The aisles in stores are filling with back to school supplies: notebooks, pens and binders. But teachers are also incorporating technology into the curriculum now. Most physical classrooms are outfitted with at least a tablet to help students learn in news ways and also to prepare them for a world that sees technological advancements every day. That’s not to mention all of the online courses available as well!

No matter the age, students can learn in and out of the classroom, all thanks to the computers in the palm of their hands. Smartphones removed barriers to information, and have allowed individuals to become subject masters. So as you or your children gear up for the school year, what are the best educational apps available on Android smartphones?

See below the best educational apps for Smartphones

Coursera (4.4 stars; 5 million downloads)

This app offers courses ranging from computer science to arts and humanities to personal development. Many of the courses were developed by prestigious schools like the University of Michigan, Stanford University, Duke University and more, and Coursera offers certificates of completion for many of their free and paid programs.

Khan Academy (4.6 stars; 1 million downloads)

Khan Academy is aligned with the U.S.’s Common Core curriculum and offers an education to anyone in the world, completely free. Traditional students, homeschoolers, administrators and even adults looking a refresher can sharpen their skills with content, practice problems and interactive learning methods.

YouTube (4.3 stars; 1 billion downloads)

For visual learners, YouTube can be a goldmine beyond discovering music and cat videos. Tutorials, from makeup to car repair, populate the platform and provide the instruction and demonstration needed to learn a new skill.

Duolingo (4.7 stars; 50 million downloads)

Ever wanted to learn a new language? Duolingo promises to help you learn new languages like Spanish, Japanese, Italian and more in just a few minutes a day. The app offers pronunciation help through your phones speaker and microphone, giving you the ability to not only read and comprehend, but also speak a new language fluently.

Kids Numbers and Math Free (4.2 stars; 5 million downloads)

A strong foundation in math can set a child up for success later on in life. Kids Numbers and Math helps early elementary children learn the most basic skills from counting to addition/subtraction to comparison as they collect “Bug Collection Puzzles.” With a focus on building learning into playing, Kids Numbers and Math is enjoyed by children and parents alike.

Photomath (4.5 stars; 10 million downloads)

Solve math problems using the camera of your phone. With handwriting recognition and step-by-step instructions on how to solve the equation, Photomath is an app that will help both those struggling with just one problem or just math in general.

Stack the States (4.5 stars; 50,000 downloads)

Learning facts about the 50 states can be a daunting task for many elementary children. Stack the States allows them to interact with the states in a new way and practice recognizing the states’ shapes and position within the U.S. Fun facts about each state are learned through quizzes and puzzles, with each level unlocking new opportunities.

With these free or low cost apps and a budget-friendly smartphone from NUU Mobile, you’ll be set to do your best this coming school year. Learn more about which smartphone is the right one to help you make the grade.

NUU Mobile focuses on building smartphones that match the performance of leading brands and use the most advanced technology. View our smartphones here.

Mobile phones and technology have been advancing in leaps and bounds since they became commonplace in the typical consumer’s life. Internet service providers and mobile phone companies alike have been working both cooperatively and competitively to continue that advancement of technology. Up next on the docket? The 5G network.

What is 5G?

At this time, the definition of 5G is still a little vague. What we do know is that 5G stands for 5th Generation, or the 5th version of wireless network technology. At this point, we are all used to seeing that little 4G LTE in the top right corner of our screen (or for those in more rural areas, a 3G might be more common). Right now, 4G LTE is what allows you to watch videos, stream music and browse the internet at fast speeds.

Based on the current limitations of 4G, we can expect that 5G will:

What does 5G mean for mobile devices?

As with most changes in technology, devices and hardware will need to be updated so they are compatible with the 5G network. This could mean more antennas in your cell phone to access faster speeds, or it could mean hardware and software that hasn’t even been developed yet. Until 5G is more clearly defined, companies that rely on mobile networks are at a bit of a standstill to truly start developing technology that taps into the 5G network.

5G will be a game changer for all devices that connect to a wireless or mobile network. In addition to cell phones, things like houses and cars will see a great benefit from the adoption of a 5G network. This next generation will take things like smart homes and self-driving cars from concept to reality for the average consumer.

When can I expect to see 5G on my phone?

