Major news from FNB in Cape Town this week is that it launched two branded ConeXis smartphones, the A1 and the X1. You may have read about it everywhere, and seen my tweets. FNB says they’ve done research and this is all stemmed from years of innovation, helping people save money and ‘stretch their Rands’. For those who haven’t, these handsets are available to FNB customers, and because of FICA, naturally, you don’t have to RICA. One less bit of admin is always welcome. But that’s only the beginning of value-adds.
ConeXis – pronounced con-ex-sis
Both handsets come with a whole bunch of freebies:
– FNB Connect SIM card, available in all SIM sizes (Cell C)
– 25 minutes with the X1; 15 minutes with the A1
– 100MB of data on the X1; 50MB of data on the A1
– a 16GB micro SD card in the box
– tempered glass screen protector
– back cover
– a discount on the monthly payment that is tied to your eBucks reward level
If you want either handset, you have to pay a deposit of R1500 for the X1 (R150/pm); and R500 for the A1 (R59/pm). Once the 24 month period is over, you will receive your deposit back.
The ConeXis phones are aimed at introducing a smartphone to those who currently have feature phones (the A1) whereas the X1 is more mid-range. The handsets are not available on prepaid, but on top-up packages. They do come preloaded with FNB’s banking app of course, which is zero-rated, along with Whatsapp (i.e. no data charges for access these two apps). Also, calls to FNB from the app are free (this is across any platform).
The X1 has a 5.2 HD display (1280×720) and is powered by a Qualcomm 1.3GHz quad-core chip; 1GB RAM; 8GB memory (and a 16GB free micro SD card). The main camera is 8MP with flash and the front-facing is 5MP. Connectivity options include LTE, Bluetooth 4.1; WiFi, NFC, GPS, micro USB and a 3.5mm audio jack. It has a proximity sensor, accelerometer, and FM radio. It boasts a 2540mAh battery with 600 hours stand-by and 12 hours talk time. The handset runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
It also has a “tap & pay” feature under Settings; and when I asked about it, FNB said it’s a feature that will be launching in the future, where you can make payments with your phone (like Apple Pay).
The above spec makes it more a mid-range handset instead of a premium.
LOOK AND FEEL
The X1 reminds me of the old iPhone 4S looks-wise with its black background and silver logo at the back. The front has only soft buttons. The right hand side has the volume up and down keys and the power/lock button; and the left hand side a single slot that holds the micro SD card and nano SIM. At the top you fill the audio jack, and the bottom a charging port and speakers.
It’s more on the narrow side, and elongated, so easier to fit into your hand. The back is slippery like the 4S but you get a free back cover in the box, with the FNB logo. Using the rubber cover is a better option than without.
The main 8MP camera has an HDR mode, pano, multi-exposure, interval capture, scenes, filters (lomo, sepia, comic, mosaic, mirror, fisheye), and a manual mode. Manual controls let you adjust white balance, ISO, exposure, grid view and a level line; but disappointingly there’s no macro mode. 8MP stills are shot in 4:3 ratio and 6MP gives you 16:9; video is shot in 720p, capable of time lapse. The 5MP selfie-cam is decent and does 720p video too. Here are a bunch of unedited sample shots:
And a bunch of selfies:
A great first attempt from FNB, I hope to see more handsets. I love that it runs Android Marshmallow; and design-wise, it’s one of the nicer Androids out there. However, it’s not a “high-end” handset; and I don’t think it’s aimed at folks who currently have an iPhone (for those who asked). It’s more for those who have feature phones or entry-level Androids and want to upgrade. There’s not a lot of bloatware on the handset, has the FNB colour scheme on the main icons; and comes with the Google suite of apps. I’ve used the handset for the whole day, used Google maps, took pics, sent emails, used Instagram and by 10pm, the battery was on 36%. Not bad for a day, but it’s only one day and not a true reflection. That said, the battery is large and the screen used the most power for the day – 28%.
If you’re on one of the higher eBucks rewards levels, could be worth your while getting one at a discount. For example level 5 gets you the handset free. Seeing that the handsets are value-adds for clients, based on your reward level, why wouldn’t you just get it for yourself or a family member? No brainer, like with the free Connect SIM cards.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 15 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org