Vodafone announce Red Hot; phone rental scheme

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Sometimes a company offers something that’s actually quite innovative, and personally, I wonder if this is actually a very fantastic offer.

Vodafone has announced Red Hot, which is a scheme whereby you rent a phone (for a 12 month period), and also pay line rental, and then at the end of the 12 months, you can hand the phone back, and get a new phone. None of the traditional 24 month tie in that most mobile operators are concentrating on right now. Now, as with all these things, there’s a few good and bad points to consider if you are thinking about the deal:

  • It costs more than an normal contract, but then you get to change phones every year.

Let’s take the Samsung Galaxy S3 16GB, one of a small number of phones being offered on the deal (others include Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note II); normally buying on a traditional plan, it would cost £42 per month (24 month contract, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB data per month on the new Red Data plan); the equivalent is £47 per month on Red Hot (12 month contract, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB data per month). Given that the deal also includes insurance for the handset, it’s actually fairly comparable, and with the ability to change your phone after 12 months to the next greatest handset, quite a good deal.

  • If you don’t want to swap after 12 months (because the new phone you want isn’t quite released), you can hang onto the current phone for up to 6 months.
  • You don’t own the phone though, so although you can easily hand it back, you can’t sell it on ebay to recover any cost.
  • If you hand the phone back damaged, then charges will apply. Of course, with included handset insurance, it would seem sensible to claim on the insurance and then hand the phone back (assuming the damage is covered within the small print of the insurance, though an excess charge will apply).
  • You do need to return the phone and original charger.
  • With £75 charge for deep scratches or dents, you might be wise to buy a case to protect it (after all, it’s not your phone).
  • One final thing to watch out for; a “non-approved operating system” will occur the maximum damage charge, so you shouldn’t hand it back with a custom ROM installed (yes, I can see an argument that it’s still a variant of Android, but I suspect that’s not a gamble most people will want to take).
  • It’s not exactly clear how much a phone next year will cost, but of course, you would be free to walk away from the contract anyway.

Although there’s a lot to consider, I actually think the prices aren’t bad, and well worthy of consideration, especially for those who are happy to swap phones every phone (but not more often). More details can be found at the Vodafone Red Hot page.


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Pure launch new Highway DAB Radio

Friday, November 25th, 2011

One of the first articles on the UK Gadgeteer website back in 2007 was around the PURE Highway, a portable DAB radio designed for car use.  This turned out to be a very popular device, although one small complaint about it was that it had to connect to the windscreen mount, and you had to have wires all over the dashboard (aerial & power).  Competitors, such as Revo, produced DAB addon car units which needed more permanent fitting in the car, however, Revo have now left the car market.

Well, Pure are addressing these issues and have launched a new Highway DAB radio, the Pure Highway 300Di.  This unit has a small control unit (removable, for when you want to hide the presence of the unit) using an OLED screen (and backlit buttons).  In fact, the simple display / buttons and control knob remind me of the very successful Parrot range of Bluetooth car kit control units).  This connects to a control box designed for placing behind the dash, or in the glovebox.  This needs permanent connections to the car (I suspect it’ll possible to DIY fit it, but it’s not designed for plugging into a cigaretter lighter, unlike the PURE Highway, which remains on sale for those who want a truely portable unit).

As well as providing DAB (via a DAB aerial which needs external fitting), the unit has a USB port allowing you to plug in USB memory sticks, USB devices, or you can use your Apple USB cable and the device will be able to fully control (and charge) your Apple iPod or iPhone.

Most DAB radios only have one tuner, whereas most car radios adopted the idea of dual tuners quite a few years ago; this allows the second tuner to go hunting for a stronger signal without impacting the radio playback, and in fact, the Pure Highway 300Di has a second tuner which will automatically keep the station list up to date with only the stations available as you travel around the country.

To connect it to your car, you can either use an AUX-IN type socket, or it can use an FM transmitter, either wireless using the car’s existing aerial, or it can be wired into the aerial circuit giving a crackle free experience.

In addition, Pure have added a couple of innovative new modes:

  • Forcourt mode, where the device will go into standby for up to 15 minutes, allowing you to return to your car, and the unit will already be ready for action with the same music.  In you are listening to the DAB radio, you can pause (for up to 8 minutes) and continue listening when you return to the car.
  • Picnic mode, where the device is able to continue playing the music for up to an hour after the car ignition is switched off.  The 1 hour limit is to prevent the car battery being drained, although some cars will limit you to only 15 minutes even though the unit could do longer.

