INQ Announce new Android devices

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

INQ announced they would be moving to Android many months ago now, but we now have pictures of the first of the two devices that they have now formally announced.  The first is the INQ Cloud Touch, which should be available (exclusively at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy for a limited period) in April 2011, which is a traditional touch based Android phone (see above).  Planned to be available in Black, Red and White, the INQ Cloud Touch has the following spec:

Software:

  • Android Froyo 2.2 platform
  • Built with a modular approach making upgrade to Gingerbread easy
  • Instant Messaging for WLM, G-Talk and Facebook Chat
  • Free push email across major domains, including Microsoft Exchange
  • Info Key to quick access to key handset functions
  • Fast unlock for quick access to key functions
  • Backup and sync, plus firmware upgrades to later software releases

Hardware:

  • Processor: Qualcomm 7227 chipset, 600MHz
  • Triband HSPA (7.2/ 5.76Mbps), Quadband GSM, EDGE + WiFi
  • Size: 3.5” inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen display with extended 10mm touch strip
  • Memory: 4MB with option to add more
  • 5 MP autofocus camera
  • 1300mAh battery
  • WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Radio, accelerometer, compass, ambient light and proximity sensors
  • MicroUSB charging, 3.5mm audio jack.
  • Accessories included: 4GB microSD Card, Travel Charger & USB Cable, Stereo Headset, Quick Start Guide

Although not in the name, INQ have continued their long running Social Networking Support and built in some good Facebook integration into the phone; “Facebook comes alive with a homescreen Visual Media Feed for video, pictures, web pages and newsfeed.

There are one-touch links to Facebook Chat, Friends, Messages, Wall and Notifications. Facebook Single Sign On is activated across the phones and people can check in to their favorite shops, restaurants and clubs with Facebook Places, also active on the homescreen. Facebook Events fully integrates with the Google Calendar on both devices.

The phones are the first mobiles to use the Facebook social graph API, making it easy for people to follow updates from the friends they interact with most.”

Also, the phone will come with the Spotify client, with all relevant Spotify features being available to subscribers.

However, the other phone also looks very interesting. The INQ Cloud Q brings together the same software with a touchscreen based Android handset, but it also includes a QWERTY keyboard in the BlackBerry-style widescreen candybar format.  When we had the choice of the INQ Mini or the INQ Chat, many people went for the Chat as it offered all the same facilities, but with the benefit of the QWERTY.  Obviously, the Cloud Q has a different touchscreen to the Cloud Touch, so it’s not as clear which will be more popular, but yet again INQ are introducing a range of less expensive phones with the same facilities as the top end models from other manufacturers.

Photo of INQ Cloud Q courtesy of Mobile Phones Arena.


Permalink

Three launch The One Plan

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

3UK have launched a new phone tariff, The One Plan.  This is a very interesting move by 3UK.  It’s available on all their phones, and they claim it should be big enough for everyone!

The plan (a 24-month contract) comprises:

  • 2000 cross network minutes
  • 5000 3UK3UK minutes
  • 5000 texts
  • 1GB Internet access

Having 2000 cross network minutes was something we first saw on the Apple iPhone 4 plans launched last week, and although none of these values are being stated as “unlimited” (for which we are very supportive), it’s also fair to say that most people will actually have a challenge getting through any of this limits, except maybe the 1GB Internet data, but even that is more generous that many of their competitors (Vodafone offer 500MB with most phones, as does Orange).

This plan will cost from £25 per month (*), depending which phone you get it with, so, for example, the iPhone 4 will be between £35 and £45 depending on the model and how much you pay upfront for the phone.

3UK have also announced that as from July, they will no longer use the word “unlimited”, something Vodafone announced last year (but only for data), and let’s hope this is the catalyst to encourage all networks to remove this misleading term from their marketing and actually compete with each other on quality and measurable quantity.

