Past Rants, Raves & Views

Vodafone launches Freedom Freebees with select handsets

All available now on Vodafone PAYG with Freedom Freebees

All pay as you go phones come ready for customers to take advantage of their great value Freebees, which include a choice of free minutes, text and web access or international calls

 Every pay as you go customer is also automatically opted-in to Freebee Rewardz.

Every time a pay as you go customer tops up as little as £5, they’ll receive a text giving them a voucher code. They can then go online to ‘grab’ an instant reward or bank them as ‘grow’ points, to save up for something

Customers can choose from a wide selection of rewards including big name discounts from brands such as Thorntons and BLOCKBUSTER, music downloads and free minutes or choose to take a mystery reward, which could be anything from a smoothie maker to an iPhone. Alternatively, customers can collect points towards vouchers and experience days.

Vodafone 354

If you want an easy-to-use phone that’s great for social networking and web access, choose the Vodafone 354 with full QWERTY keypad. Available now for £25 PAYG, the 354 has Facebook built in, so you can update your status or upload photos in seconds.

BlackBerry Curve 9360

Get Wi-Fi and improved web browsing on the thinnest BlackBerry Curve smartphone yet. Available now for £225 PAYG, the BlackBerry 7 OS makes this smartphone faster and smoother to use, perfect for keeping up with friends and family wherever you are. It has social network feeds and pre-installed apps such as Twitter and Facebook.

Samsung GALAXY Y

The Samsung GALAXY Y is an easy-to-use touchscreen smartphone. Its 3” screen responds quickly to taps and swipes, so you can access everything you need in a flash. Available now for £100 PAYG, the smartphone also gives you several homescreens where you can put icons and shortcuts to the things you use most often – so you could have favourite contacts on one screen, and news and weather widgets on another.

HTC Explorer

The curved and compact HTC Explorer features a 3.2” HVGA touchscreen and 3MP camera. Available now for £130 PAYG, it’s also loaded with HTC Sense, featuring amongst other things, a customisable active lock screen so you can keep up to date with the latest feeds without needing to unlock the screen.

Windows Phone 7

This time it’s not an attempt at cramming Windows XP onto a mobile device. Windows Phone 7 has great potential.

This time Microsoft has released a mobile phone operating system which they believe has what it takes to compete with leading smart phone leaders Android, Apple and Blackberry.  With Windows Phone 7 (WP7) Microsoft has targeted the consumer market with a completely new user-friendly interface with real time applications and features keeping users constantly up to date with social networks, contact information, email and various applications.  Top manufacturers HTC, Dell, Samsung and LG have at least ten devices released fully operating Windows Phone 7 with promises to have additional devices launched in 2011.

Firstly, WP7 device requirements are demanding yet understandable in order to keep up with the rest of the smart phone market.  Internally a device must have a 4-point capacitive touch screen display (800x480), 1GHz processor, a DirectX9 rendering capable GPU, at least 256MB of RAM and 8Gb of flash memory, an accelerometer, a light sensor, a proximity sensor and GPS.  External requirements are a 5.0 megapixel camera with an LED flash and 6 dedicated buttons: Start, search, camera, power/sleep, volume up/down and back.  These hardware conditions are expected given the specifications of the iPhone 4G, the BlackBerry Torch, and the soon to be Android 3.0 OS.

WP7 has a lot of what you would expect from Microsoft making an attempt to enter the smart phone's consumer market, and a lot you wouldn't. The incorporation of similar task management and navigation to that of the Zune HD(Microsoft's response to the Apple iTouch) and Xbox grant Windows Phone 7 its own unique style and twist to a smart phone OS, especially its interface.  Windows fans will be pleased with the inclusion of Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer Mobile, hopefully more reliable than their infamous PC browser.

The user interface has managed to incorporate live updates and an overlapping system which is incredibly intuitive and easy to use.  Tiles make up the scrollable Start screen, more commonly referred to as the home screen, which are essentially links to applications and features.  These tiles are of course constantly updated with new information regarding whatever that specific tile has to offer.  A simple example being; a live update showing the number of unread emails for the mail tile, and similarly a weather tile which displays current weather conditions viewable directly from the home screen.  Tiles are just one customizable part of the interface allowing for users to move, remove and create tiles as they please.

The overlapping aspect of the operating system is demonstrated through tiles, and furthermore through what are known as hubs.  Once you have synched your contacts with your social

networks and email listings, all relevant information regarding a single contact can be seen using a created contact-specific tile.  Hubs are tiles consisting of relevant local and online content specific to music, videos, pictures, people and more.  The People hub, for example, shows contacts and their relation, if any, to several social networks such as Windows Live, Facebook, Gmail, Xbox Live etc. whereas the pictures hub includes local pictures taken on the device's camera and access to online albums from social networks.

