even if that meant I would have to get a contract plan. [Ech, I'd much rather not if I can prevent it. I grew up on that MetroPCS, you feel me.] But, to put it briefly, I remembered that I had a number of phones saved in my bookmarks. I still have flip phones saved—Japanese, mind you, but flip phones nonetheless.

My phone of choice ended up being from Aliexpress. I heard a lot about the web site, and I've visited its parent site, Alibaba, a lot over the past couple of years. I've explored and wondered about the sellers there. It is a giant marketplace, and since I'm a habitual eBay shopper, I already know how important it is to look into a seller, their reviews, and their wares. I've heard pretty good things about the site overall, but that was only recently. It's like the site is up and about, but what made me suspicious is that no one really talks about it. It's just there, and the sellers have a lot of traffic and varied reviews.

While suspicious, I still ended up investing a lot of money when I bought my phone.

I picked a Lenovo phone. I love the company's computers, so I put some faith into their phones. For my budget at the time, I had a couple of other options, but ultimately, Lenovo won out. There are certain options that the phone doesn't have that the other choices did, but I'll address that later.

I paid for the express shipping, because I really didn't want to wait the standard 15-27 days. I just. No. So sorry. It came to me in about a week or so via DHL. I missed the initial delivery by about 10 minutes because I had to go to work. Because of that, I had to pick up the phone at my local DHL, which is not that close, but hey. Now I know where it is.

The A850C+ comes with four different options/bundles. I chose bundle four. The bundle, as a whole, came with the phone, a battery, data line, charger, earphone, a user manual, and a 8GB card. And gifts! Ooooh. One of the gifts was a USB, which works pretty well. I have nothing good or bad to say about it; I just won't put many important things on it. The other was a touch screen pen bullet...majig. I can't describe it, but it's next to worthless because of how small it is and how much force it needs sometimes. That's all there is to say on that.

It's a dual sim phone, which I know I'm going to find incredibly beneficial in the future. The shipping was about $25 or something along those lines. The product's listing has since updated, so here's a screenshot in case the link doesn't work.

I want to preface this by saying that I honest to god love this phone. Is it as white as it is in the picture? Actually, yes. I just use one of the two screen protectors that came with the phone, so it's a little greyer on the front. I think it's beautiful; it's an Android with great usability, and it's a lot easier to modify and personalise. I downloaded a custom launcher, Apex, for my phone, and some icon packs as well. I'll talk about those later as well! It's just what I needed to get me back into the smartphone game.

That being said, here are the bad things with the phone.

My bundle came with a micro USB cord and a leather case. I really like the leather case. It took me a minute to figure out, but you have to take off the back plate. The case snaps into where the back plate was. Very neat and handy because I don't want to fight with a case, especially if I drop it. And I'm not sure if this is the fault of the USB or the port, but the cord dislodges a bit too easily for my liking. The headphones that came with the phone were a special kind of cheap. They broke about two days after I got them.

The phone doesn't have a GPS firmware, so I can't use Google maps or anything similar. I have tried to download something to get around that but to no avail, honestly. You can still pull up the directions, but it won't do the turn by turn, voice guide because it doesn't have the required firmware.

There's no direct access to the external SD card, which I feel is almost a waste. The SD card is, again, 8GB, which the phone desperately needs. The phone itself has limited space. It has 2GB, and after all of the factory presets, it only has about 1.2GB left over. That's not enough space for anything really. But the phone has File Manager, which allows you to view your directories and files to copy, paste, and delete them as you see fit—as long as they aren't system required that is.

The camera has pretty good quality all in all, but it does have a terrible lag time between taking and processing the photo. It's only about three to four seconds, but if you so much as move your hand or if your subject moves, the picture will change when it processes. Is that truly a terrible thing? Not quite.

There are two things that I honestly find annoying about the phone—actually annoying but still slightly amusing. One of them being when the phone loads up, there's ten seconds worth of music that is very loud. You can't really turn it down, and it's the same volume every time. I'm used to my phone talking when it turns on—at least the last one I had did that. The second thing is the phone's volume control. It has only two settings really: quiet and incredibly loud.

There are volume control buttons on the left side of the phone, but it goes from level 0 [vibrate] » level 1 [quiet] » level 2 [low/just the slightest bit louder] » level 3 [speaker blasting loud]. And it just gets louder and louder from there. Again, this is something that is amusing to me, but at the same time, it makes no sense that the volume works that way. There's no real way to get around this, unfortunately. Un. Fortunately.

But again, I do love the phone outside of those things, because for the most part, I can get around everything. I do want to fix the GPS problem, which might require me to root my phone—a process I'm not incredibly down for as is. I thought I would have to do it to gain access to my SD card, and technically, I would if I want to be able to move apps to my SD card from the system settings. However, with the File Manager trick, or just plugging my phone into my computer, I can get around it.

You can view my other photos about the phone in this album. If you want to check out the seller, you can view their store on Aliexpress. And remember, tell 'em GDR sent ya!

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