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The Google Nexus 5 Lands On Three

Today, the day that Google announced the Nexus 5, UK mobile operator Three has announced that they will range the Nexus 5 in their portfolio as of 1st November 2013.

Unless you have been off planet or living in a cave for the past couple of months you will probably know that the Nexus 5 is the latest Google Experience smartphone to arrive. Manufactured by LG for Google the Nexus 5 is essentially the reference model for what an Android smartphone should be.  Uncluttered by manufacturer and operator branding and add-ons, and with the latest Android 4.4 KitKat operating system the Nexus 5 will deliver the optimal performance and function of this genre of smartphone.

The Nexus 5 from Three comes with 16GB of on-board memory for apps and your data and media. There is no slot to add additional microSD memory.  Full pricing and details of the various plans that the Nexus 5 may be had are in the Three announcement below.

Three to range the new Nexus 5

The impressive new Nexus 5 smartphone is Google’s first smartphone to run on the latest Android KitKat operating system, and is now available online and from Three stores. Plus, it is 4G Ready, so you will be able to access an even faster internet experience when Three’s 4G network begins to roll out, at no extra cost.

The Nexus 5 boasts a colourful five inch HD display and an advanced lens with some innovative new photographic features such as optical image stabilisation, HDR+, so you can take amazing 360˚ panoramas with its eight megapixel camera. Plus every photo and video is automatically backed up and enhanced so every memory is fully captured.

The Nexus 5 handset is free if you opt for Three’s One Plan for just £40  per month on a 24 month contract, or £35 per month and £49 upfront. Alternatively you can get the phone on the Ultimate Internet 500 plan for £29 per month and an upfront cost of £49 that gives you 500 minutes, 5,000 texts and all-you-can-eat data. Or the Ultimate Internet 1000 plan that costs £49 upfront plus £32 a month for 1,000 minutes plus 5000 texts and all-you-can-eat data.

It is also available for £399.99 on pay as you go, with Three’s market-leading rates of 3p a minute, 2p a text and 1p per megabyte of data.

Sylvia Chind, head of devices at Three, said: “The Nexus 5 has been designed to provide a fantastic Android experience in a light, slim and well-designed smartphone. It gives the user a great experience and with our all-you-can-eat data plans, you can truly make the most of being connected and sharing your latest photos and videos with ease.”

The Nexus 5 also comes with great new software features such as matching incoming phone calls to friends or businesses, even if they’re not already in your address book. The smartphone also helps you get to where you need to be faster, featuring dynamic re-routing if there’s traffic and suggesting faster travel alternatives, with just one tap on the redesigned Google Maps app.

Key features:

  • ·         The latest Android 4.4 KitKat operating system

  • ·         4G Ready with 2.3 GHz Quad Core processor

  • ·         Photo Sphere Cam enabling 360˚ images

  • ·         16GB internal memory

  • ·         Available in black or white

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Three Announce Their iPhone 5s and 4s Pricing

The much anticipated news from Three relating to their iPhone 5S pricing hit the street, and good reading it is too.  At very attractive prices indeed Three will supply the iPhone 5S even cheaper than the other networks are supplying the iPhone 5C.  So if you fancied that bit of gold bling iPhone you need look no further than Three.

I should just add that the 16GB iPhone 5S on Three is £6 cheaper per month than a 16GB iPhone 5C on another UK network (who hasn’t announced their 5S pricing yet, so I can’t compare like for like at the time of writing).

Three today announced it will offer iPhone 5s, the most forward-thinking smartphone in the world, and iPhone 5c, the most colourful iPhone yet, beginning Friday, September 20. iPhone 5s will be available starting at £99 and iPhone 5c will be available starting at £49 on a 24-month contract from Three stores, online at three.co.uk or by calling 0800 358 1799.

“We are very excited to announce that the much anticipated iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are now available on our network,” said Thomas Malleschitz, marketing director at Three. “iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, along with our commitment to provide 4G at no extra cost, means that our customers can look forward to an even better network experience. We will also continue to offer all-you-can-eat data, so customers can truly enjoy the full capabilities of iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c without having to worry about exceeding their data allowance.”