WP7 in October revealed over 2,000 available apps. This includes an experience similar to that of the Xbox console's where users can view leader boards and chat with Xbox Live friends.  There is undoubtedly a multiplayer incorporated gaming system but unfortunately it is currently only turn based.  Kevin Unangst, Senior Director of PC and mobile gaming for Microsoft told IGN that multiplayer capabilities will surely expand and the hope for real-time multiplayer gaming will eventually be met. As to when, all we can do is wait.

WP7 is certainly a high dive into new waters which has left Microsoft lagging in areas many may find essential; such as not even being able to copy, cut or paste! Also, internet tethering, video calls, Bluetooth file transfers, MS office security, and custom ringtones are a number of features which are unavailable at the moment but, for now Microsoft have confirmed they will include several, if not all of these features in 2011.

Needless to say, Microsoft has taken their stand in what is a constantly expanding smart phone competition and certainly come a long way from previous OS designs.  It will be exciting to see how they will progress and to what heights their software will strive to reach.

Alex Russell

Sid Meier's Pirates!

On Guard!

Publisher: Concrete Software in Partnership with Oasys Mobile

Format: Blackberry

Everyone is app crazy. Thanks to Apple and it's pioneered app store we saw mobile phone manufacturers respond as fast as they could, desperate to close the gap that Apple revealed.

In past years, we were quite happy with purchasing games for mobile phones, so the platform for developing applications was there already. Apple didn't reinvent the wheel...Instead they removed the limitations and encouraged development of anything and everthing under the sun as an app, creating an elitist add on to support their presence in the mobile market.

RIM, a smartphone manufacturer who truly stands out from the bunch. The Blackberry App World is home to over 5000 apps geared towards the blackberry niche market. I decided to download Sid Meier's Pirates!

HTC Legend Bested by bad-ass Desire

It's difficult to say that the HTC Legend is going to be anything other than fantastic, for starters it's an HTC and it's the replacement to the Hero- a phone legendary in its own right. So imagine Phonica's excitement when HTC announced a new, higher spec product at MWC.

The spanking new Desire - the official name for the much guessed at Bravo – is a phone with some very antiquated ancestry. This phone is a direct descendent of the aspirational Google Nexus One. In HTC's traditional manner, they've realised the flaws with a Google branded product and announced a new one that's just better.

Android 2.1, 5MP camera with LED photo light, pinch to zoom, flash web pages, 1GHz processor and an optical trackball all come to the party with the HTC Desire- it's certainly got Phonica feeling a little covetous. Add to the mix the newly incorporated multi-screen view a-la Sony Xperia X1 and the Sense UI aesthetic upgrade and you have the next phone you wish you could afford.

The great news is that the Desire is reportedly going to be cheaper than the Google Nexus One and Orange and T-Mobile have already announced that the Desire will be free on certain contracts. Have HTC just killed the mobile market? Not if Samsung Bada has anything to say about it...

Phones to Watch at the Mobile World Congress

Barcelona's Mobile World Congress is the Mecca of mobile phone enthusiasts everywhere. Yes it does sound a lot like a boring political meet and greet but trust us, there's nothing Gordon Brown about this congress. Once a year all eyes turn to Spain's sexiest city to whet our appetites for the newest and greatest mobile phones in store for the year ahead. With one particular superpower of mobile never making an appearance with their newest phone, MWC might be missing the fervour of an Apple release but it will certainly have more than a few head turners. Here's our roundup of what to expect and who to look out for in Barcelona.

Android big boss (too much MGS) HTC is likely to show a few of it's future smartphone of the year contenders. The two main suspects are the Bravo and the Supersonic- the Bravo will surely be an all round powerhouse with a name like that- and the rumoured Sense UI sprucing up the look of the standard Android interface together with an optical trackball is a very exciting prospect indeed. I'll be willing to bet that the Supersonic will be a speed demon- with that name sounding very similar to the brand positioning of the nippy Samsung Jet.

Acer are boasting the E110, but we can forgive the retro name if it runs anything near as good as it looks. It's a very pretty phone and one which won't be overlooked as the most stylish entry of the Acer mobile catalogue and probably the first real reason to get your hands on one.

There's also the lovely looking Samsung Wave, the thematically contiguous host of the new Bada platform (with Bada meaning ocean in Korean). Many a journalist will be busting a gut to get to grips with this new OS; it'll be very exciting to find out if this new entry onto the smartphone OS market can boast any features which make it a real contender among the dons- iPhone 3.0, Android 2.1 and WebOS. With a blistering 1GHz processor on board the Wave will be quick but lets hope they put all that power to good use. We'll find out soon.

