Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Custom iPhone Case Crossover From Griffin and Threadless Gets UK Exclusives!

The hardest thing to do these days is to make your identikit iPhone feel and look like a unique and beautiful snowflake, so a collaboration between inspired artistic minds of the Threadless community and case maker Griffin is a good one.

Currently the home of hipster t-shirts with clever slogans (aside from Busted Tees, or Last Exit To Nowhereor Donuts of Bristol), Threadless enables anyone to submit an original concept or slogan for a garment design, and the community then rates and ranks them. The best ones get made, and those people get paid!

Now two novel designs have been promoted as UK exclusives, graduating into iPhone cases and now are going to Apple stores up and down the land, as well as to be sold online.

‘Snowfall’ and ‘Swansong’ are £24.99 each, and likely to be snapped up in their legion by folks craving a bit of individualism…

A great place to check out for multiple unique designs? Society6. Turn hundreds of pieces of gorgeous artwork into prints, iPhone cases and even canvasses for pretty decent prices, UK shipping isn’t too steep either…


LG Optimus 3D Hands-On: 24 Hours In A Glasses-Free Future

Update: LG Optimus 3D deals are now available for pre-order on Omio! Get it for free from Tesco Phone Shop for as little as £31 per month, and get a £50 Tesco Gift Card!

Full Disclosure: This isn’t a full review as some last minute bits and pieces weren’t quite ready on the device software-wise, so we thought it better to reserve judgement for a retail unit…

Original Story: We were lucky enough to get a pre-production model of the LG Optimus 3D in the office for one day, and whilst it might not be on shelves until July 1st, it was just about good enough for us to take some snaps, play some games, and see what all the fuss will soon be about!

The headline feature on the Optimus 3D is obviously the glasses-free functionality on the device, allowing you to view three-dimensional content – video, images and games alike – without the need for cumbersome spectacles. All the device asks from you is to keep it relatively still, and look quite centrally upon it.

Whilst not officially the first device to sport this feature (we’re sure that otaku far and wide could reel off a list of obscure Japanese phones from Sharp or DoCoMo to have had 3D screens for ages), the Optimus 3D will be leading the 3D smartphone charge in the United Kingdom next month, so it’s kind of A Big Deal…

Whilst our LG Optimus 3D features page goes into exhaustive detail about the nuts and bolts of the device, we thought it better to keep this hands-on focussed on the interesting part – the THREE DEE!

The Display

Really nice. The 4.3-inch screen is a great size (dwarfing the 3.5-inch effort on the Nintendo 3DS, and at a higher resolution), and the usual Android trappings look awesome on LG’s customised interface.

Slap the 3D button on the handset’s side though, and prepare to be wowed! You are quickly greeted with a rotating 3D menu, with each of the carousel’s options playing out a little eye-popping animation. From here, all of the handset’s 3D fun can be had, from games to the image and video gallery and even viewing some user generated content via YouTube’s new 3D channel!

It looks seriously impressive, and is a great jumping off point to show off the real hook of the device.

The viewing angle, whilst narrow and relying on little lateral movement from the user, is pretty generous. The 3D image is generated as intertwined screens fire off a different picture to each eye, so tilting the phone can break it. Hold it still, however, and the magic is enough to wow even the most jaded of people!

The 3D Content

With a healthy selection of demo videos, images and a bunch of 3D games from Gameloft to play, you wont go short of fodder to show off at the pub! Reactions from my notoriously hard-to-please mates varied between “mental,” “awesome,” and “that’s insane” every time I had a new clip to let them take a peek at.

From the ‘History of Aviation’ video to the Kelly Slater surfing promo and even some incredibly talented Japanese b-boy dancers, each 3D video served its purpose of making this supposed gimmick remain something that simply couldn’t be done on their phones, and was therefore awesome…

Whilst the majority of content on the Nintendo 3DS (the only current analogue) has a feeling of ‘depth’ to its 3D effect, where it feels like peering into a diorama or through a window, the Optimus 3D’s increased screen size, resolution, more generous viewing angle and impressive demo content enables the handset to frequently give that proper ‘jumping out of the screen’ feel that one would expect from a traditional 3D experience.

