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Mobile Phone Review Round Up: Huawei Ascend P7, Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini and Nokia Lumia 635

Omio is rounding up all the mobile phone reviews over the past week from the major tech titles in the UK.

This is all in order to bring you an all-inclusive and encompassing view of the opinions, from the various handset reviewers.

 

Stuff

Huawei Ascend P7 review

‘Thin’ is important. If you’re not a size zero, you are a zero, folks. It’s the sort of ideology you see in creepy movies about ballet dancers, but it could almost be the credo of the Huawei Ascend P7.

It’s one of the thinnest phones ever made, and along with having 4G as fast as 4G gets – at present – this is the Huawei Ascend P7’s calling card. Among plastic Android phones it makes a bit of a splash.

But beauty is only half the battle, so what’s the P7 got to offer if you’re not as obsessed with looks as a Vogue magazine staffer desperate to climb the greasy pole?

HUAWEI ASCEND P7 VERDICT

The Huawei Ascend P7 is something a little different from a company known more for its ultra-cheap phones. It has a high-end look and a nice, sharp, bright screen. Huawei is stepping up its game.

But look at it in direct competition with phones such as the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy S5, or even the older/cheaper LG G2 and Nexus 5, and it doesn’t quite stack up. Performance isn’t great, the CPU seems aged right out of the gate and the quirky Huawei EmotionUI certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste.

At this price it’s certainly not a bad buy, and its camera is actually pretty good. But Huawei isn’t up there with the big boys’ flagships just yet. Read the full Huawei Ascend P7 review on Stuff.

Check out all the Huawei Ascend P7 deals on OMIO, today!

 

TechRadar

Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini review

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini was quietly announced via press release at the beginning of July, and it’s now finding its way into stores around the world, so how does the pint-sized smartphone shape up?
As far as design goes there’s no mistaking this is a close relative to the Samsung Galaxy S5, with the S5 Mini sporting the familiar ribbed faux-metal band around its circumference and the dimpled polycarbonate rear linking it directly to its bigger brother.
 
It’s got the HTC One Mini 2, Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, iPhone 5C and the LG G3 Beat in its sights, as these shrunken smartphones look to do battle a couple of tiers below their flagship brethren.
SIM-free you’ll need at least £360 (about $600, AU$650) for the Galaxy S5 Mini, while on contact it can be had for free on two year deals starting at £24.99 in the UK.

When it comes to design it really is a mini version of the Galaxy S5, although there’s no annoying flap over the microUSB port at the base of the handset.

Early verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini is a solid smartphone with an impressive range of features borrowed from the S5, and it’s a marked improvement over the Galaxy S4 Mini.

I’m a little disappointed not to see Samsung going down the Xperia Z1 Compact route and packing the S5 Mini with the same camera and power as the Galaxy S5, but I guess I can’t have everything.

If you’re taken with the Galaxy S5′s design, fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor, but simply can’t afford its lofty price tag, then the Galaxy S5 Mini looks to be a strong replacement.

Shop around a little more though and the HTC One Mini 2, iPhone 5C or OnePlus One make more some tough competition. Read the full Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini review on TechRadar.

Check out all the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini deals on OMIO, today!

 

Trusted Reviews

Nokia Lumia 635 review

The Nokia Lumia 635 is the 4G version of the Nokia Lumia 630. Most other elements remain the same, except the 635 has a glossy body rather than a matt one. However, it’s a bit more important than that description might suggest.

This phone is part of the new 4G revolution, which is all about bringing 4G phones to people who previously might have dismissed faster mobile internet as just too expensive to consider. The Lumia 635 costs around £120 without a contract, making it pretty easy to buy outright.

Verdict

The Nokia Lumia 635 is a competent little Windows Phone 8.1 mobile with 4G. However, a few too many little niggles and cuts mean it’s not the bargain the Lumia 520 and Lumia 620 were last year. Read the full Nokia Lumia 635 review on Trusted Reviews.

Check out all the Nokia Lumia 635 deals on OMIO, today!

EE deploying 300Mbps LTE-A network in London

Formerly Everything Everywhere, now just the 4G EE mobile network has been in touch with Omio to let us know it will be fully supporting Cat 6 mobile phones.

Cat 6 is the LTE network standard feature in the new Samsung Galaxy Alpha mobile phone, which is capable of download speeds of up to 300Mbps.

That is double the maximum speed of the current 4G standard, with its ceiling reaching 150Mbps.

An EE spokesperson said, “We’re currently working across central London to enable hundreds of sites with the 2.6GHz spectrum that will form the second layer of our network for LTE-Advanced.”

