Vodafone Blue, is really a bit Blue…

Vodafone have recently released their new Vodafone Blue handset here in Ireland, specifically for all the Facebook nuts out there, as their own answer to HTC’s Facebook handset being run exclusively on O2. One landed on my desk a few weeks ago, so I decided to play around with it.

 

First impressions are a bit reminiscent of a BlackBerry from maybe 3 years ago, there’s a lot of buttons laid out across the handset with a sizable enough screen for the handset’s size in standard QWERTY, with the addition of the Facebook button along the bottom. The menu buttons along the top are a little more confusing, besides the standard call answer and drop buttons, there’s a touch-joystick in the middle which takes a little getting used to when you’re used to gesture based touch screens, there’s also two buttons to either side, which although are not labeled are menu option buttons.

Vodafone

Vodafone 555 Blue Facebook Phone

Running on a custom OS, it’s not too bad, and certainly has enough features for the basic end user. With Facebook instantly accessible and a mediocre camera for updates on the move. Other than that it’s almost indistinguishable from any other Nokia handset for example, while this isn’t exactly a bad thing, it’s not something to go shouting about. I can see where the market for the handset it, for young people who don’t have the finances or the inclination to get a full fledged smartphones but want to keep in touch and use the social benefits which one can give.

 

One major problem, which I had with the handset, was, typing. The buttons are far too small, and for some reason typing ‘c’ also gives me an ‘e’ which I still cannot understand, it might be a handset setting, but why such would exist is beyond understanding. The OS is also clunky, with a poor response from the joystick it was tedious finding my way around. Perhaps it might be easier if I hadn’t come from using an iPhone or Android, but it was a bit of a pain.

 

Overall, the idea is good, but the handset feels like something, which would have been released to the low end of the Market maybe 5 years ago. You could do much worse than this handset, while I did have a lot of trouble with it, the OS felt simple enough and reliable. Perhaps Vodafone should leave Facebook phones to the guys over at HTC, but if you’re looking for a phone to give you on the go Facebook access, you may as well fork out, or wait until Christmas for an iPhone, or the excellent HTC Sensation, you’d get faster, more intuitive access with less hassle and a bettered camera.

 

The Vodafone Blue Facebook phone is currently not available in stores, but you can register your interest on their Facebook page.

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What to Expect from the iPhone 5

It seems like just yesterday that we were all lining up outside stores for the iPhone 4, eagerly awaiting the newest of Apple’s smartphones. Now we’re beginning to speculate over the iPhone 5 which will apparently be the pinnacle of mobile technology.

It’s exected that the iPhone 5 will be released this summer, with a similar date to the iPhone 4, which means we in Ireland should be getting it sometime in early August.  It’s widely believed that there’s going to be a few big changes to the next generation of the world’s most famous handset and in Ireland, should be on all the main networks apart from HTC-tastic Meteor and Emobile.

So, some of the big changes which are being rumoured for the iPhone 5 are the new A5 chip, which is already being used in the iPad 2 so that one pretty much makes sense. Another bunch of changes being rumoured are a better camera, larger memory storage and in the long run the new iOS5 which could potentially be sometime around the iPhone 5 launch.

Some of the more interesting suggestions, which have been put forward, are that there will be two models brought out, one lower end which would be an iPhone Nano with a smaller screen and lower storage capacity and a larger screen version (possibly 5inches) to combat the growing popularity of the HTC Desire HD. This is all speculation, but does seem to fit into Apple looking to take on a more pro-active approach to combat the growth of Android. However, Apple still control one of the largest market shares and the largest app store so whether they really want to branch out beyond their niche is questionable.

Personally, I don’t think Apple will go for a lower-end model. It doesn’t fit in with Apple’s image, and they essentially control the niche market in which they inhabit. Is the iPhone 5 worth buying? Possibly. If you haven’t gotten the iPhone 4, you should definitely upgrade to the iPhone 5 and ditch your 3G/S but if you’re on the iPhone 4 I don’t really see any great advancements being made with the 5th generation.

 

9 Reasons not to buy an iPhone 5

9 Reasons not to buy the iPhone 5

iPhone in the lead in Ireland’s smartphone market.

It’s official; the iPhone is Ireland’s most popular smart phone, beating the competition by a clear lead.

This week, DRG, a digital advertising agency announced that iPhone sales in Ireland had reached 250,000 handsets over the various models, and that iPhone internet browsers account for an increasing amount of web traffic in a recently released bunch of statistics for the Irish mobile market, one of the highest penetrated markets in the world (about two phones for every person in the country).

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HTC makes Nexus One Replicant and a host of other handsets.

HTC, the Taiwanese phone manufacturers have started the year off well by announcing their three newest phones; the HTC Legend, Desire, and Mini running Android and Windows Mobile.

The new phones contain a number of new design features, setting them apart from the rest and are certainly easy on the eye.

HTC are most famous at the moment for producing the Google Nexus One phone earlier this year, and the first Android phones in 2009 which have begun to slowly make their mark on the technology world, and presenting the biggest challenge to iPhone dominance to date.

