The T-Hotel is my favourite place to stay in Hong Kong. Tucked away in the sleepy village of Pok Fu Lam, this boutique property is actually a training facility for hospitality students. Simply put, you get the five-star hotel service of tomorrow, today—and at two-star hotel prices, I might add!
My girlfriend and I stopped over in Hong Kong for a few days on our way back from Seoul. A new service for T-Hotel guests is a complimentary Android phone from handy, with free data for the duration of their stay. When I first wrote about handy exactly two years ago it was a freebie you could only get from the city’s most expensive hotels; it was an unexpected perk to be able to try it out on the cheap.
Here’s the handy interface, a heavily-customized version of Android 5.1.1. Note the six tabs along the bottom row, which I’ll show you now—except for the Call tab, which is just the stock Android phone dialer.
Here’s handy’s app drawer. Some additional apps, like the Citybus route planner, are available for download without having to sign in to your Google account—a nice feature that respects user privacy while maximizing the 8 GB of available storage on the phone.
The City Guide tab, and another ad for Zzenga, whatever that is…
The Shopping tab offers a neat little value-add—you can buy souvenirs with your credit card and get them delivered right to your hotel.
The Tickets tab is something that we’re definitely going to use on our next visit to Hong Kong. Every time we’ve taken the Ngong Ping Cable Car to see the Big Buddha we’ve had to print out paper tickets at the hotel; with a handy phone that’s no longer necessary—and we get a discount, too!
When it’s time to check out you can delete any and all of your personal data with this customized factory reset app by handy. I was told by the staff at my hotel that housekeeping would do this for me if I forgot.
Ok, so what’s the bad news?
Well, as you’d expect, a complimentary phone from your hotel is clearly not aimed at smartphone enthusiasts. The hardware chosen to deliver handy services is the InFocus M370, a budget phone sold in Indian markets. Some notable specs:
5 inch screen
2,230 mAh battery
1 GB RAM / 8 GB Storage
Qualcomm Snapdragon 210
In my limited testing that humble processor very clearly couldn’t handle handy’s “rich” (ad-centric) Android UI. Some more RAM couldn’t hurt, either.
On the other hand, a free phone with free data is hard to complain too much about. handy mobiles are currently available at select hotels in Hong Kong and Singapore; the company looks to be expanding into European markets as well. Read more about handy at the company’s official site.