$100 IDEOS Android Phone Launches in Kenya

Google and Huawei have launched a very competitively priced Android smartphone in Kenya today, called the IDEOS. It is being sold for 8,000 Ksh (~$100).

It runs Android 2.2 (Froyo) and have access to the Android Market. The IDEOS is a touch-screen phone that comes with bluetooth connectivity, GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera, up to 16GB of storage and can be transformed into a 3G Wi-Fi hotspot connecting up to eight devices.

2 out of every 3 internet users in Kenya connect through their mobile phone. This is why data is the current battleground in the mobile operator and handset space. Though there are only 6 million internet users in Kenya, the data market though the mobile is huge. Currently, there are 20 million mobile phone subscribers of a total 38 million possible.

Data enabled phones of any type cost a minimum of $40-50 in Kenya, a touchscreen smartphone coming in at $100 is going to be a big deal for a lot of people.


Google Kenya started their gKenya conference today. They are meeting with software developers, entrepreneurs and CS students at Strathmore University over 3 days to discuss innovation and growing businesses, as well as discussing their own suite of products.

[An update, after discussions with a bunch of Google employees at the iHub yesterday. The Google team said they didn not know when the phone would be able to be bought in Kenya.]

Android and pre-paid phones

There are two very big issues that the Android team will need to take care of before we see Android being used heavily in Africa.

First, the lack of access to SIM applications is surprising. These are the apps like Mpesa, top-up services and such. These aren’t just “nice to have” features, these are critical and the phone will fail if it doesn’t have them enabled. Your most basic phones can do this, but smartphones running Android cannot? (Note: unless you root your phone)

Second, there are a lot of background services running on an Android phone that use data. That’s fine for people living in an all-you-can-eat world of bandwidth, but here where we have to pay by the megabyte, it doesn’t work. I remember one day when my phone used up 1000 Ksh of credit ($12), that’s unacceptable and will drive users away very quickly.

62 thoughts on “$100 IDEOS Android Phone Launches in Kenya

  1. Wow! This is really cool. I wonder, are they making them available at the G-Kenya event? Or is there going to be a distribution partnership with Safaricom?

  2. Is this the first phone that allows you to turn you phone into a hotspot for Kenya? It will be interesting to see how it is received. On a side note huawei is desperately trying to do business in the states.

  3. Edwin says:

    Hey, I have an android phone, and can use MPESA et al. Which particular phones dont support sim applications?

  4. @Edwin – Some Android phones don’t allow access to the STK (SIM toolkit), such as the Nexus 1. It’s unknown if the IDEOS allows it.

  5. Yes, great phone for the right market, wd also like to buy one. Afaik, it sells as “T-Mobile Pulse” in .DE for ~ 260,- EUR (if this is indeed the Huawei U8220 as reported by the DN).

    “a lot of background services running on an Android phone that use data. ”
    This, coupled with the unfortunate combination of a multi-OS like Android (see http://www.themobilefanatics.com/the-truth-about-why-your-smartphone-battery-sucks/ why) certainly is something they will really have to work on. Are ppl really aware of the many services running on the background and how will they control it? What will protect them from malicious apps on the market?

    The best part about this phone (except for its low entry price), however is that it will hopefully attract more devs. Thx 4 the info, Erik!

  6. Martin says:

    Was the IDEOS only announced or is it already available in Kenya? Didn’t got that. Victor Xu, Huawei’s Chief Marketing Officer, twittered on September 2nd that “the IDEOS will be available in certain markets within a week from now”. I am really fired up for this smartphone and sitting here in Germany where the phone will probably get on the market not before end September, maybe later.

  7. Martin says:

    @jke: The Pulse is an older T-Mobile branded Huawei U8220, launched about a year ago, originally only with Android 1.5, but a good (480 x 320 px) and quite big screen (3.5 inch). The announced U8150 is “labelled” as IDEOS, it has a 2.8 inch screen with 320 × 240 px. [= Wrong caption or old photo of linked Business Daily article?]

  8. The “IDEOS” phone seems to have good specs and the price is right. The other Android offerings by Safaricom are weak. I mean, come on, the U8220 is running Android 1.5 and it costs, what, 27,000? I’d rather buy an iPod and then use my mulika mwizi to make phone calls. Mobile Safari + WiFi is better than anything on Android, I hate to say.

    One thing is certain, though: root ni lazima. 😉

    Also, why do companies “launch” stuff we can’t readily go out and buy?

  9. Has anyone been able to find this phone in the wild? I couldn’t find one in Nairobi a few days after the launch. Very interested in picking one up. Thanks!

  10. Josephine says:


    I have been desperately trying to find this phone in Kisumu and thought it must be available in Nairobi but as far as I can tell nobody in phone shops knows about it, and most places they don’t even know what Android is. I did find the Huawei/Vodafone 845 Android phone at Safaricom shops for 16,499 shillings. This is running Android 2.1. Is this what has actually been released instead of the IDEOS? Any ideas?

  11. At Josephine..
    The Phone is not in the market yet. But its expected probably this month. Its already been released in singapore and some Asian countries so its coming this way soonest. And no don’t confuse it with Huawei/Vodafone 845 That was released way back. Cheers

  12. Ok, the camera is 3.2mpx only + fixed focus, LAKINI this one is ~ 81 EUR + the data package while the same phone sells for 190 EUR in Germoney.


  13. Charles says:

    have it already and am experiencing a problem with it as in when making a call the other end can hear me but on my side i can hear them, and when i connect the hands free i can hear is the ear piece the problem or thea is a setting miss? please help

  14. betty says:

    The phone is serving me alright except i can not forward a message. Any help???? Uses airtime fast though….

  15. Peter Young P says:

    I have heard of this phone and I really want to know whether it’s good because I’m buying it on Monday. Is it good?

  16. saningo says:

    it came and i was among the first group to buy the first batch but barely three months it let me down. Though the operator made it under warranty it ever made me worry of it failing especially when the message” android system in …..(certain app)…… is not responding force to close…. wait” i mean what is this?

  17. I bought ideos x5 phone and is really fantastic to use. One handicap it has is that the battery discharges so fast that the phone disconnects you with the rest of the world. Is it possible to develop another more advanced battery for this phone?.

  18. Astro says:

    This product has also been released in Zimbabwe. Am going to hav a go at it! Sounds good though the launch price in Zim, US$165, is slightly higher than Kenya.

  19. madanda says:

    I have an idios phone but whenever I change the sim card it never lights on, I have tried almost all phone repairs but all in vain. Please help me via my email.

  20. mohammed says:

    Hi everyone i have a dilema with an ideos phone i some how managed to lock it and it is requsting an email which i dont know is there any one who has an idea how i can make it work again.

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