While 5G may still be in development, that doesn’t mean your 4G network will remain stagnant. Mobile and internet service providers are continuing to push the limits of what is possible on the current 4G LTE network, even calling updates “pre-5G”. True 5G will likely build on LTE technology, rather than reinventing the wheel.

Most carriers in the US are working towards the goal of rolling out 5G by 2020, but many are working to make that a reality sooner. Verizon is planning testing in major cities by mid-2017 and AT&T is hoping to deploy 5G by late 2018. T-Mobile and Sprint are also in the 5G game, but are making it more of an event than a service and are targeting specific wireless devices.

One thing is for sure, 5G will drastically change how the Internet of Things connects. With faster reaction times, higher speeds and more room for everyone to be on the network, staying connected will be easier than ever.

NUU Mobile focuses on building smartphones that match the performance of leading brands and use the most advanced technology. View our products here.

Your plans are set: the plane tickets are purchased, your room is booked and you’ve told your bank that you’ll be leaving the country. But you forgot one important detail. How are you going to keep in touch with friends and family back in your home country?

Your carrier may or may not have the capabilities for you to easily stay connected abroad without paying more for international plans.

CDMA vs. GSM

In the U.S., there are two different types of mobile phone networks: GSM and CDMA. Around the mid-90s, CDMA was the newest technology as phone service carriers switched from analog to digital. At the time, CDMA was leaps and bounds ahead of GSM in terms of quality and capabilities. One decision made nearly 20 years ago set the path for many U.S. carriers.

Today, GSM is just as advanced, if not more so, than CDMA. However, many carriers, like Sprint and Verizon, are stuck on CDMA network. AT&T, T-Mobile and other carriers use the GSM network.

GSM in Europe

The U.S. is a bit of an odd-man-out when it comes to the networks mobile phone providers use. In 1987, Europe required by law that GSM technology was used industry-wide. (In case you were wondering, NUU Mobile phones operate on the GSM network).

Now, just because your phone may be on the GSM network in the U.S. does not necessarily mean that it is going to work when you are abroad. There are a host of other factors that come into play, such as the frequencies used by each carrier and whether your phone is locked or unlocked.

Locked and Unlocked Smartphones

Suppose your phone plan is with a carrier on the GSM network. To have a chance of working abroad, it must also be an unlocked smartphone. In most cases, this means you probably paid full price for it, instead of getting it discounted or for free with a contract.

If your smartphone is locked, you’ll be stuck paying either roaming fees or a higher rate for an international plan.

If you have an unlocked smartphone, staying in touch abroad may be a little easier. When you arrive, you can buy a local SIM card, which will give you close to the same service you enjoy in the U.S. depending on which country you are in. Note: you’ll have to buy a different SIM card for each country you visit. All of NUU Mobile’s phones come with dual LTE SIMs to help you keep track of your SIM cards while traveling.

As mobile technology continues to advance by leaps and bounds, there may eventually be a day where both your phone and carrier work worldwide. Until then, your best bet is to invest in an unlocked smartphone on the GSM network.

Staying in touch abroad doesn’t have to be a pain, especially if your phone is already made for visiting multiple countries. Check out NUU Mobile’s best phone recommendations for your next trip. International travel can be daunting. With NUU Mobile devices, you’ll find peace of mind and stay connected while traveling.

Near mid-spring, the earth comes back to life and popular tourist destinations start to prepare for their busiest season. Summer is the most popular time for travel, especially internationally. Families will be taking vacations while the kids are out of school, and conversely, students will be studying abroad to complement their coursework.

For those that are planning on an extended stay overseas, staying connected is a number one priority. However, cellular plan providers worldwide have yet to agree on terms that would make life easier for international travelers. As it stands, each country requires a different SIM card, making that backpacking trip around Europe a little more difficult.

Travelers on shorter trips (about one week) may be able to get by on free Wi-Fi throughout their trip. That can be a risky maneuver, though. Some businesses that offer free Wi-Fi limit their usage to an hour, and navigation through your phone is completely lost unless you’re connected to the internet.

International plans provide another option, but can be costly. Even then, data speeds are typically in the 2G range and texts and calls are limited much more than your plan at home. What can a traveler do to stay connected while in another country?

