3UK confirm the HTC Desire

Friday, February 19th, 2010

HTC Desire

We’ve received confirmation from 3UK that they will also be selling the HTC Desire (along with Orange and T-Mobile who have already announced their plans to sell the phone).  This is good news for 3UK as part of their plans to expand their Android range to over 6 devices by June, although at this stage it’s not clear if they will only be selling the HTC Desire, or whether they will be carrying the HTC Legend too.

As with all other 3UK devices, it will feature Skype on 3 (Free Skype Forever), Email on 3, Free Windows Live Messenger, and will also have the Spotify client installed too.

Although 3UK have only formally stated “Spring 2010”, we understand it should be available in April 2010.


HTC Updates from MWC

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

HTC Legend

HTC have released 2 very exciting Android phones this week; the HTC Legend (above) and the HTC Desire.  HTC have released some information about the devices here, but in summary:

The HTC Legend is made from a single aluminium block, features a 3.2″ AMOLED screen with an optical joystick.

The HTC Desire features a 3.7″ AMOLED screen, 5 megapixel camera, and is, in essence, very similar to the Google Nexus One, although it lacks the dual-mic noise cancelling feature of the Google phone.

One of the new UI features that HTC will add to both devices is the new “HTC Friend Stream that seamlessly aggregates all of your social communication including Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr into one organised flow of updates. This simple aggregation makes it easier than ever to focus on what friends are doing as well as to view the images and links that they share.  In addition to Friend Stream, people can be organised into specific social circles, such as groups of friends, colleagues or any other way that makes sense.”

In terms of availability, the HTC Desire should be available on Orange in April, and on T-Mobile on 26th March.  If you can’t wait for this, T-Mobile have just released the T-Mobile Pulse Mini on PAYG for £99.99, which is a very low price point for an Android device.  When I met up with 3UK a few weeks back, they talked about having the Hero replacement by June, and I do wonder whether they will be carrying the HTC Legend.

In other news, HTC have confirmed that the Android 2.1 update for the Hero will become available in March 2010 (although network operator versions may take a little longer), and have also apparently stated that the HTC Magic will not be receiving this update.  The Hero update will include the new enhanced Sense features mentioned above.


Nokia N97 Free Ovi Maps now available

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Nokia N97 Black

If you own a Nokia N97, then you should find that the free Ovi Maps software is now available.  It’s not yet integrated into a firmware update, but instead is available from the built in Software Update tool.  However, you’ll need v20 firmware already installed, so where does the Nokia N97 UK network operator branded versions stand…?

Well, for most UK network operators, they have offered v20 for some time, and hence if you don’t already have the new firmware, you can apply it and then pick up the Ovi Maps update (although you need a fair amount of free space on the C: drive, so if it won’t install, hopefully the v21 firmware which will include the new v3.03 Free Ovi Maps should be out at some point in the next few weeks).

Most.  Not all.  This week, it’s Orange in the doghouse, for still being on v10 firmware, and not yet having made v20 available for their customers.  Nokia have said they are working to ensure v20 is available to all, but yet again, things are complicated by the UK networks.

It’s nice to see the Nokia N97 finally included in the list of supported devices for the Free Navigation Forever campaign from Nokia, but personally, I still want to see Nokia offering it to S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices…


Can you actually get the new Ovi Maps for free?

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Nokia Maps 3.0 with Ovi

When Nokia made Ovi Maps free for a whole range of devices last week, one thing which wasn’t so strongly mentioned was the minimum firmware versions needed for certain devices.  Take the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic for example; although many devices shipped with v11 (and since then Nokia has released v20, v21, v30, v31 and v40 firmwares), you actually need a minimum of v31 to be able to install this latest version of Ovi Maps.

Obviously for anyone with a generic unbranded device, this is easy; a quick firmware check on the device, or using Nokia Software Updater on your Windows PC will soon confirm that there is a v40 firmware, and you can easily install it; but what about the UK network operators?  If you have a branded device, are you in luck?

Well, generally, the good news is yes, you are in luck.  It looks like the majority of UK branded product codes have had v31 released (although none that I checked actually had v40 released yet), so overall, you have a good chance of being able to upgrade the firmware in your phone, and then install the new free to use Ovi Maps.

However, all is not perfect; I did say “the majority”, and I’m sorry to say, the Orange product code for a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Blue edition (the early devices Orange first sold) seems to be stuck on v30, and hence, although fairly up to date, not sufficiently up to date to allow the new Ovi Maps to work.  Ironically, the Black variant, which, being newer, has strangely always faired better for firmware updates seems to have v31 available, so those users are fine.

If my research is correct, that’s a silly situation to be in; depending when you bought your phone determines which colour you have, and with Orange, that can mean the difference between being able to install Ovi Maps or not.  Let’s hope Orange resolve this with some speed given the amount of advertising Nokia is putting behind their new Ovi Maps versions.