We'll be updating the blog with all the big MWC news so keep an eye out for new blog action.


Publisher: Electronic Arts

Let The game Begin!

Developer: Venan Entertainment

Format: iPhone, iPod Touch

Money is power...and so is property !

Monopoly, monopoly. It's a popular board game known to all. Brought back childhood memories: unwrapping Mr. Monopoly from under the tree, eager to play my first game only to lose horribly, retreating crying to my room vowing it was the worst present ever. Years later I decided to face my fear and pick up a copy Wii and later decided to get the iPhone version. While the copy for the Wii has the Classic and World Edition together on the iPhone platform it's two separate capitalist of EA!

Nokia and Pearson form wireless educational venture in China

Beijing Mobiledu Technologies to provide English-language learning and related services

Learning English is now fun!

Nokia, the world leader in mobility, and Pearson, the world's leading education company, announced the formation of a joint venture, Beijing Mobiledu Technologies, to accelerate the growth of Mobiledu, the premier mobile phone-delivered education service, developed by Nokia in China.

iPad Will Change the Technology World


PhonicaMagUK is normally focused on mobile and games technology. Apple is a key topic in our writing because of the innovative and exceptional iPhone, the fantastically capable touch device which revolutionised the way we view handheld technology. Now Apple has announced the iPad, a crossover device somewhere between an iPhone and a Macbook- and it's the most exciting piece of technology the world has ever seen.

Imagine that we once used to interact with our computer with a clunky mouse, our computer stuck to the wall with wires and its monitor equally immovable.

Those days are gone. We don't even need a keyboard anymore. Apple's iPad is a revolutionary tablet computer which enables the user to manipulate everyday workloads with their hands, browse the full internet at arms length, purchase digital books, videos and music on the move and all of this for just $499.

There's a lot to tell about the new iPad, the first thing to explain is the reason it's appearing on a games and mobile phones blog. As the first piece of technology to incorporate all of the tech from one of our favourite phones, the 3GS, into a computing device- and the first piece of tech to allow usage of all the current apps on App Store on anything other than an iPhone or iPod Touch, and a product that will use 3G communication for data, this whole new category of product is directly related to everything Phonica holds dear. In fact it is a new territory and deserves its own space on the current tech landscape.

2010 - The Year of the Mobile

Welcome to the new decade. If by some strange scientific anomaly you have been mistakenly transported to the future, but are relatively competent with the use of the internet (amazingly! Seriously, well done you!), I have some disappointing news for you... although we've successfully managed to pour more information into this virtual space than actually existed in the world before its invention- we still don't have hovercars or houses on the moon. Yes, Kubrick was definitely out of shape with 2001: A Space Odyssey- awesome and confusing thought it is (much like the internet).

What we do have is a bunch of awesome little communication devices which let us do everything you can imagine out of the palm of our hand. Luckily for you, 2010 happens to be the year we expect to be revolutionary for the mobile phone. Here are just a few things we can't wait for- in order of awesomeness:

1) Flash Supporting Browsers

2) 4G Network Speeds

3) New iPhone

4) HTC Legend

5) Google Nexus One

6) Firefox Mobile

7) Voice Supported Everything

8 ) A Billion New Apps

9) Longer Lasting Batteries on Smartphones

10) Hoverboards

Phone News Dies a Festive Death, Thank Heavens for the N900!

I was looking very hard for just a scrap of phone news this week, in between the food and drink and hours of game-time with Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (which I missed out on first time round) and the football too- of course. But there wasn't any! No new news about phones at all! So it is with great displeasure that I convey the only minute morsel of phone news that actually matters to emerge over the last week. Honestly, there's literally nothing else to say.

OK, so I might have been a little harsh to demote the wonderful news that the only Nokia worth having (in my extremely biased opinion) is finally coming to Vodafone to being pathetic. But seriously, it kind of is. Everyone knows that since the iPhone has become non-exclusive in the UK, that almost every handset available is destined to make an appearance at Vodafone at some time or another.

80s classic Paperboy is coming to the iPhone

Launch those papers and power-slide that bike, all on your iPhone

Everyone loves Paperboy. Its simple premise of throwing papers through windows, avoiding craters in the pavement (where did he live; Maplesville Road, Iraq?) and occasionally crashing into rabid dogs was a world wide hit, and an instant classic. Whether you were playing it on the Spectrum, the GameBoy, the Megadrive, or even on your PC, it still ticked all the right boxes that a game should; and now it’s coming to the iPhone.

Fans of the rag-chucker have been lobbying for ages, trying to get Paperboy an appearance on the iPhone. Well, thanks to Elite Systems, the UK based developer and electronic publisher of mobile and portable games, their wish has been granted.