On top of that, they have massively clarified their old Internet tariffs too.  Since the introduction of the 24month contracts, they offered “unlimited” internet, which was really “only” 500MB.  To start, they will be converting that 500MB into 1GB for all existing customers on Internet Texter 500 or 900 plans and the Internet Talker 900 plan (over the next few months; you’ll get a text telling you what’s happening).  For elder contracts, although occasionally bundled into a deal, the majority of people pay £5 per month to get 2GB of data (at times it was sold as “unlimted” or 1GB, but in most cases it was actually 2GB); now this option still exists today, so people who were on 2GB per month will remain on that; no sly reductions here, and even better, 3UK have confirmed that the customers who are getting 500MB or 1GB free with their new contracts can still pay the £5 per month to add an additional 2GB of data to their contract.

So, it would appear you could take the new One Plan, and for £30, get all those minutes listed above and have a total of 3GB Internet allowance per month too!

Yet again, 3UK are leading on their tariff options, and these internet options make 3UK a very realistic option for many.

(*) We should point out that at the time of writing, the One Plan seems to cost at least £28 buying the cheapest phone, so although in time it will be offered for £25 with certain mobiles, it seems to cost a little more right now. The £25 per month option is for the SIM only 12 month option, offering the same level of contract, but for just £25 per month, and only on a 12-month contract.

So, looking at some popular phones right now, these are all free on a 24-month One Plan contract, with a monthly cost:

Given the phone is free, these are all very good value, especially given the amount of service you are buying.  The Internet Texter and Internet Talker plans still exist for those who don’t need this amount of minutes / texts.

As always, these offers are available from the 3Store.


Permalink

Nokia announce 3 new devices

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Having already covered the Nokia C6 a couple of times, there’s not a lot to say about this device, except it does appear to be a very interesting proposition…

Featuring the S60 5th Edition touchscreen, including the N97-style homescreen widgets, this device combines the feature spec of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, adds a sliding QWERTY keyboard, upgrades the camera to 5 megapixel, and does so without adding too much extra weight or volume.  This device, as I have already said, it likely to sell very well, especially as Nokia are looking at a €220 SIM free price (that’s about £200), so we can expect it less than that on PAYG, and I would expect as little as free on 18-month contracts.

I could repeat all the specs of this device, but it’s best to head to the Nokia PDF Datasheet for the best information (here).

Even better, the phone is due to be actually available in Q2; showing Nokia has finally moved towards reducing the time between announcement and availability, which is a good move.  Of course, as it features a GPS, that means free navigation software too. One thing to be aware of; although it will launch in Black and White, in time there will be additional colours, such as Blue.

Nokia also released the Nokia C3 (below), which is a S40 QWERTY device.  This will have a SIM free price of €90 (£80)

Although being S40, this phone features email, chat, information on the homescreen (posting and status updates).  Looking at the spec, it seems to rival the INQ Chat 3G, so this should be a popular device too for those wanting QWERTY, but with the Nokia badge. This will also be available in Q2.  Again, more information on the spec is available direct from Nokia here.

Finally, Nokia announced the Nokia E5, which will not be out until Q3, and will most likely replace the Nokia E63 (which makes sense as the Nokia E63 is S60 3rd Edition FP1, whereas the Nokia E5 is S60 3rd Edition FP2).

This, again, is  QWERTY device, and will feature a GPS with free navigation (a step up from the Nokia E63), and increase the camera to 5megapixels too.  At €180 (£160) SIM free, again, this is competitively priced to be even more popular than the Nokia E63.  Given this will be aimed more at the business market (although I would expect certain UK networks to pick it up and release it for everyone), the extra delay between now and release is unlikely to be a big issue.

I’m really impressed by these phones, I’m not going to rush out and buy them all, but for the mid-market they are aimed at, these devices will sell really well.  My only criticism is that the C-Series now has an S40, a S60 3rd Edition and a S60 5th Edition device, making it difficult to associate one OS with a range, but that’s not so different from the old 4 number range, which covered all 3 OSes as well.  For those who are looking for a top spec flagship phone, these aren’t it, and that should be announced in the coming months…


Permalink

Twitter free on 3UK

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

3UK want to promote the use of Twitter, and so for the whole of February and March, access to Twitter will be free!  What exactly is and isn’t included?  Well, 3UK have stated that access to Twitter for tweeting messages and pictures will be free of charge, whether you are accessing Twitter via the mobile browser, or using the integrated client on devices such as the INQ Mini 3G, Sony Ericsson T715, or even the INQ Chat 3G.  If you already pay for Internet access on your mobile phone, then accessing twitter will not come out of your internet data allowance.

