Vodafone’s new campaign highlights the importance of phone calls

Phone calls are one of the most, if not the most, important forms of communications between most people in the modern world. They offer us connections to those who matter most to us, and the ease at which we can make these connections is growing ever faster. As phone technology goes from strength to strength with new smartphones innovating every day, it is only logical that what seems to be a constant is innovated too. This constant is of course the quality of sound in phone calls, which has remained more or less the same since we can collectively remember.

Vodafone’s latest development aims to see HD quality phone calls become the norm in the UK. When in 3G range, Vodafone customers will be able to automatically switch to a HD call – making those confusing city-centre phone calls easier. 4G customers will also be able to use the service as they will automatically switch to 3G to take part. This coupled with HD video chat on 4G should see a vast improvement for the connectivity of Vodafone customers. Both business and ordinary customers will be able to use this service in the UK, as long as it’s between Vodafone customers.

Vodafone also aims to shed light on the importance of phone calls and how they bring people closer, allowing them to connect in new ways. Their heart-warming video (below) shows a video call between a new father and a new grandfather as the latter sees his grandson for the first time is a prime example. HD calls will only make these moments more memorable, and bring those who matter most closer to home.

The company is also expanding its connectivity in other ways, with its 4G coverage now over 313 cities, towns and districts in the UK. Additionally, the upcoming Rural Open Sure Signal programme will see more coverage brought to over 100 rural communities. You can find out more about Vodafone’s HD calling service and watch their other videos that showcase how ‘Every Second Counts’ on their dedicated campaign page.

While the words above are our own, this article was sponsored.

Vodafone Smart Tab 4G – taking on Tesco in the tablet stakes

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Vodafone launched its own-brand 4G smartphones in July of this year and now it’s looking to muscle in on the burgeoning 4G tablet market as well. The Smart Tab 4G with its 8-inch screen is of course an updated version of the existing Smart Tab 4, but don’t write it off as just the same old device on a faster network.

Let’s take a look at what’s different. Most noticeable is the Smart Tab 4G’s HD display but there are changes under the skin too. For a start there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad core CPU in place of the MediaTek in the earlier machine. As mobile site Mobot says:

“We’re admittedly pleasantly surprised that the 3G model’s MediaTek processor is gone, too, the Vodafone Smart Tab 4G instead adopting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset.”

In addition the back camera is up from 2MP to 5MP. Otherwise the size, weight, battery and Android 4.4 are the same as the earlier model.

The pricing of the Smart Tab 4G also looks attractive, if you choose to buy the device to use on pay-as-you go it’ll cost £125 up front – that’s £4 less than the Wi-Fi only Tesco Hudl 2 though the Hudl has a slightly faster processor and more RAM. On a 1GB 4G contract it’s around £17 a month after a £29 initial payment. As Wired says, “Costing only £125, the Vodafone Smart Tab 4G is a veritable bargain, but is aimed squarely at competing with other smaller tablets in this price range. “

PC Advisor makes the point that:

“Rather than aiming for tech-heads these devices look to be marketed at less tech-savvy consumers, allowing children and old people easy, unintimidating access to tablet technology.”

Trusted Reviews notes that the Smart Tab’s processor is slower than the Hudl’s,

“The Smart Tab pairs this 8-inch HD display with a 1.2GHz quad-core processor tucked away inside. It’s worth noting that the Hudl 2 trumps this with its 1.83GHz Intel Atom chip.”

Trusted Reviews is, however, impressed by the tablet’s style, “It’s not a bad looking device either, sporting a svelte 7.9mm profile, slimmed-down front bezels, and a donut-dodging weight of just 309g.” Wired though is rather less smitten, “…while Vodafone hasn’t spent any time at all jazzing up what is a very plain and basic black plastic design, it’s easy to forgive thanks to the tablet’s price.”

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To sum up, as Vodafone’s Connected Devices Portfolio manager Jason Smith points out on the company’s blog, “You don’t see many devices of this quality at this price point.” Mr Smith may be slightly biased, however, if you want a reasonably priced tablet but don’t want to be restricted to sitting at home on your own Wi-Fi or seeking out hotspots, the Smart Tab 4G looks like an attractive proposition.

EE and Vodafone jump the gates in providing easy travel payments

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Mobile providers are rushing to offer contactless payment for TFL when it is launched on the 16th of September on the London Underground system. Contactless payment cards are debit, credit, charge or pre-paid cards that can be used to make quick, easy and secure payments for everyday purchases under £20. There is no need for a PIN or a signature, just touch your card on contactless card reader and off you go!

Bus network TFL is soon launching the contactless payment scheme on London’s Tube, DLR and Overground public transport systems. Methods of payment will include most of UK’s cards (for the full list go to TFL), Vodafone and EE Cash on Tap. EE has a daily and weekly cap that ensure you do not pay more than you would using an Oyster card. Introduction of contactless payment will allow travellers to pay for their bus and train fares quickly and easily, reducing queues and the likelihood of missing trains and buses – a common fear in the Underground.

