Author Archives: Kevin Wright
This is my early review of the Bose QC 30 headphones. If you decide to buy a set, maybe you can consider using my Amazon link here.
Before we start, take a look at this photo of the QC 30, they do look very different to any other set of in ear headphones (unless you recall the LG Tone!), and for a while, that ugly looking neckband had put me (more…)
Have a look at the photo below for a good deal on some tech if you are prepared to do a tiny amount of work, and can pass a credit check.
Very, (which is probably due to them being Very Expensive) are offering 20% off your first *credit* order, but don’t worry about interest charges, as you can either use 3 months interest free or maybe even 12 mths buy now pay later, and if you clear if before that is up, you pay no interest all all.
So I just opened an account, got £1000 limit to spend right away, and ordered a Galaxy S7 for £459 brand new. It starts off at full price of course, but if you use the code at checkout (be careful its easy to miss that step) its takes 20% off.
You can’t use it for Apple stuff, and there are other exclusions. It runs to the end of July 2016 currently.
Errr, there was no Day 2!
I had yet to try the SU6 in the car, so set off for work with Google Maps guiding me, and a podcast playing, both over my car Bluetooth. I had actually established that the forward and back controls on the steering wheel worked how I like them, which is 30 seconds forward or backwards. Usually when this works, all other BT functions work fine.
One thing I really like about iPhone is that when I press “Media” on the car head unit, the iPhone this pretty much always restarts the audio of what I was listening to last, and the SU6 will not do this, (most Androids don’t) so it means reaching in your pocket or touching the screen while driving to start the audio. But that is not the deal breaker here, what happens is that every single time the Google Maps gives a spoken direction, it sets the audio back 30 secs, even though the podcast audio was playing under the maps voice. I know you can change this, but I simply turned the car around yesterday and went back for the iPhone!!!, experiment over for now.
Harsh? Very. There are almost certainly ways around it, but I simply can’t be arsed. The SU6 remains a fantastic buy, but its back to being my second phone, and when I go back to the iPhone, for a few days at least, I can not see myself ever leaving iOS as my main device.
Over the weekend I decided to try a little experiment. Could I use an ultra cheap phone as my only phone? My weapon of choice is the excellent Vodafone SmartUltra 6 which at around the £100 mark new, is simply superb value for money. There are usually examples of this on PSC Forum for around the £70-£80 mark, so its pretty easy for anyone wanting to try this.
When you compare it to the Moto X Style I recently tried again, at £300, and the Samsung S7 Edge I recently used as a main phone for around a month, you really can see just how cheap this phone is. Of course there are loads of even better value phones available to import from China, I really wanted to do this with a phone easily available to everyone on the High St.
A quick reminder of ‘specs’ on the SU6, it has a clear and bright 1080p IPS LCD screen, with frankly nicer whites and brightness than the Moto X. It runs a SD615 Quad Core CPU with the Adreno 405 GPU. It has 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage, you can up up to 64GB via an MicroSD slot, and it takes a Nano Sim card. Unlike most cheap imports, it has LTE Band 20, important in the UK for 4G, and it has NFC, less important but nice to have. It is on Android 5.1.1, and don’t worry too much about it being locked to Vodafone UK, it is less than £3 t0 unlock, and simplicity itself.
So, Sunday night, I shut down the iPhone, and went to work Monday with only the SU6. When I mention this on Twitter, the comments varied from “you will last only a few hours” to “give you a week”. While the former seemed harsh (but given previous lunchtime trips to get the iPhone, fair I guess) the latter did seem overly optimistic.
Of course these days I am very busy at work, so I don’t spend all day on the phone as I used to when I was in Sales, but I did need to use it quite a bit to plan some training and hotel booking, and I wanted a larger screen that the iPhone offers me. This worked out pretty well, and the phone is much snappier than I previously thought from just “playing” with it. I think you only get the full experience with a phone after a few solid days of using it, without have a flagship to just fall back on.
All in all, Day 1 was a bit of a revelation, and although I did turn the iPhone on last night, to compare some specific things, it is now switched off again, and I am about to start Day 2 with just the SU6. Come back tomorrow morning for an update, and place your bets on how long this little experiment will last.
So you want a nice new Samsung S7 Edge, but you don’t have £639 to hand? OK, you have choices. Wait a few months and it will quite likely be £100-£150 less if it follows previous Samsung Flagships, or go get one now if you don’t mind buying second hand, they are already down to around £500 on eBay and various forums, but be aware these will all be contract handsets and could be at risk of getting blocked if the seller ever defaults on their contract. I think this risk is quite low, but might exist. And you still need £500 or so.
Or you can finance the handset. There are a few ways to do this of course, and you can use a credit card, and if you are smart, you can almost certainly get it interest free by using one of the many balance transfer offers out there these days. I already covered the Contract Handset route in this post but today I wanted to compare that with Samsung’s own Upgrade Program. For a payment of £27.60 per month, over 24 months you can get an S7 Edge sent out to you and you only need to find £63.90 deposit to get the ball rolling. So if you were to pay this off over the full 24 mths, you would have paid £726.40, so given the S7 Edge is £639, you are paying £76.40 in interest.