Games from Gameloft included the original N.O.V.A. and Let’s Golf, both given a visual face lift to support 3D. Whilst the effect was stunning and showed of the graphical flair of these titles more than one might expect, we found that constantly prodding the screen was a bit of a depth perception killer, constantly reminding that the images displayed were actually just flat as our thumbs kept interfering, whether shooting a pulse rifle or taking a swing with a nine iron…

The technology undoubtedly works though, whilst we chalked the occasional freezing and inconsistent frame rates to early hardware. The Optimus 3Ds doing the rounds at Mobile World Congress were silky smooth on the links when playing a few holes of golf, and we reserve judgement as to whether the production model will be any different.

YouTube 3D was interesting, there was obviously not too much content on there yet, and some worked a little better than others. Whilst a 3D video of a hummingbird was juddery and ineffective, a 3 minute video of Arctic vistas was nothing short of breathtaking.

Easily rivaling the quality of the clips shipping on the device, it was a real testament to the quality of some of the stuff to be found on there from launch day. Naturally, those dual cameras on the Optimus 3D’s rear mean that you can upload your own directorial epics to YouTube also…

The Camera

Obviously it doesn’t take too long to exhaust the content on the device, and you want to start grabbing your own…luckily there is a dual-lens 5-megapixel camera plonked on the rear, allowing you to take 3D photos or record high definition 3D content.

Whilst the first pictures taken were a significant step up from the grainy (yet impressive) images taken on the 3DS, you start to get a flair for taking a certain ‘type’ of photo in the hope that it will glean a more impressive 3D picture than simply snapping what is in front of you.

For example, the two guys above – whilst distinctly unimpressed at the time of my taking the photo – noted the levels of depth to the image when viewed in 3D, with the tree, the woman behind, the traffic on the road and even the buildings in the far distance being given separate senses of scale and distance.

A doubtlessly impressive sight, and at this image quality, not entirely gimmicky.

Videos were more of a mixed bag…playback was a bit jumpy, and a lack of ingenuity really didn’t tax the high definition camcorder a great deal. However, what we did take was strong, and was easily hooked up to the office telly via HDMI.

We sure that strapping it to a dog’s collar for five minutes or sticking it on a bike helmet through London could generate some amazing footage…we did neither, but are sure someone will by the end of Friday!


Is it a gimmick? Undoubtedly.

Is it impressive? Certainly.

Do we want one for more than 24 hours? Definitely.

Will 3D become a standard feature in smartphones? Likely, looking at the way video content is going…but how this and the HTC EVO 3D sell will be the major determinant.

Does it make you excited about phones again? The LG Optimus 3D is something new (on our shores, anyway) and that is a good thing. Roll on the final product!


HTC EVO 3D Launched, ‘Multimedia Superphone’ Scheduled For July Release

In addition to jumping into O2′s recently vacated Slough premises, Taiwanese manufacturer HTC announced their new handset, the EVO 3D earlier this week.

As the name suggests, the HTC EVO 3D is an ‘evolution’ of their current Android-powered dual-core device – the Sensation – with a fresh take on the Sense user experience, multimedia capabilities through HTC Watch, as well as a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Oh, and it also does glasses-free 3D.

By ‘does’, the HTC EVO 3D not only enables users to view 3D content on the 4.3-inch touchscreen display, but also purchase content via the aforementioned HTC Watch, and even create 3D images and record 3D videos via the dual 5-megapixel cameras on the rear of the device.

Exciting functionality is added to this duo of snappers, with the promise of a ‘TiltShift’ option that enables parts of images to become blurred, somehow making them look like miniatures…here’s a sample of some of the best tilt-shift photos on the web.

With a rugged and arresting form factor, the EVO 3D certainly fits within HTC’s range in terms of striking aesthetics, and an exciting new feature like glasses-free 3D tech might well be enough to spark interest back up in the busy smartphone market.

With a release for the HTC EVO 3D confirmed to be as soon as July 2011, it won’t be long to find out…

Sony Ericsson Reveals Some New Phones, XPERIAs Mostly

Okay, not that many new handsets, but it saves me writing individual posts about every single one.


First up is a flagship device that seems to iterate on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc and XPERIA Neo – despite those phones being fresh out of the gate themselves, they are already seeing a strong stablemate in the Sony Ericsson XPERIA ray.

The XPERIA ray continues this new line of very slim yet completely capable all-rounders, in this Android handset’s case that means a 3.3-inch touchscreen, a Reality Display with a Mobile BRAVIA Engine (Translation? The screen looks nice, as do the colours on it), as well as an 8.1-megapixel camera.