Three’s iPhone 5S and 4S Tariff

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 21.02.01

Three Says Why Not Feel At Home

Another little news item from Three came out during this week’s excitement about the UK’s mobile network operators finally releasing their LTE networks or, in the case of Three, announcing [finally] when they actually will.

Again from Three, in a fairly ground breaking move, they have announced their new Feel At Home service.  The proposition in full is below but is succinctly summarised as “Three customers will stay on their UK price plan when travelling abroad in seven countries at no additional cost“.  Yes, you did read that last bit correctly, it did say “at no additional cost“.

So what is happening, in essence, is that Three have arranged with seven other countries to grant you access to your mobile phone plan while in that country. There are no international roaming charges, there are no daily or per-call access charges. This really is you taking your plan abroad with you and using it exactly as if you were anywhere in the UK.  Truly ground breaking.

Three’s announcement goes on to say “Initially available in Republic of Ireland, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden and Denmark, Feel At Home will automatically activate as soon as the plane touches down in one of the listed countries. As soon as you arrive and your device picks up any local mobile network, it’s good to go and you can start posting envy-inducing holiday status updates straight away.“.  I do like the use of the word “Initially“, it suggests that there may be more to come.  How exciting is that?

So what is the catch? you may be asking.  Well, in true Three terms there isn’t one.  All you have to bear in mind is that One Plan customers and those with All You Can Eat data are limited to 25GB per month. No that isn’t a typo, it really is 25GB a month in that foreign country.

Three’s full announcement follows:

Three says arrivederci to roaming charges in seven countries

Three announces ‘Feel At Home’

Three customers will stay on their UK price plan when travelling abroad in seven countries

 From today Three customers have a new, simple and affordable way to stay in touch with friends and family back home while travelling overseas. Three customers will be able to get online as well as call and text the UK using their current plan as if they’re still in the UK, when in a ‘Feel At Home’ country. That means they can now use their UK price plan instead of incurring international roaming charges in certain countries if they are contacting loved ones in the UK, and even if you go out of bundle you will be subject to reduced roaming rates.

Initially available in Republic of Ireland, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden and Denmark, Feel At Home will automatically activate as soon as the plane touches down in one of the listed countries. As soon as you arrive and your device picks up any local mobile network, it’s good to go and you can start posting envy-inducing holiday status updates straight away.

Three is the first UK operator to offer customers the same in-country mobile phone and mobile broadband rates for no additional charge as if you’re at home whilst abroad, signifying a real shift in how customers are billed for mobile use in other countries.

Thomas Malleschitz, marketing director at Three, said: “We want to make sure our customers have the best possible mobile experience. By abolishing expensive roaming charges in select countries we are allowing our customers to get even more value from their minutes, texts and data abroad by removing the fear associated with staying in touch while travelling.”

After launching new game-changing Pay-As-You-Go rates of 3p a minute, 2p a text and 1p a MB of data last month, the same principles of simplicity and affordability are being brought to roaming.

All customers on pay monthly, Pay-As-You-Go, SIM-only, mobile broadband and business plans have the freedom to use Feel At Home within the limits of their current Three price plan. If people exceed the limits of their current price plan then they will still benefit from special roaming rates that are lower than Three’s standard roaming rates. Calls and texts to non-UK numbers will be charged at standard roaming rates and tethering is not allowed.

UK 4G Spectrum Illustrated. Who’s using what

** Update ** – This article touches on1800MHz spectrum – in the comments section below these are further clarified. 

** Update 2 ** – Additional chart with  900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz, 2600MHz detailed

What with O2 and Vodafone releasing their 4G networks this week, and Three announcing that they will release theirs in December you may be wondering about the what LTE frequencies they will be operating on.  You may be wondering if your iPhone 5 will work also.  It won’t, not on the new frequencies 800MHz and 2600MHz but read on and see the comments below.

Broadly speaking, the auctioned LTE frequencies are in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.  But these are further broken down into smaller bands allocated to each mobile network operator.  The bands and the breakdowns are in the first chart  below.

