Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: February 2011

MWC 2011: Samsung Booth Tour – An Ever Expanding Galaxy Family

Much like the XPERIA series for Sony Ericsson, ‘Galaxy’ has become Samsung’s leading brand in the mobile space for 2010. This year, a legion of additional handset siblings from luxury to entry level round out the ‘Galaxy Family’, including a tablet sequel and a revamp of the best-selling Samsung Galaxy S. Let’s take a look!

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MWC 2011: Sony Ericsson Booth Tour – Press Start To (XPERIA) Play

Sony Ericsson were smaller in presence but far larger in vision at this year’s Mobile World Congress, prepping only four phones with one clear goal – to leverage the Sony brand and push the XPERIA name even further. With a profitable 2010 and over 9 million Android-powered XPERIAs sold, Sony Ericsson certainly look to be on the comeback trail.

What’s in store for 2011? Well, from Playstation to BRAVIA, Sony Ericsson seems eager to elevate themselves and be mentioned in the same breath as their Japanese parent. Will these new handsets do the trick? Let’s find out.

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MWC 2011: LG Booth Tour – Life’s Good For The Future Of 3D

The buzz was all over the LG stand this year, throngs of people came to see what could well be the next big thing in mobile – the 3D display on the new LG Optimus handset.

Frequent demos, 3D TVs, a massive rotating Optimus 3D showcasing the functionality, it was clear that the Korean manufacturer had learned much from past dalliances with Android and were going at it full pelt with an impressive line-up of distinct devices.

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LG Optimus 3D – Sim Free Pricing Details, Release Date

LG’s showstopper at MWC 2011, the LG Optimus 3D is available SIM-free for pre-order via for £514.99.  The handset is currently listed for release on the 25th April 2011.

On top of being an already feature packed 1Ghz Android phone, the Optimus 3D’s real selling point is it’s 3D tech credentials.  With two 5MP camera’s at the rear, capable of shooting 720P high definition 3D video and pictures, this sci-fi handset is going to set the expectations for 3D technology for years to come.  The future is here people!

Whilst a lot of the ‘meh factor’ surrounding 3D up until this point has been down to the goofy (and sometimes expensive) glasses, naysayers will be happy to hear that the Optimus 3D has a revolutionary new 4.3″ screen that can switch at an instant from super crisp 2D, to extra-dimensional 3D before your unbelieving eyes.

There has also been issues surrounding the lack of watchable 3D content.  This is soon to change however with Youtube releasing a dedicated 3D channel, enabling users to view and share 3D content on the fly.  At this very moment, the producers of You’ve Been Framed are clearly rubbing their hands at the prospect of a raft of freely available family calamity videos.  People falling over has never looked so real!  LG are also chucking 3D games into the mix

The Optimus 3D will soon be joined by Nintendo’s 3DS handheld console, due out in March, as the only two ways to play 3D games on the go, an application that I think has always made more sense than 3D films.  Both units will share the sci-fi glasses-free screen and dual camera’s, so love it or hate it, 3D content is here to stay… for now.

Be one of the first to get your hands on the Optimus 3D SIM-free on Omio’s deals page.

Samsung Galaxy S II – Available To Pre Order Sim Free

Good news all you power addicts out there, the Samsung Galaxy S II is here to satisfy your every desire.  This Android 2.3 Gingerbread device was officialy revealed to the masses at MWC 2011 and now been listed via, off contract, for a princely sum of £649.99.  Early adopters can pre-order the handset now, with deliveries expecting to start shipping April 18th 2011.

Samsung have really pulled out the stops with the Galaxy S II, packing premium features into a desirably thin form factor.  Its 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB ram will make light work of pretty much anything that you care to throw at it.  An 8MP camera sits at the rear, capable of stills or 1080P full HD video, whilst the 2MP camera at the front will be just fine for portrait pictures or fancy video calling.

At 4.3″ the Galaxy S II’s ‘Super AMOLED Plus’ screen is now bigger and brighter and even more power efficient, with 14% extra screen estate available to show off it’s excellent HD video handling, full internet browsing and gaming prowess.  If you thought the iPhone 4′s retina display looked crisp, just wait until you see this in action!

Fans of cutting edge technologies will also be excited to hear that this will be one of the first handsets to incorporate Near Field Communication.  Puzzled?  NFC will basically mean that you will be able to pay for products and services simply by holding your phone near a reader device, saving embarrasing scrambles for small change on the morning commute.

It’s older brother the Galaxy S won a whole heap of silverware and we have no doubt that this handset will follow suit.  It’s staggering to think that Samsung have managed to cram all this technology into a body that is a mere 8.49mm thick.

You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S II Sim-Free via Omio’s deals page.