A favorite tactic of international travelers is to keep their best phones, which must be unlocked, and purchase a SIM card from the country they are visiting. NUU Mobile users have an extra benefit on top of that. All of NUU Mobile’s unlocked Android smartphones come with Dual SIM capabilities. From the moment you touch down in a foreign land, you can be connected, whether it’s to your family, company, or friends, and all from the comfort of your familiar NUU Mobile device. The dual SIM allows you to keep these small devices safe throughout your stay abroad.

In addition to phones that operate domestically and internationally, NUU Mobile’s Konnect i1 Wi-Fi hostpot can be the perfect option for travelers. Rather than counting on free Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, travelers can rest easy knowing they are connected in more than 100 countries worldwide. Most importantly, the Konnect i1 provides a secure internet connection so important emails and sensitive information stays where it belongs. You can even make international voice calls when connected to the hotspot.

For travelers looking for the best phones to use abroad, it doesn’t get much better than using your own device. In the unfamiliarity of another country, count on the connection, performance and mobility of NUU Mobile’s devices to help you stay connected.

International travel can be daunting. With NUU Mobile devices, you’ll find peace of mind and stay connected throughout your trip. Learn more about NUU Mobile’s smartphones here.

Analytics firm Strategy Analytics predicts that this year, there will be more than 7 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices in use worldwide. That number has steadily increased over the past few years as the global population becomes more mobile, but maintains a need to stay constantly connected.

Internet connections are easy enough to come by in homes and apartments, but they are becoming just as common in public places thanks to Wi-Fi hotspots. Here’s what you need to know about staying connected and staying mobile.

1. What is a Wi-Fi hotspot?

A Wi-Fi hot spot is both a place and a thing. The term is used interchangeably to describe a public place where a user can connect to the internet and the device itself used to make the connection. Much like your router that allows you to access the internet wirelessly in your home, a hotspot allows an individual to access the internet, so long as they have the password. They are most often available in coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and other public places. As long as your device is in range and you have the correct password, connecting to a hotspot should be simple.

Public hotspots vs. private hotspots
The average person is most familiar with public hotspots. Some places will offer access to the internet via Wi-Fi for free, others keep the password hidden behind the register to encourage paying customers, and others still will require you to agree to their terms of use. All are perfectly common scenarios in any public hotspot.

Private hotspots are typically used by a single individual between their own devices. The most common example of a private hotspot is using one device, like a cell phone with a data plan, to gain access to the internet on another device, like a tablet or laptop.

2. Who uses Wi-Fi hotspots?

Nearly everyone with a Wi-Fi enabled device will find themselves in need of a hotspot at some point in their lives. For college students, that can be during finals week when they hit the nearest coffee shop for a change of scenery while studying. Business professionals that travel often take comfort in the both the abundance of public Wi-Fi hotspots> and the security of private hotspots. Even the average person will take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspots to reduce the data usage on their cell phone plan.

3. Should I be concerned about security?

As with any device accessed by multiple people, there are potential security and privacy threats associated with public hotspots. The connection between users and the access point (hotspot) is not always encrypted. This allows malicious users the opportunity to stage attacks or gain access to any data that may be transmitted between the hotspot and the user’s device.

Private hotspots offer more security. The private or portable hotspot owner has the ability to upgrade the encryption, change the network name, create complicated passwords, and, most of all, control who can connect to the hotspot. As many professionals take business outside of the office to public places, a portable, private hotspot could be well worth the investment.

4. What features does a hotspot typically have?

Most hotspot devices come with the same standard features. The most basic hotspot will allow multiple devices to connect to the internet and provide at least a basic level of security. More advanced devices will work internationally and provide unlimited data. There are a variety of options to meet an individual’s needs and security requirements.

Mobile hotspots will continue to rise in popularity as mobile carriers cap data plans. Our current shift to an on-demand population requires it. From entertainment to business, our need for constant connectivity is influencing the devices we carry on a daily basis.

NUU Mobile manufactures budget-friendly, unlocked smartphones and mobile technologies. The NUU Konnect i1 is a 4G LTE global hotspot that works more than 100 countries. International travelers can stay safely connected without locking into a contract or accruing fees. Learn more about the NUU Konnect i1 here.

In the last few years, the mobile telecommunications industry has seen significant growth in the unlocked phones space, driven by factors like the government signing a cell phone unlocking bill into law and carriers like T-Mobile educating customers on unlocked phones. In fact, in 2012, unlocked phones only accounted for 1% of total smartphone sales in the US but by 2015, the percentage increased to 7%. Strategy Analytics forecasts that this percentage will increase to 16% by 2020.