Desire

HTC Desire handset

Nexus One replicant (nice little Blade Runner pun there)

The Desire is a 3.7inch OLED display running Android 2.1, and is closest in technical terms and features to the Nexus One.

A 1-HGz Snapdragon processor offers oodles of speed and comfort while not waiting an age for the phone to catch up with your commands, Adobe is also kept happy with Flash 10.1 support for the phone which certainly gives the Desire an edge over it’s biggest competitor, the iPhone which famously snubs flash in favour of HTML5.

Also included in the phone are a host of standard features such as a 5-megapixel camera, with flash, geotagging, FM radio, GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and 3G.

A new feature in terms of the phone’s design is an optical joystick, instead of the trackball in place on the Nexus One, which can be clumsy looking and ruin the overall look and feel of the phone. The optical joystick on the other hand is a smooth and comfortable way to get about, and definitely improves overall usability.

Legend

HTC Legend smart phone

HTC Legend, looks like a MacBook case/Nexus One body/next iPhone design?

Design is also what HTC hope to make more grounds on with their latest releases. The HTC Legend is a unibody aluminum casing, not unlike the MacBook Pro line, and looks all together one of the prettiest phones from the manufacturer.  The handset is lighter than the iPhone weighing 4.4 ounces and comes with a 3.2inch display running Android 2.1

Some believe that this unibody design is a pre-emptive strike against Apple’s latest iPhone evolution which may very well go along the lines of the MacBook range, and follow an aluminum casing, it will be interesting to see how much take up there is of the new design as it’s certainly much better looking and comfortable than previous HTC phones.

Mini

HTC Mini smart phonew

Mini and light, perfect for the pocket.

The third, and final phone announced was the HTC Mini, which is the only one of the three new releases to be running Windows Mobile, signaling that HTC hasn’t let go of the Windows platform yet.

The phone is similar dimensions to the Legend, with a 3.2inch screen and weighs 3.8ounces. The handset also packs most of the features found standard in the other models, with the notable exception of a flash on the camera and geotagging.

It is a bit of a surprise that the phone doesn’t support the newly announced Windows Mobile 7 operating system, which has certainly blown off a few cobwebs from the OS, in light of Android and iPhone OS making such big splashes in the market.

All three handsets will be available available through Vodafone in Europe in the first half of the year, including Ireland.

The models released are good phones, packing a lot of nice features which we do miss from some other popular smart phones, however in the coming age of touchscreen it does feel that there are too many un-necessary physical buttons on the HTC phones, which take away from what could be more screen space.

Vodafone already stock a few HTC Android phones and are also preparing to sell the iPhone, just in time for the latest model to be announced this summer; the long awaited iPhone 4G.

Just what the 4G will mean for the phone market and the average consumer remains to be seen, but if previous experiences with Apple are anything to go by, HTC and Google should begin rolling up their sleeves for a long, hard fight for a market share.


Europe left waiting for 3G iPad – Apple want to replace notebook/netbook

International users, including our good selves in Ireland and Europe will have to wait a little longer for the iPad 3G version, assuming that we get the WiFi version on time, that is.

Jobs announced at his keynote that Apple were working on international contracts with various networks to cover data plans and being able to use the internet on the go.

AT&T have already managed to bag the contract for the States, and many expect O2 to seal the deal on this side of the Atlantic, however with the iPhone recently being made available to Orange and Vodafone, it really could be anyone’s game.

Although the iPad 3G is going to come unlocked, and use new GSM micro SIMs, Apple are set to be beginning talks for various data plans. However the pads should work on WiFi alone and Jobs said that there was a ‘high probability’ that the devices would ‘just work’.

Internet on the move, but do we have to wait much longer for the privilege?

It would just be easier to buy the WiFi only version in this case, given that without a data plan, there would be little point in spending the extra few hundred and having what few features extra it offers without being able to take advantage of 3G’s mobile internet.

Apple seems to see the iPad, not as a device which is meant to fit in between your phone and your laptop, but instead to be a replacement for your laptop. Apple’s thinking could be that most laptops are vastly overpowered for what most people would use them for and netbooks are quite awkward and clumsy.

Most of the computer consumer market never really use the full potential of their computers – whereas the iPad will allow users to read papers, surf the web, view YouTube, write documents and listen to music without spending money on endless storage spaces and heavy(-er) notebooks and netbooks.

Battle stirring among mobile operators for Nexus

The Nexus One is set to be shipped out in the coming months. However the questions that seem to be on people’s minds are, “What carrier?” and “What price plan?”

It looks like mobile giant, Vodafone is an early leader for gaining the retail rights to Google’s first ever smartphone, however whether the search engine is likely to stick with just one operator for very long is unlikely.

Vodafone is known to be one of the largest, and probably more expensive networks available in the UK and Ireland. What exactly the price plan is and other details regarding the potential contract between the two companies, haven’t been announced yet.

Vodafone also recently gained the rights to sell the Apple iPhone, after O2 having exclusivity up until 2010 and has already set it’s own price plan for the popular smartphone.

The Nexus One will be running off of the verizon network in the US.