Although this is only a 2 month period, this means that right now you can use Skype, Twitter and Windows Live Messenger for free on your device.  As always, 3UK seem to be pushing the boundaries on what could and should be included within the contract, and we hope this promotion can be extended in the long term.


Permalink

INQ PC Software

Monday, January 18th, 2010

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

When I covered the INQ Chat 3G last week (here), I didn’t mention anything about the PC software side of things, so I thought I’d add a few comments on that here.  From one point of view, it all looks very smooth and slick, but when you go into the weeds, it’s not so perfect…

Firstly, when you connect the phone to your PC, it brings up a little menu with a variety of options, including installing the drivers to user your phone as a modem, and the option to install DoubleTwist, the new application INQ are using to manage your media.

Now, I thought this was very good, but when you click to install DoubleTwist, it actually opens a webpage and takes you directly to the DoubleTwist website to download the latest version from there.  From one point of view, this is good, as you always get the latest version, but it’s not exactly “out of the box”.  So, after a download and an installation, I was surprised to find the latest version of the software wasn’t able to recognise the phone at all.  In fact, reading the handy hint cards that came with the phone didn’t reveal the problem, until I happened to search the online INQ forums (although my phone arrived the same week most shops started selling it, I guessed that INQ Mini users may have had similar issues), and eventually I found the answer; you need to use a microSD card (not included in the box) to be able to use DoubleTwist…

Now, I acknowledge that the phone doesn’t have a lot of spare memory capacity built in, but it did seem a shame to not mention anywhere that music management needed an additional memory card.  One memory card later, and all was well.  Well, as well as could be expected; you see, I’m not (yet) a big Apple fan, so I rarely use iTunes for music (podcasts and other videos yes, but not music) as hence although DoubleTwist was capable of transferring my iTunes music across to the phone, that did not amount to much…

Here again, I found a minor issue with DoubleTwist; it happily copied the music from a couple of my iTunes playlists across to the phone, but didn’t actually copy the playlist; ie it copied all the songs, but made no attempt to build equivalent playlists on the phone to allow easy selection of the music again.

Apart from one or two niggles (that I covered within the actual INQ Chat 3G review here), this did seem a little bit of a let down to me, and although it’s outside of INQ’s control, I do hope that either DoubleTwist improves their software, or INQ can persuade them to support playlists just for them…

So, overall, the PC Software options are nicely integrated and thought out, but, like the phone, let down if you a power user.

My time with the INQ Chat 3G is now up, so I won’t necessarily keep up to date with how the software (on the phone or on the PC) improve with time, but I hope they do.  One thing I forgot to mention with the hardware review; since being announced, the price of the INQ Chat 3G has dropped a fair amount, and at only £89.99 on PAYG, it’s actually a hell of a lot of phone for the money…


Permalink

INQ Chat 3G Review

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

In terms of the majority of the software on the phone, it’s very similar to the INQ Mini 3G that I covered here and here, so what’s different about the Chat, what’s good, and what’s bad?

Well, that QWERTY keyboard is the main physical difference, and it is a very nice keyboard.  It’s similar to the Symbian QWERTY layout, and just slightly different to the BlackBerry layout (the Symbol and Shift keys are reversed compared to a BlackBerry, which makes it a challenge to get used to if you are a long term BlackBerry user).