“We will be making the network live in London this year as planned, and then any CAT6 device will be able to connect and get our best speeds.”

We have also been informed that expansion to the M25 coverage area is scheduled for the second half of 2015, where Manchester and Birmingham are the likely candidates following on from there.

There is no news if there will be any extra charges for this service, where EE currently has a two-tier 4G network setup.

Its standard tariffs run at speeds up to 30Mbps, where there are also 4G Extra price plans that cater for speeds beyond that.

The latter comes with extra benefits such as a higher data allowance; free international roaming (minutes and texts) – and now, unlimited calls to 080 numbers.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha launches with matching iPhone 6 specs, plus eight core CPU

South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung has announced the new Samsung Galaxy Alpha mobile phone – which is set to take on the rumoured Apple iPhone 6.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha - Black

Omio has had confirmation from Samsung that it will feature an eight core processor, with a quad-core 1.8GHz CPU and a quad-core 1.3GHz version.

The Alpha comes with a metal frame that matches the look of the iPhone 5s, which is seen as a design shift for Samsung.

It also comes with a thinnest of 6.7mm, which is slimmer than the Apple’s current flagship 7mm thick phone.

LTE Cat 6 is a feature of the mobile, offering download speeds of 300Mbps – double that of the average 4G phones.

This is all along with sporting a 4.7-inch 720 x 1280 HD Super AMOLED display; a screen size that is speculated to be the format of the upcoming iPhone 6.

There is 2GB of RAM onboard, with 32GB of internal storage, plus a 12-megapixel camera on the rear – with a front facing 2.1MP version.

“Built with the consumer in mind, the Galaxy Alpha focuses on both beauty and functionality,” said Rob Orr, Vice President, IT and Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland.

“Combining a stunning metal frame and slim, light weight design with the same powerful hardware and features you’d expect from a flagship Galaxy mobile device, the Galaxy Alpha is perfect for those that want style without compromising on performance.”

Samsung has said the Galaxy Alpha will be available to buy at the start of September, in charcoal black, dazzling white, frosted gold, sleek silver, and scuba blue.

Nokia 130 phone unveiled, costing £15

Microsoft owned mobile phone manufacturer Nokia has unveiled a low end mobile phone called the Nokia 130 – with a price tag of 19 Euros.

This translates to around £15, for a basic phone that would be great for emergencies, or ideal for holidays.

That is because it is inexpensive and lasts 36 days on standby, with 13 hours of talk time.

The Nokia 130 has a 1.8-inch LCD QQVGA 160 x 128 screen, matching its predecessor – the Nokia 106.

It also has access to a microSD slot that supports 32GB, able to stock enough video for 16 hours of playback.

The storage capability was missing from the 106, along with Bluetooth (now slam capable) and a music player – where it’s able to play 46 hours’ worth of tracks, on a single charge.

It runs the Series 30+ operating system, with an increased battery size from 1020mAh from 800.

Built-in is an FM Radio on this 2G-only handset, which doesn’t have a camera, but does sport a bright flashlight and a scratch resistant rear cover.

Microsoft’s 130 is said to be available in select markets, noting India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan, Vietnam and Philippines.

It hasn’t announced any availability for the UK, but Omio confirmed with the company it is the replacement for the Nokia 106 – which is currently stocked by O2, and others.

Mobile Phone Review Roundup: OnePlus One, Nokia Lumia 930, HTC Desire 610 and Xiaomi Mi3

Omio is rounding up all the mobile phone reviews over the past week from the major tech titles in the UK.

This is all in order to bring you an all-inclusive and encompassing view of the opinions, from the various handset reviewers.

 

The Register

OnePlus One

The idea behind the OnePlus One is very simple: source the best components you need for a top-spec Android phone, one that’s just as good as a branded Tier One Android flagship, and sell it direct at the fraction of the price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reg Verdict

The problem so far has been getting hold of a OnePlus One. It has only been manufactured in limited quantities so far, with some gimmicky online competitions (one Android site called it a “trollout”) generating enormous enthusiasm, while allowing a few to get to the front of the queue. OnePlus says it’s now ready to deliver volume in 16 markets including the UK.

So, caveat emptor. We’d like to see OnePlus make a commitment to the UK market and establish a professional support operation. If you can’t wait, or don’t mind the risk, the One is a steal. Read the full OnePlus One on The Register.

Check out all the mobile phone deals on OMIO today!

 

Stuff

Nokia Lumia 930 review

The Lumia 930 couldn’t be described as skinny or small. It’s almost a centimetre thick and the 5in screen, even with a fairly narrow bezel, makes it a long, wide handset. But, despite the use of Gorilla Glass 3 and the metal-edged build, it’s not a heavy phone – and we found it sat quite comfortably in a trouser pocket.