The Gingerbread version of Google’s OS is on board in the XPERIA ray and allowing for a bit of future-proofing, whilst the new ‘Facebook inside XPERIA’ app lends an additional level of integration between contacts on the device and sharing media on the famed social network (pictured above)…a little more than HTC fans may be used to, but certainly a familiar concept.

With a 1GHz processor and scheduled for a Q3 2011 release, the XPERIA ray looks to keep Sony Ericsson’s high-end handset fires burning into the winter.

Next is the Sony Ericsson XPERIA active, a kickflipping, white water rafting, Mountain Dew-drinking beast of a handset, ready for totally extreme action.

A dust and water-resistant device, the XPERIA active isn’t far off the pace of the XPERIA ray when it comes to features (3-inch touch display with ‘wet finger tracking’, Gingerbread Android OS, 5MP camera with HD video recording, 1GHz processor) , but is definitely geared more towards those with an active lifestyle. Hence the name.

Three time grand slam winning tennis player Maria Sharapova added: “I love this smartphone because it perfectly fits both my professional and personal needs.  It keeps me in touch with my friends as I travel the world on the pro tour and tracks my fitness both on and off the court.”

I love to think Maria was just wandering around Sony Ericsson HQ, popped her head in the press office and decided to chuck her comment into the release!

With built-in fitness apps including an impressive on-screen heart rate and pulse monitor (powered by ANT+, which lets compact technological stuff talk to  each other wirelessly), the XPERIA active will be available from Q3 2011.

Lastly is the Sony Ericsson txt, BlackBerry-styled, QWERTY keyboard-toting brethren of the Sony Ericsson txt pro we’d talked about previously

All about messaging and with a ‘friends’ application that shows status updates from your five nearest and dearest, the Sony Ericsson txt looks to be a concerted effort to muscle into the younger market that BlackBerry Curve 8520 and their ilk are running in the entry-level and prepay markets.

That doesn’t mean that it’s without some serious smartphone-aping credentials, with a 3.2MP snapper and wi-fi (short for wireless-fireless*) on board.

A smart move, but with savvier youngsters than ever and Android seeing sub-£50 devices introduced by the likes of Samsung, does the Sony Ericsson txt have the mixture of features and fun to stake a claim in a crowded market?

We’ll see in Q3 2011.

* – not true.

Nokia N9 Revealed: Big Screen, Big Camera, Big Dreams

Nokia launched their N9 handset amidst a whirlwind of rumours, leaks and murmurs last week, one which saw the Finnish manufacturer uncharacteristically loose-lipped about its future…

The Nokia N9 is their (fifth?) effort to strike back against the burgeoning market of sleek, snappy and simple smartphones currently vying for the affections of consumers.

The N9 works on Nokia’s MeeGo platform, an operating system they may well be ditching after just one handset (this one) to sail off into the sunset with Windows Phone 7. Remember how well that worked for the Nokia N900 and Maemo? Yeah…

That being said, the Nokia N9 is sporting some impressive features, including a 3.9-inch AMOLED touchscreen, 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus camera  with wide-angle lens, Dolby Digital Plus audio support, Near Field Communication technology for the contactless payment stuff and weird Angry Birds sequels that may force you to speak to other people (ugh), whilst also packing up to 64GB of internal memory.

In addition, they are trumping the iPhone’s single Home Screen button on the face with no buttons…but admittedly the device looks the part with those razor-sharp angles and it might finally be a sign that whilst the behemoth has taken a while to change tack, Nokia are finally starting to sway in sync with the mobile market.

Check out more on their no-button user interface on the gorgeous, or this video below for a classy, yet informal introduction to the Nokia N9.

3 Reasons Why The New BlackBerry Playbook Advert Sucks

The BlackBerry Playbook tablet launched amid loads of media-friendly pizazz at Selfridge’s earlier this month, and despite being a device that essentially requires tethering to a Blackberry handset to tether to in order to do most interesting things, they still saw fit to push a pretty aggressive ad campaign in the UK:

This is not a good way to market a new tablet device, just let me count the ways:

1) Many normal people neither know nor care about Flash support.

“What? That thing that my PC keeps telling me to install, and I ignore? Yeah, I don’t want Flash.” That was my girlfriend’s reaction when I tried to explain what Flash was, after first witnessing this advert on TV.