MWC 2011: HP Booth Tour – So Long Palm, Long Live WebOS

Well, the company may have changed hands to HP, but Palm is as difficult as ever when it comes to playing with their toys at Mobile World Congress. When they brought the Palm Pre in 2008, the stewards were so strict that they had to be touching the device at all times, even whilst we had a go.

This year, the HP was decked out in all manner of wireless printers and PCs, but sprinked around like diamond dust were stewards hands-off demoing a single HP Pre 3, HP Veer and the new HP TouchPad tablet. You read right, it’s the HP Pre 3, all memory of the Palm name has been consigned to the history books. A bit of a shame, but hopefully some brand synergy (sorry) can improve the fortunes for this clever but oft overlooked range.

All devices were running what is now called HP WebOS, and all were being watched over like hawks. It made for more than a few paparazzi scrums, but we jostled our way to the front so we can give you the rundown on these hot new gadgets.

HP Pre 3 - If you’ve seen the Palm Pre or its sequel, then you’ll be largely familiar with this entry. The display is just shy of 3.6-inches and is still remarkably vivid and bright at first glance. A 1.4Ghz Qualcomm processor does the work behind the curtain, whilst a 5-megapixel rear and VGA front-facing camera make the Pre 3 capable for any photo op.

The Pre 3 is very ergonomically designed to fit in the hand, the curved sliding mechanism still intact although the device is somewhat larger than before at 111mm x 64mm x 16 mm.

WebOS is still incredibly pretty and intuitive, and the ‘deck of cards’ multitasking allows you to simply flick unwanted programs off the top of the screen.

Universal search has now broadened out to a cool ‘Just Type’ feature that predicts the application or function you wish to do based upon whatever you tap into the now much more comfy – if shiny and a bit clicky – keyboard. So begin a phone number and it’ll ask to save it as one, write something melancholy and it’ll know that it is a status update.

Earlier iterations were amazing features when they were demoed at MWC ’09, and still give a novel feeling to a distinct user experience in WebOS. The browser is still fully-featured, with support for Flash and the like, as well as being lightning fast when loading up heavy sites.

A great little handset, and with increased connectivity between itself and the TouchPad, perhaps it will make itself a little more indispensable than its predecessors.

HP Veer – How small is too small? We don’t know, but the Veer strays worryingly close! Measuring a minuscule 84mm x 54.5mmx 15.1mm, it is really a backlash against the massive multi-core monsters that have dominated the landscape at MWC.

Nevertheless, the Veer’s teeny 2.6-inch display shows the scaling power of WebOS confidently, emulating the same multi-tasking experience of the Pre 3, but proving a lot more difficult for bigger fingers when it came to the comically small keyboard. At only 103g, it will doubtlessly find a home in those that want to travel super-light, but retain full smartphone functionality in their mobile.

A great idea, but definitely not one for us and our oversized digits.

HP TouchPad – Proof that WebOS can scale in the other direction, the platform is a surprisingly natural fit in a tablet form factor, the ‘deck of cards’ making short work of multiple applications and the messaging functionality being given more room to breathe and interact with the space of a 9.7-inch capacitive display.

Available in a 3G flavour as well as a wi-fi only model, the HP TouchPad seemed relatively weighty for the few moments it wasn’t nailed to the table (seriously), but had a nice rounded ergonomic design that lent itself well to cradling in one’s hands.

It seemed slick in terms of loading webpages as well as running multiple programs, with only the occasional stutter during video playback being chalked up to pre-production hardware.

The expansion of HP’s magnetic ‘Touchstone’ technology enabling the Pre 3 and TouchPad to not only charge wirelessly but ‘talk’ to each other, sharing data just by tapping the devices together, was also a nice touch. Although HP were only restricting this to an exchange of web addresses between the two in the demo, we don’t doubt that more syncing opportunities are in the pipeline…

Watch the following video for a more in-depth explanation of the TouchPad’s tablet prowess…

All in all, HP seems to be harnessing the right parts of WebOS to make for an impressive line up of portable devices. Not straying too far from the path set out by Palm, but with enough changes in direction and leveraging of other departments (wireless printing from Pre to HP devices) are cool. It remains to be seen whether a change of badge will cause a change of heart in consumers, but the WebOS platform – as demonstrated by these three devices – is certainly worthy of another shot.

MWC 2011: HTC Booth Tour – Smartphone Iteration With Tablet Innovation

This time last year Taiwanese manufacturer HTC blew everyone away with bold new designs, a fresh ‘Sense’ user interface, and a barrage of handsets targeting all tiers of the market.

