In our final feature on now updated phones that could potentially still have much to offer, we go even further back into the Blackberry catalogue to the Curve 8900. Its price is dramatically cheaper compared to other smartphones, but is going back to a Blackberry pre trackpad and 3G going too far?

The Blackberry Curve 8900 was released in February 2009, and was originally expected to be released as a part of the 9xxx series that featured 3G. However, it was not and so attempted to make headway in the Blackberry mission to push the smartphone markets through hardware features that were cutting edge for the time.

Perhaps the most significant hardware update that the Blackberry 8900 held was its Wi-Fi, which had not been seen on previous Blackberry models. Whilst the lack of 3G is disappointing, this makes up for it to some extent in offering good quality internet browsing, despite needing a router signal. Other features that stand out include a 3.2 megapixel camera with flash, which is higher quality than that which is featured on future Blackberry phones, such as the 9300, and subsequently will provide good quality photo snaps that were better than other phones at the time or since, such as the higher praised iPhone 3GS with 3.0 megapixels. What detracts from the 8900 is the trackball navigation tool, which looks and feels far more dated than the trackpad which is now the norm and in many ways the recognisable feature of a Blackberry phone. Whilst it was praised at its release for a stylish design, in retrospect it has not aged well and does not now look the part.

The phone runs the Blackberry 5 operating system, which despite offering positive features such as a better map application and a thread-like chat SMS style, is not available to upgrade to any higher operating systems such as Blackberry 6. As such, the phone misses out on many features that have come to be part and parcel of the Blackberry experience, such as web browsing and automatic social network feed updates.

This phone would suit a user who requires a cheap phone with a QWERTY keypad but does not necessarily need to use mobile internet on the move. Its Wi-Fi feature is a significant component in this phones spec, due to the disappointing hardware that it offers in other areas. In the three years since the phones release, it has not aged well, with the advances that Research In Motion have made with Blackberry mobile phones leaving this design in its wake. The phone is however still available, and can still be a useful phone to own, if you do not have your sights set on the latest cutting edge technology.

In the second part of our series on older model mobile phones that could potentially still provide a great, cost effective phone, we look towards Apple’s rival Blackberry, with their Curve 9300.

The Blackberry Curve 9300 was released in the summer of 2010 by developer Research In Motion, who used the model as the first of their devices to feature 3G network usage. The phone received a moderate amount of success in the markets, with many previous Blackberry users being attracted to both the new 3G capabilities, but a lack of serious upgrades from the previous model series, the 8500 in terms of hardware prevented the phone from becoming a best seller.

One clear improvement that the Curve 9300 3G did make in its hardware however was its processor speed. It upgraded from a 512 MHz processor to a 624 MHz processor, giving it an extra edge in its speed, accompanied by a minor improvement in its memory, with an extra 128 MB RAM being installed, which took the overall memory up to 256 MB. However, the micro SD slot enables this amount to be increased. The camera remained the same at 2.0 megapixels, which did not create much excitement amongst reviews or consumers. The feature of the trackpad navigating tool which had been originally introduced in the 8500 series in order to replace an aged looking trackball remained, which despite the age of the phone, keeps it looking up to date and modern visually.

The phone did have a significant beneficial edge over the model however, in it featuring the Blackberry 6 operating system, which sought to update an ageing operating system that had preceded it in making the increased mobile web browsing capacity that had been made available through the 3G upgrade worthwhile through introducing browser tabs for multi page browsing, and also extra features such as automatic social network feed updating.

The Blackberry Curve 9300 might have served the purpose of bringing 3G mobile browsing to Blackberry phones, however, it contains very few other wow points. Any person wishing to purchase this phone now would need to simply for a very cheap option that would enable good web browsing. The camera, at 2.0 megapixels does not offer good photo quality, and the processor speed has been eclipsed many times by other phones, both in the Curve range and in ranges produced by other mobile phone manufacturers.

Apple iPhone 3GS

Over the next three articles, we will look at a handful of mobile phones that have since lost the media hype that they once held. Whilst they are barely discussed now, we will look at how they have aged, and whether their lack of media attention results in lower prices for a great product. We begin our reviews by looking at the phone that has since been eclipsed by the iPhone 4; its predecessor the iPhone 3GS.

The Apple iPhone 3GS was released in the summer of 2009, bringing about furthering of Apple’s pledge to increase the technical quality and usability of the iPhone, ever since the original iPhone had rocked the world market in 2007. One million handsets were sold in the first weekend of its release, which gave signal to the fact that society’s love affair with the iPhone was continuing to grow.