Guess what? Those photogenic, aspirational, under-25, skateboarding, DJing, parkouring and breakdancing BlackBerry customers you’ve been trying so hard to target (including by sponsoring the Black Eyed Peas on tour)? They have little time to fret over what Flash is, nor do they care about this in the slightest.

The Flash argument is one generated and propagated mainly by super techie folks and BlackBerry fanboys, so preaching to the converted with your ad by bigging up Flash is not the greatest way to spread the word about a new device…if people can check their mail, go on Facebook and maybe play an app or 100,000, they’re golden.

Show off that Quake demo if you really want to get some geek juice flowing!

Don’t try and blind me with animation from slow-loading sites that will likely rinse my mobile bill to view over 3G anyway…checked out lately? Us neither.

2) Smacks of trying too hard to compete with the Apple iPad.

“Unlike some tablets we could mention…” You just did.

Why not try and promote the Playbook in isolation? Don’t tell me in your ads why I don’t want an iPad, now I’m just thinking about an iPad!

When I see the price of a new BlackBerry Playbook and the mixed reviews, I’m definitely thinking about an iPad…

The Apple iPad 2 doesn’t try to compete with you. It doesn’t compete with anything. Check it:

Apple adverts are brilliant in their execution by suggesting that an iPad is becoming an essential device.

Doctors use it to check out sonograms now. Businessmen show their revenue projections on it now. Kids do their homework on it now. If you don’t have one, you are using outmoded technology…apparently.

Not a mention of megapixels, gigaflops or screen resolution. In another iPad ad, Apple actually downplays those technological aspects of the device.

Remember the ‘Retina Display’ with the iPhone 4? Thanks to Apple, now everyone does. A technical term referring to the screen’s resolution, wrapped beautifully in common PR lingo, and is now becoming common parlance.

Okay, they also chatted about ‘oleophobic coatings‘ with that one and the iPhone 3GS, but my mobile gets just as greased up as any other…

The point is that they’ve laid all the groundwork! Apple spent ages, and also billions of dollars, convincing the world that these flat slabs – iPad included – were better in some ways than our phones and netbooks, and had the potential to change the portable gadget landscape forever.

So what does BlackBerry do? Iterate on the strengths of the iPad and advertise the Playbook’s myriad advancements as such? Nope.

“Ours is better than that one! We got Flash!” (*slide trombone* *tapdances on stage* *sound of crickets*)

The specs arms race is all but finished in terms of consumer-facing marketing, the iPhone’s camera should have told you that (“Megapixels? Don’t care. Does it work? Awesome.”).

Unless it’s a feature that can impress both friends and family at the local watering hole (Dual-Core anyone? No? Okay…), then don’t try to make it a bullet-point for the box.

Hate to harp on, but to make Flash not just a bullet-point but the only point in your opening salvo on UK audiences was wide of the mark. Dazzle with true pluses, not attempts at point scoring.

3) That song.

How much that Queen song set you back for clearance? Whoo, that much?

Kind of like the double meaning, the BlackBerry Playbook is the saviour of the tablet scene…with Flash.

But you do know it’s 30 years old, right? Anyone with any kind of nostalgic attachment to Flash’s Theme is on their second or third job now, not the trendy bike courier or rollerskating masseuse you’ve been trying to attract with your devices all this time…kind of a mixed message.

It seems to be a reference that would easily sail over the heads of kids that RIM wants to be way into BlackBerry now, reaffirming this tablet’s – and the firm’s – grown-up leanings they just can’t shake.

The comments upon the PlayBook’s launch regarding it ‘lacking the cool factor’ seem to be almost endorsed by this anachronistic choice of song in the advert…simply not suited to the hip Diplo, Henry Holland and Ernest Doku-endorsed BlackBerry line we’ve witnessed for the past few years.

The PlayBook needs to have a distinct voice in the tablet space, and also needs to promote what it actually can and can’t do in and of itself, rather than playing a petty game of one upmanship against the iPad with the aid of circa 1981 Freddie Mercury and his cohorts.

Tighten it up, RIM!

Mobile Phone Review Round Up: HTC Salsa, HTC ChaCha, HTC Sensation, LG Optimus 3D

HTC Salsa review


So let’s get to the nitty-gritty. What is the HTC Salsa – is it a Facebook phone? It is if you want it to be, but then Facebook isn’t exactly alien to the Android world. There isn’t anything here that you can’t do elsewhere. Putting it against the INQ Cloud Touch, the other current “Facebook phone”, is a little unfair.