Needless to say, the mid-range Legend, entry-level Wildfire and well, desirable Desire (not so much the WinMo-powered HD mini) went on to run things in 2010, spearheading the charge of Google’s Android into the hands of many.

This time around however, HTC seemed to be playing it incredibly safe, with tweaks, iterations and reboots of familiar hardware and software in their 2011 range. Even the promise of a exciting 7-inch tablet wasn’t enough to quell the fear that the manufacturer might have been spinning its wheels a little…

HTC Incredible SThis flagship phone has already experienced some success on the other side of The Pond as the Droid Incredible, and it is admittedly as sexy looking as a top-flight HTC handset can get.

The form factor is slick and unique, with the handset’s frame looking almost vacuum formed over the internal organs, whilst still housing an expansive 4-inch Super LCD display on the front. It felt awfully familiar to use, and the presence of the usual tropes of an HTC smartphone were what made it slightly underwhelming to get ahold of.

The specs are looking decidedly less incredible now that dual-cores are all the rage, so the 1GHz Qualcomm processor and 768MB RAM get the Android-powered Sense UI moving at a rate of knots. It felt sturdy enough and the built-in surround sound was admittedly impressive when looking at a demo video, the styling was unique, but very little in terms of features and functions held any sway over some impressive competition.

Check it out in motion.

HTC Desire SIf the Desire HD was a bigger budget remake of the original Desire, then the Desire S is the soulless sequel, riding off the earlier installment’s name. A ‘Titanic 2‘, if you will.

Whilst the Desire S looks every part the gorgeous HTC handset (the spirit of the awesome Legend lives on once again in the unibody aluminium frame), the changes in specifications are really very incremental. Running a 1Ghz Qualcomm processor, the performance was snappy but a little samey, whilst the decent Sense UI makes a return, but with few new flourishes.

Sleeker and looking more like the original Desire than the widescreen HD, the 3.7-inch display and 5-megapixel camera will be familiar features to those owning the first iteration, albeit now sporting an even more rubberised frame.

Playing with it was like meeting an old friend, but one that you’d only seen the week before and had very little new to say…

HTC Wildfire S - It’s very tough not to like this cutesy refresh to the entry-level Wildfire, as the Wildfire S hits all the right notes to make for a great affordable device. Arriving in a range of colours, the Wildfire S has a 3.2-inch display, but with a beefed up resolution of 320 x 480 pixels, so an end to those super-blocky fonts and massive icons.

It makes for an even more comparable user experience to its bigger brothers, whilst the 600Mhz processor does more than enough to keep the handset nippy when multitasking or browsing the web. It did feel a little fiddly at times to get the virtual buttons at the bottom of the display going, but it was more to do with the size of our hands than the device itself…

The 5-megapixel rear camera is becoming standard at the lower pricepoints, but combined with its wi-fi connectivity, Android 2.3-powered Sense UI and a great feeling of fun, the Wildfire S is one reboot that I’d happily sit through.

HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa – Now the much-vaunted ‘Facebook phones’ were incredibly interesting, despite being aimed at texting teens rather than smartphone-loving grown ups.

The dedicated Facebook button enables one-touch integration to everyone’s favourite timesink, enabling quick status updates and swift Facebook Chat IMs via a special client.

The ChaCha sports a familiar screen and QWERTY-keyboard design, but this time the 2.6-inch HVGA screen is full touch, giving users the best of both worlds. The Salsa is a little more current with a 3.4-inch full-touch layout, but both possess 5-megapixel cameras with LED flash.

These were under cover of glass when we were at the booth, so didn’t manage to get any hands-on time, but these little handsets for social butterflies seemed the most interesting, and the most indicative of where the market is headed…

Take a look at the promo video to get an idea of how connected these two are…

HTC Flyer – Now this got the blood pumping a little… A 7-inch tablet, looking every part the blown up HTC Legend but endowed with some awesome new features.

The connection to HTC Watch for streaming movies and OnLive for full-fat gaming via the cloud, the stylus and HTC’s Scribe technology allowing for scribbling wherever you are in the device, as well as a revamped Sense UI for tablets reignited the excitement felt by the Taiwanese manufacturer when they took the wraps off the Desire 12 months ago.

If they can inject some of this tablet innovation into their smartphones, HTC might be unbeatable. As it is, HTC’s new phones were a step forward in hardware, software and services – OnLive aside – whilst the competition are taking massive, somewhat risky leaps ahead…

MWC 2011: HTC Incredible S Announced, Release Date Revealed

HTC revealed today in Barcelona that they would be bringing the HTC Incredible S to European markets in the second quarter, along with its range of updated handsets.  The Incredible S was otherwise known to the U.S. as the Droid Incredible (even being released in a rather fetching limited R2-D2 colour scheme) and was previously unavailable to the Old World.

