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Old 03-02-2019, 03:23 PM   #16
henry45
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Nice to hear :-)
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Old 04-08-2019, 11:12 AM   #17
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Got mine...

I've read this thread and others, and decided for my purposes I'd risk getting an A6 without the Google framework.

It arrived over the weekend - and I thought I'd give my first impressions based on what I bought it for: I'm evaluating it as a replacement for my Yota2, I may still go the Yota3(+) route but plan to see if I can live with the phone without Gapps. Having had an e-ink screen on my phone I don't see how I'd live without one now.

So far it's not too bad. Mine's updated to 8.1. I like having 128GB to use and I've a 128GB card in the second slot which gives plenty of storage options (the one real downside to the Yota2 for me was not having a memory slot - ymmv).

I've removed a lot of the Chinese apps and installed F-Droid and Aurora stores but side loaded the apps I wanted to kick off with on the SD card. Some apps don't work, because the Google framework isn't there, others pop a warning up and carry on just fine. Some don't complain at all.

The built-in apps despite being in English do still show some Chinese (eg contacts have some Chinese information in them, and all the ring tones have Chinese names) but since it's a Chinese phone for the Chinese market that's perfectly natural. I'm just lucky that I'm an English speaker and the other language on the phone is English.

I'm not sure if some of the additions/changes to apps are because it's running a HiSense-d Android implementation or the same things show up in base 8.1 (I have nothing else running 8.1 to compare it with).

The email and messaging apps are integrated into the notifications on the e-ink screen, more-so than the Yota2. So where as I can replace the stock SMS app and the notification on Yota2 and the e-ink respects the default app and launches it... on the A6 it doesn't and launches the built-in app. I'll play more when I've had the phone for more than a few hours and am happy making back-ups etc.

The widgets on the back screen are not as polished as the Yota2 ones but the screen is oh so much better (and bigger) Flipping to run the main interface on the back works great, and the notification panels can directly launch pretty much any app onto the screen.

I put some other fonts onto the device which makes it more readable for me, plus the improved resolution and size makes reading even easier than on my older device. Having the backlight is something I expect I'll make limited use of (I tend to keep a 6" ereader by the bed) but handy to have on trips where all I have to do is take the one phone and have a proper illuminated eink screen, but it works well and offers a range of brightness (white only!).

I've side loaded a registered Nova launcher (I do that because I have devices from different mfgs and I like the launcher working how I am used to when I swap devices) and it updated fine using Aurora; so for now I'm pretty happy with the device day to day.

So far I've just put FBReader on it; my reading needs are simple and I doubt I'll switch as it works fine for my use. I simply launch it from the e-ink screen and it's there. I can use the volume keys to page so I'm happy. One downside is that the phone is physically quite big, I can just about cope with using it one handed, my wife has to use it with two hands. So will see how it goes as a reading device on the tube (a primary use for me if I don't have my e-reader with me).

Other major downside for me is that like most modern Android devices it doesn't play nice with OSX. Macs don't (for some reason known only to Apple) properly support the MTP protocol and so unlike the phone it's replacing it doesn't simply plug-in and get recognised by Calibre. As I use a Mac as my primary machine, sadly I can't us Calibre as easily as I am used to. I'll look into alternatives to plugging my phone in and syncing... I probably ought to go wireless I suppose!

So far I've found replacements to all but one of my day-to-day apps that either don't work on 8.1 or require Google and so I'm certainly keeping the phone as my day-to-day.

If the International ROM arrives (if) I'll probably give that a go, if flashing is possible, which I hope it will be.
I looked at the bootloader, which is in Chinese (so I can't read it) but it has two understandable bits of English "update.zip" and "SD" displayed in the bootloader message, so clearly it's possible to put an update.zip on the SD card and load from there. I also noticed in the Developer Options it's possible to unlock the bootloader, so I'm expecting something to be possible root-wise with this device in the future.
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Old 05-08-2019, 05:24 AM   #18
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There is still no news I can find of Google Play coming to the A6. I’m wondering if maybe I’ll get one anyway. However I’m concerned about navigation - can someone with an A6 please advise of their experiences with navigation apps that work on the A6 given there is no Google Maps.
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Old 05-08-2019, 09:52 PM   #19
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There is still no news I can find of Google Play coming to the A6.
Google Play works fine on my A2 Pro so you would think that they could get it working on the A6. I wonder what the issue is.

I'm hoping that they will eventually get Google Play working on it and drop the price by about half. Then I would certainly buy it. I really miss not having a frontlight on the eink side of my A2 Pro. Other than that, am loving the A2 Pro.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:42 PM   #20
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Google Play works fine on my A2 Pro so you would think that they could get it working on the A6. I wonder what the issue is.
The issue is it's a phone for the Chinese market, where there is no reason to pay to be Google certified when none of the Google cruft installed on the phone would be of any use at all. In short there is no issue at all.