The second chart shows the existing 2G/3G frequencies – of which 900MHz will be re-farmed by O2 and Vodafone to further supply 4G services.

Looking at these you can see exactly why the Apple iPhone 5 released in 2012 and working on EE’s pre-auction 4G network will not operate with the other UK operators. Although it should be said that Three will support 1800MHz 4G when they are allowed to later.   When building the iPhone 5 Apple chose to implement only the 1800MHz frequency which was re-farmed by EE, with OFCOM permission, to use LTE upon.   However, the iPhone 5 will not work on 800MHz, 900MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies.

Generally, but by no means a 100% certainty, any LTE-capable phone bought during 2013 should work on these frequencies with O2, Vodafone, Three and EE when they start using this “Euro” spectrum.

So there you have it. The UK’s LTE frequencies at a glance.

Are you going to go for the new network technology? Which network will you choose?

LTE Frequencies

 

UK LTE Freqs

Credits: Dominic Thompson for the chart.

Three Annnounce Their 4G Plans

Today Three UK publicly announced their 4G plans on the very day that Vodafone and O2 switched on their 4G (LTE) network for public consumption for the first time.  So at the time of writing there are now three 4G operators in the UK who are vying for your business.

Exhibiting rather a herd mentality the three operators are offering very similar tariff prices and packages, particularly in terms of exceedingly marginal data limits in plan.  One could be forgiven for imagining that there is an element of cartel on the go.  The equivalence between the three is disappointing.   If you were hoping for some serious competition to EE’s head start then you are not going to find much at all.

Then along come the UK’s smallest network operator with confirmation of a truly different 4G proposition – no additional charge for the new technology when it is released.  But you will have to wait just a while longer, until December 2013 before they switch on the 4G for customer’s use.

The current range of 4G compatible phones sold by Three, and this will go for any SIM free also, are:  Apple iPhone 5, Blackberry Z10, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung S3 LTE i9305, Samsung Note 2 LTE N7105, Sony Xperia Z, HTC One, Blackberry Q10, Xperia SP, Huawei P2, Nokia Lumia 925, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, Sony Xperia Z1, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Nokia Lumia 1020, LG G2, and Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

When the time comes Three are making it as simple as possible for existing customers.  Every Three customer with a 4G Ready device will get a 4G upgrade at no extra cost.  There will be no need to go in store or on line, no new contracts to arrange.  Simply, at Three’s defined time in December they will enable 4G and if you have a compatible device, and are in a 4G area, you will enjoy the benefit of the new higher speeds.

Those customers who are on the One Plan will continue to enjoy the benefit of All You Can Eat data, complete with tethering.  There are no new or additional gotchas.  As Three are prone to say, there is no faff.  How very refreshing in this industry.

London, Birmingham and Manchester are going to be the first cities to be enabled.  Then during 2014 and into 2015 the remainder of Three’s national network will be enabled.

So there you have it. The UK mobile industry’s little disruptor do it again.  With the self recognition that they are first and foremost a mobile network operator, not a media company, Three have set focus tight on delivering a credible network proposition to their customers.  For that alone they deserve all the success.

You can read what Three actually have to say on the subject in their blog http://blog.three.co.uk/2013/08/29/get-ready-for-4g/

3-2-1 Three PAYG Just Got Serious

Three have done it again. They’ve torn up the old rule book and completely re-written it. This time with Pay As You Go (PAYG) tariffs.

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 08.26.13

In a rather bold move to redefine the PAYG market in their now typical manner.  Not content with shaving a few pennies off here and there, as has been traditional in the mobile phone industry, Three have reworked the PAYG plan entirely, taking on all comers.

So what is so special about Three’s 3-2-1 PAYG tariff? I would say that first and foremost it is completely understandable, so much so that a four-year old would get it. To use Three’s PAYG will cost you 3p a minute for any network calls, 2p for each and every single text message you send and 1p a MegaByte of data you use.  That is simple enough, isn’t it?

And yet, that wasn’t enough for Three. With this new PAYG tariff the unused top up credit does not run out.  Instead, it remains available to use indefinitely (to keep the SIM active you do need to make use of it at least once in 180 days).  So this then becomes completely ideal for that “emergency” phone or similar.