For those wanting to add DAB to your existing car, and want something a little more permanent than the PURE Highway, this may well be the device for you.  Pricing will be £179.99, although it’s not yet available, it will be sold exclusively through Halfords for a period.

Having said it’s not available, I believe it should be on sale within the next week or two, and during the initial launch, Halfords will be offering free fitting (normally around £25).


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Nokia World: something big from Nokia?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

We’re a week away from Nokia World, and from what I’m hearing, we might be in for a treat.  First of all, I believe Nokia will launch at least two Windows Phone devices.  This isn’t particularly surprising, given the leaks and snippets of information that have been released accidentally / intentionally from Nokia.

However, what might surprise people is that these devices may well be available within weeks for sale; yes, that’s right; it’s very possible you’ll be able to buy a new Nokia Windows Phone device in time for Christmas!

Also, similar to the new Nokia N9, I believe that at least one of these devices (if not both) will move to the new microSIM format, that (until the Nokia N9 started shipping) was pretty much limited to the Apple iPhone. I’ve already heard one UK network talk about making microSIMs available for not just Apple devices, and the hints I’m hearing are that Nokia is adopting microSIM across a wider range than just the Nokia N9.

I may be wrong, but I think Nokia World will bring a range of surprises, but mainly the start of Nokia’s comeback with the release of Windows Phone devices (which I also suspect may be actually available for developers to check out during the event).


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New phone launches

Friday, October 7th, 2011

This week saw the launch of the Apple iPhone 4S. Despite many people not convinced the upgrade from the iPhone 4 was worthwhile, the consensus is that all pre-order sites have been inundated with people pre-ordering the device today.  The deals aren’t bad either; 3UK will sell you the new top of the range 64GB model for £279 upfront with a £35 per month (but 24-month contract) One Plan, offering 2000 minutes, 5000 texts, and All You Can Eat data.

Vodafone (as are all networks to be honest) are also offering the iPhone 4S; their closest deal is £319 upfront with £36 per month (24-month contract) with 600 minutes, “unlimited” texts, and 500MB of data; to rival the 3UK deal you would need to spend much more per month (which would equally reduce the upfront cost, but increase the total cost ).  However, there are always deals to be had; Vodafone seem to be currently offering a £59 cashback on online orders, and will allow unlimited data usage for the first 3 months as part of their new Data test drive promotion.

For those with a desire to upgrade, especially from an iPhone 3GS, this is a tempting offer.  For those looking for a new phone but do not necessarily need an iPhone, there are new releases from Samsung, HTC, and more importantly Nokia due to start shipping in the next few months that may suit you better…


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3UK clarify tethering options on The One Plan

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

When launched, 3UK were happy that tethering (and Personal Hotspot for Apple users) was included with their All-You-Can-Eat truly unlimited data bundle that comes with the One Plan.  Starting at £25 per month (24 month contract, price depends on selected handset), it was still very good value, given the sheer amount of minutes and texts it also comes with.

Later, when they made the All-You-Can-Eat unlimited data available on their PAYG plans they were again quick to point out that these tariffs did not come with tethering support (although with non-Apple devices it’s more difficult to control, although the mobile networks can spot you using apps like Joikuspot or the built in Mobile WiFi AP in Android).

Most recently, they have now launched The One Plan on a SIM Only basis, with a 1 month rolling contract.  SIM Only contracts are a little strange with the short minimum contract period, and are often treated more like PAYG arrangements by the networks.  So, when it came to whether or not they supported tethering, their initial response was No.  However, within hours of this decision, they confirmed via Twitter (see Ben’s post that’s documented it here) that tethering and Personal Hotspot are supported on the SIM Only One Plan.

This is good news, and a sensible decision, and is certainly a good plan to consider if you are looking to change contracts but don’t need a new phone; with 2,000 cross network minutes, 5,000 texts, 5,000 3UK3UK minutes and proper unlimited data each month for just £25, it’s also difficult to beat elsewhere.

As always, all 3UK offers are available in the 3Store.