The iPhone 3GS succeeded the iPhone 3G, which was introduced the previous summer and had seen a reasonable amount of success in the markets. The primary aim of the 3GS was to enhance the speed of the iPhone, due to many criticisms of the 3G coming from the fact that much if the internal hardware was the same as the original iPhone. As such, modifications were made to the device, such as increasing the processing unit from 620MHz (underclocked to 412 MHz) to 833 MHz (underclocked to 600 MHz). The memory was also increased from 128 MB of RAM, to 256 MB RAM, which also sought to address the points of criticism of lack of memory that were aimed at the previous iPhone models. Further modifications were also made, such as an improved 3.0 megapixel camera installed, which held further improved features such as the ability to zoom, which the previous iPhone models did not.

This model came originally with an improved operating system in the form of iOS 3, with MMS and copy and paste being new features that had been requested by users prior to its launch. However, since then the device has been able to be upgraded through two further operating system upgrades made by Apple, and now currently runs the iOS 5 operating system that was introduced in the summer of 2011. This brings the iPhone up to competition with the more recently released iPhones, due to the functions of the phone being similar.

The iPhone 3GS may have been forgotten by some since its eclipse by the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, but it still packs a punch in the overall market, and still receives updates from Apple. However, despite it being a cheap option for possessing a good quality iPhone, users may be disappointed with the hardware, with lower memory, processing speeds and camera resolution not being anywhere near the standard level that is expected in the market today.

Motorola first released its original Droid handset three years ago, providing a QWERTY keyboard that sought to provide for those who did not favour a touch screen phone and preferred physical push buttons at their fingertips. Since then, the basic concept has remained the same, with the latest Droid release, the Droid 4 retaining the sliding keyboard. However, each Droid phone has advanced in technological terms, and this handset is no different, with it offering enhanced specifications, usability and speed.

So what’s different between this handset and the Droid 3? Well, for a start, it is the first to hold 4G LTE, and its 1.2 GHz processor means that its speed for a variety of uses will be up near the best of new mobile phone releases at the moment. Whilst not moving into the quadcore processor territory that has excited many reviewers this calendar year, it will provide a good service that those who have held previous Droid models will be extremely satisfied with. On top of this, the phone holds 16GB of internal memory, 1GB of ram and a 4 in HQ screen that enables touch screen use and quality viewing. In terms of quality of camera, it cannot be faulted, with an 8 megapixel rear facing camera and a 4 megapixel front facing camera for video calls. This phone has done the simple things well, such as good quality cameras and good storage, where we have seen other phones from top manufacturers fail. With regards to software, the handset runs on standard Android Gingerbread, however, it is expected to get the Ice Cream Sandwich treatment in the coming months. The best feature of this handset however is the price. At $200 sim free, it is pushing at the doors of the mid price handset range, and will surely tempt those who like the style of the Droid.

However, this new phone does not come without its critics. Many are viewing the slide out horizontal keyboard feature a component that looks severely dated, and whilst once upon a time was innovative, now decreases the classiness of the phone. Gimmicks such as the keys lighting up and enhanced screen technology are clearly design to attempt to combat this issue. However, it doesn’t do the job, and many will want to see the feature ditched entirely. One can’t help but feel that this phone will only find a market amongst those who already abide by the Droid series, and so will only stand to lose buyers rather than gain them. In order to gain new customers, the phone would need to hold truly cutting edge technologies, such as a quad core processor or truly high quality display, rather than attempting to utilise the second tier technologies that are now being overlooked and not gaining any excitement from users.

As such, any previous QWERTY keyboard fanatics should consider this phone, however, if you need persuading that this is a better phone than the latest touch screen phone you had your eye on, don’t expect to be converted.

Source: Intomobile.com

Mobile phone operator Vodafone has attempted to put into motion a clear attempt to target the older section of society in its sales of mobile phones. The UK firm has this week revealed a simplistic, cheap mobile phone that is aimed at users over 60, with numerous facets designed to appeal to its target audience.

Since the mobile phone boom in the 2000s, mobile phones have appealed to the older generation due to their suitability for security, communication and convenience. However, few attempts have been made to market specifically towards this age group, with the majority of marketing campaigns and mobile phone designs being aimed towards younger people. Greater, more advanced technologies that do not necessarily enhance communications such as better cameras, faster internet and touch screen abilities have been the focal points in the design rooms of the largest mobile phone companies, and have featured in their marketing agendas at a similar degree of emphasis. However, Vodafone has decided to strip this back, and focus on ease of use rather than high end technological features that appeal mostly to under 40s, with its Vodafone 115 handset.

