HTC Hero 2.1 definitely coming soon

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Although it’ll be no surprise that a firmware update was coming to the HTC Hero (we covered it here), and last week the Android v2.1 update started to roll out in Asia, HTC have now confirmed that the Android v2.1 update for the European HTC Hero will start (but not complete) this week.

The firmware update will be a two stage process.  The first stage, a small minor update, should start appearing on HTC Hero devices over the next few days, and will be followed by the main update “towards the end of the month”.  This second update will wipe the phone (so you’ll need to backup your data beforehand) and is sufficiently large that HTC are recommended you use a WiFi / Broadband connection to download the update.

Overall, this is good for the HTC Hero, and will of course allow access to many application which are Android v1.6 or higher, and give access to many of the latest applications of which some even require v2.x, however, what is currently unknown is how quickly the operator specific firmwares will be released.  I would hope to see these be available in a similar timeframe, but as with Symbian branded firmwares, you may see a delay between the HTC release and the update being available for any individual device.


Google start rolling out navigation wider

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Last week, Google announced the wider rollout of their Navigation solution, and (for Android only right now, and only for v1.6 Android and above) have released v4.2, which now supports providing navigating in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.  They’ve also now added support for Voice Search in French, German, Italian and Spanish (although some parts of the voice search are limited to Android v2.0 and above).

Of course, Google providing navigation support for the countries is only part of the solution; the other side of the solution is needing a data connection in those countries, and a lot cheaper than it’s available today.


Dell Streak available tomorrow from O2

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

This is a very interesting device, and one I had the fortune to get a sneak peek Hands On with last week.  This is a 5″ tablet phone, which I have to say is a little large to hold up to your ear when on a call, so you might want to budget for a Bluetooth Headset to not look quite so silly, or simply add this to your existing phone with a data only contract (more later).  However, it’s running Android, and features a very nice touchscreen, which can take the knocks of every day life (I saw the blunt end of a knife be punched into the screens of 2 devices and neither suffered any problems with the touchscreen still working fine straight afterwards).  Obviously Dell & O2 don’t condone this level of abuse, and do warn that there are still certain angles where a drop onto a hard floor will still cause serious damage, but at least it’s a little tougher than many, and features something called Gorilla Glass to provide that protection.

The device I saw had a range of additional Android applications installed onto them, so although I can’t comment on what comes as standard with the device, they seem to have full support of the Android Marketplace, and hence there is a whole raft of additional applications that can be installed.

Although I didn’t get long with the devices, they seemed to be coping with many demos without a major impact on battery life, although that obviously needs a longer trial to establish whether it can last more than the common single day of usage.

O2, however, are offering the phone on a whole host of tariff options, ranging from the 30-day rolling Simplicity contracts (the Dell Streak 32GB will cost £399 upfront on all Simplicity contracts) to the high end £60 per month “unlimited” everything 24-month contract (where the device will be free).

24 month smartphone tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
100 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £149 £249
300 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £59 £149
600 Unlimited Unlimited £35 Free £89
900 Unlimited Unlimited £40 Free £59
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £45 Free Free
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £60 Free Free

18 month smartphone tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
100 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £149 £249
300 Unlimited Unlimited £35 £59 £149
600 Unlimited Unlimited £40 Free £89
900 Unlimited Unlimited £45 Free £59
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £50 Free Free
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £65 Free Free

The Smartphone tariffs above offer unlimited texts, data and Wi-Fi at thousands of BT Openzone and The Cloud hotspots as well as a wide range of minutes.

12 month simplicity tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
300 Unlimited Unlimited £15 £349 £399
600 Unlimited Unlimited £20 £349 £399
900 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £349 £399
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £349 £399
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £45 £349 £399

30 day simplicity tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
300 Unlimited Unlimited £20 £349 £399
600 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £349 £399
900 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £349 £399
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £35 £349 £399
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £50 £349 £399

Again, it’s nice to see Wi-Fi at hotspots included even on these tariffs.