Now a selling point of this is that after 12 months, when (as if by magic) the S7 Edge arrives, you can just Upgrade to the new one. Now of course by then, you will have paid 12 * £27.60, so £331.20. You also have to return the handset to Samsung and then they pay off the balance. Subject to a long list of T&Cs of course. Now on the surface, this means they pay off £332 for you, and it is easy to argue that the S7E will not be selling second hand for that much in 12 months time.
Now if you want a flagship handset like this, it is quite likely you will be paying for a decent Sim of some sort, lets assume 5GB of data is your minimum requirement. You have tons of choice of course, but for this article lets take £15 as a base point per month. Add this to the £27.60 for the handset, and you are at £42.60 a month, and frankly at this point, you can get a phone on a contract and not have to pay any deposit.
Try as I might, I just can not see any advantage to this at all?
Why do we have to go through this every time? I love 3UK, have had many contracts, and am even an affiliate for them, and recommend them to lots of people.
A few weeks ago I cancelled my One Plan, which was in my partners name with me added on as an authorised user, and it went better than usual, as the guy I got through to was reasonable and when I explained I was cancelling and nothing he could say would change that, he went ahead and just put the cancellation in.
So today, my partner tried to cancel her rolling one month contract which was originally a 24 month contract back in 2012, and which we converted to 30 day rolling in September 2014, at £15 a month for ACYE data, but only 4GB of tethering, which she uses quite a bit while away in the motorhome. I decided to get her a new 12 mth SIMO deal last week, which is £20 a month for ACYE, 12GB tethering, 200 mins and UL SMS, she used about 40 mins per month, so in effect the new contract is unlimited. We also will get £50 cashback from my affiliate link (its perfectly OK to use own link for this with 3UK), so in effect it is about £16 a month, quite a good deal. We have the new Sim card and she is OK about changing phone numbers. For avoidance of doubt, the 12 mth SIMO came directly from three.co.uk
So she called them up and went through the usual hard sell from the first team, and they confused her enough that she just gave up after 20 mins and said I would call them tonight. I am not on that account, but she was told by them that I was.
So I call them up and the first thing the lady says is “you are not authorised to discuss this account”, and I said “I know, but you told my partner I was” and it took 3 mins for her to talk to them before they had to “add me” to the account, yes the account we want to cancel.
Seemed like a complete waste of time, but hey ho. With that hoop jumped through, I said “OK, can we please cancel this account”, and the reply was “why do you want to do that”, fair enough I guess. “I have purchased a new 12 mth contract on three.co.uk and am happy with that”. The reply shocked me “you can give 14 days notice to cancel that and I can do you a better deal” says the lady (from the same company!) “why would I do that, I am delighted with the new deal”, “but I can do you a much better offer right now” she replies.
OK, sucker that I am, I let her tell me. ACYE everything for £20 a month (with large dramatic pause for the amazing deal), and she says it is “an amazing deal that is usually £30″.
“Well, I am already getting all of that except the talk time, and am only paying £20 anyway, plus I am getting £50 cash back deal, and by the way we only use 40 mins a month so can not see the difference really” was my next line. She then shocks me for the second time, “oh if you are getting £50 cash back that is must be an unofficial 3 supplier, and you should return that”
I am starting to get annoyed now, and tell her that is is on three.co.uk and the cash back is also paid by the same company, but she won’t have it, keeping on saying it can not be the case and I must be mistaken. I did get a bit rude myself at this point, and simply said “right, enough of this nonsense, cancel this contract right now please”. I think she was taken aback, and I don’t even like speaking to a woman like this, but you feel you have to. She then said she would process the closure. An SMS came through, and it appears the closure is happening, but why oh why do you have to make it so nasty Three?
My partner was listening to all of this with a look of horror and said later she would have probably just agreed to keep it going as she could not speak to anyone like that.
When you bear in mind I will still recommend Three, and was telling them I was going with them again, I just don’t get the point of these calls, I suppose the results are that people are bullied into staying, just like my partner said she would have been?
There was a time, not that long ago when I had about eight separate mobile phone contracts and was paying about £140 every month to various UK networks, but although those days are long behind me, I do need a new contract right about now, as my last 3UK One Plan is about to be turned off, leaving me looking around. I have in fact picked up a bit of a bargain Vodafone 12 month SIMO deal for effectively £13 a month, (its £20 for 20GB everything else unlimited, but I pay £7 a month for Netflix and this is included), but in the two weeks I have been on that I am not happy with the signal at work.
For £13 I can live with it, and will run it in my second phone, or even in my cellular iPad, where it will make a decent Mi-Fi.
So I am mostly still looking at either 3UK or EE now, as they seem to be the best for internet in the UK right now, and the choice is somewhat overwhelming, with deals coming and going all the time. For example, the Vodafone deal I mentioned above is now back to its full price of £40 a month, the half price offer was limited.