So what are some other factors that will continue to help drive the prepaid, unlocked phones industry? NUU Mobile identified three key consumer trends that are helping to grow the unlocked phones segment.

Increasingly more educated customers

As people are starting to learn about the benefits of unlocked phones (like being able to switch networks anytime), the demand for unlocked phones will continue to grow. There is already a segment of consumers who are well aware of the benefits, mainly due to the fact that they travel a lot or come from a country where phones and contracts are “sold separately” or those tech savvy consumers that root their phones. The mass market however, is only starting to understand this concept. They are also starting to understand that carriers have been subsidizing their phones and that they are not paying $200 for an iPhone, but rather over $600 when they sign up to a 2-year contract.

Increasing demand for sub $100 unlocked phones

Working with mass cell phone distributors and retailers, NUU has seen an increase in demand for sub $100 unlocked phones, specifically around the $80 price point. However, a small market research study conducted by NUU also showed that tech savvy consumers are willing to spend around $200 for a cell phone that has all the bells and whistles, which is still a lot lower than a $650 iPhone or Samsung. With this increase in demand, there will be more manufacturers and therefore more choices for consumers to choose from.

In addition, the strong competition among network providers are encouraging consumers to switch at no cost, prompting carriers to start dropping phone subsidies and 2-year contract deals in favor of no contract / prepaid plans. This in turn means that cost-sensitive customers will search for more affordable phone options helping to drive the sub $100 phone market.

Continued demand for choice, customization and latest technologies

Nowadays consumers, it seems, are more demanding with a less patience. The desire to have the “latest and greatest” NOW combined with declining customer loyalty means that brands must work that much harder to engage the consumer and give them the experience that they are looking for. Essentially, consumers are loyal to the experience, once that experience is over, the consumer typically will disengage. For unlocked phones, since the power is in the consumers’ hands due to all the choices available out there as well as the rapid speed that phone technology evolves at, the experience typically lasts 6-12 months until the “next big thing” arrives. The demand for the latest phones will continue to grow, which means only companies that can keep up with providing the latest updates and technologies on a timely manner will be able to compete effectively in this highly competitive, fast paced industry.

In summary, unsurprisingly, consumers will continue to be the key force that will drive the US unlocked phones market as they become more educated and budget conscious, yet still demanding the latest technologies. Take a look at Europe and Asia and that is where the US market is trending towards – over a decade later.

Ensures Carrier Desired Device Configuration without Software Customization

August 4, 2016 – Baltimore, MD – Today, Apkudo announced that it has launched Carrier Pack on the NUU N5L and N4L. Carrier Pack allows original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to develop a generic software SKU that can serve individual carrier customization requirements. Carrier Pack dynamically manages configurable device settings such as APNs and network settings as well as other experiences such as start-up screens, pre-load apps, contacts and content.

Carrier Pack enables carrier configuration and customization to be packaged, distributed, and installed on devices in a flexible and simple manner, similar to consumer apps. Carriers are empowered to own and manage the configuration of their devices without the overhead and barrier-to-entry of requiring direct OEM support, improving time to market, competitiveness, and consumer happiness. OEMs are able to target and support a far broader reach of carriers – hence, consumers – with much lower overhead and cost, while still maintaining the necessary control and security over their own brand and the experiences provided by their devices.

“Apkudo’s Carrier Pack technology is designed to provide efficiencies to both OEMs and carriers while allowing flexibility to customize the device experience with ease,” said Josh Matthews, Co-founder and CEO of Apkudo.

“We are excited about this partnership with CCA and Apkudo to bring a quality, customized device to market,” said John Murtha, VP of Sales at NUU Mobile. “It’s partnerships like this that we believe can really separate NUU Mobile from its competitors and allow the company to best serve its customers.”

Apkudo and NUU Mobile are participating in the CCA Device Hub, powered by Apkudo. CCA Device Hub Member Union Wireless trialed and tested the Carrier Pack technology with device manufacturer NUU Mobile and will distribute devices through wireless phone wholesaler YAM Wireless.

