Honor 4X Review

June 29th, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , ,

Honor 4X

A few weeks back, I met with Honor UK at the Three UK launch of the Honor 6+ (see here for more information on the Honor 6+). Whilst I was there, I was offered a loan of the Honor 4X, which is more of a budget phone than the Honor 6+, coming in at roughly £150 (at time of writing, £145 on Amazon direct from Honor). I wasn’t expecting a lot from the phone, given the fantastic spec of the Honor 6+ and the price of this device, but I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by the phone.

First of all, if you are a “brand snob” and want a phone with a well known brand behind it, then whilst you are less likely to buy this phone, you are also likely to pay a lot more money for either the same spec, or, I suspect, actually a lower spec.

So, let’s get to those specs (click more to find out the specs and my overall opinion of the phone)…

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Will BMW cause major change for SatNavs?

May 8th, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

BMW have this week announced that from later this year they will be providing free Satellite Navigation with all new cars. Not just will this be free to use, but BMW have said it will also include free traffic rerouting for drivers.

This is a very interesting way forward, and is likely to force other manufacturers (at least within the executive sector) to follow suit. I can, however, see a couple of caveats to the news…

Firstly, the standard screen will be 6.5inches, but you can upgrade to a larger (and easier to read) 8.8 inch screen (with a cost at least £900, with some models costing £1400, though that will also include Head Up Display). Secondly, whilst traffic rerouting will be free, I wonder if map updates will continue to attract a large price tag, at a time when many PNDs (Personal Navigation Devices; TomTom, Garmin etc.) provide free lifetime* map updates. I do note that some car manufacturers have joined the Here Maps free map update programme, where map updates will be available for download free for your car (either forever, or at least for the first few years of ownership) and whilst BMW do offer this, it’s not clear whether this will apply to all models, or just those where you pay extra for the Professional Navigation system with the larger screen.

However, hats off to BMW for being able to offer this. Some models will gain the free satnav within the next month or two, whereas others will not get this until September.

* – Normally the lifetime of the device, not the owner.


Honor 6+ launched exclusively on Three

May 1st, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , ,

Honor 6+

I was lucky to be invited to the UK network launch of the Honor 6+, which will be exclusively available from Three on the high street (it’s also available from Amazon online, although they won’t ship for another week or two). The Honor 6+ is a very nice mid to high spec phone, whilst being well in the mid price category, being around £299 on Three PAYG (and likely to drop further when online sales really get going in a month or so).

Beyond the good screen size (5.5″, nearly too big for some), there are two key features I felt worth mentioning from my brief handson time during the launch; the camera and the battery.

The phone has twin cameras on the rear, and these are used to take two pictures at the same time. Then, if you find you did not get the exact area of the picture in focus, or parts of the picture are out of focus, you can refocus the image, allowing you to change both the primary object to be in focus, and the aperture that should have been used, allowing you to vary the depth of focus of the picture. This was demonstrated to me by taken a picture with both a close and far away object with the far away object perfectly in focus, but it was possibly to refocus the image such that the close object was in focus, whilst the far away object could be set to be out of focus (it was also possible to have both in focus!).#

This won’t be useful for the majority of pictures, but if you have taken a quick snap of something where there was a “moment” worth capturing, but afterwards you find the focus wasn’t quite right, then with this phone you can get it back into focus.

The other stand out feature of devices like this, and others (such as the OnePlus One) are the large battery that is fitted. Whilst the OnePlus One has a 3,100mAh battery, the Honor 6+ has a 3,600mAh battery, and Honor staff who already had devices confirmed that 2 days battery life was easily achievable; even for really heavy phone users, the phone should easily make it through a long busy hectic day without needing you to carry a charger.

Whilst some of the review phones were Android 4.4 (KitKat), Honor assure me that the devices shipping today should be running Android 5 (Lollipop) out of the box.

The device has two sim slots, although I think you will only get 3G from the second sim slot (it does not offer dual 4G sim slots), although some people will prefer to use that second slot to expand the memory of the device, as it will also take a microSD card. Having said the two stand out features are the camera and battery, many people will actually first notice the screen, which is a very vibrant bright screen that shows off the pictures from the camera very well. Even in bright sunlight, the demo device was clear and easy to use.

The Honor 6+ was available from Three UK stores from this morning, available on PAYG and contract (for unlimited handset data it will need a £36 per month 24 month contract).

