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


Permalink

Mobile World Congress roundup

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

It’s been a few days since the end of this year’s Mobile Web Congress, where many (but not all) device manufacturers announce their new products for the next few months. Of course, many are well into planning future products, but right now, there’s been a lot of products announced (ie launched, not yet actually available), and I thought I’d summarise the devices that caught my attention the most…

So, in no particular order…

Nokia PureView 808

This device can’t be ignored. Yes, it’s running Symbian (but the newest version of the OS, which makes it much closer to Android), yes, people still feel Symbian is past it’s best, but this device has a major selling feature; that 41MP camera!  One of the best features is to use all those megapixels not to produce a very hi res photo, but to reduce the resolution of the end picture.  This can either be because it’s a low light situation, and having much bigger groups of pixels collecting the light will make for a better picture. The other reason is to allow for a decent quality digital zoom without any interpolation going on. As the successor to the Nokia N8, I believe this phone will sell well. Nokia have indicated that this is not a one-off device, and we will see future devices with equally high megapixel counts. For some, this may be good enough to actually replace a low to mid range camera too…

New Nokia Lumia devices

On top of the Nokia Lumia 800 and the Nokia Lumia 710 launched last year, we now have the Nokia Lumia 900 and the base model, the Nokia Lumia 610. The Lumia 900 was expected (as the US version was already launched), but I suspect this will be popular as it’s the current top of the range model, with a slightly larger screen than the Lumia 800. Personally, I don’t feel WP7 needs such a large screen, and many people will cope much better with the rest of the range. The Lumia 900 should ship around May time.

The Nokia Lumia 610 is the new base model, and will need the slightly updated Tango version of WP7 to operate. With a slightly lower spec than current WP7 models, there may be the odd application which will need some tweaks between now and June to work fine on this device, but it’s going to allow the networks to sell an even cheaper WP7 device (this could be very popular on PAYG). Microsoft and Nokia’s aim is to get WP devices below £100, which I don’t quite think they’ll manage with the Lumia 610, but given in all other respects it’s got the same capabilities as devices like the Lumia 710, it should sell well.

Nokia Application Updates

Nokia Drive will be updated in the next few weeks to v2. This will add speed camera warnings and full offline searching and routing, functions critical to anyone who travels abroad and wants to minimise data roaming bills by turning off data completely. The current version allows you to download maps for multiple regions, but needs an online connection for routing, re-routing and searching. By allowing the data stored within the maps to be used, this nearly brings Nokia Drive inline with the functionality of the Symbian version. What’s missing? Traffic data and automatic re-routing, although I’ve heard this will be coming in v3, but I have no knowledge of a release date for that version.

Nokia Public Transport will also be released. Back at Nokia World last year, I was very impressed by this application (at that time running on Symbian, but as I reported at the time, it would come to WP7), and the new WP7 version does seem to be well thought out. Two minor issues with it; firstly, it’s an online application (which in the future will allow real time data to be included within the information presented), and currently I understand that although it includes Tubes, Busses, DLR and possibly even Trams, for some reason the various London train lines are still not included. Of course, within Central London, this is not a major problem, and the app in fact looks like it could shine in the suburbs when the train lines break, and only non-train options remain available!

Asus Padfone

Finally, a non-Nokia device; the Asus Padfone was first shown off last year, but is now ready for production. It’s an Android phone (ICS, 4.3″ screen) which can be placed inside a screen dock to create a tablet device. By only using one device it means you can have both a phone and a tablet, but only need one mobile phone contract, and you won’t suffer annoying sync issues between the devices (although Android is good at syncing contacts and calendar, most other apps have no sync capabilities). By placing the phone in the 10.1″ screen dock (Station), you’ll benefit from the battery within the dock to recharge and keep the two devices going for much longer than the phone would last on it’s own. There’s also a keyboard dock (very similar to the Asus Transformer tablet keyboard dock) which has another additional battery which will increase battery life even further.  The keyboard dock also adds a memory card slot and a USB port, which really does give the impression (like the Asus Transformer) that it could replace your laptop.

This is due to be made available in April, although prices are not yet available. I suspect the keyboard dock will be an optional accessory, but I suspect (and hope) most networks will offer the phone with the main Station dock as standard.

Overall, this was a good year for MWC, and I think we’re going to see some very nice devices released and available over the next few months. I’m putting together a separate post on the HTC devices that have been released this week.


Permalink

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…


Permalink

Gingerbread coming to HTC Desire May

Monday, April 4th, 2011

3UK have confirmed (through a tweet) that they are currently putting a Gingerbread update for the HTC Desire through their mobile operator testing.  This can take a while, and often finds problems causing the firmware to be rejected until the bugs are fixed. 3UK stated that it’s likely the firmware will finish testing and be released late April / early May, which would indicate a mid to late April release of the same firmware for unbranded and unlocked devices direct from HTC.

For a phone now replaced (both the HTC Desire HD and the HTC Desire S could be said to follow on from it) it’s good to see updates still being released, and although the native Gingerbread is not a major update, it does bring a range of useful features to all Android devices out of the box (SIP calling, slightly better keyboard, slightly better UI, and better battery power management) so it’s still a welcome update.

It seems a large range of devices will be able to update from v2.2 to v2.3, and for those that don’t, there’s always the custom ROM scene, which as devices move out of warranty becomes a sensible option if the original manufacturer isn’t offering these updates (if the hardware is up to it).

Although brief (as most tweets are!) 3UK‘s statement can be found here.


