Vodafone unveils designer phone-charging bag

Not content with merely sponsoring London Fashion Week, Vodafone UK have gone one step further and collaborated with British designer Richard Nicoll to produce a women’s tote bag that also doubles as a phone charger. The bag was revealed at LFW on Monday as part of Nicoll’s Autumn/Winter 2012 collection.

Vodafone-Recharge-Bag

The designer, whose previous clients include Julianne Moore and Kylie Minogue, has solved a long-running issue for women everywhere, who need to use their smartphone or tablet while on the go, by merging style with practicality. “We wanted to create a collaborative product that fused fashion and technology,” Nicholl explained. “The recharging bag is especially relevant for my collection this season, because it’s about the notion of work and all its facets in modern times. Vodafone have helped bring this idea alive in a way that we never could have done ourselves.”

The bag charges items magnetically; users simply pop their phone or tablet into the bag’s inside pocket and attach it to one of the cables inside. These are retractable, so the phone can still be used while it’s charging. The bag holds enough charge to power a smartphone for a couple of days; once exhausted, it recharges using a magnetic charger attached to the outside of the bag.

A Bluetooth-enabled LED charm hangs off the bag’s strap and indicates when you have incoming calls, text, notifications, and how much battery life remains. While the design might not satisfy all tastes, the bag is manufactured using quality leather by British leather goods company Tusting.

Vodafone UK’s Director of Brand Marketing, Danielle Crook, said: “Our partnership with Richard Nicoll has resulted in a first for the fashion industry and a unique initiative for women everywhere who want to keep connected.” During LFW so far, Vodafone has kept attendees in touch by providing charging benches underneath the front row of each show; this bag takes that concept and applies it on a national scale. Next step: the phone-charging man satchel.

Mobile broadband speed comparison: Is Three the magic number?

We are as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore. In an age where a tweet can take down a government, mobile internet needs to be available everywhere. And at the least, it needs to be available where the provider says it is. Often, it’s not.

Courtesy of Three lending us a mobile, we managed to get sim cards for four major networks, put them all in iPhone 4’s and tested their internet services. As a long-time Orange customer, the results were unsurprising.

Speed-Tests
Image courtesy of Flickr user Andrew Morrell Photography

The networks we included were Vodafone, O2, Orange and Three. We figured that T-Mobile are about to be eaten by Orange, and we don’t know anyone on T-Mobile anyway (sorry).
The tests came in two parts – the first was the speed checker at Testmyiphone.com. This gave a download speed for each service.

However, as we ran the test multiple times for each network at each location, with varying results each time, it was decided that a true “network speed” number would be misleading. Luckily, despite multiple tests, the networks came out in the same order each time.

The second part, the loading of large websites (such as skysports.com), provided the same order, so we think we’re onto something:

Wimbledon, 9PM, Saturday
1. Vodafone
2. Three
3. O2
4. Orange

Fulham, 7PM, Tuesday
1. O2
2. Vodafone
3. Three
4. Orange

Mile End, 3PM, Thursday
1. Vodafone
2. Three
3. Orange

There are a huge number of variables in network tests, such as how many other users of the network are in your area, or if you’re much closer to one company’s mast or not. Therefore our tests can only be seen as a rough guide. We’d like to think we were being fair, three of the four corner of London, but we acknowledge that this test is by no means comprehensive.

That said, our tests reflect the opinions of people we spoke to. Vodafone and O2 customers in London tend not to complain about mobile internet signal. Orange users (me included) are infinity frustrated by it. And Three, the plucky little network that could, is quietly pleasing its small fanbase.

**update**
Three sent us a little message about their new unlimited PAYG data plans –all-you-can-eat data for Pay As You Go customers for just £15. Which at the risk of sounding like an advert, looks worth investigating.

To celebrate the launch of this new offer, Three will also be running a competition over the coming month to show the value of the deal, with prizes including a 30-day first class rail travel pass to Europe for two. Runners up prizes of a smartphone along with all-you-can-eat data, free for a year and a huge amount of free calls and texts each month will also be up for grabs.

The competition will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from the 7th March to the 1st April, with more information available at www.three.co.uk/allyoucaneat or on Twitter at @threeUK