Archos launch 5 new Android tablets

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Archos last week announced a range of 5 Android Tablets, running from the £99 2.8″ Archos 28 tablet to the £299 16GB 10.1″ Archos 101.  In fact, the models have quite different specs, which are worth checking out:

The £99 4GB (or 8GB for an extra £10) Archos 28 (below) has a 320×240 pixels 2.8” TFT LCD with resistive touchscreen, ARM Cortex A8 processor at 800 MHz, USB2, WiFi, Microphone, G-Sensor, is 100 x 54 x 9 mm and weighs 68 grams.

Then there’s the £129 8GB Archos 32 (below), which has a 400×240 pixels 3.2” TFT LCD with resistive touchscreen (interestingly, Archos say the Archos 28 supports 16m colours, whilst this supports 256k colours, unless it’s a misprint), ARM Cortex A8 processor at 800 MHz with DSP, USB2, WiFi, Bluetooth (note it’s missing from the Archos 28), pre-installed applications (Deezer, Ebuddy, Mewbox, Raging Thunder Lite, Touiteur, Quickpedia), TV out (again not on the Archos 28, and the cable is an optional extra), Microphone, G-Sensor, and is 105 x 55 x 9 mm and weighs 72 grams. It also has a camera on the back.

Next comes the £199 16GB Archos 43 (below), which has a microSD card, a 480×854 pixels 4.3” TFT LCD with resistive touchscreen (back to 16 million colours), ARM Cortex A8 processor at 1GHz with DSP, USB2, WiFi, Bluetooth, pre-installed applications (Webbrowser, Email, Contacts, Appslib, Twitter, Wikipedia, Weather Channel, Ebuddy, Deezer, Mewbox, Racing Thunderlight, Weather Channel, World Newspaper), TV HDMI out (again the cable is an optional extra), Microphone, G-Sensor, and is 135 x 65 x 9 mm and weighs 130 grams.  This also adds an HD camera (although whether a 2MP camera producing 720p should really be called HD is another matter), and it has a built in kick stand for when you want to watch movies.

Importantly, all devices listed (the Archos 28, Archos 32 and the Archos 43 will be available in September), whilst the following two devices are due out in October:

Moving on further is the 8GB (£229) or 250GB (£269) Archos Archos 70 (below), which has a microSD card (only on the 8GB Flash version, not the 250GB Hard Disk version), a 800 x 480 pixels 7.0” TFT LCD with capacitive touchscreen (16 million colours), ARM Cortex A8 processor at 1GHz with DSP, USB2, WiFi, Bluetooth, pre-installed applications (Aldiko, Ebuddy, Wikipedia, Avecomics, HubKap, Deezer, Mewbox, Raging Thunderlite (a 3D car demo game), WordNewspaper, Touiteur, Fring), TV HDMI out (again the cable is an optional extra), Microphone, G-Sensor, and is 201 x 114 x 10 mm and weighs 300 grams for the Flash version, with the Hard Disk version is 4 mm thicker and 100 grams heavier.  This doesn’t have the rear HD camera, but does have a front facing VGA camera instead, and it also has the built in kick stand.

Finally, there is the 8GB (£269) or 16GB (£299) Archos 101 (shown at the top of the article), which is pretty much the same spec as the Archos 70, except the capacitive touchscreen is 1024×600 pixels with a 10.1″ TFT LCD, and is 270 x 150 x 12 mm and 480 grams.

All devices will have access to Archos’ AppsLib App Store for downloading (and purchasing) additional applications for these tablets, but if you don’t need 3G capability (or you have a MiFi device) then many of these may well suit, especially with all featuring Android v2.2 as standard.

There’s much more information, pictures, and full specs over on Archos’ website here, where you’ll notice the 8GB Archos 32 (£129) is already available for sale.  I will also add there appear to be a number of other standard apps included with each device beyond those listed.


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Has your twitter app broken?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Although it’s been delayed, today Twitter finally switch off the ability to use a username/password combination to access the Twitter API (used by many third party applications to access your twitter account).  Instead, a more secure system called OAuth must be used.  Now, many twitter clients have either moved to OAuth, or offer a choice of methods.

So, from today, the old method will no longer work; if your preferred twitter app has stopped working, first of all, check to see if there is an OAuth option, and if not, you might want to check for a software update to see if that resolves it.

Some apps will simply no longer work; fring have announced that in the short term their twitter addon for the Android version of fring will no longer work.

Of course, with many manufacturers building in twitter (and facebook) support into their phones, and many of those vendors being less helpful in providing any form of firmware update service, it’s possible your mobile phone app will no longer work either.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; when twitter were last planning this, I did a little research, and found that the majority of the mobile phones built in applications seemed to be using OAuth, and hence would not be affected.  Have you been affected? Has your preferred twitter client stopped working, and there’s no update? Let us know via the comments…

Screenshot of Gravity on Symbian courtesy of nokiaaddict.com (now gerrymoth.co.uk), and we should point out that Gravity has supported OAuth for some time, so as long as you are using a fairly up to date copy, you shouldn’t have any problems with Gravity.


