3UK launch new site and new tariffs

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

Yesterday 3UK launched an updated website.  Although this new site has received mixed comments with some people liking it, and others not, there are a couple of things to be said about it.  Firstly, 3UK have kept all the information you need handy, such as coverage checkers.  Secondly, and this won’t be obvious from the site, but internally within the company there were champions requesting (and ultimately succeeding) that the website was not Flash based (and with it the potential to not allow direct links to product pages).  Overall, I’ve had a few visits to the website, and I’m happy with the redesign.


At the same time, 3UK have removed the Mix and Match tariffs and removed the Texter tariffs (and the old Internet Texter tariffs). Now, there is 3 choices:

  • SIM Only remains, offering a 1 month rolling contract for those who already have a phone, or are happy to buy PAYG phones to use with the service.
  • Internet Talker tariffs, all 24 month contracts, all include “unlimited” 500MB Internet, and the standard range of free facilities (Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Twitter) and “unlimited” 3000 3UK3UK minutes per month.  4 tariffs are available, called 100, 300, 500 and 900, which denotes the number of cross network minutes or texts per month available.
  • For an additional £3 or £5 per month (depending on tariff), there are 4 Internet Texter tariffs, which offer the same 100, 300, 500 or 900 cross network minutes per month, but also come with “unlimited” Internet (*), and “unlimited” 3000 texts.

(*) It seems there is an inconsistency on the 3UK website; although both the Internet Texter and Internet Talker tariffs have a headline of “unlimited internet”, when you look at the detail the Internet Texter tariffs are shown as “unlimited internet”, whereas the Internet Talker tariff are shown as “500MB data”.  This either means 3UK has dropped it’s “unlimited” cap from 1Gb to 500MB, or there is a difference between these 2 tariffs of an additional 500MB.  Either way, some clarify is definitely required over how much internet is or isn’t included with these tariffs, and equally why has the limit dropped…

So, if you were after something like a Nokia 6700 Slide, to get it with 300 cross network minutes (24 month contract) will cost you:

  • Internet Talker 300: £10 per month
  • Handset: £6 per month

therefore a total of £16 per month.  To add those “unlimited” 3000 texts as well would cost an additional £5 per month, so the Handset with the Internet Texter 300 tariff would be £21 per month.

On one hand, I have to offer 3UK the greatest support for taking the initiative and including Internet access with every tariff (apart from SIM only), and that can be as little as £10 per month (it looks like this was the plan 3UK were talking to me about a month or so back), however, on the other hand, making all contracts 24 months may backfire for the many people who don’t want to be tied in for that long. I’m also not happy with the lack of clarity over what “unlimited” internet means, and why it’s now dropped from the old 1GB limit to the new 500MB limit (in fact, you’ll actually get your first warning at 400MB, whereas with the old limits your first warning was when you hit 1GB, and you could actually keep going for some while before being charged).

Having said all that; looking at the Internet Talker 300 tariff, it means you could have a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic for £10 per month (24 month contract) a Nokia E71 (Refurbished) for £13 per month (24 month contract), or if you fancy Android an HTC Hero for £19 per month (24 month contract, 2 months Spotify Premium) or even the HTC Desire for £20 per month (24 month contract, 2 months Spotify Premium); that’s an impressive range of handsets at impressive prices as long as you can accept the 24 month contract, and are happy with the 500MB per month data limit.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the majority of the prices I have quoted regarding these new tariffs are the online prices, which have an online exclusive £2 per month reduction over store prices, so to get many of these deals, you will have to visit the 3Store as opposed to going to your local High Street.


Nokia Firmware updates

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

In the last week or so, Nokia has released a fair few firmware updates.  As always, these updates generally only apply initially to the EURO generic models, and UK and UK mobile network operator specific firmwares will follow (with the latter taking the longest).  Some highlights of these firmware updates include:

Although the majority of these devices are S60 5th Edition or S60 3rd Edition FP2, there are a few S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices in there too, although we do wonder if this may be their last firmware update (technically there’s no reason why Nokia couldn’t continue producing new firmwares integrating updated software applications, but I do think they will start to dry up for FP1 devices soon).

