Saturday, December 5, 2009

Death of the Lixin e80

Well, I suppose it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the e80 has already given up the ghost!

It has been given a couple of good tests lately. A few weeks back a colleague of mine from overseas came over to do some work, so I lent him the e80 along with a pre-paid Rogers SIM. (Yes, Rogers will, rather reluctantly and with a lot of ifs and buts, sell you just the pre-paid SIM.) In use, my colleague reported very poor battery life and the charger started to smoke rather alarmingly!

When I got the phone back, it seemed to be just dead. It wouldn't boot up, nothing and I suspected the battery was dead. I then tried getting a real, Nokia branded BL-4B battery off of eBay (<$10). It seemed to try to charge up, but wouldn't boot, so I decided that since it seemed to be just about dead anyway, I would dismantle the whole thing to see if maybe there was an obvious loose connector or something. I also had another USB style charger I could use to replace the one that smoked itself!

The phone wasn't too hard to dismantle completely (sorry, forgot to take a picture) and when disassembled, it would start up just fine. So, after a few tries at reassembling it, I did manage to get it back together and get it working. I ran it for a few weeks and it seemed to be behaving normally, but I just left it running on my desk and I wasn't carrying it around or using much - just testing standby time.

So, since it seemed to be behaving OK, I decided to take it with me on a business trip to the US and use it with my T-Mobile SIM. Big problems ensued! While the charger didn't catch fire or anything the problem was that the phone would loose it's charge withing less than two or three hours on standby! What was worse is that the battery level indicator wasn't terribly accurate - it would look like it was at 2/3 charged and then 15 minutes later would be dead! Anyway, it is just not usable to carry a round a phone that may die any minute, so I am going to declare this unit fried and move on.

Interestingly, a recent article in The Economist (which you can read here if you are a subscriber) quotes a Chinese consultant as saying "despite China’s booming exports of grey-market phones, domestic sales have started to fall. Customers have realised that they break easily and come with no guarantees." Still, these folks seem to be very inventive and I suspect they will come back with better quality, functionality and prices - just like the Japanese car manufacturers did in the 1970s and 80s.

I am, of course, a bit disappointed, but I don't feel terribly ripped off since the original price wasn't too bad and, anyway, my i9 still works just fine. I actually have just purchased the most recent Sciphone Dream G2 Android phone off of eBay to give that a try! I will write that one up as soon as I receive it.

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