However, maybe the biggest area of interest will be the Data Only options, where the device isn’t actually used as a phone at all, but instead, concentrates on it’s capabilities as an Internet Tablet…

Contract length Included data Included Wi-Fi Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
24 months 3GB 500MB £25 Free* £99
24 months 3GB Unlimited £30 Free £49
18 months 3GB Unlimited £15 £349 £399
18 months 1GB Unlimited £10 £349 £399
1 month 3GB Unlimited £15 £399 £449
1 month 1GB Unlimited £10 £449 £449

* The 16GB Dell Streak is free on a £25 a month 24 month tariff until 30 June 2010, after which it’ll cost £49.

Although there’s quite a jump from the £15 per month 18-month contract to the £30 per month 24-month contract, with the smaller outlay of the phone itself, it works out roughly the same cost (within £10) over 24 months on both.

The specs of the device (taken from Dell) include:

  • A sharp 5-inch capacitive multi-touch WVGA (800×480) display for a great full-screen experience watching video or browsing the web
  • Fast 1GHz Snapdragon ARM-based mobile processor from Qualcomm
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash that offers easy point & shoot capability and quick uploads to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and more
  • VGA front-facing camera enables video chat functionality down the road
  • A user-removable (and replaceable) battery
  • A 3.5mm headphone jack means many of you can use the Dell Streak as the music source (and more) in your car
  • Integrated 3G + Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + Bluetooth 2.1 (think headsets, external keyboards, stereo headsets, etc.)
  • UMTS / GPRS / EDGE class 12 GSM radio with link speeds of HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA
  • A user-accessible Micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB. That means you can store  lots of movies, music, photos or other kinds of files.

On the software side, here’s what you can expect:

  • A customized multi-touch version of the Google Android operating system that features Dell user interface enhancements
  • Access to over 38,000  apps (and growing) via the Android Marketplace
  • Microsoft Exchange connectivity and integration through TouchDown
  • Google Voice support
  • Integrated Google Maps with voice-activated search, turn-by-turn navigation, street and satellite views
  • Quick access to activity streams via integrated social network app widgets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

The only downside I can see to the device right now, is that I believe it ships with Android 1.6, although it’s likely that Android 2.1 or 2.2 will become available as an update, but not until later in the year (we’re hearing September).  The device as it stands, though, will be available tomorrow from O2 Stores and the O2 website.

I should point out as part of our “Not Unlimited” campaign, that I doubt that any of these “unlimited” references actually get you unlimited service, but O2 have not yet provided the detail behind what the actual unlimited limits are.


Nokia releases v3.04 Ovi Maps

Friday, May 21st, 2010

After a few months in beta, Nokia have now released Ovi Maps v3.04, which adds better positioning with the use of Wi-Fi and Cell ID positioning directly into the product.  They’ve also improved the graphics handling to make everything that bit smoother.  Something that has been added since the beta phase is that they are also providing Qype user reviews (similar to the User Reviews available in Google Maps).  It’s nice to see continued innovation from Nokia on their SatNav product, although it would also be nicer if they could provide better information over what version of maps are installed, and to notify you when new maps are released.

Finally, if you haven’t already bought a Nokia phone recently, and are in the market, you’ll be glad to know that for some models, Nokia are now including a car holder and a car charger in the box (Nokia N97, Nokia N97 Mini, Nokia 6710 Navigator, Nokia X6), whilst others will at least have the car holder without the charger (Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia 5230, Nokia E52, Nokia E72).  Obviously these accessories will only exist in the latest SIM free stock from Nokia, whereas most UK stock will already be sat on the shelf, or be via the network operator (who will have bought stock in advance), so don’t be surprised if your new purchase doesn’t come with these; in which case, head to somewhere like Mobile Fun and pick up accessories from them.


Google now offering Navigation in the UK

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

For many Android users, they are finding out today that Google have enabled Navigation within their Google Maps application on Android.  This adds:

  • Business search
  • Traffic alerts and auto re-routing around problem areas
  • Satellite and ‘Streetview’ views whilst navigating
  • Layers with ‘points of interest’
  • Voice activation
  • Low data use:  typically 200KB for a 20km route. Data is pre-cached and navigation continues if internet access is lost.

That last point is very interesting; one of my major issues with Google Maps (and why I often promote other solutions such as the free Ovi Maps on Symbian instead) is the need for a constant data connection, which simply isn’t always possible in the UK.  Now, it seems, Google agree, and can support navigation (at least) continuing without that data.  Of course, what would be even more interesting is if they offered these same facilities on Symbian and took on Ovi Maps directly.