The Salsa is a higher spec device, offers a better Android experience reflecting HTC’s experience with these types of devices, but the Facebook experience is less cohesive than INQ’s. The INQ Cloud Touch manages to feel unique, whereas the Facebook experience on the HTC Salsa feels familiar, only fractionally removed from their existing features, so it all looks and feels like the adaption of HTC Sense that it is.

But that said the HTC Salsa is a great Android smartphone, a good example of how great the Android experience can be on a mid-range affordable device. It isn’t going to compete on the multimedia front with its bigger brothers, but in the core Android experience it responds well. We prefer it to the HTC Wildfire S, it offers more power and a few interesting tweaks that give you a little more to play with.

We’re not sold on the weird split colouring on the back panel, but otherwise, whether you’re a Facebook fan or not, the HTC Salsa is a great little phone.


HTC ChaCha review


When thinking of the HTC ChaCha, it’s worth setting the “Facebook phone” elements to one side. The ChaCha is a more important device than just Facebook and if the button was removed, you’d still have all those features anyway.

You get all the benefits of that connected Android experience, tying into your Google accounts and filling your phone with your contacts, email and calendars. HTC Sense has been sensibly scaled to fit onto this phone and that all works well, but we can’t help feeling that something is lost in the experience. If you have seen Android on larger devices then visually you miss-out with the ChaCha. Android might look cute, but you’ll find yourself struggling for space at times.

But that might be a sacrifice worth making if you crave a proper keyboard. We have a few problems with the keyboard, but none of them are critical. Annoying yes, but it’s still usable. Side-by-side with a BlackBerry and we prefer the keyboard on our Bold and the use of screen space, although much more basic visually, often means that you see a little more of what you are doing.

For those looking to venture into something a little different their BlackBerry then it has a lot of offer. However, the touchscreen experience offered by it’s sister handset the HTC Salsa is difficult to ignore, resulting in a richer experience with the benefit of a much better mobile internet experience.

Vodafone Smart review


If the Vodafone Smart proves anything it proves one thing, it’s that we were oh so right to sing the praises of the Orange San Francisco.

Yes, it’s £29 more, but the difference between £70 for the Vodafone Smart and £99 for Orange’s little lovely is all the difference in the world. Pay the extra and you won’t regret it.

The budget smartphone market is set to become a really fierce battleground in the coming months, so once you’ve broken the £120 price barrier we’re starting to see some really nice handsets indeed for the cash.

While the Vodafone Smart is alright-ish for the money, unless you’re desperate for a back-up Android phone we’d recommend you save up for a month or two more and take a look at something like the Samsung Galaxy Ace too


HTC Sensation review


Whether it’s just that we’re getting spoilt by the quality of the HTC range or that the brand simply can’t innovate at the electric pace it managed when it made Android smartphones good enough for the masses, the HTC Sensation doesn’t get our pulses racing like other models in its range have.

HTC Watch needs to a larger range of movies and TV shows before we can even begin to assess whether it’s going to take off or not – and the price seems a little high at this early stage.

We love the Sense UI still, and the ‘Unlock Ring’ is a cool addition to the party – we still want the notifications to be more interactive, but overall it’s still a neat idea.

The design of the phone is different and, in our eyes, pretty premium with the metallic feel and steel grill – the weight feels solid in the hand and the screen size is impressive and sharp.

It’s still not one of HTC’s best, but one we’d definitely recommend over a number of other phones in the marketplace and if you’re an HTC fan or just looking to get one of the cutting-edge dual core devices, we suggest you seriously think about the HTC Sensation.


HTC ChaCha review


The ChaCha is not a revolutionary device. Yes, the Facebook button is new and a few of the elements in there are premiered here but ultimately, it’s an evolution, not a revolution.

Having said that, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You know what you’re getting here – a stable OS with an extra skin on top that has proven to be more than competent. And for the 14-21 year-olds who have their eye on this ‘Facebook phone’, it’ll be enough.

The price certainly is closer to the budget end of the scale, which we really like, and the quirkiness of the phone makes it a real breath of fresh air in a sea of indentikit black-slab touchscreens.

However, with the cramped screen it feels like the HTC ChaCha is a one trick pony at times – get bored of the Facebook integration and you’ll probably start casting envious glances at your friends’ whizzbang phones and thinking ‘do I really love having a keyboard?’