The Incredible S has a unique ‘shrink wrapped’ design that hugs the innards of the phone, showing off its interior physique.  Whilst the original Droid Incredible was hailed upon release as the ‘most powerful Android phone in America’, the Incredible S won’t have the benefit of such a tag, now that dual core handsets like the LG Optimus 2X are the bullies on the block. However, it will still pack a punch with a 1GHz Qualcomm processor and 768MB ram.  Onboard storage is a little lacking, with 1GB sure to cause a few grumbles, but this is expandable via the addition of microSD cards up to 32GB.

Premium features are a 8MP camera capable of photos and HD recording, a front facing 1.3MP camera for video calling, and a 4″ high definition 480 x 800 Super LCD display.  This 4″ display places it slightly bigger in size terms than the Desire S, but slightly smaller than the Desire HD.  Those of you wanting to show off your holiday snaps or video shenanigans on a larger screen can stream them to a compatible television over the air via DLNA.

Rather surprising is that the Incredible S will be released into the wild sporting Android 2.2 (Froyo), although HTC have said that an update to 2.3 (Gingerbread) will follow.  As with the other HTC handsets, the Incredible S will have a number of custom interface tweaks courtesy of HTC’s Sense UI overlay.

So HTC hasn’t gambled on updating it’s ‘S’ lineup with overpowered dual-core processors, or gimmicks like 3D or Near Field Communications this year.  Who knows whether anyone will be able to take full use of such features on the other handsets, in the meantime HTC release an incremental update to a hugely popular handset to a new market.  Hopefully for HTC this will be enough to continue their great success to date in the smartphone market.

We’ll post any hands on impressions and videos from MWC 2011 to the blog as we get them.  Any details that we can get on specific release dates and contract details, we will post to Omio’s HTC Incredible S deals page.

MWC 2011: HTC Desire S With Unibody Construction Revealed

Taiwanese manufacturer HTC have revealed the HTC Desire S here at MWC 2011.  The Desire S is the update to the wildly popular and award winning HTC Desire, and has taken some design cues from their small but perfectly formed HTC Legend.  The handset has a unibody construction, a chassis machined from a single piece of aluminium.

The HTC Desire S has a lot to live up to.   The previous Desire won a slew of awards in 2010, including the Which? Best Buy Award and the T3 Phone of the Year award, pipping the iPhone 4 to the post.  HTC have adopted the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach, and whilst the bodywork has been remodelled, the specs have been tweaked rather than overhauled.

At its core is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz single core processor, described by HTC themselves as ‘snappy’ running Android’s latest ‘Gingerbread’ OS.  The ram has been upped from 576MB to 768MB,  The 5MP camera unit is identical to its predecessor, but 720p video recording is added.  A smaller front facing camera is now added for video calling.  The unit also retains the 3.7″ 480 x 800 WVGA screen from the HTC Desire.

At this early stage we are a little disappointed that HTC weren’t a bit more generous with the new features, (no NFC, no dual core processor, same screen, nothing to get excited about?) It now remains to be seen if the Desire S will replicate the success of its predecessors or turn out to be the emperor’s new clothes.

HTC are keen to get the refreshed handset out for Q2 2011, and as soon as we have release details for the HTC Desire S we will post them up.

MWC 2011: HTC Wildfire S Launches, Super Small Smartphone Set For Q2 Release Date

Today at MWC 2011, HTC revealed the update to its Wildfire range of small, fun and affordable handsets with the HTC Wildfire S.

Whilst you won’t get the HD capability or flashy screens like HTC’s higher end handsets, the Wildfire S will focus once again on smartphone functionality at an affordable pricepoint, all packaged into a compact 10.13cm x 5.94cm unit.

The Wildfire S has the smallest screen of HTC’s lineup, at 3.2″, with display resolution boosted from 320 x 240 to 320 x 480 pixels, so comparable to the iPhone 3Gs.  The Wildfire S will ship with the latest Android ‘Gingerbread’ software, and will be modded with convenient interface tweaks via HTC’s Sense UI.  As expected, the camera is a 5MP unit that will allow you to snap away to your hearts content and post your photo’s and videos to Facebook with ease.

Once again, the updates to the Wildfire series are incremental rather than a leap forward.  HTC seems to be playing it cautiously, maintaining the solid reputation of their already popular brands with tweaks to the formula.  Whilst the Wildfire S won’t win any races based on specifications, (it’s 600MHz processor is somewhat underpowered) it is still an attractive entry level smartphone, containing all the key functionality and clearly aimed at the right market.

The HTC Wildfire S will be released in a variety of colours during Q2 2011.