As can be seen from the screenshot above, the software offers multiple choices when initially calculating the route, and clearly shows the traffic on each route (if available) with colour coding; this is a nice touch.

One downside though; this needs Android 1.6 or above, which rules out many devices, including the hugely popular HTC Hero, still stuck on Android 1.5 (it seems it’s not just Symbian phone that suffer firmware delays).  We’re hearing that this update will be available for the HTC Hero, but we’re hearing different dates; HTC have hinted at a firmware release within the month, whereas Google seemed to state this new navigation wouldn’t be available for the HTC Hero until June.  Equally, we’ve heard that the HTC Magic will not receive any OS updates at all, leaving them to potentially never have access to this new version.

Some content, including the new features courtesy of The Really Mobile Project, and the screenshot is courtesy of David Carrington on Flickr.


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…


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…


Will this be a new best seller from Nokia?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Nokia c6

This, apparently, maybe the new Nokia C6, from the same mid-range family as the Nokia C5 we covered a week or so back.  The interesting thing about this device, though, is obvious in the picture (this appears to be a leaked official Nokia press photo); the Nokia C6 combines a QWERTY keyboard (in the style of the Nokia E75 and the Nokia N810 before that) with the touchscreen of the latest S60 5th Edition.  That’s a very nice combination; the touchscreen for access to all the latest applications (eg Brightkite, which is S60 5th Edition only), but also offering a QWERTY keyboard for those who want to type a little more (and the additional of a cursor D-pad is a nice touch too)…

This device should have GPS too (and hence free Navigation), making it a nice all round device.  However, as a C-Series device, it is likely to be missing WiFi (like the recently announced Nokia 5230), which may be a challenge for some whilst at home; I know my data usage only stays within the limits set by the mobile networks due to WiFi usage at home.

Having said that, this looks very interesting, especially if it is priced as keenly as the Nokia C5…

If it’s a real device, it should be out in time for the Summer Holidays in the UK.


Nokia C5 announced

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Nokia C5

Having decided to not launch any phones at MWC, Nokia have now launched a new phone at CeBIT instead!  The Nokia C5 phone is a S60 3rd Edition device, and will, like all new GPS-enabled Symbian devices, ship with Free Ovi Maps and Free Navigation.  However, as well as having a facility for updating your Facebook status built into the device, it also has finally brought the level of integration so far only seen on a handful of devices; it will allow you to see your friend’s Facebook status updates within the Contacts application.

The phone will also feature Nokia Messaging for email and IM, and will ship with a 2GB microSD card (and supports upto 16GB).  Even more interesting, when the phone ships in Q2 this year, it should cost around £100 on PAYG, which shows that Symbian is really becoming available across all devices within the Nokia range, and is no longer tied to the high end “smartphones”.

I’m impressed that they have added this level of integration into the device, although it remains to be seen how well Nokia can support this functionality over the months and years to come, especially if Facebook make changes which mean an update is required.  I also hope that Nokia release this application, or Contacts plugin for other devices, or at least integrate it into the firmware of other devices.


If you want a Nokia 5800, be quick…!

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Nokia 5800

We’re hearing that Vodafone will be removing the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic from their range by the end of the week, and it’s likely as we progress into March that the other networks will follow suit.  As the phone has been out for a while, it seems it’s being replaced by the Nokia 5230, which although is a nice phone, has some less features compared to the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic.

Firstly, it’s got a 2 megapixel camera, compared to the 3.2 megapixel on the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, and it doesn’t have WiFi (not a problem for many people, but still worth pointing out; whilst at home, my phones often download larger files and data, which would quickly cut into the data limits placed on phone contracts).  It does, however, have built in social networking features (although adding a copy of Gravity to a Symbian phone only costs around £8, and is well worth it in my opinion).  It does also have more flexibility when it comes to the home screen layout, which may appeal to many.  With the move to Ovi Maps v3 now being free for S60 5th Edition phones, both can have free Navigation, although with the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic you may well need to update the software and maps before you get free navigation, whereas it’s more likely (although not confirmed) that the Nokia 5230 will ship with the free version out of the box.

So, if you are after a new phone, the Nokia 5230 is worth a look, but if the lack of WiFi will be an issue, then you might want to act quickly before the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic disappears from the shelves for good!