About Apkudo

Apkudo is a smart device test company that places user experience at the forefront of device testing. Because devices are app platforms, Apkudo has moved beyond traditional pass/fail testing methodology to pioneer new analytics, collaboration, and management methodologies that significantly improves the experience delivered throughout the entire device lifecycle. Visit www.apkudo.com

About NUU Mobile

NUU Mobile, a subsidiary of Noetic Inc., is headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota with offices in Miami, London, Hong Kong and Malaysia. The company has been manufacturing and supplying unlocked smartphones since 2012 and have won various awards for its phones such as Top 10 Unlocked Phones of 2015 by PC Mag. The company employs over 3,000 people worldwide with over 250 R&D staff. For more information, please visit www.nuumobile.com.

It has only been in the recent years that “unlocked” cell phones are getting more attention and consumers are learning exactly what they are. Well, at least here in North America. Unlocked phones are standard everywhere else in the world like Europe and Asia. So if you buy a phone there, you might wonder why they are more expensive than the ones in the US. It’s because these phones aren’t subsidized like the phones are here by carriers who require you to sign up for a 2-year contract. You don’t really think the carriers are giving you a $650 iPhone for $200 are you? They’re just simply spreading the cost of the phone over 2 years with the contract, which for some people is worth it. But you end up paying more for the phone in the long run.

Here are seven solid reasons why you should go unlocked.

1. Easily switch between networksWe’ve all been there – I hate (insert carrier), their coverage in (insert location) sucks! Well, with unlocked phones, you can easily switch networks while traveling or if you end up moving to another location where one carrier’s coverage is better than the other, you won’t have to choose between dealing with poor reception and early termination fees. Isn’t that refreshing? Not having to be locked into a contract?

2. Use the phone anywhere in the world that uses a GSM networkWe mentioned above that you can easily switch between networks, but did you know that you can easily switch between networks internationally? That’s right! Hopping over to Europe or Asia for a vacation? No worries, because your unlocked phone can be used on any network in Europe or Asia that is on a GSM network (which pretty much is every network). Or, perhaps your kid decided to backpack around the world for a few months. Well, an unlocked phone is the device to have him or her travel with, especially if you want to stalk keep track of where they are to make sure they aren’t doing anything stupid are safe and sound.It’s much easier to stay connected now and all you have to do is buy a local SIM card (from a convenience store or those street stands), pop it in and away you go – without paying ludicrous international roaming fees, which we’ll get to in the next point.

3. Save money in the long runFirst off, since you can switch among any GSM networks, roaming fees and rates would be virtually non-existent since you’ll be using a local SIM. Even with an international plan through AT&T or Verizon can set you back quite a bit depending on how much calling and texting you do, not to mention data (unless you’re lucky enough to find Wi-Fi). This means, the only person who is paying for long distance is the person calling the local number, no double long distance fees!Second, going unlocked allows you to shop around for the best plan anytime you want, so if there is a deal, then you can just switch since you won’t be under a contract. So in the long run, you can actually save money on plans, even though you may have to fork over more for the phone in the beginning.

4. Customize your phone for YOUR needsOne word – Bloatware. Now, when you buy a phone that has 16GB of storage, you will actually have that much space (or darn close to it) without all the carrier apps pre-installed onto the phone that you can’t uninstall. Choose the apps that you want without restrictions and customize the phone to suit you. If you’re tech savvy, you can do really cool things with an unlocked phone – like install custom ROMs, remove ads, attach a video game controller and more!

5. More phones to choose fromEach network or carrier has their own phones that you can only use with their network, but by going unlocked, you are opening the door to a world of more phone choices with other brands (like NUU Mobile) at a lower cost (but similar specs). In addition, with lower cost phones, you can also change phones more frequently without breaking the bank as new updates and technologies get introduced. Great for those who always want the latest and greatest technologies.

6. Receive software updates quickerA lot times Google, let’s just say, will release a software update, but it takes the carrier awhile to push that out. Why? Well, carriers need to test their devices with every version of a new Android OS along with those extra carrier apps (aka bloatware), so that takes A LOT of time. Unlocked phones however, aren’t tied to any specific carrier, so they can get updates directly from the manufacturer. So if you’re still stuck with KitKat, you know why. To get more information on the Android update process, check out the NUU Mobile “Confused by the Android update process? You’re not alone.”, blog post.