A GPS is the other key difference to the INQ Mini 3G, and to be honest, it sometimes took it’s time to get a fix, but generally worked ok.  The included Google Maps worked well with the GPS.  Unlike Symbian devices, there is no configuration control over the GPS settings, so no facility for changing the Positioning Server over to Google to help speed up the initial fix.  One downside of Google Maps was it was expecting numeric key input, and that meant pressing the Symbol and the relevant key to emulate a number; it was a shame it wasn’t aware of the QWERTY and mapped keys allowing a single key press for functions.  As with all Brew OS devices, there is no cell ID location function within Google Maps, which limits you to waiting for the GPS to find a fix; if you are used to a device that can also use cell ID location information, then this seems to impact the fast “locate me” type functions when you know roughly where you are and just want to seatch for something local to your position…

In general terms, the integration of the Social Networking apps remains a key selling point of this phone, bringing together Skype, Facebook and Twitter, and linking the first two into the Contact List too.  Personally, it felt like the Twitter app was more of an add-on, with less integration than the other two, and no facilities for downloading contacts or avatars like the Facebook and Skype apps offer.

It’s nice to see the INQ Hub included as standard on the INQ Chat 3G (see here for how to access from the INQ Mini 3G), and overall the phone seemed a nice device.  For a device which can be described as a smartphone (although only just, given it’s limited to Java apps) the battery lasted well over a day, and unless you are using Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live Messenger and Skype constantly, should easily last two days.  With all 3 apps turned on, it still managed to last over a full working day, which is certainly a key timeframe.

Compared to Symbian, the lack of worrying about Access Points and just letting the device go ahead and connect to the Internet for you was a nice refreshing change, although for many it may fell like a level of control has been taken away from you.  Of course, with no WiFi support, the only option is 3G connectivity, which helps with the simplification.

So, overall, you may think my opinion is that this is a good, cheap phone worthy of consideration…? Well, I’m afraid it wasn’t as perfect as I would have liked…  Firstly, start running all those Social Networking apps together, and the phone often freezes when one of them is performing an update in the background, which can leave the phone locked for a minute or two, and although it doesn’t come with the Social Networking support out of the box (yet), buying a Nokia E63 and adding Gravity (plus the 3UK specific Skype and WLM apps) gets you very close, with the additional benefit of a true multitasking OS, and WiFi support too (although no GPS).  If it wasn’t for the device feeling so underpowered, then I would be supporting it as a worthy device, but it did occasionally leave me very frustrated.

So, if you don’t want to run all the Social Networking apps all the time,but want a device with a QWERTY keyboard, and the ability to use your favourite Social Networking sites out of the box, then certainly go and try out the INQ Chat 3G; you may be pleasantly surprised at the functionality on offer given the price, and hopefully a firmware update, or software updates will resolve the responsiveness issues I found.

As always, thanks to 3mobilebuzz for the loan of the device, and if you want more information, or to purchase an INQ Chat 3G, then head to the 3Store to see more.


Permalink

Nokia Messaging release Social Networking update

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Nokia Messaging for Social Networks

Nokia BetaLabs have released an update to their Nokia Messaging for Social Networks beta product, which now features improved Facebook access, and also adds the first round of Twitter support.  Nokia have also commented that they will be adding other Social Networking sites over time.

As well as the initial version, which offered to let people view, post, and comment on messages, share their location and status while keeping up with their Facebook friends, the new version adds the following Facebook features:

  • Upload pictures and videos
  • Events: View upcoming events, birthdays and import to device calendar
  • Search friends
  • Click-to-call / click-to-SMS / click-to-FB Email

In terms of the Twitter support, it includes the ability to see your friends’ tweets, reply to them, and open links in their tweets, but more advanced functions like Direct Messages, Trends, and Follower information all have placeholders, but are marked as coming soon.

The application also has some location sharing features, which are built on top of Ovi Maps, and it also offers a Homescreen widget.  This app is, however, limited to the Nokia N97, Nokia N97 Mini, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the Nokia X6 right now.

This does look an interesting application, and may, over time, become a useful tool for those wanting to keep online from their device.  This is the sort of functionality we are seeing built directly into other phones as they ship (eg the INQ Mini 3G, and the INQ Chat 3G), so it will be nice when Nokia are shipping this by default on their phones to offer a similar experience as other manufacturers are managing.


Permalink

INQ Chat 3G now available in the UK

Friday, December 11th, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

Just a quick heads up; the INQ Chat 3G has gone on sale with 3UK today in both their Stores and on the 3UK website.  It retails at £99.99 on PAYG or is available from £15 per month (18-month contract), and nicely it seems that 3UK are including internet on that tariff.  Head to the 3Store today to purchase.