Permalink

Update for LiveView due soon

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

The Sony Ericsson LiveView device (which we first covered here), has proved quite a popular device, both in terms of sales, but also in the number of Android applications that have been written (or enhanced) to support it.  This is, overall, a good position for the device.  However, all is not well, with many users reporting disconnections (and difficulties in re-establishing a connection afterwards).  Sony Ericsson have confirmed that they are investigating these issues, and plan to release a firmware update for the hardware at some point during this month (January) which should resolve many of the problems people have been facing.

Sony Ericsson also produced this list of compatible apps that they have noticed in the Android Marketplace, some of which sound very interesting:

  • Moon Phase Pro: 3D interactive simulation of the moon.
  • LiveView™ HTC Music plug-in: Music plug-in for HTC phones.
  • OI Shopping List: Shop easily with your LiveView™.
  • FakeCall for LiveView™: Trigger sounds and vibration on your Android phone.
  • LiveView™ ContactCall plug-in: Lets you browse contacts and initiate a call.
  • LiveView™ for Cycle Hire: Quickly access and safely access docking station statuses for London’s TfL Barclays Cycle Hire scheme.
  • LiveView™ Weather plug-in: Show current weather forecast in your location.
  • SportyPal: Motivational training tool that gives you a view of your work-out.
  • Launcher plug-in: Display your application icons on the LiveView™.
  • Smart Training: GPS tracker tool, post your training record.
  • Where am I LiveView™ plug-in: Shows a map of your current location.
  • LiveView™ PowerAMP: Control any music player.
  • Gmail for LiveView™: Gmail notifications plug-in that also lets you read the first part of the e-mail.
  • Se-first.com news alert: RSS notifier for Se-first.com
  • Calendar plug-in: Gives you an overview of your calendar and you can scroll and dive into a daily agenda.
  • Twitter icon plug-in: Shows your Twitter icon or a QR-code so that you can spread your Twitter-url.
  • Mode plug-in: Profile manager that lets you switch between silent, vibrate etc.

In fact, I’ve also seen a few early beta versions of other apps that will make it even more appealing, which is good news for the £50 device.  First of all, though, we need to see that updated firmware…

Some information taken from Sony Ericsson.


Permalink

3UK expand their PAYG handset range

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

I noticed whilst browsing the 3Store website the other day that 3UK have expanded their PAYG handset range.  Probably the most interesting is that you can now get the Apple iPhone 3GS on PAYG (£399.99).  Okay, it’s only a small discount on buying direct from Apple, but it is a discount!

They’ve also expanded their Android range further by now having the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro (so with a QWERTY keyboard) for £169.99.  That’s cheaper than the HTC Wildfire (£189.99), and it’s nice to see 3UK offering more Android devices.

As always, head to the 3Store for more information.


Permalink

Skype release Android update

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Skype have released v1.0.1 of their Android client, which includes a lot of bug fixes and enhancements.  One of the key new features is support for small screen resolutions, so devices like the HTC Wildfire are now supported.  The other updates are:

320*240 and 240*400 screen resolutions are now supported.
Hardware back key is now supported.
Signing out from Skype now exits Skype.
Reduced power consumption in idle mode.
Improved login stability and behavior.
Improved performance with large contact lists.
Reduced application size.
General bug fixes.

There are still a number of known issues, so you are wise to check the Skype for Android webpage, but it’s looking a useful update.  To download, either head to the Skype for Android webpage, or search for Skype in the Android Marketplace.


Permalink

3UK now selling HTC Desire HD

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Although I’m not sure it’s actually available today, 3UK are now selling the HTC Desire HD, with orders due to be delivered by the end of next week.  The HTC Desire HD builds on the success of the HTC Desire and adds a 4.3″ touchscreen as well as an 8 megapixel camera supporting HD video recording, plus it’s one of the devices supported at the new HTCsense.com portal.  3UK are selling the HTC Desire HD on the One Plan for £40 per month (24 month contract), bringing 200 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes and 1GB of Internet, free Voicemail, and an impressive 6 months free Spotify Premium subscription (although the data usage will need to come out of your 1GB allowance if you use it on 3G).

The HTC Desire HD is also available on lesser plans, eg the Internet Texter 500 plan for £35 per month (24 month contract) giving you 500 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, 1GB of Internet, free Voicemail, and just 2 months Spotify Premium subscription.

Of course, if you can’t afford this, the HTC Desire is still good value from 3UK for about a fiver less per month, or you can even get the HTC Desire on the One Plan for £25 per month (24 month contract) if you go for a refurbished stock item.

As always, head to the 3Store for more details.


Permalink

Skype for Android finally available

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Of course, if you are a 3UK customer, you’ve may have had access to their Skype on 3 application for some while, and although this works well, and performs many useful functions, it does miss out a few features that the main Skype app features (of course, the Skype on 3 app is free of data charges under the 3UK Skype Free Calls Forever campaign, so should not be overlooked).

However, for those on other networks, or those wanting those few missing functions (like UK SkypeOut calls), but are happy to use up some data allowance instead, then last week Skype finally released their official Skype for Android app.  You need Android v2.1, and there’s a rather large list of compatibility issues and known issues (depending on your phone), but generally, something like the HTC Desire seems to have the best Skype support.

Although it will work on either Wi-Fi or 3G connections, it will only work on Wi-Fi in the US, and head to this page to read more about the compatibility issues.

Either pick it up from the Android Market, or head to Skype‘s Android page here.


Permalink

New colour options for HTC favourites

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

HTC have released a couple of different variants of their current Android favourites; they have released an all black variant of the HTC Legend, and probably more popular (though because of the device, not the colour in my opinion), an all white HTC Desire.  For those that want to stand out from the crowd, but want to stick to tried and tested stable products, then either of these may well suit.  They should be available this month from some mobile operators.

Personally, although white phones do seem to command a premium, I prefer the standard HTC Desire, although the new all black HTC Legend does look a nice option.


Permalink