In a recent interview with CGN, the UK based firm have said; "It's hoped that the

English-language versions of Paperboy will go live on App Stores on Friday 18 December 2009, or soon thereafter and non-English-language versions soon after that."

Although a trailer and a selection of screenshots are due to be released shortly, it’s probably pointless viewing them, as we all know what to expect for this ancient classic. There’s going to be a kid (or boy) on a bike, and he’s going to be delivering local news sheets (or papers) to the surrounding neighbourhood. Just a guess…..

Personally, I can’t wait for this little gem to hit the iPhone, and fingers crossed it’ll control as well as always. Eat paper, mad old man! Bosh!

Scott Tierney

Phones cheaper than cake; good or bad?

Should something like a mobile phone be sold for less than £10, or is this just the way of the world?

I was wandering around my local ASDA the other night, hunting down any sneaky bargains and generally killing time, when I came across a startling sight. There was a giant heap of boxed Samsung E1120’s, for a jaw dropping £10 each! OK, the E1120 is only the most basic of basic phones, and it’s on Orange PAYG (with £5 free talk time, mind!) but nonetheless, it’s still a fully functioning mobile phone for a tenner. That’s cheaper than some cakes!

A Giggle at Google's Googly Goggles

Google insults my Mum. A needlessly long retort to that, basically

I'm always excited when there's anything new and Google related on Android Market. Usually

the big bucks they throw at apps make them the biggest and best around. Maps is amazing (despite the fact they won't give the Brits navigation), Search by Voice is unnervingly accurate and Sky Map is built to bring out the star gazer in everyone. Great was my surprise then, to find that the God of all things search had managed to botch up a perfectly fantastic idea.

Google Goggles is just about the most stylish app Android has ever seen, not exactly difficult but impressive nonetheless. The idea behind it is that you can search for things by taking pictures of them. Fair enough. Pretty straightforward, seemingly innovative and probably useful, right? Wrong. Firstly, there's nothing straightforward about making a handheld device recognise almost anything in the world. Secondly, this had already been done on Android a little while back with a little known app called SnapTell. Thirdly, only a few minutes with this application makes you realise just how redundant it is to anyone with fingers or a voice- and with Goggle being a mobile phone app, usually the owner tends to have both.

Android, the new symbian?

 PMUK Blog XperiaTM X10 Sensuous Black

Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10 has recently been announced with the awesome inclusion of the Android OS, but with multiple brands jumping on the bandwagon is Android treading a familiar and dangerous path?

Android operating systems are infiltrating the world's handsets. Starting quietly on the innocuous HTC, the monster OS is sneaking its way onto giant brands such as Samsung, Philips, Motorola and soon Sony Ericsson. The consolidation of multiple brands to a single OS has rarely been seen before and is a testament to the usability of the system. It's also a unified backing against the brilliant iPhone, whose exclusive operating system is showing no signs of migration and threatened to dominate the market before the multi-tasking Android made a case for itself as a serious contender. Placing Android alongside Palm's WebOS, there are seemingly no other platforms which present a decent alternative to the iPhone's utility and ease of use.

T-Mobile sparks data security fears

T-Mobile has again hit the news as an undisclosed number of its UK subscribers that have unknowingly had their personal data sold on to third parties. In what looks like an inside job, It seems that unscrupulous employees have been collating details and selling them on to middlemen for unspecified sums of money. By selling on the data, it allowed other companies to call these people unsolicited, prior to their contracts finishing and offer them alternative deals on other networks.

Why the word ‘mobile’ is now more significant than ever.

From the iPhone to the dongle, mobile communications are now more integral to everyday life than ever before. So just what does the word mobile mean in the modern world?

In the last half decade the mobile phone’s development and convergence has liberated many people’s lives far further than just a telecommunications device. The low cost calling plans and 3G web-enabled handsets are now allowing people who previously could not afford PCs or laptops, access to the internet, social networking, e-mail and SMS. This is also a two-way street as it also allows companies that would not have had access to certain groups of consumers to use the mobile medium to develop one to one relationships with their customers and not just use traditional forms of interaction.

They say patience is a Vertu

Quality, Service, Form and Function are all Vertu’s to respect.

Vertu 2

Vertu as both a concept, and a reality, is undoubtedly the world's leading manufacturer of handcrafted luxury mobile phones. The UK based company was established in 1998, and then embarked upon four years of pure research before launching their first prestige products in 2002. Since then Vertu has gained a reputation amongst the most discerning client base in the world for, as they themselves put it: -

‘Creating handsets for individuals who demand the best in everything they buy’