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VMK preps Africa-designed Elikia smartphone with $170 price, fast track for apps

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Congo-based VMK has been blazing a trail for mobile devices in Africa: its Way-C tablet proved that the continent could go its own way without leaning on Asia or Europe. The company promised several months ago to address the same gap with smartphones, and the result is here in the form of the Elikia ("Hope"). The hardware won't shake the cellular world's foundations with its 3.5-inch (and 480 x 320) display, 512MB of RAM, a 650MHz processor and both 5-megapixel rear as well as front VGA cameras, but that's not the point -- at $170 US off-contract, it's much more within the reach of Congo residents, and it even uses the unofficial Holo Launcher to bring a taste of Android 4.0 to what's really Android 2.3 underneath. There's also a minor revolution in app purchasing. As Google Play won't take Congo's credit cards, VMK has its own app store and prepaid gift cards to give the country a similar experience. You'll have to sign on to local carriers Airtel, MTN or Warid to use an Elikia in the near future, but we're hoping the phone expands its reach and levels the playing field.

Gallery: VMK Elikia | 8 Photos

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