The Vodafone 115 will be available for just £25 on PayG best cell phone plans, and looks far more like the sort of model we’d have seen introduced in 1999 than 2012. It features large buttons, clear large digits on screen and simple menus. However, despite its intentional simplistic design, it cannot be said that Vodafone have simply dug out some old designs from the last decade, brought it out and claimed that it’s for older people despite just being a very old phone. The phone does hold technology that is innovative rather than regressive, but it is aimed at the older user. For example, the phone has a loud earpiece for those hard of hearing, and on top of that has a hearing aid function that allows the user to hear perfectly whilst using the hearing aid. Similarly, it has an emergency button situated on the back, which when held down can call a number of choice, whether that is a loved one, carer or emergency number. High battery life also features, with up to 29 days of standby use meaning that its suitability for an emergency means of communication is also enhanced.

The mobile phone craze has yet to sweep the older generation. Whether this phone is able to achieve what other phones have been unable to achieve remains to be seen. The timing of this release seems odd, with a pre Christmas release being better for families who’d wish to buy such a phone for a parent or grandparent as a present. As such, Vodafone will need to take the phone directly to the customer, rather than relying on third parties buying the phone for others, which could require some skill.

Source: itportal.com

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has announced that a selection of its phones will receive the much anticipated Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade by the end of March. Announced via its Facebook page, HTC stated that the Sensation series of phones would be the first to be upgraded, with the HTC Sensation, then the HTC Sensation XE and then the HTC Sensation XL following soon after. The statement then read that later in the year, upgrades would be available to other older HTC phones, such as the HTC Evo 3D, HTC Incredible S, HTC Desire S and HTC Desire HD.

Android 4.0: The race is on

Speculation had arisen over when the Ice Cream Sandwich update would be made available for any handsets, with some suggesting that its release would be severely delayed by several months, whilst others claimed that it was imminent. In the last month however, other phone manufacturers had pushed the ICS agenda, with Motorola and Samsung both announcing phone releases that would carry the new platform. The news of Andoird coming to HTC will not have come as a surprise, with a leaked photograph of a new HTC Verizon phone with Android 4.0 having gone viral in the time preceding the announcement that increased rumours that HTC were about to reveal that they were to upgrade existing phones. Whether HTC sped up this announcement due to the leak is unknown.

The announcement has divided HTC users under very obvious lines, with those whose handsets can be upgraded expressing excitement online about the benefits that Android 4.0 will bring to their mobile phone experience, whilst other owners whose phones are not on the list frustrated that they will have to wait, or possibly not be able to receive an upgrade at all.

With HTC taking such a bold step, the heat will be on for other mobile phone manufacturers that carry Android to follow suit.

Internet giant Google has tightened the screw in the competition over web browsers on mobile phones by claiming that it will introduce Chrome for mobiles as the default browser on its Android phones.

Google Chrome, the browser which has managed to enjoy large success with personal computer use, will be seeking to continue to eat into Microsofts dominance in the computing world, by introducing uniformity between PC use and mobile phone use. After Chromes introduction in 2008, Microsoft saw a 30% drop in its market share of browsers, as many users found Chromes simplistic, user friendly interface as more user friendly than Internet Explorer, which was overloaded with toolbars and buttons.

The effort also appears to be one to make the “Google experience” one that is more streamlined, with plans to enable users to call up the recently viewed web pages on their desktops on their mobile phone away from the computer. Such synchronisation can sometimes seem gimmicky, but it can have its uses. Those with busy lifestyles who forget to look at important information on a web page before they leave the office will be able to recall the page and see the information. Document transfers will also be made easier, with the data being transferred automatically without the need for time costly manual transferring.

Chrome will only be available on the Android 4.0 operating system, but with such anticipation for the new OS, it is likely that many phones will carry the capabilities for the browser, and therefore its use could become commonplace. Google is appearing to be using the age old software technique; tie the consumer to the brand, whatever hardware they are using. As such, smaller independent browser options such as Dolphin or Opera could see decreased use, having previously found their gap in the market through users being frustrated with the poor browser service previously offered by Android.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Vodafone, the UK based mobile phone retailer has seen a massive decrease in revenue, as European economic situations leave customers attempting to cut back on their mobile phone expenditure, it announced yesterday.