The build quality befits the phone’s high-end status. Nokia has always enjoyed a reputation for solidly made gear and that’s certainly the case here: there’s nothing wobbly or creaky in evidence. Nor does the matte plastic back look or feel cheap – it’s a level or two above the plastic you’d find on the back of certain Korean-designed smartphones. The curved edges of the glass front panel also make for a lovely premium touch.

There are three hardware controls on the right-hand metal edge (the nano SIM tray and 3.5mm headphone socket are located on the top edge): a power button; a volume rocker; and a dedicated camera shutter button (more on that below). There’s a microUSB port on the bottom edge but, thanks to the wireless charging plate included in the Lumia 930’s box, you’ll rarely need to make use of that.

The Day-Glo orange finish of our review sample is certainly… eye-catching, and some might feel happier with one of the two more sober colour options: white or black. Oh, and orange isn’t the only wacky colour available: there’s fluorescent green too, if you’re feeling particularly brave.

NOKIA LUMIA 930 VERDICT

We liked the Lumia Icon a lot, and we like the Lumia 930 even more. It doesn’t make any drastic improvements to key elements – the screen, camera, performance are all the same – but the inclusion of a wireless charger and Windows Phone 8.1 out of the box make it a better buy. It doesn’t have as much raw power as top iOS and Android phones, nor access to their wealth of apps, but it’s the best Windows Phone yet. Read the full Nokia Lumia 930 review on Stuff.

Check out all the Nokia Lumia 930 deals on OMIO, today!

 

TechRadar

HTC Desire 610 review

While the top-of-the range HTC One M8 has sent all rivals scattering before it, HTC has also been busy building out a good-sized range of middle and lower-end smartphones using its former flagship brand, Desire. The Desire 610 sits nicely in the middle of the line-up, borrowing much from the company’s mid-range flagship, the Desire 816.

The first thing that has been borrowed from its bigger brother is its design. Unfortunately on this smaller device, the design falls flat.

The Desire 610 is a big and bulky phone especially for one with a 4.7-inch screen. It has oversized bezels all around that screen and a version of HTC BoomSound – stereo speakers – at the top and bottom of the phone.

It is quite an unsuccessful implementation of a visual language that worked reasonably well on the larger Desire 816.

The rear is made of a different material to the rest of the phone and this too has some issues. It is highly reflective and shiny and very susceptible to fingerprints and scratches. After just a few days use, it feels quite slimy and a bit unpleasant. I am constantly fighting with this phone just to keep it clean

Verdict

Competition is fierce in this part of the smartphone market and there are better options at even lower prices than the HTC Desire 610.

While it does deliver in its range of features, the Moto G betters it in almost every way with a superior screen, better battery life and equally successful software. The LG G2 Mini also offers a better overall compromise at a similar price.

The Desire 610 has some of the best build quality and arguably the best software available at this price as well as a smooth and fluid interface, but that isn’t enough in the end to make it a truly compelling device. Read the full HTC Desire 610 review on TechRadar.

Check out all the HTC Desire 610 deals on OMIO, today!

 

Trusted Reviews

Xiaomi Mi3 review

Sometimes smartphones can seem a bit boring. Every year, the same companies make the same phone but with a few tweaks, a bigger screen and a new name. Phones like the Xiaomi Mi3 are here to shake things up.

The Xiaomi Mi3 isn’t available in the UK yet aside from as an import, but Chinese companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus have a chance at changing the face of the phone market. Of course, that’s all stuff for the future.

We got out hands on one of Xiaomi’s phones right now to see whether this £200-odd wonder is really worth considering as an import alternative to something like the Nexus 5, or even Samsung Galaxy S5.

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi3 is a bright sign of things to come from plucky Chinese phone-makers. However, there’s a bit too much work needed to make an imported Mi3 easy to use in the UK for our tastes. Read the full Xiaomi Mi3 review on Trusted Reviews.

Check out all the mobile phone deals on OMIO, today!

Windows Phone gets visual voicemail with O2

Former British Telecom mobile phone network O2 has made public that visual voicemail is available to its customers running the updated Microsoft Windows Phone OS.

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Visual voicemail shows a more graphical representation of messages, which can be used instead of calling a number, and then navigating with the number pad options.

On screen, there will be a pause, play, and delete icon – all for accessing your messages.

There is also a speaker icon for hearing the message out loud, or just press call, to directly dial that person.

This is all from when a voicemail is left, where the message is automatically downloaded to the handset.