Thanks to Three UK for the invite to the launch, and hopefully Honor will be able to supply me with a review unit soon to try it out for longer.


YouView boxes improved with both iPlayer and Netflix

November 5th, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , ,


In the last week, there have been two very useful improvements to the YouView boxes announced. Firstly, the newer BBC iPlayer interface, which has already rolled out to many other set top boxes was made available on the YouView platform just under 2 weeks ago. Then, today, YouView have announced that Netflix is now available to a selection of the YouView set top boxes.

If you bought your YouView box from a retailer (and it is branded BT or Humax), you should find Netflix becomes available today, and, if you have a BT YouView box and you aren’t already a Netflix subscriber then BT YouView users will be able to subscribe and get the Netflix subscription charged to their BT bill (and there are rumours of an exclusive BT YouView offer from Netflix soon).

TalkTalk and Huawei YouView set top boxes are yet to receive the Netflix update, but it should be available in the New Year.
It’s very nice to see that Netflix will get integrated into the search facilities on the box for Netflix subscribers.

For those who aren’t yet a Netflix subscriber, or won’t get the update until next year, the new BBC iPlayer will at least offer you the last 30 days of BBC programmes (something that has recently rolled out to the website too), and BBC Connected Red Button services, which include BBC Sport video highlights.


Three UK improve roaming further

July 17th, 2014 Tags: , ,

Three UK have improved their already impressive “Feel at Home” roaming offer. This has traditionally offered the ability to use your minutes, texts and data just like at home for free, but now, it’s been extended to more countries. From 1st July, the list of countries has increased to 16 and is now:

Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.

To enjoy Feel At Home you’ll need to have been with Three for 30 days before it will work. After that time, International Roaming should be automatically switched on and then you can use Feel At Home. There are still a couple of minor conditions, the main one being that tethering (or Personal Hotspot, ie allowing other devices to share your internet connection) is not allowed at all, and unlimited data plans are actually limited to 25Gb. Finally, if you spend extended periods of time abroad, you’ll be limited as to how much you can use it; in those scenarios, you are most likely better off getting a local SIM (and as Three will happily unlock their phones for free, you won’t be penalised for this either).


This week – Gadget Show Live 2014

April 8th, 2014

I’m off to the NEC in Birmingham today for a preview of this year’s Gadget Show Live.

This year there are nearly 100 new products, products never seen in the UK before, and many UK launches, plus a whole range of British built or British Designed products to see at the event. I understand tickets are still available, although many of the live theatre shows will now be fully booked. If you want to buy a ticket, they can be purchased from www.gadgetshowlive.net.

I hope to report back over the next few days with anything that really catches my eye.


Nexus 4 case review

October 15th, 2013 Tags: , , , , ,

rearth case for nexus 4

As well as the Qi Universal Charging Pad that Mobile Fun sent me (reviewed yesterday here), they were also kind enough to send me a case for my Nexus 4. One of the main reasons for this was to see whether or not the case would have any effect on the capabilities of the charging pad, and I’m pleased to say it performed without any issues with the case on. In fact, the Nexus 4 was never charged on the charging pad without the case.

The case provides a good all round protection to the phone. For the sides, it’s a little like a bumper case, but made of a stiffer material that feels nice and strong around the device, and the back of the phone (slightly prone to damage) is also protected with a clear cover allowing you to still see the rear of the phone.

One little thing that’s not mentioned on the Mobile Fun website is that you can customise the case. If you have a picture or design that is slightly smaller than the back of the case, the case comes with a sticky sheet that can be used to attach the picture inside the back of the case to be displayed.

I also like the way the front of the case is slightly proud of the phone’s screen offering protection against scratches when laid face down. Actually, there are also little lugs that ensure the back is equally protected when face up. The case has cutouts for the sockets (microphone, USB, headphones) at the top and bottom, small missing sections in the back for the speaker and the camera, whilst the power and volume buttons are protected, but the new buttons built into the bumper around the edge work just as well as the original buttons.

Generally, I found it a very nice case, that did not seem to add a lot of bulk to the device, especially given how much protection it offers. At £14.95 I also think it’s a very good price. Of course, Mobile Fun have a whole range of cases for the Nexus 4 available here.

Just like the wireless charging pad, the Nexus 4 case has performed without any issues, and I thank Mobile Fun for offering the case alongside the charging pad for review.

Disclaimer: Although Mobile Fun provided the case, they had no editorial input into this article.