When you turn the ChaCha on, you’re greeted with HTC’s logo and slogan: “Quietly Brilliant”. There’s certainly nothing quiet about the ChaCha – and while ‘brilliant’ may be pushing just a little, it’s certainly not far off for the Facebook generation

Vodafone Emporia RL1 review


No camera, no Internet, no touchscreen — the Emporia RL1′s specifications read like something from the depths of mobile history. Don’t expect a pay as you go handset to challenge the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Mini and Orange San Francisco -– the RL1 has been designed to please elderly consumers rather than young gadget fiends. We can’t help feeling the relatively high price tag is slightly exploitative, making too much of the phone’s simplicity.

Still, if you favour usability over functionality, this could be your dream handset. But if you feel you’re able to master something a little more demanding, explore some of the other budget options out there, such as the Motorola Gleam or Sony Ericsson Cedar.


HTC Salsa review


The HTC Salsa offers decent power, impressive battery life and a good screen, as well as handy Facebook features. If you’re after a Facebook-focused phone, we reckon the Salsa’s a better bet than the HTC ChaCha and INQ Cloud Touch. Even if you abhor social networking and shun status updates, that friendly blue button is easy enough to ignore when the rest of the package is so appealing.


Samsung Solid Immerse review



The Samsung Solid Immerse is well hard, but it’s let down by its disappointing software, a dismal camera and lacklustre battery life. If you’re deadly serious about acquiring a phone that you can depend on when Mother Nature turns nasty, we’d recommend the Motorola Defy. Should your budget not stretch to a smart phone, the Solid Immerse is a worthy contender — just make sure it’s fully charged before you go for a long walk in the hills alone.


Trusted Reviews

HTC Salsa Review


The HTC Salsa may be a smaller, budget device, with Facebook at its core but it’s actually a surprisingly grown up smartphone. It’s smartly styled, speedy in operation, packed full of features, and can get you to Facebook nirvana quicker than you can say toasted Tortilla. Whether your desire for Facebook fripperies is strong enough to overcome the slightly high price is more of a personal preference issue but if you do like the idea then it’s very well executed.


HTC Sensation review


The HTC Sensation is a frustrating device. Why? Because it comes so close to perfection but doesn’t quite manage it. The high resolution screen is great but the quality of it lets it down a tad, some of the software tweaks are great but yet video support is poor, and while the performance is amazing, battery life isn’t so much. Nonetheless, if battery life proves to be better once usage has settled down then the screen quality issue is certainly something we can overlook as the rest of the device is so delightful. It’s beautifully made and styled, it’s incredibly fast, the camera’s good, and call quality isn’t half bad either. All told, despite a few niggles, it’s definitely up there with the best dual-core smartphones.



Motorola Atrix dual-core Android smartphone



The Motorola Atrix may look standard at first glance, but a feast of features, along with those accessories, offer hidden depths. Whether this mobile gadgetry will set the tone for future, more powerful smartphones remains to be seen. But as far as roadmaps go, Motorola has certainly taken an interesting turn.


LG Optimus 3D dual core Android smartphone



The stand-out feature, obviously, is the gimmick that is 3D and it’s very well-executed. And yet the LG Optimus 3D has a lot more going for it, thanks to a great screen, easy connectivity for video playback on a flatscreen TV and a fast dual-core processor. Lest we forget that whopping 4.3in screen means this is a big phone: if you’re one of those people who finds the iPhone largish, this one is a behemoth in comparison. Get it in your hand before you buy – anyway, you’ll want to check the 3D out first, too. If the size suits you, this is a highly attractive phone.


HTC Sensation dual core Android smartphone


Another quality handset from HTC and this is the hero of the bunch, with a fast dual core processor, the latest Sense user interface goodies, Android 2.3 and, for once, the company manages to build a half-decent camera.

Nokia To Close UK Online Store By End Of June

Following from the recent closure of Nokia’s online stores in France, Spain and the Netherlands, it has been revealed to us today via affiliate network Tradedoubler that Nokia will soon be closing their online shop in the United Kingdom.