It is available for those running the new Windows Phone 8.1 update, currently available on the Nokia Lumia 625 budget phone, 925 former flagship and 1520, phablet.

O2 has said it will be coming to the Nokia Lumia 620, 720, 820, 920, 41-megapixel 1020 – plus the new Nokia Lumia 630, its 4G 635 counterpart – and the flagship 930.

Enabling this feature is from the call history screen, under calling. Pressing on the three dots at the base of the screen takes you to the settings menu, where selecting the ‘visual voicemail’ slider – switches it on.

Vodafone successfully tests voice over 4G

Red logoed mobile phone network Vodafone has announced the first successful VoLTE (voice over LTE) calls.

It is over the 4G network, as its name suggests, and it is an alternative to using in the 2 or 3G networks.

VoLTE is said to deliver crystal clear calls, along with high quality video calling.

The test took place in UK labs in Newbury, Berkshire – where future developments were also outlined.

This new tech could allow faster connection times, plus higher bitrate video – without buffering or pixelating.

That is addition to the improved calling quality – where VoLTE users could both call and download, simultaneously – at 4G speeds, without any interruption.

Other lab tests saw the 2.6GHz spectrum tested, with 82Mbps down speed, and 42MBps upstream.

“We’ve been continually developing and investing heavily in our UK network since it launched nearly 30 years ago.”, said Fergal Kelly, CTO at Vodafone UK.

“Our trial of VoLTE, less than a year after the launch of our 4G network, is the next major innovation, and is hugely important as we continue our work to build the UK’s best network.”

Mobile Phone Review Roundup: Amazon Fire Phone, LG G3, Sony Xperia E1 and HTC Desire 310

Omio is rounding up all the mobile phone reviews over the past week from the major tech titles in the UK.

This is all in order to bring you an all-inclusive and encompassing view of the opinions, from the various handset reviewers.

 

Pocket-Lint

Amazon Fire Phone review

Amazon is trying to prove once again that it is more than just an online retail giant. Sort of. The company has come up with a new phone called the Fire Phone, complete with Dynamic Perspective screen for a viewing experience unlike any other.

Although the Fire Phone is Amazon’s first attempt at tackling the smartphone market, the phone follows several other hardware efforts such as eBook readers, tablets, and even a set-top box. But the Fire Phone is still very different from anything Amazon has ever done before.

Let’s not forget Amazon is predominantly a retail giant; it’s a company that’s just trying to sell you stuff. The Fire Phone’s primary goal is to serve up goods sold through Amazon.com, much like other Amazon devices, but there are a few other key features – most with catchy names that we’ll come to later – that set it apart from the competition, including similar-priced high-end flagships.

For now the Amazon Fire Phone is an exclusive to only one US carrier (AT&T). So it’s not available in the UK for now, but when it does land on these shores is it something we should get excited about? We’ve been living with the Fire Phone for a long weekend to find out. Read on to hear all about the good, the bad, and the meh…

Verdict

If you have never played with an Amazon device before, the Fire Phone will take you a while to master. It’s an average looking phone with a couple nifty tricks either meant to sell you things or dazzle your eyes, but other than that, it’s nothing worth bragging about.

Keep in mind Amazon has an agenda: it wants to sell more goods and push Prime. And the Fire Phone is the company’s latest way of achieving that goal. Despite a gazillion sensors and Dynamic Display to get you all excited about the idea of using the Fire Phone as your everyday device, Amazon only really cares about whether you use the Firefly app to buy stuff on Amazon.com.

And if you don’t shop through Amazon or subscribe to Prime, the Fire Phone is just another typical mid-tier phone with a high-end price tag, only one that could give you motion sickness and simultaneously drive you crazy as you try to find apps and navigate the interface.

Bottom line: for its $199 asking price on a two-year-contract, the Fire Phone will be right for US customers who love Amazon’s ecosystem and don’t mind paying a premium price for access to that ecosystem. Plus, it comes with a free year of Amazon Prime, which is nice.

We can’t imagine Android or iOS fans jumping ship for the Fire Phone, but if they ever do, it’s probably because they love online shopping. That’s the main thing we’ve taken away from this Amazon experience. Read the full Amazon Fire Phone review at PocketLint.

Check out all the mobile phone deals on OMIO.

 

Reghardware

LG G3

LG is releasing its new G3 smartphone today. It’s a large device made slim and comfortable by clever design, and is distinguished by a mind-boggling screen, and a superb camera. It’s let down only by hardware buttons, which can be a challenge to locate with accuracy, and the software execution, which hasn’t really tamed Android or added much to it.