However, that’s not the end of the story; it appears 3UK are also stuck on v30, and hence anyone with a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic from 3UK will not be able to run the latest Ovi Maps either.

Obviously, I am not able to check every single colour and operator variant, but I checked over 10 different product codes to write this article; if you have a device from Orange or 3UK that has access to the v31 or v40 firmware (without changing the product code), then please add a comment and let me know the product code (from underneath the battery in the form of 0559360) and what firmware version you have access to…

So, to recap; well done to most UK operators (T-Mobile, O2, Virgin, Vodafone), and not so well done to Orange and 3UK for either not having v31 available, or having a mix of firmware versions.


Android Tablet coming to the UK

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

ICD Vega

What a nice change; a device launched in the US, but at the launch, it was announced that the device will be coming to the UK!  T-Mobile UK are working with ICD to release the ICD Vega Kitchen computer / Android Tablet in the UK later this year.  Well, compared to the O2 Joggler, this might well have just those few extra facilities to actually be a bigger success story…

The spec of the Vega includes:

  • Processor — Nvidia Tegra 250 (1GHz)
  • Memory – 512MB DDR DRAM
  • Flash — 512MB NAND flash; 32GB internal SD card; external Micro SD slot
  • Display — 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 resistive touchscreen; HDMI output
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g WiFi
    • Bluetooth 2.1
    • Optional 2G or 3G cellular
  • USB — 1 x USB 2.0 High-Speed OTG
  • Camera — 1.3-megapixel
  • Audio — 3.5mm audio jack; external speakers; dual microphones
  • Other features:
    • Accelerometer
    • Ambient light sensor
    • Charging dock
    • Magnetic docking
  • Power — 11AH 3.9V lithium-ion battery (4 hours life); 110-240V input; 12VDC output (35 W, for dock)
  • Dimensions — 14.7 x 10.0 x 0.6 inches (373 x 254 x 16mm)
  • Weight — 2.9 lbs (1.3kg)
  • Operating system — Android 2.0

The dock may also feature an additional speaker, and possibly an HDMI port too, but with that 3G support, you’ll be able to make calls, and this is no sudden decision by T-Mobile, who have, apparently been working with ICD for 18 months.

Taken advantage of the Android platform, Linuxdevices have said “The Android software on the device offers one-touch access to a household calendar, enabling families to organize schedules in one place, say the companies. The web-accessible device can automatically send SMS text reminders of calendar items to cellphones. Additional features are said to include web browsing, on-demand TV, access to social networks, video chat, and games.”

ICD also announced a 15.6″ unit (ICD Ultra) and made reference to also working on an 11″ tablet too.  The ICD Ultra adds to the Vega specs with a GPS too.

One small point to watch out for; these, and many other “Android” devices are likely to be using the Open Source Android OS, and will not be “Google Experience” devices, so don’t expect this device to automatically take a Google account and support all the Google features that you may have on your “Google Experience” Android phone…

The only other unknown at this point is the price, but we would expect something similar to O2 and the Joggler where there are options for subsidised pricing…

Some content courtesy of Linux Devices, and thanks to Stuart for the Heads Up!


Google Nexus One coming to other UK networks?

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Google Nexus One

Talk Android are reporting that representatives of both T-Mobile and 3UK have indicated that they are hoping to be able to carry the Google Nexus One in the future too.  One thing that does seem to be becoming clear though, the phone may not be available for sale in the shops in the UK any time soon.  In the same way you can buy an Amazon Kindle from the US, and get it shipped to the UK, it looks like Google will be handling the sale of this phone for the time being, and if you buy it from them, you can either pay for a SIM-free version, or you can buy the subsidised version, which they will then ship out to you.  Whether the Vodafone SIM ships direct is not clear, and there’s no word on whether upgrades will be available either.

Having said all that, getting other networks onboard will be key for Google’s long term plans, and T-Mobile and 3UK are obvious networks, both offering Android phones which they are happy to heavily promote.  I wonder if Vodafone will have an exclusive for a month (or 3) and then these other networks will be able to sell it too…

Rumours are also around that it may be possible to purchase the Nexus One from Google with a Vodafone SIM sooner than “Spring 2010” implies, with a possibility it may even be within the next month.


3UK now supporting twitter by SMS…?

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

3 logo

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

Although nothing has been announced yet, if you go into the Settings page within Twitter, and select Mobile, the UK entry has been updated as:

  • UK: 86444 (Vodafone, Orange, 3 and O2 customers)

Now, this seems to imply that 3UK have joined the other listed networks in providing the ability to send and receive twitter messages and DMs via SMS.  Obviously until it’s formally announced we won’t know the exact limits (eg the number of free SMS you can receive per month, or exactly how the billing of sent SMS will work), but this is a positive move for 3UK, although with their inclusion of free internet on PAYG, and the fact that many of their phones are now shipping with Twitter clients directly may limit how many people truly need such a function, but it’s nice to know it’s coming…

That just leaves T-Mobile who aren’t playing…

Thanks to Liam Green-Hughes who drew my attention to this earlier today.


