Thursday, January 27, 2022

Safaricom Neon Kicka 4 Review: 3 Different Users Take on the Cheapest Android Go Device

Okay this will be a very different type of review. I wanted a way to be able to capture different perspectives on this phone. And that’s justified because this isn’t a phone targeted at someone like me. With its specs, I would only own one when I have no other option or when, as it is in this case, I have a unit for review.

If you’ve already read my first post on the phone, you know my thoughts on what you get with a 3,500 phone. I focused on the fact that it has better specs that what I got as my first phone many years ago at over Ksh. 11,000. Plus, the Neon Kicka is even cheaper if you use Bonga Points and top up with cash. What I may not have said is that Safaricom will sell so many of these devices because of the really aggressive pricing. Try this: recommend for me a good phone for about Ksh. 3,500.

Safaricom Neon Kicak 4 Review

Here’s a breakdown of this review: I will have a small take on me using the phone. Then one where my sister shares her thoughts. And finally an aunt of mine – this is her first smartphone.


Safaricom Neon Kicak 4 Review

512MB RAM and less than 4GB usable storage is space is very little. I didn’t install any extra apps on the device because I knew that would slow it down seriously. So I disabled some apps from Google that came pre-installed leaving only mySafaricom App, Chrome and Gmail. I updated those after signing in to Play Store and only interacted with the phone through those two applications – and obviously through Phone, Messages and Camera.

I don’t love Android Go apps. They hold back a lot. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and most other sites I frequently access have pretty good mobile web interfaces and I could do everything albeit with some lags here and there. But I was okay with doing that as long as my phone didn’t become impossible to use because I feared many apps would not only slow it down, but also quickly deplete the storage.

Battery life isn’t so impressive even without many apps. I would recommend a larger battery with the next Neon Kicka phone.

My Sister:

Safaricom Neon Kicak 4 Review

She, like me, opted not to install many apps on the phone only opting for WhatsApp, Chrome and Instagram. She said the screen was quite small for her liking and it wasn’t bright enough outdoors. Which is something I agree with.

She complained about performance not being as good as her full time phone. But that she was impressed with the battery life. This surprised me. But given that she only used the phone for a few days, and as a test for this article, maybe she didn’t really tinker with everything.

About the cameras, she said the selfie cam was unusable. She wouldn’t use this phone’s pictures on anything social. Maybe just the rear shooter for class notes, as those were legible.

My Aunt:

Safaricom Neon Kicak 4 Review

She’s had a kabambe for a while now. And this is her very first major interaction with a smartphone. She’s always said smartphones are too big, and the screens too complicated for use, and has had the fear she would break any of the phones we normally use. But this phone, she said, was the perfect size for her. And that it was mostly plastic made her confident that she wouldn’t break it easily should it fall. And yes, it has fallen a couple of times.

Since there isn’t much she would want of a smartphone, apart from WhatsApp and being able to read news (TV advert said she can read news), I disabled most apps that come pre-installed and left only Chrome, Google Go and installed WhatsApp and a Bible app.

She says the battery life is pretty good because she doesn’t charge it as much as we do our own phones. She loves that text can be made bigger on the phone unlike on a kabambe. And that she can share pictures and messages via WhatsApp.

Final thoughts:

Safaricom Neon Kicak 4 Review

Safaricom should think through something I found could be particularly bad: system updates. Personally, I know I can handle a 500MB update pretty well. But what about a first time user? Can such be made data-free on Safaricom phones?

I know recently Safaricom introduced an option where you can pay 20 Bob per day or 100 Bob per week and be able to update apps through Google Play Store without consuming your bundles. So I don’t see it as an impossibility to have Safaricom devices have free system updates.

Something else, I found it weird that Songa wasn’t pre-installed. I mean we all hate bloatware, but this is Safaricom’s music streaming service! I am looking forward to the next Neon Kicka Phone.


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Dickson Otieno
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