Three offering Data promotion

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Three UK are currently offering a data promotion on some of their new contracts – you can get 4GB for the price of 1GB on the majority of their Essential plans (Phone & SIM) and 30GB for the price of 8GB on the majority of their Advanced plans (Phone & SIM).

If you are in the market for a new contract, these might be worth considering. Unfortunately, there is no information on how long this promotion will run for, so do signup sooner rather than later.


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Honor 6+ launched exclusively on Three

Friday, May 1st, 2015

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.


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YouView boxes improved with both iPlayer and Netflix

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

image

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.


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Three brings back their fantastic roaming deal

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

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.


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Three offering a strong 4G commitment

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

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.


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ThreeUK announce Ultrafast commitment

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Three logo

ThreeUK have today announced their Ultrafast commitment (see below); in principle it is simply that with the right handset, you will be able to benefit from their LTE network when launched later this year using your existing sim and more importantly your existing contract, which means for everyone with the unlimited data on the One Plan, you will have unlimited on their new faster LTE network as well (unlike EE who charge a premium for the service).

Although ThreeUK are still bidding for LTE network frequencies as part of the current auctions, they purchased some 1800MHz range from Orange/EE last year which EE had to give up to be able to launch LTE early, so ThreeUK already know this frequency range will be available to them later this year irrespective of what frequencies they win in the LTE auctions.

Well done ThreeUK!

“Our customers choose Three because they love the internet and know they can get great speeds and great value on our award-winning network,” said Three UK chief executive Dave Dyson.

“As we add the next wave of technology to our Ultrafast network, we’ve listened to our customers and thought long and hard about the right way to do it. We don’t want to limit Ultrafast services to a select few based on a premium price and we’ve decided our customers will get this service as standard.

With Three, it’s simple, great value and Ultrafast. What you might expect from the network that was built for the internet.”

Customers with Ultrafast / LTE ready devices, including the Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, Sony Xperia Z, Apple iPad mini and Apple iPad with Retina display, can already enjoy ThreeUK’s Ultrafast network and will also be able to use the 1800Mhz spectrum when it is added later this year. Device choice is growing rapidly with new Ultrafast ready LTE versions of the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II being launched on Three within the next month, and the BlackBerry Z10 launching mid-February.


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Three now selling Nokia Lumia 610

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

3UK have announced today that they have started to sell the budget phone in the Lumia range, the Nokia Lumia 610. Now, this phone has less memory, and hence can’t run some of the multitasking features we all expect from Windows Phone; in particular, the Nokia Lumia 610 doesn’t support background tasks (especially those taking more than 90MB), fast app switching or live tiles updates (these mainly require background tasks). However, it’s available for £28 per month on the One Plan (24 month contract, but includes AYCE data and tethering support), or just £150 on PAYG, and this makes it a nice budget phone, unless you are a real power user.

Of course, the Nokia Lumia 710 is £200 on PAYG (or £32 per month on the One Plan), and that may well work out better value in the long run; the Nokia Lumia 610 does have touch buttons, whereas the Nokia Lumia 710 has real buttons (that’s a personal preference) but with the Lumia 710 supporting the full range of Windows Phone 7 features (and the new firmware that shipped last week adds the flip-to-silence and tethering options sorely missed on it), it does appear an overall better option.

However, another way of looking at it; what other device can you buy for £150 which offers free offline satnav features (Nokia Drive), free offline music (Nokia Mix Radio), and free public transport information (Nokia Transport, where data is available), and if bought on the One Plan can be used to provide you unlimited data for your other wifi devices, such as your tablet and PC?

If interested, head over to the 3UK website, where you can now purchase the phone, or, if you prefer, buy the Nokia Lumia 710.


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Three competing in roaming deals too

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Last month I talked about the new Vodafone roaming deals, and the new offer of £3 per day to access your existing UK bundle. Well, Three UK also launched their offer; for £5 per day, you get All You Can Eat data for 24 hours (I assume it’s UK time, not local time). You also can’t (yet) buy this upfront for a whole holiday (you can buy in the UK on the day before you travel to cover the first day), or you can wait until you arrive and 3UK will text you details. It’s not the same as The One Plan; there’s no tethering allowed, and the quality of the roaming network may not be as good as the UK network which has been designed for high volumes of data, but it may be better than nothing.

As it’s the Euro Internet Pass, it doesn’t apply to all countries (especially those outside of the EU), but the 3UK website does have a list of countries that are and aren’t covered by it. Another small nice feature; the Euro Internet Pass website is actually free to access whilst roaming (though you would need to watch out for other background applications spotting the active connection which would be charged until you sign up for the day).

Obviously, if you were on a two week holiday, the costs are still going to mount up (eg 14 days would cost £70), but given that would provide you unlimited data usage, it’s not a bad deal, and if it helps to keep the kids happy, it may well be worth it. Local SIMs (or my suggestions for limiting data costs) may well help, but for those who use a lot of data, this may well be a sensible way forward.

For more information, head to the 3UK website.

Update: As Darren has pointed out in the comments, this only applies to phone contracts, and not Mobile Broadband or MiFi contracts.