Chief  Executive of the company Vittorio Colao announced yesterday (Thursday) that consumer confidence had been severely affected by the Eurozone crisis, which has seen countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy facing the possibility of defaulting on their debts. He stated that the spending power of these countries was much to blame for the drop in sales, which along with regulation price cuts, has left Vodafone in a vulnerable position. Figures released state that Vodafone’s European service revenue has dropped by £237 million, which accounts for 1.7% of overall sales related to service charges rather than handset sales, with Italy and Spain in particular seeing 4.9% and 8.8% falls, a significant blow to efforts to compete in markets within those countries. However, it is not just in Europe that Vodafone has seen poor success. In the UK, it has experienced lower customer phone use, with out of contract bills being lower, and with less European travel, less roaming charges acquired. Other contributing factors to Vodafone’s lower income levels are the increased availability of wifi hotspots, which in the long term will damage the charges that Vodafone make for customers using phone line internet.

Vodafone’s shares have however remained stable currently, with increased smartphone sales and increased numbers of contract holders steadying the ship for Vodafone. It appears that Colao’s statement is something of a warning shot to retailers, who will be pushed to make more sales in retail outlets and in call centres. However, it does remain true that within the ever fickle entity that the mobile phone market is, these statements and figures will worry investors and possibly see changes made within the company.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Many advances are made in the world of mobile phones, with phones being given power boosts, extra memory, extra gadgets and even new technologies not seen in the rest of the techno-sphere. However, most of these are planned and predictable. We know that Android Ice Cream Sandwich will be released within the year, and that it will enhance mobile phone usability. We also know the new quad core processors will enhance the speed and versatility of mobile phones when their use becomes widespread. What we didn’t see coming however, was the announcement by a 23 year old student that he has developed a mobile phone made largely not from high grade metals and plastics or fibreglasses, but from bamboo.

The phone consists of four-year-old organically grown bamboo that has been adapted and treated to create a durable mobile phone chassis that will certainly turn heads and stand out from the crowd of mobile phones. The creator, Keiron Scott-Woodhouse claims that it gives the phone a unique edge, and that he was inspired by the idea after noticing that all mobile phones look similar. He does however claim that there are practical benefits to the mobile phone, describing it as half the weight of an iPhone. The phone, which has been named the aDzero holds other benefits also, such as a “ring flash” on the phone, which will make the illumination of pictures more even.

The phone had originally been intended for the Chinese market, but the combination of a UK technology entrepreneur discovering his designs online and a good reception in the UK market means that the phone will hit retails outlets in the country within the year.

It seems that nothing is predictable in technological advances.

The LG Prada 3.0 hit stores for the first time on Friday, with other phone retailers receiving the phones for sale this week. Despite seeming to be stretched to the limit by taking its smartphones up a notch this calendar year so far, after we saw leaked details of the LG X3, the mobile phone manufacturer has continued to push the market with its quality after continuing its relationship with Prada, the world famous fashion retailer, to produce another top end phone.

The LG Prada 3.0 is entirely different from its predecessors the Prada and the Prada II. The Prada II brought a sliding qwerty keyboard, and features that were advanced for its time, including a 5.0 megapixel camera. However, the phone was overshadowed by quality products flooding the market in 2008, including the iPhone. The Prada 3.0 is likely to turn more heads, but is still unlikely to take the market by storm. The design of the phone is smart, with a simplistic design that leaves it at the top end of the android phone range in terms of handset design. However, it lacks a wow factor on first glances, which surely when attaching the Prada name to it should be essential? What is impressive however is the 4.3” display, which provides a screen size that offers much to be worked with and enjoyed. Also impressive its its extremely thin profile, which adds to the desirability of the phone.

The phone runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which provides a fairly standard service, but more than its predecessors. The design has been altered to provide the minimalistic style that the designers were clearly aiming for with the exterior. However, we feel that like the handset design, it is far too simplistic and bland, despite the interface being easily customisable and therefore user friendly. All other aspects of the display and interface are fairly standard for Android phones, including usability and style. The Ice Cream Sandwich operating system is desperately needed right now to give us something new to look at! However, the device does hold an 8 mega pixel camera, which we found to provide a very good quality of photo, along with strong quality of video capture also. We did however find that the camera took a while to focus, which could have a potential to frustrate.

In terms of general usability of the phone, and the small basics that many phone manufacturers slip up on, the Prada 3.0 is fairly good. Voice quality is good through the phone, as is the loudness. There is no lag on the phone, and touch screen responsive. Overall, the phone is good quality and we would recommend it as a standard smartphone that has good capabilities. Many will buy the phone for the name on the back, but in reality it will not wow the reviewers. However, it does have a good selling point, which is the price. It has been reported that some contract deals for the phone will reach as low as £30 per month. It will not be available until into February for sim free release, but reports suggest that the handset will be below the £400 mark. For once, having Prada written on something seems to not be sending its cost through the roof (as with the previous two phones).