Category Archives: Three

Gadget Man – Episode 130 – Why are people not upgrading their phones as often?

Many of us will remember the halcyon days when upgrading our mobile phone handsets was a six-month event.

No so now it would seem, instead, we are waiting much longer and are clearly looking for greater incentives to part with our beloved devices and even more importantly, our money.

You can listen into my interview with James Hazell on BBC Radio Suffolk where I talk about why the smartphone market is slowing down. Click on the link above to hear what I had to say. 

A Short(ish) History

My first mobile phone was bought in 1993 (some 26 years ago) from Dixons in Derby. It was an NEC P100 and I think it cost me £50 and then £7.50 per month for the contract with Vodafone, no calls were included, so I paid 50p per minute if I did need to call anyone.

The phone itself ran on the old 1G analogue network at 900MHz which was very quickly superceded by the digital 2G networks split between 900MHz for Vodafone and Cellnet and the alternative 1800Mhz for Orange and Mercury One2One.

Note: if you don’t recognise many of these names, it’s because due to buyouts, rebrands and mergers, Vodafone remained, Orange became EE, Cellnet became BT Cellnet, then O2. Mercury One2One became just One2One and then changed to T-Mobile which in turn is merged with Orange to become EE. Then of course 3 launched a 3g service later on and of course, two dozen or so ‘piggy-back’ operators such as Giffgaff, Sky Mobile, Virgin etc, who don’t, in fact, run their own networks but instead using the Big Four’s network. 

So my first phone was relatively cheap in today’s terms and in fact in ‘yesterdays’ terms too. the NEC P100 was meant to be a durable portable phone which it was and I kept it for some years until the analogue network was phased out and I had to get a more modern phone. The 2G network roll-out in the UK caused a market explosion and along with it came the Nokia 5110 and then 3310 phones which completely dominated the marketplace.

This explosion in popularity came with reasonably cheap phones with cheap and short contracts, this meant that phones could be renewed quite regularly and soon cupboards would start filling up with unwanted and out of date devices, fuelling development and in reality, a war between manufacturers and networks to provide more and more functionality. Heading this surge was Orange and O2 who had struck up a deal with little known manufacturer HTC to produce the very first Microsoft Windows CE based ‘Smartphones’, long before the birth of the iPhone.

HTC was at the time manufacturing the Compaq and HP iPaq Pocket PC and by adding cellular functionality, the Orange SPV (Sounds, Pictures and Video) and O2 XDA (extended PDA) began to be sold and the Smartphone was born.

Suddenly our dumb phones became ‘Smartphones’ and with it rapidly increasing prices. These costs had to be passed onto consumers via increased contracts with longer minimum terms (mainly to allow for the handset and network infrastructure costs to be absorbed ). Minimum six-month contracts became twelve, then eighteen, then twenty-four months. All of this was necessary to pay for the device and network overheads!

The phone networks began bundling minutes (and later, data), in part to placate phone users who were starting to become caught up in the ever increasing contract times.  Subsequently, devices became more expensive, resulting in more expensive contracts.

With the launch of Apple’s iPhone, O2 and T-Mobile began offering ‘all you can eat’ data plans in order for these data-hungry devices to take advantage of the vast amount of content appearing. Once the iPhone 3G was launched, with its ability to consume vast amounts of bandwidth and data, the all-you-can-eat model was scrapped or altered with ‘acceptable usage’ policies to limit data consumption, unless you were prepared to pay more.

Now that the smartphone had become established as a Super-Gadget, the manufacturers began an ‘Arms-Race’ to establish themselves as the Go-To brand in the multi-billion dollar marketplace, the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, LG, Sony and HTC began pumping billions into product development, patent registrations, cross-licensing and all-out war!

In turn, the Smartphone industry has driven bigger, better, faster and more costly devices into the consumers’ hands! Meanwhile, in China, Xiaomi, Huawei and Honor are producing comparable and in some cases, better products, the market is now awash with products that were once competing with each other but are now blurring their differences making it difficult to see the differences

Summing Up

We now have a smart-device marketplace with astoundingly high-quality handsets costing £1000 plus! How can we justify paying over £100 a month for a mobile phone contract, when we are struggling to differentiate between ‘last-years’ model?