7. Dual SIM phonesTired of carrying two phones, one for business and one for personal? Or perhaps you travel between two regions regularly and have one SIM for each. For whatever reason you may want to have multiple numbers (and perhaps multiple contact lists), dual SIM phones help you keep that in one place, so you’re not searching for one phone over another and wondering which phone is ringing. You also don’t have to remember to switch SIM cards and risk the chance of losing such a small card. Besides, keeping track of one phone is better than two…now where did I leave the white phone…

Are there other benefits to unlocked phones? Share it with us – we’d love to hear your reasons why you went unlocked!

Confused by the Android update process? You’re not alone.

“Be together, not the same.” Android’s warm-n-fuzzy advertising campaign is now two years old, but its message is relevant as ever. Compared to the one-size-fits-all iUniverse, Android embraces a delightful diversity of ideas, products, and people.

But there’s a catch.

Gettin’ those mittens on a single kitten would be challenging. But now imagine you have a hundred cats. The job becomes much, much more complicated.

Essentially, this is how Android OS updates work. The role of “you” is played by Google, wireless carriers, and manufacturers. And the “cats” are phones.

With so many folks involved, it’s no wonder the update process can be long and frustrating. And there’s no easy scapegoat, despite the hordes of furious Twitterati casting judgment 140 characters at a time. Complex questions have complex answers.

But let’s see if we can simplify things a little. Here are three reasons you’re still stuck on Lollipop, KitKat, or (yeesh) Froyo.

http://www.androidauthority.com/march-android-distribution-numbers-marshmallow-678678/

Google has a lot of cooks in the kitchen.

When the warlocks of Cupertino decide to update iOS, their job is relatively easy. The neat homogeneity of Apple allows them to devise a single solution for a single lineup of phones. If you’re a user, you just have to wait until the Internet explodes with “OMG new iThing!” — then you check Settings, click “Update”, and voila!

It’s amazing what $800 can buy you.

The Android landscape, on the other hand, is much messier. Google needs to deal with multiple chipset makers and device manufacturers. This diversity has always been one of Android’s strongest selling points, but it does lead to some inevitable complications.

What works for Phone A might not work for Phone B. And don’t even mention Phone C, which is coming out next month, or Phone D, which launched when Justin Bieber still seemed like a nice young man.

To put things in perspective, there are over 24,000 different kinds of Android devices in the world. Designing an update that’s compatible with even one-tenth of them would be a massive task. That Google manages the feat at all is a small miracle, and a testament to the hard work of thousands of dedicated developers.

Carriers slow down the process.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Verizon_Logo_2015.jpg

If you read our story about bloatware, you’ll remember that carriers like to pre-load their own apps onto your phone before you buy it. While this might seem like a minor annoyance (no human being alive wants and/or needs VZW Messenger, so why’s it taking up valuable storage space?), bloatware causes other problems, too.

Carriers need to test their devices with every version of a new Android OS, from beta to final release. Their devices need to be secure, and they also need to be compatible with all the new features. What’s the point of having Marshmallow if you don’t get Android Pay, Now on Tap, or Doze?

Unfortunately, bloatware makes this more difficult than it should be. Getting all those extra carrier apps to play nice with the new OS takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears… and time.

This is one of the reasons unlocked phones have surged in popularity over the past few years — they often receive updates faster than their carrier-branded counterparts. Unlocked phones aren’t tied to any specific carrier, so they can get updates directly from the manufacturer.

Which brings us to our final point:

OEMs have a steep learning curve.

It’s not easy to build updates for a whole new operating system — which might explain why only 7.5% of Android devices run Marshmallow, even though the OS was released back in October 2015. This isn’t a new problem, either. For years, even international megacorporations like Samsung have been criticized for their slow updates.

So what makes these updates so difficult to execute? Imagine playing a game of Jenga — change something at the bottom, and the effects reverberate all the way to the top. If you’re not very very very careful, the whole thing could collapse in a second.

This isn’t a big deal when you’re talking about a pile of wooden blocks, but it’s a different story when credit card numbers, home addresses, and other sensitive pieces of information are at stake. An OS update that isn’t 100% secure can cause some major headaches for users — and no company is eager to piss off thousands of loyal customers.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6b/Jenga_distorted.jpg/514px-Jenga_distorted.jpg

This puts OEMs in an uncomfortable position. They can either rush an update to market (and risk exposing their users to major security issues), or they can take their time to “get things right” (and risk alienating users who demand the latest and greatest ASAP).