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Pure Digital FlowSongs, new radios and Sensia update

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Over the last month or so, Pure Digital have been busy.  They’ve launched two new radios, updated the PURE Sensia software, and have now released a new service, Pure FlowSongs, which is a very interesting (and nicely integrated) service for some of their Internet radios…

Firstly, the Pure One Mi (pronounced Me), only costs £34.99, and includes DAB and FM radio, a clear digital display, 16 presets, multi-lingual menus and a USB socket for future updates, and is one of the more compact models they have ever produced.

They’ve also release the Pure Oasis Flow, a weatherproof and splash resistant, rechargeable internet-connected digital radio, costing £169.99, which features DAB and FM radio (as well as the internet radio via Wi-Fi), and should work for up to 15 hours on DAB.  It also supports the new Pure FlowSongs, covered below.

The PURE Sensia update is interesting.  When the radio first launched, I wondered how many additional plugins we would see over time for this device, and whether Pure would be able to continue to support it with new features.  Well, last month, Pure added Picasa support to the Twitter, Facebook and Weather applications already available.  This allows you to login to your online Picasa account and view a slideshow of your online pictures, either in the smaller visual panel, or full screen.  Some photo information can be overlaid on the picture, and you can change the timing of the slideshow, as well as pause it.

However, the most interesting item is Pure FlowSongs, which was announced this week.  This is only available in the UK (as a public beta), and is supported on the following radios:

PURE Sensia, PURE EVOKE Flow, PURE AVANTI Flow, Pure Oasis Flow and PURE Siesta Flow

The new software to support Pure FlowSongs will be released on Monday (16th August) and will allow you to identify, and then purchase any song you hear on the radio.  Importantly, you can be listening to the DAB radio, FM radio, or an Internet radio station (the software is limited to the internet-connected radios due to what happens next, not that the radio source needs to be internet based); the radio will then use a Shazam service (well known for their mobile application to detect what music is being played) to identify the song.  In the case of the PURE Sensia, there is an addition button on the screen (see below) whereas other radios will need a button combination to be pressed.

If you want to use the service, your radio needs to be registered at the Pure Lounge, and you’ll need to provide a credit or debit card to topup your online account, but then you’ll get a free 90 day trial of the identification service (normally £2.99 a year), and if you decide to purchase a song, they will cost an additional 79p to £1.29, and this uses the 7Digital music service.  The purchasing function on the device will be protected by a 4 digit PIN for security.

Once purchased, the song can then be downloaded (as an mp3) to your PC or Mac, but it will also be located within your Lounge account, allowing you to stream the song to your radio too.  Pure Digital also state the songs can be uploaded to an iPod, and have stated the mp3 files are DRM-free, allowing them to be played back on any mp3 device.  When you stream, the mp3 will be 128kbps, but the downloaded files will be up to 320kbps.

The integration of the Shazam service to allow you to identify any music being played is a very powerful extra facility for these radios; over the last year I’ve been impressed with both Pure Digital and Revo for adding support for Last.fm into some of their devices, and I think this ability to identify and even purchase songs adds even more to the experience.  Even better, although not yet available as part of the beta, Pure Digital are looking to enable you to buy whole albums using this method, which is likely to work out better value.


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New phones on 3UK

Friday, July 9th, 2010

3UK have announced this week that they now have two new Android smartphones that you can purchase on 3UK, and not just that, but you can get them on the new One Plan we covered here which offers fantastic value for money if you are a heavy mobile user.

Firstly, they are now offering the HTC Wildfire, which is a cut down version of the HTC Desire.  Although cut down might imply “cheap”, and it’s fair to say it doesn’t have the spec (or the price) of the HTC Desire, but it’s actually still a very capable Android device; in fact the only compliant I’ve heard about it is that moving forward over the next year or two, the screen maybe too small to allow major OS upgrades, as Google has now specified a minimum spec (including display resolution) for the future, and the HTC Wildfire falls a little short.

Having said that, it still rivals many other phones, and is still a better display than many other phones of last year! The 3.2″ screen is still a good size, and the 5 megapixel camera is still better than many, and it offers Android v2.1 with HTC’s Sense UI too.  All the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. are there too.  Also interestingly, although it’s available now in “Metal Mocha” colour, it will also be available on 3UK in Red from August, and the Red colour will be exclusive to 3UK.

If you aren’t an HTC fan, then there’s always the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro, which again, is a smaller smartphone (the “X10 Mini” part), but features quite a key differentiator; the “Pro” means it also features a QWERTY keyboard!  This is a slide out keyboard (in the same way as the Nokia E75, Nokia C6 or Nokia N900), and although it blatantly doesn’t feature the HTC Sense UI, it does feature some key Sony Ericsson UI customisations instead.  These include the ability to specify 4 corner navigation and 3 homescreens, and it also features Sony Ericsson’s Timescape, which brings together your Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages and calls into one place.  This sounds an interesting feature, although with many of these manufacturer applications, it may be a little limiting to the “serious” social networker, especially if it can’t be expanded to support other social networks.

The Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro is available in Black from 3UK, and also in White, which will (like the Red HTC Wildfire) be a colour exclusive to 3UK.

If you want either of these phones on the new One Plan, they are available for £30 per month (24-month contract), and remember that comes with 2000 cross network minutes, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB data; if you want to buy them on PAYG, the HTC Wildfire is £199 and the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro is £249, both very competitive prices in their own right!

I like the way that whilst historically 3UK were not able to arrange model exclusivity agreements, they are now sufficiently recognised by the manufacturers to at least able to negotiate colour exclusives, and you never know, maybe this time next year, we’ll see a worthy smartphone launch exclusively on 3UK


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Kindle update

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The v2.5.2 Kindle International firmware is starting to hit Kindle devices in the UK.  When we reported about the removal of the $2 wireless delivery charge (see here), we mentioned that we had heard about the opening up of the browser to all websites.  Well, it appears that once you get the new v2.5.2 firmware, you should find that web browsing is now open to all websites, as part of also supporting the Facebook and Twitter social networking functions that arrive with v2.5.2.

This is good news, and it’s nice to see the opening up of the Kindle.


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Hermes (for N900) updated

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Nokia N900

I’ve covered Hermes before (see here), but the latest update seems worthy of another mention.  Hermes will now take your Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter and Gravatar friends information, and use it to populate additional information into your local addressbook. This new version adds support for when the matching process doesn’t quite work, and you need to manually help it along the way. When you need to provide the manual link between the local addressbook and the online details (for example when the names don’t quite match, or you have two “Adrian”s and it can’t tell which is which), then you simply start typing the name to match and it provides a list of options.

This level of integration between my online communities and my local addressbook is key to me; it’s similar to the Socially App for Symbian which although doesn’t this level of detail local does at least integrate things like online avatars from online services into the phone experience, but I have to say the potential richness of the data that Hermes supplies is very impressive.

This Find-as-you-type comes as part of v0.8.2, and it’s available in the Maemo Application Manager.  For more details on the new version, and a few screenshots showing the new features, head over to The Nokia Blog who have more information.


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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.


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Socially App release another new version

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

This week Socially App have released v1.40 of their Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIN client, and added the following features:

  • Ability to geotweet (ie include your location within a twitter message), although you do need to enable this within your twitter account too before it will be visible to others.
  • Ability to search on twitter limiting the search to “nearby” people.
  • Ability to define the preferred WiFi and Data access point to use; the app will use WiFi whenever within range, but will then use the GPRS / 3G network when necessary.

I’m really impressed with Socially App, especially as it’s free.  Whereas Gravity is still struggling to implement full GPS access under S60 3rd Edition FP1 (think Nokia N95, Nokia N95 8GB, Nokia E71), Socially App has managed it just fine (I should add Gravity also supports the use of the Google Maps API to locate you via WiFi or cell ID, so still offers location services on FP1), and I really like the way that when you want to see your current position, Socially App fires up the local Ovi Maps to show you where you are (see below); it would be nice, in time, to see even more use of Ovi Maps integrated into the application.

As before, Socially App can be downloaded direct on your phone from their website at m.sociallyapp.com


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Update to Socially app

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

It’s not often a new app can come along and provide similar features to an existing application, yet still be worth installing, but Socially App seems to be one such app.  If you are a heavy Twitter or Facebook user on Symbian, chances are you are already running Gravity, which is by far the best overall Social Networking client for Symbian, but that does not mean that there is not a place for Socially App on your device.

The main benefit to Socially App is that, when a call comes in, it will display the latest information that it has on the individual, based on their posting to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN.  That last point can’t be missed; Gravity does not (currently) support LinkedIN, so this app does provide a convenient way to access and update your status on a wider range of platforms.

Of course, one must not forget that if you set it to regular updates and you have Gravity doing likewise, then you run the risk of running into the API limits on Twitter that could impact the experience on both tools.

If you only have a few friends and they don’t tweet / use facebook all the time, then you can turn on Desktop alerts in the Socially App, which will put the information onto the homescreen when updates come in, but with more than a few friends, and this gets unmanageable.  Another nice touch is going into Contacts you can long press * or Fn and it will display your online contacts as opposed to your local contacts; it would be nice to see more integration along the likes of fring which creates a single list of all online and local contacts, but it’s still useful.

One other feature that the Socially App offers is the ability to screen your calls; I need to play with this some more to see how it works, and whether it’s useful in the long run, but after a brief play, it’s fair to say Socially App is definitely worth a look; not necessarily as a tool for providing updates of your status to others (and Gravity still wins here, especially as it can connect via ping.fm, which therefore allows posting to many more sites than either tool natively provides), but as a way of getting status updates of others and providing that information when phone calls come in seems a powerful feature.

If you want to try it out (and it’s currently completely free) then point your Symbian phone to m.sociallyapp.com and download the latest version.


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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.

However…

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.


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