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Symbian, Android or the latest iPhone; all available from 3UK!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Over the last couple of weeks, 3UK have released (or will release) a fair range of new handsets, covering the main smartphone OSes; a couple of weeks ago, they released the Desire S running Android, which although not a great upgrade from the old Desire, is a worthy phone contender for someone looking for a new Android phone.

Yesterday they also announced the Nokia E7 (Symbian^3 with a flip out QWERTY keyboard) was now available, and today they have announced that from tomorrow you’ll be able to buy the long-awaited white Apple iPhone 4 on 3UK.

So, it seems whatever your smartphone OS choice is, you have an option to get one of the latest phones available from 3UK (although less popular, they also have BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices).  As always, head to the 3Store for more details.


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Fancy a refurbished iPhone exclusive?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Occasionally we are notified of offers not normally available to the general public, and this is one of those.  If you fancy a refurbished Apple iPhone 4 on contract with 3UK (iPhone 4 16GB on The One Plan, 24 month contract) then head here to see more details.  As this is on the One Plan, you get 2000 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, and of course the All-You-Can-Eat data (ie no limits at all).

There is an upfront charge of £69 and a monthly charge of £30 (if you were to select a normal iPhone 4, you would be paying £35 per month, so this is a saving of £120 over the 24 month period).

This offer is not available via the normal 3Store; you will need to go direct via this link here.  This is likely to be a limited offer, so don’t wait too long!


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Last.fm moving to subscription radio only for mobiles

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Although it’s been something that many have foreseen for some time, and of course, outside of the UK (plus US & Germany), they’ve been charging for some time, but Last.fm have now confirmed that you will need a subscription (at £3 per month) to continue to listen to Last.fm radio on many mobile and hardware devices.  The change happens on 15th February, and the list includes:

  • Google Android – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Apple iPhone – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Microsoft X-Box Live (also with Kinect) – App free with X-Box Live Membership in US and UK
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 7 – Free in 2011 in US and UK; subscription required for radio in Germany
  • All Logitech Squeezebox products – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • All Sonos products – Free until mid-summer 2011 for US, UK and Germany; subscription required thereafter
  • Revo AXiS, Ikon, Domino, Heritage – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Roberts Stream 63i, 205, Colourstream, 83i – subscription required in US
  • M3 Muvid Products – subscription required in Germany
  • Teufel Audio Raumfeld – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • Selected Onkyo AV receivers – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Denon and Marantz selected AV receivers – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • To be fair to Last.fm, many of those devices we’ve covered here before (including the PURE Sensia and Revo units) have needed a subscription from the day they were launched, so the headline change has already affecting many users.  Last.fm have stated:

    “On the Last.fm website an ad-supported, free-to-listeners model is what supports our online radio services in the US, UK and Germany. In other markets and on emerging mobile and home entertainment devices, it is not practical for us to deliver an ad supported radio experience, but instead, we will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world.”

    Some people are likely to stop using Last.fm at this point, however, many others will consider the charge (less than £40 for the year, and still less than other services such as Spotify) worthwhile.


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    ViewRanger updates Android app

    Friday, January 28th, 2011

    ViewRanger, who produce a very feature rich mapping application (which can use multiple map sources, such as OpenStreetMap and more importantly, 1:25000 and 1:50000 OS maps) has updated their Android application. Currently the new version (v1.4.1) is in beta, but available direct from ViewRanger here. Although originally a Symbian app, ViewRanger have expanded to cover the Apple iPhone as well as many Android devices, although some features are yet to arrive on these platforms.

    The new features include:

    • Support for selected Android tablets
    • Local and online searches
    • UI improvements

    The full feature list is here.  If you are somewhere who spends time in the countryside and don’t currently have a device such as a Garmin GPS or the SatMap Active 10, then you should look at ViewRanger for your smartphone.


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    3UK make “All you can eat” data available to all new customers

    Thursday, January 27th, 2011

    When I last mentioned the One Plan (from 3UK), the new “All you can eat” data option was only available to Apple iPhone users.  I see (from the 3Store website) that if you take out a 24month contract on the One Plan today, you now get the “All you can eat” data allowance on any phone.  At a time when other companies (such as T-Mobile) are restricting their Internet allowance, a network that is happy to let you use as much as you can.

    However, we do believe this is currently limited to new customers; existing customers will need to check with 3UK as to whether they are able to benefit from this tariff.


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