Maybe now you can see why PR people hate getting the question, “So when’s Phone X going to Marshmallow?”

In the interests of full disclosure — NUU Mobile hasn’t upgraded its devices to Marshmallow yet. We said we would, and we haven’t. There’s no way of sugarcoating that unpleasant reality.

But we’re not giving up. Our engineers are busting their butts every day to push Marshmallow to our new devices, and to keep up with the Android Security Patches that protect you and your personal information. We haven’t perfected the process yet, but we’re getting better.

In the meantime, we’d love to answer any questions you might have about Marshmallow, software updates, or Android in general. You can ask us stuff on Facebook, or hit us up on Twitter, or even chat with us live on our website.

We can’t promise that we’ll always have the perfect answer, but you can be sure of one thing:

We’ll always be honest. And we’ll always treat you like a real human being.

Be together, not the same. It’s more than just a slogan — it’s a worldview.

We can’t wait to hear from you 🙂

All smartphone manufacturers are the same…or are they?

When you’re buying a new smartphone, you have a lot of acronyms to consider.

How much RAM do you need? How much ROM? Is your network GSM or CDMA?

Talk about alphabet soup.

But here’s a question you probably didn’t consider: is your phone made by an OEMor an ODM?

What’s an OEM?

OEM stands for “original equipment manufacturer”. In the smartphone industry, this term refers to companies who manufacture their own phones in their own factories.

Some examples of Android OEMs are SamsungLG, and NUU Mobile.

What’s an ODM?

ODM stands for “original design manufacturer”. These companies also own factories where they manufacture phones (often in huge quantities).

Then the ODM sells these phones to other companies, who re-brand the devices with their own names and logos.

This is often referred to as “white-labelling”.

What does “white-label” mean?

Consider the cola.

Everyone knows the most famous brand (hint: it’s the red one) — but there are dozens of varieties on supermarket shelves.

The famous brand has guarded its secret recipe for over a hundred years. It’s built dedicated factories and bottling plants with legendary quality control. The famous brand has a reputation to uphold — it values long-term loyalty and total customer satisfaction.

White-labels, on the other hand, have a much simpler motivation: immediate profit.

If people don’t like the taste (or, even worse, if the cola makes them sick), the white-label brand has an easy solution — just change the name. They’re making low-cost knockoffs, not sustainable brands, so there’s no incentive to actually improve the product.

What does that mean for the customer? Well, they get the same lousy cola, but in a shiny new can.

But let’s get back to phones.

How can I tell if my phone is a knock-off?

This can be tricky. Sometimes it’s obvious — like the $4 Indian smartphone that literally used white-out to conceal the original manufacturer’s logo.

Usually, it’s not that easy. Most electronics store employees either don’t know or don’t care where their phones come from — it’s unlikely they’ll be able to tell you which devices are white-labelled. And no white-labeler with an ounce of sense is eager to advertise their true nature. Just imagine that sales pitch:

Buy an ABC phone — it’s exactly like a XYZ phone, except it has a different name and a 20% mark up!

Luckily, the Interwebs is full of nerds with access to inside information about white-labeled phones. If you do some research (and take everything you read with a very large grain of salt), you’ll be surprised by what you find.

Why does it matter?

Let’s be honest — white-labeled products have their benefits. Specifically, they have one benefit everyone appreciates.

They’re cheap.

For people on a budget (and who isn’t, these days?), the low initial cost of a white-label device can be very attractive. A $25 smartphone is hard to turn down — for the price of a large pizza, you can walk out with a shiny new phone!

Only later do you realize why that phone cost just $25.

Your screen will freeze, and customer service won’t return your emails. You’ll be promised software updates that are perpetually delayed. Security patches and bug fixes, perks you’ve taken for granted, never arrive.

You’ll complain, but nobody will listen. Or care. They’ve already got your money, so you’ve ceased to matter.

Frustrated by Kay Kim licensed under CC BY 2.0

This is a worst-case scenario, obviously. It’s possible to get lucky with white-label phones — maybe you’ll buy one and instantly fall in love. You’ll never be annoyed by shoddy build quality, outdated software, or identity theft.

For gamblers, white-label phones from ODMs can be great. But if you’re looking for something more reliable, you might want to consider an OEM.

NUU Mobile is an American-based OEM. To learn more, visit http://us.nuumobile.com/about/