What is needed now is for the manufacturers to take a breath! They need to find out what their customers really want. Maybe we are becoming tired and bewildered of being told what functions we need by these companies and it’s time for them to start listening to their consumers.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

 

 

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 87 – Drones. Should they be licensed?

I was back on air this morning with Mark Murphy and James Hazell to talk about drones and the immense rise in their popularity.

With popularity comes a degree of public worry and a much larger degree of press coverage. Should drones be licensed? Should people need to take a proficiency test to use them? All of this was covered on BBC Radio Suffolk this morning along with interviews with The Civil Aviation Authority and local pilots.

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes and can range in price from £10 to literally thousands. Many of the more expensive semi professional drones have ‘Geo Fencing’ which stops the drones from flying in banned areas or ‘No Fly Zones’.

Of course it is possible to build your own drone. Kits are widely available and many people have built their own drones from scratch using light weight computers such as the Raspberry Pi. In this case, no licensing is going to stop the production of these kinds of drones and increasingly advanced techniques such as GPS ‘way point’ route planning means that the pilot does not need to be in radio contact during the flight and therefore distances of 7km possible before battery charging is necessary.

Currently in the UK, I can’t see how any ‘proficiency’ testing can be brought in being, it would be far too costly and reliant of the purchaser of the drone. Tracking the drones is equally difficult without elaborate (and expensive) tracking transmitter/receivers being added to the drone.

Consequently, it lays with the manufacturers of these devices to ensure that their equipment is safe, easy to use, legal and abides by any global no fly zones.

I will be reviewing the Parrot Bebop 2 camera drone very soon, so stay ‘tuned’.

 

The Gadget Man : Parrot Bebop 2 Drone with “Follow Me Bebop”

I‘ve finished testing the Parrot Bebop 2 camera drone. A fully review is coming up shortly. In the meantime here is a selection of footage I have taken over the last couple of weeks.

Smartwatch Guide 2015

It’s certainly been a busy time for smart watches over the last 18 months and we are certainly seemingly spoilt for choice. We’re also not spoilt for price options either, there should be no reason that you shouldn’t be able to find a smartwatch to suit yours or a loved ones  style.

To help find the right watch, our friends at Mighty Skins have produced a handy infographic that details everything including price, compatibility, functionality and battery life.

You can download the info graphic, by clicking the image below or head over to Mighty Skins themselves.

Smartwatches-IG-2015_Mighty-Skins

The Gadget Man – Episode 64 – LG G4 from Three

This week those very kind people at Three have again supplied us with a gorgeous LG G4 Smart Phone.

The G4’s stand out feature is it’s screen. It improves the QuadHD screen from it’s predecessor, the G3 but brings improvement in colour and brightness. It has a nice loud speaker and the phone controls are on the back of the phone under the camera lens which makes controlling it surprisingly easy.

Both cameras are excellent on the phone, with the rear facing main camera sporting a F1.8 sensor which makes low light photos really clear at it’s 16 megapixels. Coupled with LG’s clever ‘Laser focus’, this is a seriously cool phone.

Find out more about it by listening to the stream, more detailed review is coming soon!!!

Thanks again to Jocelyn Medhurst at COW PR who is super helpful indeed!!

The Gadget Man – Episode 60 – HTC One M9 from Three

This week it’s back to smaller gadgets which brings us to Smart Phones. HTC has been a big player of since the birth of the device category years back. HTC are well known for their high quality aluminium designs with bright screens and fast processors. They have also been one of the leaders in innovation with camera technology with their F2.0 ultra pixel sensors.

Today I chat to Mark about the HTC One M9 which takes the HTC One design and brings further improvements. Listen in to the stream and find out all about the device. A full review will be published here soon.

I would like to thank Three, who supplied the phone for review, It was pleasing to see the 4G icon displayed on the screen and network performance was excellent both using the handset and streaming audio to the Volvo V60 D6 and Audi A3 Sportback etron the phone worked a treat #makeitright