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Mobile: Unsafe smartphones in hotel rooms

Friday, September 8th, 2017 | Gadgets

A smartphone as a personal assistant in every hotel room – without roaming charges, with helpful information about the hotel, shopping opportunities and the possibility to retrieve e-mails and enrich the social media accounts with self-portraits before tourist highlights – is the vision of the Hong Kong start-up Tink Labs with its product "Handy".

Even though roaming is no longer a big issue for EU customers, many users are likely to enjoy the offer of free Internet, especially as many hotels are still being picked up by mobile phones in many hotels. The company has already accumulated 125 million US dollars in venture capital. By the end of the year, about half a million hotel rooms will be supplied.
There are unfortunately some problems with different devices of the manufacturer: The smartphones of the first series are a disaster for security. We can only advise of the use only urgently, after we have tried in two hotels. Because on the devices is not even times a current operating system, the security updates are hopelessly outdated.
In the coming weeks, current devices with the name T1, based on Android 7, are to be installed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We will look at these devices soon. The old devices are not to be used in these countries. The following descriptions are based on the older devices we have tested.

In addition to smartphones, Tink Labs also provides software to manage the devices. In the description it says: "The analysis platform of Handy opens new horizons to the increase of the customer loyalty as well as the adjustment of the hotel stay." In addition, it should be possible to improve the ratings at Tripadvisor when customers give them via "mobile phone". Why, this remains the secret of Tink Labs.

Mobile phone contractors include the Melia hotel chain, Novotel, Sheraton, the IHG Group, Mercure Hotels and Intercontinental as well as the Crowne Plaza hotels. The device is said to be installed in 25 percent of London hotels. The makers promise the hotel operators significantly increased sales through the integrated and easily accessible services.

    The Android version is hopelessly obsolete. (Picture: Hauke ​​Gierow, Golem.de)

According to a manufacturer's card, most of the devices are actually installed in hotels in London, some in France and other European countries as well as in Asia. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, devices are to be rolled out soon, and only by the new type.
The Tink Labs first-generation smartphones are very cheap Chinese models of the Infocus brand with Mediatek chipset. Specifically, the Infocus M808 model is used, with a modified top shell. The smartphone is still flagged as an infocus device during the boot process and in the system settings. Factory price of the devices on the regular market: 100 to 130 euros. But if the device drops and there is a break in the display, up to 150 euros are payable for the repair, in the event of a loss of the smartphone users are to pay 300 euros. How the high costs are met is unclear. Devices are to be secured with immediate effect by way of insurance, so that the cost risk for users will no longer be required.


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