Many of these particular firmwares do seem quite major updates, and should be worth the pain and hassle of applying to your device, although do remember it’s best to take a full backup of all your data before you start.


Nokia Ovi Maps: Good news and Bad

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Nokia Maps 3.0 with Ovi

Firstly, the Good News! Nokia has this week released Ovi Maps v3.03 for the Nokia E71 and Nokia E66, allowing these two phones to be added to the original list of phones that now have Free Navigation.  Nokia also pointed out that the Nokia N86 has been added to the list too since the initial list was issued.

It should be pointed out that these two E-Series phones won’t have the Michelin or Lonely Planet guides available, but at least they now have free navigation, especially with the popularity of the Nokia E71 in the UK, this is a very sensible move by Nokia.

However, now for the Bad News 🙁 Nokia also announced that these will be the last S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices that the new free navigation Ovi Maps will be released for; so if you have a Nokia N95, Nokia N95 8GB, or a Nokia N82 etc. then based on this statement you won’t be seeing free navigation ever.

It’s nice to see Nokia respond to requests for the Nokia E71, and it’s a shame that we won’t be seeing more FP1 devices supported, but maybe, just maybe, 2010 is the year to move to a newer device…


3UK PAYG Updates and more

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

A day or two ago, I got a nice SMS from 3UK:

From 3: On Apr 22 some prices change. You still get free texts, internet & 3-to-3 calls. New: free Twitter & 0.facebook.com

It finishes with a 3UK web page for more details.

Wow, I thought; 3UK are just making the existing free twitter browsing permanent, and adding support for the new 0.facebook.com website (which provides a mobile text only interface to Facebook; ie access to news and information, but no photos, keeping the data usage down); what a nice bunch of people, providing these extra services for all their customers.

However, curiosity got the better of me, so off I went to the website to see the finer details of the changes, and boy did I get a shock…

So, here are the full details of the PAYG changes coming next month:

  • Voicemail is no longer free; it is now 15p/minute.
  • Calls to landlines and Mobiles goes up from 20p/minute to 25p/minute.
  • Sending a picture message goes up from 25p each to 30p each.
  • Making International calls from the UK goes up roughly 5p/minute for the majority of countries.
  • Making roaming calls whilst in some countries goes up 4p/minute (Band 0 countries).
  • Receiving calls whilst roaming in some countries goes up 9p/minute (Band 1) or 25p/minute (Band 2).
  • Calls to 084x and 087x numbers increase by 5p/minute, 5p/call, or both.
  • Calls to 090x numbers increase too.

“Some prices change” really doesn’t seem to cover it, and I think 3UK should be making more of these changes before people wonder where all their credit has gone.

I do note that 3UK are promoting both Twitter and 0.facebook.com being free and don’t need a TopUp, which implies (maybe incorrectly), that these, like Skype and Windows Live Messenger, continue to work even if your credit runs out, which is one small positive to come out of all these changes.

In other news, Sylvia Chind has confirmed the following handset information (see here for full details):

This is generally good news for 3UK in terms of their handsets, and it’s unfortunate it’s come at the same time as all these PAYG price increases, but for many 3UK customers, now might be the right time for a new phone, and a move to a contract to soften the impact of these PAYG price changes.


Is the iPhone about to come to 3UK?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

iPhone 3GS

When I met up with 3UK last month, they were explaining that generally the main reason they take longer to get phones is that as a company they will purchase a much smaller quantity of any particular phone than the larger networks, and hence their requests for stock and customisations will always take second place.  They also commented that in terms of phones like the iPhone, they felt the costs were too high, both to them and to the consumer.  Well, I think this is about to change…

The day before I met 3UK I heard rumours that their Customer Services staff had been saying they would be carrying the iPhone within 3 months, and both that and a direct question on whether 3UK would be stocking the iPhone were, looking back, not actually answered on the night.

