Safaricom Neon Ultra Review: Is It Worth Your Money?

Introduction:

While smartphones have become cheaper over the years, in an economy such as Kenya, people are still very cautious and worry about spending too much on what is still considered non-essential device. Various Manufactures have sort to exploit on this very fact by unleashing devices in what has now become a very popular genre – the Budget segment. One such device that has a price tag that’s too good to be ignored is the latest in Safaricom’s offering dubbed the “Safaricom Neon Ultra”. A Key consideration is that the device is locally manufactured – thanks to the strategic partnership Safaricom forged with a few stakeholders in the country.

Safaricom Neon Ultra has one other additional responsibility to fulfill, and that is to enhance digital inclusion in Kenya which is aligned with the nation’s push for increased 4G access. From the outside, things seem all good, but does it truly stand out in its category? We have decided to go barebones and delve deeper into its features and performance to determine at the end of it all if it is still the right choice for you.

Quick Summary:

  • The Safaricom Neon Ultra is an affordable smartphone locally manufactured here in Kenya and designed for users on a tight budget with a decent combination of performance and essential features.
  • Since it technically has locally assembled components, the device contributes to Kenya’s digital inclusion efforts and supports 4G accessibility.
  • While the device struggles with heavy multitasking and gaming, it serves well for light usage such as social media browsing and messaging.
  • The battery life is sufficient for a full day of moderate usage, although the charging speed is notably slow.
  • Available at a competitive price point, the Neon Ultra presents a viable option for individuals transitioning from feature phones to smartphones, particularly those seeking affordable access to 4G connectivity.

Unboxing Experience:

When we walked into one of Safaricom’s shop locally along Nairobi’s Moi Avenue at a popular waiting joint called “Kenya Cinema”, our hopes were high with an appetite to check what a locally designed device could offer. From the word go, the Safaricom Neon Ultra arrives in what I’d easily call a comprehensive package. In it, there’s some essential offering such asl accessories that include but not limited to a factory-applied screen protector, removable battery, power brick, charging cable, earphones, back case, start guide, and warranty card. The thoughtful inclusion of accessories couldn’t be more welcome, especially now that industry leaders like Apple and Samsung have decided to look the other way

Design and Build Quality:

Having got used to more premium devices like the Apples and Galaxy S series, I wasn’t looking for a lot in matters design. The device features a simplistic design that sports a 6.5-inch screen with adequate brightness for daily use. While the plastic frame and back may lack premium appeal, most of it spoilt by my previous experiences, the body surprisingly appears more durable and not to mention cheap to manufacture resulting in its affordability nature. The inclusion of a back case mitigates smudges from our greasy hands and protects the device, although the absence of biometric features like face unlock or fingerprint recognition may be a drawback for some users.

Performance and Software:

Powered by an entry-level Unisoc processor that’s coupled with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the Neon Ultra delivers acceptable performance for basic tasks. Additionally, the device is running on Android 13(Go Edition) which offers a clean user experience with minimal bloatware, although the absence of biometric authentication options is noticeable. And of course it will struggle with multitasking as well as running demanding applications, the device handles light gaming and everyday usage adequately.

Camera Capabilities:

Equipped with a 5MP selfie camera and an 8MP main camera, the Neon Ultra captures passable photos in favorable lighting conditions. However, the noticeable lag in photo capture and limited low-light performance may understandably detract from the overall camera experience. Despite offering various shooting modes including Panorama and Night mode, the device falls short of delivering exceptional photography results.

Battery Life and Charging:

The Neon Ultra houses a 3750mAh battery that is touted to provide sufficient endurance for a day of moderate usage. On the downside, the slow charging speed via Type-C port may inconvenience users who rely heavily on their devices. Despite this drawback, the device offers reliable battery life for everyday tasks, ensuring uninterrupted usage throughout the day.

Verdict:

In conclusion, the Safaricom Neon Ultra presents a compelling option for budget-conscious consumers looking for an affordable entry into the smartphone world. With its modest specifications and functional design, it caters to users transitioning from feature phones to smartphones, offering essential features and 4G connectivity at an accessible price point.

Pricing and Availability:

Safaricom Neon Ultra is priced at Ksh 8,999 and is available at various Safaricom retail shops, Masoko, and online e-commerce platforms like Jumia. Additionally, the device can be purchased through Safaricom’s Lipa Mdogo Mdogo program which allows users to pay a deposit and subsequent daily installments for added affordability. This program also offers daily bundles of talk time and data, further enhancing the value proposition of the Neon Ultra for budget-conscious consumers.

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