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Roaming; how to keep costs down

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The last article was about Vodafone European roaming rates for PAYG customers, so I thought I would jot down some of the techniques I use to try to minimise my roaming costs when going abroad. I should note for my last trip abroad I used 30MB of data (over 4 days), and a handful of texts, yet kept my total spend below £10, and could not have spent more than £20, yet that spend actually got me a bundle of texts, calls and data for the UK leg of the journey, and whilst abroad I could have used upto 100MB without spending any more money!

So, what techniques do I use:

Firstly, I carried my primary UK phone number in a phone where I turned off roaming data whilst still in the UK. In fact, as I left the UK, I turned off mobile data completely. This phone I only use for emergencies, being contacted if needed. This limited usage kept the battery going for 2 days without a charge.

I then carried a second phone, in my case, an old Android phone from a year or so ago. This had been wiped clean and just had the apps needed, with most of the sync functions turned off (actually, I kept calendar / contacts syncing, and ran a couple of Social Network clients). Although I kept the syncing turned on, to minimise usage even further, I would turn this off, as it only adds to the usage, and most changes could wait until I returned. Again, roaming data was initially turned off.

This phone carried a Vodafone PAYG SIM, which I topped up with £20 before I set off. This topup gave me minutes, texts and 500MB of data in the UK. As I’m already opted in to Vodafone Passport, I knew that if I kept data to less than 25MB per day, my data costs would be £2 per day.

Before I left the UK, I used those bundled texts that came with the topup to alert a few key people that if they needed me over the next few days to use this number in preference to my normal number.

Once I arrived, I was greeted with text messages to both phones informing me of the rates (which, given it was before the new 1 July 2012 roaming limits are imposed, were somewhat of a shock (eg £3.07/MB for data!). I then turned on roaming data on the Vodafone SIM, and then used the normal data on/off functions to control my usage. I had a data counter installed (I use 3G Watchdog Pro, which included the ability to create a widget on the homescreen which monitored and reported my roaming usage) to ensure I was kept aware of my usage.

So, with careful use of data, I kept within the 25MB daily limit Vodafone include with the Passport option, sent and receive a few texts (11p per text, but coming out of the £20 credit), and spent under £10 all in. Given the phone only had a £20 credit, even if something went wrong with the Passport data options, or I suddenly started making lots of calls (or my phone had been stolen; though I’m not sure a two year old Android phone would have been that worthy), my absolute roaming spend was limited to that £20 topup. I appreciate the UK networks have now introduced roaming cost caps to limit bill shock, but this method truely limited my costs to a fixed amount.

In addition, I ran mapping software which allowed me to download the maps beforehand, so I wasn’t paying for Google Maps type data transfers of map data all the time (and in fact, since travelling, Google Maps on Android now has a formal offline feature for downloading the maps, but not the turn-by-turn navigation). I didn’t need to drive / travel any great distance, but if I had, Nokia Drive on Windows Phone (or Symbian) still makes a lot of sense as it provides true offline navigation.

Most importantly, as I was travelling with my family, by having an old phone without every latest bit of software installed, and a need to keep data usage down, I mainly had the phone for emergencies, and enjoyed the holiday.

If you are travelling abroad this summer, you will firstly benefit from lower roaming rates within the EU, but either way, spend some time thinking about the costs and researching it before you leave, and make sure you plan a way that works best for you; this is even more key when you leave the EU, where the caps and new low rates won’t apply. With many of the networks now offering bundles and good rates on PAYG SIMs, it’s well worth considering taking a second phone (or simply an old phone in the cupboard) to best save money and keep down the risk of bill shock.


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Three abolish out of bundle data charges

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Three have announced a refresh of their price plans as from tomorrow. Although The One Plan remains, all other plans seem to have been modified. However, the big news is that Three have abolished all out of bundle data charges, although this looks to be at the expense of newer lower limits.

The plans come in two flavours, Essential and Ultimate; all plans come with data, although the Essential plans only have 250Mb included for free. Should you run out of data (and you’ll get a text to tell you this), we assume your data will get cut off, instead of automatically incurring fees, but you can then add either another 250Mb (for £2) or add All You Can Eat data for £5, with both of these options lasting up to 30 days, and without any commitment to pay again in the next month.  This idea of allowing more data on an occasional basis seems a good move to me, although I would personally have preferred to see a slightly higher data bundle.

However, all the Ultimate plans have All You Can Eat data, so no worries there over your data usage. Again, I assume that The One Plan remains the only new plan available where you can tether (connect your PC to your handset and access data).

The plans are (with example handset prices; some handsets will cost a higher monthly charge, and all plans are for 24 months):

Essential Ultimate The One Plan
100 300 500 100 300 500 1000
Data 250MB All-you-can-eat data
Minutes 100 300 500 100 300 500 1000 2000 + 5000 Three-Three minutes
Texts 5000
Samsung Galaxy Ace

£15

Samsung Galaxy SII

£27

iPhone 4S 16GB

£36

HTC Wildfire S

£20

Samsung Galaxy Ace

£18

Samsung Galaxy SII

£30

Sony Ericsson

Arc S

£25

iPhone 4S 16GB

£36 (£49 upfront)

Samsung Galaxy SII

£34

Nokia Lumia 800

£30

iPhone 4S 16GB

£36 (£69 upfront)

Samsung Galaxy SII

£36

iPhone 4 8GB

£36


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