Quote:
I'm hoping that they will eventually get Google Play working on it and drop the price by about half. Then I would certainly buy it. I really miss not having a frontlight on the eink side of my A2 Pro. Other than that, am loving the A2 Pro.
I hope they give the phone away - but until the BOM comes down the phone is reasonably competitively priced for what it is. Certainly for me an A2 would be a retrograde step from the Yota2s I have.
International firmware or an international version would be nice for those locked into the Google ecosystem but the investment would have to be worth it in potential sales; once assumes currently it's not.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:49 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cartz View Post
There is still no news I can find of Google Play coming to the A6. I’m wondering if maybe I’ll get one anyway. However I’m concerned about navigation - can someone with an A6 please advise of their experiences with navigation apps that work on the A6 given there is no Google Maps.
I can confirm that Google Maps doesn't work.
I'm using Nokia "HERE WeGo" which seems to do the things I need it to do, and has download-able maps for offline use too.

In general I'm finding the phone perfectly usable. I've had to substitute some of the apps I use because they are too heavily tied to Google play services but the phone is now my day to day device and for my use it's working well.

I tend not to install new apps all the time, so once I have what I need/want working well I tend not to add/remove things all the time.

YMMV.
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:50 PM   #22
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The issue is it's a phone for the Chinese market, where there is no reason to pay to be Google certified when none of the Google cruft installed on the phone would be of any use at all. In short there is no issue at all.
Oh I get that. But the A2 Pro model seems to have been mainly for the domestic Chinese market as well. Certainly I haven't seen the A2 Pro for sale outside of online Chinese market places like Aliexpress... And yet Google Play is working on it.

Anyway, glad to hear that it is working for you. My A2 Pro will hopefully continue to work for me until they drop the price on the A6 or until somebody else comes along with a decent single screen eink phone.
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Old 05-14-2019, 12:03 PM   #23
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Oh I get that. But the A2 Pro model seems to have been mainly for the domestic Chinese market as well. Certainly I haven't seen the A2 Pro for sale outside of online Chinese market places like Aliexpress... And yet Google Play is working on it.
Ahh... my misunderstanding I thought that Google frameworks and thus Play etc only worked on the A2 Pro with a HiSense provided Google compliant firmware installed. I don't think that it's that HiSense couldn't make it work on the A6 but that they don't have the motivation to do so. Certainly installing them officially would mean they'd have to pay/meet Google's license conditions.

I assume, though I've not got the experience or understanding of how they work, that the framework apps need to be system apps and/or in the system partition which means generally a rooted device is needed to install them ie GApps or similar.
I'm not sure that it's possible (yet) to root the device and I've not tried.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:05 PM   #24
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Ahh... my misunderstanding I thought that Google frameworks and thus Play etc only worked on the A2 Pro with a HiSense provided Google compliant firmware installed.
Actually, you may be right. It could be that there is a domestic model of the A2 Pro without Google Play. I had assumed that since they were online Chinese marketplaces that they were domestic devices. It could be that they are offering international models on those sites which are frequented by foreigners.

However, if it made enough financial sense for them to do it for the A2 Pro, I would have thought it would make even more sense to do it for the A6... But perhaps that's why I'm not in marketing and finance.
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:22 PM   #25
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Actually, you may be right. It could be that there is a domestic model of the A2 Pro without Google Play. I had assumed that since they were online Chinese marketplaces that they were domestic devices. It could be that they are offering international models on those sites which are frequented by foreigners.
I think AliExpress and other sites will sell what's coming down the pipe and if it shifts sell more of it. Both the Yota3 and 3+ are available on AliExpress for example and they'll ship them wherever.

Quote:
However, if it made enough financial sense for them to do it for the A2 Pro, I would have thought it would make even more sense to do it for the A6... But perhaps that's why I'm not in marketing and finance.
Yes, sadly the marketing behind eink isn't large, the mainstream reviewers don't get it. I assume that they've not lived with an eink device and move on to the next hyped Samsung device gifted them at a launch party while dismissing the eink display as a weird expense... and the phone not having the latest OctaCore XZY93 processor with the ABC55A video accelerator is therefore out of date! There's a reason Samsung who, imho, make so so devices dominate the market and that's marketing spend.

I also read that Google are requiring more control over devices before they will license their framework now, so it might be more expensive and less interesting for manufacturers of niche devices to bother complying with the Google demands for such a small market.

But despite being small, we are enthusiastic so I hope that because we continue to buy these devices they'll continue to make them, and make international Google compliant versions too.

:-)
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