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Universal contcactless card symbol – if your card features a similar symbol, you can use contactless payment

 

It is a great tool for users of London’s transport links but not only them – I personally travel to London every 3 months and I have an Oyster card which allows me to avoid queuing time when I get off the train and on to the Tube. My main issue being I always lose my Oyster card the night before leaving! With contactless and Mobile provider payment I just need to take my card and phone and I can travel freely. Additionally I always run out of money on my Oyster card when it is rush hour. Nothing is more terrifying than an angry Londoner stuck behind someone who has run out of credit on their Oyster card and cannot travel. What is also frustrating is queuing for 10 minutes just to find your Oyster card has run out of credit – these new systems will aim to overcome these misfortunes.

If you like to keep your London travelling a pain-free experience, I recommend you check out these network provider apps and try contactless payment – the latter being useful for morning coffees to enjoy on your commute.

Vodafone announce two new “own brand” 4G phones

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Vodafone has launched the Smart 4 Turbo 4G smartphone and, coming soon, the Smart 4 Power. We decided to have a quick look at both to see if they have what it takes to make an impression in the world of 4G phones.

These models are aimed at lower end of the market and will bring 4G to pay-as-you-go customers and lower tier contracts. The Vodafone Smart 4Turbo is the most affordable 4G device in the Vodafone range, it will set you back just £135 on PAYG but you’ll also need the £31.50 per month Red 4G plan, which comes with unlimited texts/calls and, of course, 4GB super-fast of data. This isn’t a particularly cheap tariff for an affordable handset as Tech Radar pointed out.

The Smart 4Turbo comes with high-speed 4G and 3G HSPA+ connectivity, 1.2GHz quad-core processor and a highly responsive 4.5-inch screen. It runs on the latest Android 4.4. KitKat operating system and you get 1GB of RAM which is pretty average for a smartphone.

It has a 0.3 mega-pixel front camera and a 5 mega-pixel primary one. The front camera is one of the weak points as you would expect one with higher definition (especially if you are a fan of Skype) on this type of phone – as pointed out by the folks over at FindTheBest. The built-in assisted GPS technology lets you use your smartphone for walking or car navigation, but don’t forget to keep looking up!

Turbo back and front
Turbo back and front

The Smart 4Power ups the ante by adding screen real estate and also increasing the processor speed. It comes with a 5-inch HD display and a 1.3GHz quad-core processor from MediaTek, and it has been especially tuned to allow super-fast connection to the 4G network, as well as longer battery life and smooth video playback. Hopefully this will be an improvement over the battery in the 4Turbo as a commentator on FindTheBest stated that it ‘drains a little bit fast’.

Here are the technical specifications to both phones:

Smart 4Turbo

Dimensions (mm)
134.5 x 67.5 x 10.4
Weight (g)
138
Processor
1.2Ghz quad-core
Display
4.5” FWVGA capacitive
RAM
1GB RAM (microSD up to 32GB)
Camera
5MP + front camera
Operating system
Android 4.4 (KitKat)

Smart 4Power

Dimensions (mm)
141 x 71 x 9.5
Weight (g)
162
Processor
1.3GHz quad-core
Display
5” HD multi-touch screen with In Plane Switching
RAM
1GB RAM (microSD up to 32GB)
Camera
5MP + front camera
Operating system
Android 4.4 (KitKat)

To find out more about both phones head to this dedicated section on the Vodafone web site.

The Nokia C3: the budget buy for social butterflies

The wait is over… we now know that the Nokia C3 will be coming our way in June as an exclusive pay-as-you-go phone on the Vodafone network.

Targeted firmly at those who use their phone to access Facebook et al more than they actually speak to their friends, the C3 offers Multi IM, which enables you to log in to one service to chat via Messenger, Google Talk, Ovi Chat etc, while social networking sites are just a click away, with all your mates’ updates, tweets, pokes and more appearing on your home screen. It also uses conversational SMS so you keep track of the flow of your text messages.

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The Blackberry-style device boasts a 2 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, and a full QWERTY keypad. This split screen/keyboard design should make it easy to use for emailing, messaging and typing updates.

And how much does it cost to keep in touch? Well, the price for the handset has yet to be revealed, but it sells for $90 in the US. And customers will be able to pay for one of Vodafone’s pay-as-you-go mobile internet deals, at £7.50 for 30 days, which is enough to read 5,000 emails, download 12 Google maps and read 4,000 BBC News stories – apparently.

Occasional users can take advantage of Vodafone’s daily pay-as-you-browse deal, which gives 25MB of mobile data for just 50p – that’ll get you a couple of YouTube clips, up to 90 BBC News stories and let you read and reply to 100 emails.

And I’m not a particularly girlie girl, but even I was pretty taken with the handset, which comes in hot pink – as well as a rather less Barbie slate grey. While there’s a host of more expensive phones that offer better cameras, 3G and so on, this looks set to be a cheap and cheerful way to keep in touch, holding particular appeal for the teenage market.

Sign up for updates on the Nokia C3 here