This week I’ve heard more Customer Services staff saying the iPhone will come next month (although personally I suspect it’ll be announced in the next month or so, as opposed to being on sale), and 3UK have put out a statement today saying that they don’t have a commercial relationship with Apple, but that they hope to resolve that in 2010.  That post also states that the Nokia E71 was their best selling phone of 2009, but what it doesn’t say is that the HTC Hero, costing £35 per month, is their current best selling phone.  This shows that buyers are willing to spend £35 per month on a 3UK contract, something that may not have been so apparent a year ago when PAYG and £15-£20 per month contracts were much more common.

Combine all these thoughts with statements by 3UK last month that they felt they should advertise their “Coming Soon” phones better and I think the iPhone is going to be announced fairly soon; in my opinion it’s rare for networks to talk about phones before they are pretty much ready.  With the experiences of the HTC Hero, 3UK know their customers will happily pay more for high spec smartphones, and with the comments from their own Customer Services staff I think this all shows it’s coming to the network.

Now, I might be wrong of course, and I suspect it’s possible they’ll only pick up the iPhone 3G, although I suspect they’ll be able to sell the iPhone 3GS too.  I also suspect that if / when a new iPhone 4th Generation model is announced in June / July, it won’t be seen on 3UK for a little longer than the other networks (due to the commercial points in the first paragraph), but we may well see some form of iPhone on sale on 3UK before too long.

Interestingly, unlike some Nokia phones, it appears that people aren’t having problems getting their 3UK SIMs to work in unlocked iPhones, so that bodes well.  Of course, I would expect 3UK to ship it with their own Skype on 3 and Email on 3 solution, which may take a little while to get ready and released into the App Store.  In fact, I wonder if this is the only thing stopping the announcement happening today, hence why 3UK are happy to start talking about the device…


Nokia release Custom Dictionary Editor

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Nokia E71

Yes, finally, after all these years… Nokia (well Nokia Beta Labs) have released a Custom Dictionary Editor, which allows you to read, edit and delete the words in the customer dictionary on your phone.  Of course, as with all things Nokia, it’s not that simple, so read on before you head off to install the software…

Firstly, it’s mainly aimed at the latest phones, so devices like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the Nokia X6 are fine, and there’s a dedicated version for the Nokia E71 and Nokia E63 which works fine too, but most other devices will struggle in one way or another, and not have the full functionality, which includes…

  • View all the words in your custom dictionary
  • Add new words to it
  • Edit and Delete existing words
  • Export the dictionary as xml file
  • Import words from an xml file
  • Scan text files to import all the words
  • Transfer your dictionary to another phone

Although many devices are generally supported (most S60 3rd Edition and S60 5th Edition devices should be able to run the application, although most S60 3rd Edition FP1 phones will have limited functionality), the best support is limited to the 4 supported phones (even devices like the Nokia N97, Nokia E72 and Nokia E75 are listed as having “minor issues”).

This is a good forward step by Nokia though; many people, myself included, have been annoyed by the lack of edit capability of the dictionary over the years.  One useful piece of advice Nokia have now provided though; the dictionary is limited in size, and, once full, when it adds a word, it deletes the least used word from the dictionary.  This will explain for many why some words disappear over time.

As always, if you want to try it out, head over to the Nokia Beta Labs to see it, and the support for your phone.  Also, if you hadn’t visited the Nokia Beta Labs site recently, you’ll need a Nokia Account (you’ll already have one if you use the Ovi features) to download the application.