Wireless Charger review

October 14th, 2013 Tags: , , , , ,

Qi charging pad

Mobile Fun contacted me and asked me if was interested in looking at one of their wireless charging pads, the Qi wireless charging pad. This arrived the next day, and I put it into immediate service to see how well it worked. Using my Nexus 4, it has faultlessly charged on a regular basis without any issues.

The charging pad is clever enough to work out that the phone is charged, and will automatically shut off; this caused a small moment of concern when I first got it, as the Nexus 4 was already sufficiently charged that the pad appeared to do nothing. I find letting the Nexus 4 run down and then placing on the pad to be the best way (and sometimes turning the phone on, or at least using it just before is beneficial; without that, it seems to take the phone and pad a few seconds to spot each other, and that can means I would often stand there for a while until the charging light came on. By using the phone (or at least turning it on) just before always seem to start the charging faster.

My only other concern with the pad is something I’ve seen in the comments on the Mobile Fun website; the blue charging light doesn’t look too bad in the daytime, but at night is capable of lighting a room quite well, so this may not be to everyone’s liking. Personally, when charging has been necessary overnight, it’s actually not proved to be a problem, but it is something to be aware of.

The Qi Universal Charging Pad currently costs £29.99 from the Mobile Fun website (see here for a link to their devices), which is a good price for me. As the device is a Qi compatible charging device, it will work with a whole range of devices, including the Nokia Lumia devices with built in charging, or with charging backs fitted.

Thanks to Mobile Fun for providing the charging pad for review.

Disclaimer: Although Mobile Fun provided the charging pad, they had no editorial input into this article.


Three brings back their fantastic roaming deal

September 18th, 2013 Tags: , , , ,

Three logo

Three UK have brought back their fantastic roaming deal; a lot of people were upset when they dropped their “3 Like Home” roaming deal a few years back, but the new “Feel at Home” deal actually has some pretty good terms attached to it. As before, the deals only apply to countries where Three already have a sister network, though the deal will apply whether you are actually roaming onto the Three network or not.

Firstly, the list of countries:

  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Denmark
  • Austria
  • Sweden
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Ireland

What is different, however, is that it now applies to most customers and tariffs, whether you have a phone contract, PAYG SIM, 3g dongle, or even some business contracts.

So, if you had 5000 texts to send per month in the UK, you can still send 5000 texts whilst roaming without any additional charge. Also, if you have 3UK3UK minutes, these can additionally used to ring 3 customers in the country you are roaming in. There are a few minor exceptions to this deal (eg certain numbers, such as premium numbers starting 09 would be excluded in the UK, and are still excluded when abroad), and you should check the terms before travelling (especially if you are a PAYG user, as more restrictions apply). You should also still study the remaining roaming charges (eg receiving calls from international numbers).

I should add though, that although data is included in this deal, there are a few limitations to data usage that you need to be aware of: firstly, tethering is NOT included at all, there is a 25Gb limit per month, and data speeds may be slower than the UK.

In fact, Three UK point out that should you exceed 25Gb of data, 5000 texts or 3000 minutes per month in any two months within a year, they may block the service. I doubt the text or minute limit will be a major problem, but if you assume you are limited to just under 1Gb of data a day (which is still a lot of data!) you should be fine. Obviously services such as Netflix could easily exceed that usage, so you do need to think carefully about data usage, but it’s still way more than the other UK networks currently offer.

If you want more information, especially around those restrictions, head to this page on the Three UK website for more information.


Three offering a strong 4G commitment

September 17th, 2013 Tags: , , , , ,

Three logo

Although we first covered this earlier this year (here), we thought it worth restating Three UK‘s position in respect of their 4G rollout plans and the impact on their tariffs. The plans are quite simple; coverage to start in London, Birmingham and Manchester starting some point in December, with more cities during 2014. The impact on tariffs is even easier; there isn’t any!

Three UK have stated that existing users will get access to 4G (assuming you have a 4G phone compatible with Three UK‘s LTE frequencies), and will continue to benefit from All You Can Eat data without any additional charges or payments. It is possible that your phone will need a minor software update to enable 4G, although many manufacturers are already rolling this update out in preparation, however, existing SIMs will work, and there will be no need to sign a new contract.

This compares very well to Three’s competitors; eg with EE and Vodafone, you need to move to a 4G tariff, and all the other networks seem to be charging a premium for 4G data.