The Reg Verdict

The LG G3 has its share of contradictions, such as its quad HD screen and a laser focusing camera coupled with a so-so Android reskin and basic photo shooting controls. And then there’s its appealing compactness, offset by those back buttons that are a bit Marmite. Yet there’s some sensible thinking here too, as the storage expansion and removable battery are must-haves for many. All in all, LG arrives with one of the year’s best phones – as long as you can get used to the controls. Read the full LG G3 review at The Register.

Check out all the LG G3 deals on OMIO

 

TechRadar

Sony Xperia E1 review

The Sony Xperia E1 is a cheap phone – about as affordable as Sony makes. It’s small, doesn’t have all that many cutting-edge features and can’t afford to be quite as stylish as its big brother the Sony Xperia Z2.

However, there are benefits to a phone like this. As it is not covered in glass you don’t have to worry so much about it shattering should you drop the thing.

And even if something bad does happen to the little Xperia E1, you won’t have to cry for too long. You don’t need to take out a mortgage to buy one of these.

It slots in right at the bottom of Sony’s Android Xperia range, below the Sony Xperia M2 and the top dog Xperia Z2.

There’s quite a lot of competition in this just-under-£100 area, though. The pick of the bunch is the Motorola Moto E, a phone that doesn’t quite have the brand credibility of the Sony Xperia E1 but really does ace the basics better than the E1 – the screen, the body, general performance. Sometimes rejecting the biggest brands pays off

Verdict

The Sony Xperia E1 is a cheap phone, and it both looks and feels like one. Unlike some rivals it hasn’t quite made enough right moves to ensure it brings a solid core experience to the table, while still including some fluffier elements like a dedicated music button.

Thanks to the decent interface it’s a reasonable low-cost option, but it’s solidly beaten by the Motorola Moto E, which costs as little as £10 more. Read the full Sony Xperia E1 review on TechRadar.

Check out all the Sony Xperia E1 deals on OMIO

 

Trusted Reviews

HTC Desire 310 review

The HTC Desire 310 is HTC’s lowest-cost smartphone. It’ll cost you around £110 SIM-free, putting it in direct competition with our budget favourite, the Motorola Moto G.

You might see it as a simple upgrade to last year’s HTC Desire 300, but it also adds-in most of the software features seen in top-end HTC phones like the HTC One M8. For people who like that HTC software flavour, the Desire 310 is worth checking out, although it doesn’t really rival the very best budget phones out there.

Verdict

The HTC Desire 310 has good software and offers decent performance at the price. However, the camera and screen are weak points, and as they’re both pretty important, this is not going to be remembered as an HTC classic. Read the full HTC Desire 310 review on TrustedReviews

Check out all the HTC Desire 310 deals on OMIO

Three launches WIFI calling app

Numerical mobile phone network Three has released inTouch, an app for both iOS and Android that lets its customers call and text over WIFI.

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The free software is now available on iTunes and Google Play, for contract, SIM and PAYG customers – with support for Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich and iOS 6, upwards.

It allows Three’rs to receive both calls and texts, besides just making them.

InTouch uses the tariffs’ allowances, where any minutes and texts are taken from credit – on pre-pay.

This is ideal for those areas around the home or office that isn’t well covered by a Three signal, or on the new WIFI access on the Tube.

Three customers have recently joined O2, EE and Vodafone – for gaining free access to WIFI on the London Underground, provided by Virgin.

The company does have a similar solution in the form of hardware, called Home Signal. This connects to your WIFI and almost acts as a cell tower, for the home.

That is linked to a Three SIM card in a mobile phone, where the new app works no matter what WIFI you are connected to.

EE 4G now available in 250 towns

Formerly Everything Everywhere, now just the 4G EE mobile network has announced the 250th town to have access to its 4G network – Saltash.

This marks the first town in Cornwall to have access to its fast network – boasting five times’ greater speeds, than 3G.

Saltash is among 21 others that have had 4G switched on today, in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the South West, East Midlands, and North West of England.

These are Bellshill, Sutton in Ashfield, Gravesend, Craigavon, Tyldesley, Cheshunt, Swadlincote, Bishop’s Stortford, Leyland, Guiseley, Ballymena, Frimley, Ormskirk, Potters Bar, Banbridge, Nailsea, Keynsham, Armagh City, Strabane and Dungannon.

These 250 4G towns do not include 2,500 villages and small towns, also covered by the 4G network.

“This is a landmark in our work to bring superfast mobile internet to as many people in as many places as possible.”, said Olaf Swantee, EE CEO.

“We know the benefits that 4G offers to consumers and businesses, and we’re investing heavily in areas that have not previously had good mobile or fixed line coverage where those benefits can have an ever greater impact.”

– Check out all the EE deals on OMIO, today!