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 08.27.01

In comparison to other networks, both primary and the virtual (MVNO) such as Tesco, Virgin Media and the like, Three are at the very minimum 5p a minute cheaper for voice calls, 2p a minute cheaper for text messages and for mobile data are completely way out in front. The example comparison above illustrates how clear and simple this new PAYG plan is.

So who is this new PAYG tariff pitched at? Well, actually, no one in particular. It is entirely suited to anyone who doesn’t want the tie in of a monthly contract.  And that could be for any reason whatsoever.  It is also really useful as a “try before you buy” for anyone new to Three to check out the network before you commit to a contract term.  This is something I always suggest to those coming to Three for the first time. That is the beauty of this new proposition. Everything complex has been stripped away, there are no hidden gotchas, no sneaky “ah, yeah, buts” to drain your credit.

Of course, there are one or two additional charges that could occur, and these are common throughout the industry. For example, calls to non-geographic numbers will cost more, those typically beginning with 08.  And then again, calls to premium rate numbers will inevitably cost shed loads more, those numbers typically beginning with 09.  But for regular calls to numbers beginning with 01, 02, 03 and 07 the 3p a minute charge applies, without caveat.

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 08.27.28

You may also purchase Add-on packs to the PAYG should you want them, and these last 30 days. Three’s website has all the detail of the various Add-ons, I won’t cover them here.

Available now, in-store or online, this new PAYG SIM makes complete sense for anyone who has access to the Three network.

Nokia, the next Apple?

Nokia Lumia 1020. Possibly the best camera in the world.  So my question is, can Nokia turn this one trick pony into a total success and do an Apple?

I have watched Nokia attempt to rise like the legendary Phoenix from the ashes of its “burning platform” with its alliance to Microsoft for an operating system and its own extraordinary in-house design capability.  They gave birth to the Lumia and have been leveraging that ever since with iterative developments on the genre.  In doing so they’ve won their hard core fan base back, and do appear to be winning a wider appreciation with each release. And they have been coming relatively thick and fast, the announcements that is.

The latest and greatest Lumia is the 1020, not yet available to the masses but evidently in the hands of the leading names in the blogosphere.  Hallmark of this iteration is its out of any class camera, likened to DSLR in terms of imaging chip and with a completely reworked mechanical image stabilisation mechanism.  There are plenty of reviews of the camera now and the entire smartphone yet to come, so I will not make a feeble attempt to repeat them here – especially as I do not have the hardware, nor is it the intent of this commentary.

Just to add some personal context if I may; I lived and breathed Lumia for six months with the 800 when it first arrived. Putting it into daily and completely serious and critical use as my business phone I became entirely dependant upon it. Linking into the corporate Exchange Mail, Calendar and Contacts there was no other means for me to access the services when on the move.  And it worked, pretty much out of the box setting up was trivial.  The hardware was very average, nothing ground breaking. But the OS, Windows Phone, remained dreadful to use. I do believe that I disliked the OS for the entire six months. It did nothing to win me over.  I was relieved to end the evaluation and return to iOS at that time.

In the time that has followed Nokia have updated the Lumia hardware continually – both upmarket and downmarket, which is sensible.  The OS has changed a lot less in that same time, but that is inevitable. But for the headline-grabbing device, their top end Lumia, Nokia have made a huge focus (pardon the unintentional pun) on the smartphone’s camera.  It makes me wonder if in years to come we will think of Nokia as a Camera company that once made Phones.

In doing so, it has left me with a distinct impression of The Emperor’s New Clothes.  Aside from the camera is anything else changing much?  Sure, the casing was tweaked in the 925 with a nice strip of aluminium added, the world went wild for ten minutes. Now, with the 1020, we have another such tweak with a reportedly awesome camera unlike any before.  This is great, but where do Nokia go next?  An announcement of the successor to the 1020 must be in the wings.

Yet the feeding frenzy has barely started and the 1020 is allegedly sold out in all of its colours in the US. The hallmarks are that Nokia, at least in the 1020, is in track to “do an Apple”, certainly for that model alone.