FNB Conexis A1 and X1. Picture: SUPPLIED

FNB Conexis A1 and X1. Picture: SUPPLIED

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FM Edition:

Forget business as usual: tech companies sell taxi services, Amazon is operating bricks-and-mortar stores, and your bank is your telecom company.

Yes, late last month FNB announced it was launching two smartphones for customers with transactional accounts at the bank. The phones are the ConeXis A1 and X1 — manufactured by ZTE, but completely FNB-branded.

The A1 is the lower-tier product, linked to the Easy bank accounts and aimed at the consumers FNB terms "price sensitive". The device runs Android Lollipop, has a 4-inch touch screen, 8GB storage, 1GB RAM and a quad core processor.

The cameras are no great shakes, but sufficient: 5megapixel (MP) rear-facing and 2MP front-facing. The box also contains a clear back cover, and a screen protector. These are a nice inclusion, as the device itself feels a bit plasticky and the cover smartens it up.

This is not bad for the bargain-basement price of R59/month. Plus, you’ll get 15minutes of talk time and 50MB/month for two years. That’s not tons of it, sure, but again, look at that price. The removable battery is just 1 400milli-ampere hours (mAh), but there’s a handy powerbank tucked away in the box too.

With all these thoughtful extras, it’s an ideal first smartphone set-up, in my opinion.

The X1 (pictured) is marketed at the FNB premier, private, and private wealth clients, and costs R150/month. For that, you’ll get a 5.2inch screen device running Android Marshmallow. It also offers 8GB memory and 1GB RAM, but this one is an LTE/4G-capable device, the quad core processor is from Qualcomm, and the display is high definition. The rear camera offers 8MP, the front 5MP.

The extras with the X1 include a 16GB micro-SD card, earphones and a cover and screen protector. The device has a much more upmarket feel: a smooth glass-look unibody (nonremovable 2 540mAh battery), with metallic edging. And the basic package here offers 25 minutes of talk time and 100MB of data a month.

For me, the magic is in the extras, and the cross-pollination with FNB products. Using these devices, which are locked to FNB Connect SIMs, customers get zero-rated calls to FNB’s banking call centre and zero-rated data on the FNB app and online banking. X1 customers get rebates (up to 100%) according to their eBucks level.

No credit check is required, but a small deposit is taken (and returned with interest at the end of the 24 months). FNB Connect also announced its new unlimited calls offer for only R399/month, including 200MB and 20 SMSs/month (for these devices or others).


Pros: Affordable devices, thoughtful accessories, rebates on X1
Cons: Low to mid specs
Price: A1 is R59/month; X1 is R150/month
For more: fnb.co.za
Cool factor: ***
Usability: ****
Value for money: ****