Nokia planning v400 E71 firmware

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Nokia E71

According to this website, v400 firmware for the Nokia E71 is just starting to become available, and the changelog includes:

Gimlet v9.5 (v9.5.3.72)
Quick Office 5.3
Ovi Store 1.5 (v1.5.2)
Ovi Contacts – Preinstalled
Mail for Exchange 2.9.176

Email Setup Wizard update
WLAN Corrections
Internet Radio v1.16 – Increased functionality
Camera functionality improvement
Incoming call hang issue fixed
Turkish SMS character input improvement
Many functionality and Stability improvements in MfE
Support for Russian and Ukranian keymats
Phone activation Baseline updated
Yahoo account hack fixed

Stability and functionality improvements
Email and WLAN functionality improvements
Increased robustness in handling SMS and incoming calls
Memory leak fixes and crashes
Email and WLAN functionality improvements

Fix for Incoming call hang issue and fast call crash
Fix for making emergency call when the phone is locked

Minor Functionality improvements
Time display correction when the phone is locked

WLAN functionality Improvements and fixes for crashes
Improvement in WLAN authentication
mVPN authentication improvements and general functionality improvement

Functionality improvements for search functionality

Email setup wizard updated
Fix for Yahoo account hack while setting up Gmail account through Nokia Email
Fix for mails getting duplicated after restoring backup
Mail for Exchange upgraded from 2.9.158 to 2.9.176
Gimlet updated to v9.5
Many functionality and stability improvements in MfE
Robustness and functionality improvements in email items.

Improved functionality
Increased application stability

Usability improvements
Keyboard mapping corrections for Russian and Ukranian keymat

Improvement in Turkish SMS characters input
Fix for delivery report for SMS with more than 22 characters
Increased robustness in handling SMS

It’s nice to see Nokia not neglecting the elder phones!  Once this becomes available in the UK, don’t forget the Nokia E71 does not hae UDP (User Data Preservation), so it will wipe everything off the phone when you apply it.  Certainly with the memory leak fixes and the time display correction, this may be an update worth applying.  As always, the network operator branded firmware versions will take longer to be released.


Facebook support for E71/E72, but it’s not enough

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Facebook for E71 / E72

Now available in the Ovi Store is a Symbian Facebook  for the Nokia E71 / Nokia E72.  To see more screenshots, head over to ZOMG its CJ’s website here.  However, from our point of view, it’s not enough…

On much cheaper phones (eg the INQ Mini 3G, reviewed here) the Facebook support is actually much more integrated into the phone; it will happily take the Facebook contacts and add them to the local addressbook, it will bring their picture down, and it even puts their latest status updates right in the addressbook for you to see if you are about to ring, text or IM them.  The Sony Ericsson T715 we recently reviewed (here) also had support for Facebook, with the ability to upload pictures to Facebook as soon as they were taken, so why aren’t we seeing this level of integration on Symbian?

None of this is difficult, and if it can be achieved for a £50 phone, then surely it can be achieved for a £300 phone…

However, it’s a start, and one we hope that Facebook and Symbian work on to improve.  Also, we’ve no idea why this application is limited to these two phones, although we can understand the need for a portrait version and a separate landscape version given the way Symbian works.

Screenshot courtesy of ZOMG its CJ too.


Update on 3UK and non-3UK-supplied phones

Monday, September 14th, 2009

3 logo

INQ1 Silver £15 per Month, Free 3 to 3 calls at 3M

3UK have supplied us with a full list of phones that they will be supporting with their Skype and Windows Live Messenger clients, and 3UK have provided us with a number of useful updates since we originally mentioned that 3UK were now supplying these clients for use on non-3UK supplied phones.

Firstly, it appears that Windows Live Messenger is getting the same level of treatment as Skype does (under their Skype Free Calls Forever promotion); that is, you don’t even need to TopUp your account for both Skype and Windows Live Messenger to work on your device; even if your credit has expired, it would appear both 3UK-custom app versions will keep working.

