Fonebud W: Have data, will travel
By Chong Jinn Xiung April 19, 2018
- Roam like a local across 90 different countries
- 10,000mAh battery helps keep smart devices powered
IN TODAY’S smart device-driven world, there is a need to be constantly connected. In a bid to stay connected, travellers have to resort to searching for free WiFi spots, buying multiple foreign SIM cards or roam using their local plan only to receive an exorbitant bill at the end of the trip.
At the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition), Malaysian company Fonebud IoT Bhd revealed its latest product, the Fonebud W.
Founded in 2015, the company is the brainchild of four visionaries: Pensonic Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Dixon Chew, Sunweu Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Sunny Koay, Silterra senior vice president of sales Lai Yit Loong and Exabytes Capital Group Sdn Bhd founder and executive director Chan Kee Siak.
“The IoT market is a growing segment that we want to ride on and so too is the travel market in Asia. In fact, there are over 1.1 billion tourists globally according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) so there is great potential in these two markets that we want to bring together,” said Koay during the launch in Hong Kong during which they hope to find distributors.
Incidentally, the idea for the Fonebud W came about as all four founders of Fonebud are frequent travellers who have faced this very problem. With that mind, that joined together to produce this solution that aims to address the pain point of frequent flyers everywhere.
Targeted towards premium users, the Fonebud W is essentially a portable WiFi hotspot integrated with a powerbank, allowing users can stay connected and keep their device powered.
The unique proposition of the device is that it comes equipped with an eSIM, an integrated SIM chip in the device itself, that provides 4G/3G data roaming in over 90 countries (covering countries across all five continents) right out of the box.
According to Koay, who is also the chief executive officer of Sunweu Sdn Bhd, the Fonebud W gets data from local telecommunication networks and converts it into a local WiFi hotspot. The benefit is that users need not switch to a different number or swap SIM cards, so they can keep in contact at all times.
Not only that, you can share data from the Fonebud W with up to eight other devices simultaneously making it perfect for groups of travellers or families.
As mentioned earlier, the device is also a 10,000mAh battery that is able to last for 36 hours of use. In addition, it has wireless charging capabilities that works with smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X.
The Fonebud W is available for purchase at US$149 and comes with 16GB of free data. The data, which is said to last for one year, will be split into 4GB for use every three months in the following countries: Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Qatar, India, Nepal, Australia and Sri Lanka.
Should users want to top up their data, they can do so using the Fonebud app on iOS and Android. Charges start from US$5 for 1GB of data for use over 90 days. Charges vary by country.
Fonebud also offers regional packages that allow users to roam with data across several countries. For US$25 they can purchase the Asia Pacific package that nets them 4GB of data for use over 90 days across the earlier mentioned countries.
It also offers a China (Unlimited) package for US$8.50 that gives users 1GB of data over 90 days and they would still be able to access services that are normally blocked in China such as Facebook, Google and WhatsApp. There is also a Europe package though the price has yet to be finalised.
Frequent flyers need only wait until June 2018 to get their hands on the Fonebud W when it is finally released.