3UK announce more network upgrades

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

3 logo

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

A while back, we covered 3UK‘s plans to update their network in London, which would result in small interruptions to their service as they replace equipment necessary to allow them to proceed with their major infrastructure merger with T-Mobile next year (allowing both networks to share the same infrastructure for the benefit of all customers).  Well, 3UK have just announced some wider plans in the South (in a variety of locations from Torquay to Ipswich, and from Milton Keynes to Folkestone).  If you want more information on the areas affected, when they will be affected, and the ability to sign up to receive text alerts (to 3UK or non-3UK mobile numbers) then head here for more information.

Thanks to 3mobilebuzz for letting me know about this new information.


Novatel MiFi 2352 First Looks

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Novatel Mifi 2352

Let’s start with the first issue; actually, it’s not called a MiFi in the UK, it’s called the Novatel Wireless Intelligent Mobile Hotspot 2352, as 3UK own the trademark MiFi in the UK (although Novatel Wireless own the MiFi trademark in the US).  So, the device competes with the 3UK MiFi device, and in some ways is better, and in others, not quite as good.

Firstly, the downside: it is currently only available SIM-free (for around £200), which is a lot more than the 3UK MiFi, which can be picked up for £50.  Of course, the 3UK is locked to 3UK, and only works on 3UK, whereas the Novatel MiFi is not locked, and will pick up the internet access point from whatever SIM is put into it, making it more suitable for anyone looking to use a network other than 3UK.

In terms of ease of use, it has one advantage over the 3UK MiFi; when you turn it on (by pressing and holding the power button) that’s it; it sorts everything out, and “just works”, whereas the 3UK unit needs you to then press and hold the 3G button as a second step.  The Novatel device also gives you access to the microSD card slot via the web interface, whereas the 3UK device only allows access to the card slot via the USB cable.

There are other minor differences; eg the 3UK device comes with the wireless encryption key under the battery inside the unit, but also on a piece of card to allow easy setup, whereas the Novatel only has the code attached to the inside of the battery cover.  This, at first glance, seems better, as it allows the device to remain powered whilst you connect a new device, but I discovered that every time I took the battery cover, my natural instinct was to turn the unit back the right way up (to allow you to see the status lights to see whether the new device had connected), and the battery would loosen enough to switch the unit off.  A minor point, and obviously once everything is setup, not a problem in real usage.

Another minor difference is that the Novatel device will work on 2G as well as 3G; whereas 3UK only offer a 3G-only Mobile Broadband service (although their handsets can roam onto Orange’s 2G network, their broadband devices can’t), and although I wouldn’t want to share a 2G connection to multiple devices, a slow connection may be better than no connection…

I’ll be continuing to trial the device for a little while, but at first glances it looks a nice unit, although everyone I speak to says the 3UK MiFi has one of the best 3G radio components available today, so it will be interesting to see how the Novatel device works under the same conditions that I tried the 3UK MiFi under…


giffgaff launches with an interesting tariff

Monday, November 30th, 2009

giffgaff logo

giffgaff is a new virtual mobile phone network operator, sitting on the O2 network (in fact the company is actually part of O2), but with an innovative business model, and hence tariff.  Firstly, no call centres (some will celebrate this single point), in fact they have very few staff at all, and will be relying upon other customers to help in the online forums (the main route to support).  When an existing member is thanked within the forum, they will earn kudos, which adds up, along with many other things into giffgaff points, which add up to hard cash (or at least credit).

However, as well as keeping costs down, they are keeping the tariff simple, and encouraging individuals to recruit their friends and family onto the same tariff…

  • Calls, SMS, MMS, call forwarding, and even video calls between giffgaff users will be free (as long as you topup £10 every 3 months, and only calls up to 60 minutes will be free)
  • UK landlines and mobiles (and voicemail) will cost 8p/min
  • UK SMS will be 4p each (possibly showing a more accurate figure than other networks)
  • MMS will be 16p each
  • Video calls will be 50p/min

That’s the general stuff out of the way, now let’s look at the two exciting bits…

  • Freefone calls (0800) will actually be free!
  • Data will be free for 6 months!

Wow, it’s really good to see a network returning to the Orange / T-Mobile ways of many many years ago and providing freefone numbers for free.

The reason for free data is partly to gauge the interest in the service, partly to allow them further discussion on what pricing to set.

If you want a SIM, head over to the giffgaff website and order one, and let us know how you get on!

Some content courtesy of Dan at The Really Mobile Project.