How can you obtain these apps; well, if you have a 3UK supplied phone, it should have links or shortcuts to these apps already built into the firmware (although it may involve a download on the first connection).  However, for those who have upgraded their firmware to a generic firmware, or for those who are using a non-3UK-supplied phone, then today, it’s quite simple…

All you need to do is to insert your 3UK sim into your phone, power it on, and go to the Planet 3 link which should automatically appear on the phone (either directly on a shortcut key, or within the Favourites / Bookmarks within the browser, and you may find it’s preset as the homepage within the browser).  Once there, you can select these apps, and then download these apps.

However, and this is a very smart move from 3UK; from 1st October, if you put a 3UK sim into your phone, it will automatically connect and download these apps in the background, and then notify you (via text) when this has completed.  This is a very shrewd move by 3UK, and adds to the user convenience of these apps.

So, for that list of fully supported phones?

  • Nokia E65, Nokia N95 8GB, Nokia N96
  • Sony Ericsson C510, Sony Ericsson C902, Sony Ericsson K660i, Sony Ericsson W595

Now, although that’s the formal list of supported phones, there are, of course, many phones that 3UK have supported directly with clients, such as the Nokia E71, so you may find it’s possible to access and download clients for other phones, although we can’t guarantee this at this stage.  We should also point out that the list of phones that can run the Skype client is much longer, so it does potentially seem to be just the Windows Live Messenger client which is shortening that list right now.


3UK increasing prices, and a new device coming

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

3 logo

INQ1 Silver £15 per Month, Free 3 to 3 calls at 3M

3UK made a number of changes yesterday, which, for certain new users, may mean that buying a phone today is more expensive than buying the same device on the same contract last week.

Firstly, they have dropped their 6 month contract options, now reliant upon their 18 and 24 month contract options only.  Of course, they still have their new 1 month SIM-only rolling contracts, but the 6 month contracts came with a free phone (albeit a selected range of handsets); so people now have to commit for a longer contract, or choose the 1 month contract and potentially will need to buy a 3UK PAYG phone and pay an upfront charge.  Is this a big issue? We don’t think so; the price of some of their PAYG phones, such as the INQ1 is not that high, and by separating the phone from the contract may actually offer customers more choice and the ability to change phones more often (which is becoming more common).

Some Summer sale tariffs have finished, and the products returned to full price.  This is fair enough, although we expect they’ll be a new set of offers in the run up to Christmas!

The final change, which is an interesting one, is that the Nokia E71 is no longer available on the £20 Internet Texter tariff, but will be available instead on the £20 Texter tariff (with an upfront payment of £48.93).  This is strange; the phone is getting old (and about to be replaced by the Nokia E72, which 3UK tell us they won’t be stocking), and as phones get older, it’s more common for the price to drop, not increase.  Also, the change in Texter tariffs means for those that want it on the Texter deal, as well as paying a small upfront charge, they will now need to pay extra for Mobile Internet, adding more to the monthly cost too.

Of course, whether these changes are to allow the new INQ Chat to take the place (and pricepoint) of the old Nokia E71 tariffs remains to be seen, but in the short term, it seems one of the most popular phones and tariff combinations is now not looking as competitive.

We should point out the Nokia E63 remains available, not just on the £20 Internet Texter tariff, but it is currently on promotion so it only costs £18 per month (18 month contract required), which, as we’ve covered before, may well suit some people.

In contrast to this, 3UK are planning to bring free Windows Live Messaging support to all phones and contracts soon, and will be launching their Mobile Wi-Fi device later this month too; there will be two pricing options; the “Broadband 5GB 1 month” service will cost £69.99 upfront and then £15 per month for 5GB of data (with presumably a rolling 1 month contract), or you can select the PAYG “Ready To Go” option at £99.99, which will include 3GB of data to be used over a 3 month period, and then it will move onto PAYG pricing (it’s not clear if this will be the same standard pricing for a Mobile Broadband Dongle).

This device is a good improvement over the original D100 Router, and should sell well; if fact, it may even become more popular than a standard USB Modem given the additional flexibility it offers (eg the ability to connect devices such as the iPod Touch to the Internet too whilst travelling).