As stated on Engadget, a representative from Nokia Spain said that “prices are too subsidized by the carriers and sales were low, so they will keep providing support,” equating to the fact that users will still be able to get customer assistance from their local Nokia site, despite not being able to purchase mobile phone deals. We suspect the same fate is due to fall upon the UK site very soon…

This is yet another woe for the Finnish giant that has seen its market share slip significantly in the last few years as they failed to capitalise on the steep growth in the appeal of smartphones, with analysts predicting Korean manufacturer Samsung is poised to overtake them in this lucrative market.

Whilst the deals available from Nokia Direct saw early and exclusive launches for the Nokia N8 32GB, Nokia E6 and Nokia X7, competitive deals from third party retailers and the lure of freebies proved too strong to convince cash-strapped consumers of going straight to source…

LG Ego Wi-Fi Revealed On Vodafone: PAYG Feature Phone Boasts Connectivity, Keys

Eagle eyed penny-savers perusing the wares on Vodafone’s website may well have noticed a new phone has been added to their Pay As You Go selection today.

The LG Ego Wi-Fi is a budget handset that comes with all the features you’d expect from a mobile that gives enough change from £100 to buy the long awaited Duke Nukem Forever including Bluetooth, a 2MP camera, video recording capabilities, an FM radio and a selection of games.

At a cost of just £65, the LG Ego is well placed to steal a march on pricey smartphones in the market, whilst still keeping strong thanks to some decent feature phone specs.

LG also obviously felt that the phone’s main feature was so important that they had to include it in the handsets name (and emblazoned on the Ego’s rear), and for a phone at this price point it is pretty impressive that it has Wi-Fi connectivity.

As the spiel on the Vodafone website states “the EGO’s Wi-Fi capability lets you get online affordably and easily at Wi-Fi hotspots across the country” whilst as with most phones these days, it has built-in social networking apps to let you keep everyone updated with what you had for breakfast…

Vodafone’s website also states that the phone has a QWERTY keypad “like the one on your computer” – an amazing feat in a phone that is a mere 12mm thick and weighs a paltry 86g – so it is likely the 2.6-inch TFT touchscreen will be the main input method.

Despite the fact that every time we see the name, all we can think of are the tiny plastic bricks that we used to use to create armies of pirate ships with, for those looking for a simple handset to stay online but without having to incur expensive data charges, the LG EGO Wi-Fi could well be the phone to watch.

Sony Ericsson Launches TXT Pro And Mix Walkman Handsets

Sony Ericsson chose today to embrace the world of social networking, taking to their burgeoning online community to reveal 2 new handsets, the Sony Ericsson Mix Walkman and the Sony Ericsson txt pro.

The announcement came through their Facebook page where they have been running a competition for four super-fans to review the phones before they were announced to a global audience.

Lesser fans can now vote on their favourite review (lives here but beware, you have to ‘like’ it to proceed!), and the reviewer with the highest number of votes will be granted their life’s desires (ten Sony Ericsson phones, of course!)

The devices themselves are both feature phones that seem to run on a proprietary operating system. Neither of the handsets are 3G enabled, so users will have to rely on Wi-Fi or the good old EDGE network for accessing the web.

Fans of the XPERIA mini range will notice that both of the phones have inherited the quartet of active areas in the touch-driven user interface, allowing users to put apps in each of the corner of the display for easy access.

The Sony Ericsson Mix Walkman is, as the name suggests, a phone aimed squarely at music lovers with comes with 100MB of internal memory, as well as the ability to add a microSD card (up to 32GB in size) for storing all your Bon Jovi and Duran Duran classics on.

The feature on this phone that has got us worried is the karaoke function, you would definitely understand if you’d been at the office Christmas party.

With one small click on the microphone key you can mute the dulcet tones of Lady Gaga and then sing along to the words on the screen to create your very own version of ‘Poker Face’.

While this may not be our cup of tea in Omio Towers, it is sure to appeal to all those bedroom superstars singing into their hairbrushes (other pretend microphones are available). The phone also comes with two interchangeable bands that festoon the edge of the phone, that Sony Ericsson says users can use to “adapt the colour of your phone to your mood”…although we aren’t quite sure what mood a green hen is intended to reflect.

The txt pro (yes they really have spelt it ‘txt,’ just like cool kids) has a slide out QWERTY keyboard and has a pretty nifty feature that pulls together tweets, Facebook updates and SMS messages from up to five friends and displays them in a single stream…can you say ‘social networking savvy’?

Both the Sony Ericsson Mix Walkman and txt pro will be released in Q3 of this year, but unfortunately no pricing has yet been released.

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