Permalink

INQ Mini 3G Review

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

Well, I’ve had an INQ Mini 3G (courtesy of 3mobilebuzz) for a couple of weeks now, and overall, I’ve been quietly impressed by the phone.  From the automatic importing of Facebook and Skype contacts into the Contacts list, to the fact the phone has support for these Social Networking sites, and Twitter support, and all for less than £50!

Now, let’s be honest, I’m used to smartphones, and there are a number of little things that annoy me with the device; the start up sound can’t be cancelled by pressing a key (as per Nokia devices), and the whole menu system is a little bright and colourful for my taste (and with no theme support, no opportunity to change it either), but these are minor niggles, and certainly don’t detract from the phone.

Supporting Social Networking sites directly in the device, combined with the standard 3UK support of Windows Live Messenger makes this a well supported device, and well worth a look.  I liked the fact the homepage supports 3 widgets (I used weather, world clock and an RSS feed of the BBC website, all options built into the phone), although I have heard some people warn there may be a memory leak, as I’ve heard of people needing to reboot the phone after a long time turned on with widgets in use.  That’s a key issue to me; I rarely turn my phone off, so long term stability is key, and it maybe that a firmware / application update is needed to resolve these issues; hopefully they will be addressed before the INQ Chat ships.

The phone also shipped with Google Mail and Google Maps (v2.3.2; nice!), which was useful for people like me who use Google a lot, and the phone can be used with GooSync to sync data from the likes of Google Calendar too.  Personally, I found the calendar a bit simple when entering new entries, but I suspect most people will use the phone linked to Google or Outlook, and not enter directly onto the device (again, I’ve been spoilt by smartphones offering a decent Calendar app).  In fact, the only thing missing is the Last.fm scrobbling support that the INQ1 had, and it’s still not clear why INQ dropped this function, especially with the likes of Last.fm and Spotify moving more into the mobile space…

Again, a personal point, but it uses miniUSB (not the end of the world, although many manufacturers are moving to microUSB), which is used for both the headphones and charging.  With Bluetooth support for a headset in the car, this isn’t the end of the world, but I’m not a fan of the combined port; let’s hope when INQ move to Android next year we’ll see a dedicated headphone socket on their devices.  Whilst I’m looking at the hardware, I wasn’t a big fan of the way the rear cover clipped on (it did have a release button at the top, which makes it better than the Sony Ericsson T715 I reviewed here), but only just, and I couldn’t find any sight of the other 6 coloured interchangeable backs on the 3Store, so right now you’ll be stuck with the red back).

Let’s be honest, for the price and based on the software on this device; if you are not in the market for a smartphone but want connectivity options to keep upto date with your Social Networking sites, then the INQ Mini 3G should be high on your list of options, if not at the top.  Here at UK Gadgeteer, I’ve covered a number of hints and tips over the last few weeks, and INQ Mobile should be congratulated for providing online support, and being willing to engage with their customers.

When the INQ Chat arrives with the QWERTY keyboard, and GPS, it’ll be interesting to see whether INQ can still compete in the mid-tier marketplace against devices like the Nokia E63

Oh, and finally, a small point, but having performed a master reset of the device to return it, the phone still had all the contacts on it, plus the sign-in details for Skype, so if you ever decide to sell your INQ Mini 3G, be careful about removing all your personal data as well as performing a master reset.


Permalink

Another INQ Mini 3G Tip

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

If you’ve got an INQ Mini 3G, then point the browser to the new INQ Hub at http://hub.inqmobile.com/inqhub/hub/opco/3uk and save it as a bookmark.  It allows easy access to many features, including the user guide, FAQ and troubleshooting information, but also provides access to any application upgrades, as well as to a 3UK specific GetJar application website for access to additional applications to download (some chargeable).

This is a good feature, and it’s little things like this that makes us fans of the INQ Mini 3G

With thanks to INQ Mobile themselves, who providing this information to us.


Permalink