A few of you reading this may know I like to dabble in the odd new phone every so often, so I started wondering if I could combine the two things, buy a cutting Edge smartphone, play with it for a few days and sell it on, using the proceeds to subsidise the contract. I am still in this process, and am partly writing this to clarify my thoughts.
I am mostly sticking to EE and 3UK in this article, and please note any links you follow could be my affiliate links, where I get a kickback for you clicking though and buying through my link. I hope you know me well enough by now to know this will not influence what I write, and indeed, if you have Quidco or TCB you should check these as you can not use both at once.
Right, so the Samsung S7 Edge is heavily on my radar, it looks fantastic, and I think they have done a fantastic job of making a 5.5″ screened phone so neat and compact. I really do not like the smaller Android screens (odd really as on iPhone I am fine with the small one), but I always end up with the Android phones being too big for me. This may well be the case this time, but hey, the idea is to sell the phone on, not keep it! I should also look at iPhone contracts as these will sell as well as any Android phone, and often for more money.
Lets start with the S7 Edge, the retail price is £639 but it is available on a few sites at £619, and the cheapest I can see it is £37.49 for 24 months with £50 upfront. This is at mobiles.co.uk (owned by Dixons Carphone) and you can grab £30 cashback from Quidco, so all told that is £920 all in. So say I sell this for £550 a few days later, that makes it just over £15 a month for 5GB of EE 4G data, and unlimited SMS/Mins. That is not that bad really, and if you want to buy an EE SIMO deal, that plan is about £25
If we were to look at this as a keeper device, it is even better as you would pay £619 for the device so 619/24 is £26 a month for the phone (assuming you pay no interest or have the money available) and £25 for a SIMO, so £51 all in. This goes against the assumption that buying on contract is always a bad idea.
I think it may be worth look at this deal from affordablemobiles.co.uk though as for an extra £7 a month, you not only double the Data to 10GB per month, this is now EE Extra which gives certain other advantages such as using Calls and SMS in the EU for free. This plan is also “Double Speed” data, although it is limited to mainly City areas at the moment.
If we look at 3UK, it is probably better to buy the phone outright and get a SIMO deal, the best contract I can find is £56 a month and £49 for the handset, and even with £40 cash back, this takes it to £1328 vs the £920 on the cheapest EE deal and £1040 on the 10GB plan. This 3UK deal is for ACYE handset data and 12GB tethering, and of course unlimited calls/SMS.
So here if we take £619 for the handset Sim Free, and add the excellent value £25 a month SIMO which gives 600 mins, unlimited SMS, and AYCE handset data. You get the usual 12GB tethering with this plan, and if you can live with 200 mins instead of £600, you can go to the £20 a month deal. I certainly can live with 200 mins, so the total would be £619 and £480 for the plan, so a total of £1100 of £46, saving £10 a month on the contract route.
I think the mobile networks take full advantage of the confusing plans, and of course all these prices will drop quickly after the initial launch excitement wears off.
So what about going for an iPhone, and selling it on to subsidise the contract? Well, a 6S 64GB is just about identical, and would probably fetch a little less second hand than an S7E, at least for a couple of weeks after launch.
Well, onwards and upwards, more research needed.
As a huge proponent of the Three UK AYCE (all you can eat) principle, I have been watching this week’s reaction with interest. What seems to have happened is that Three have now decided that the time is right to wind down the One Plan once and for all, and people don’t like it one little bit!
Lets recap what the One Plan is (or was as its not been on sale since mid 2014). Put simply it was the most innovative mobile Plan ever released, back at a time (2011) when Three were actually looking to increase their market share dramatically. Back then mobile plans were as complicated (on purpose) as they are today, but the one Plan came along and was totally unlimited in every area, mins, texts, data both on the handset and tethering were completely and totally unlimited. People did not believe it at the time and quite a few people put it to the test, including Dan Carter writing for Coolsmartphone
Once people realised this was true, a lot of people not only jumped on it, but started to abuse it by using it as a replacement for home broadband. When it started out in 2011 it was only available with a new handset, but in 2012 that changed with the launch of a Sim only version for £20 a month, later to drop to just £15 a month, which was staggeringly good value for money, and brings us up to this week, when letters started going out to people on these £15 a month deals. The letter basically says that if you do nothing they will change you onto the nearest new tariff, which as the One Plan was such an unlimited plan, means they will swap you to the £33 a month current plan (which is basically the same with a limit of 12GB a month for tethering). As these are all aimed at people on 1 mth rolling contracts, (which are always 10% more than 12 mth SIMO) they are offering this plan for £3 off, making it £30 a month. Of course this is a crap newspapers dream headline as they can say “Three are doubling price plans”, and many have jumped on this particular wagon!
Now let us take a rather more calm look at the facts, and I am not playing down the handling of this, all I am suggesting is that before you cut your nose off to spite you face, take a breath, think, and then act.
Right, go read the letter carefully (here is a crap news site for you to read the letter) and note that it says you have a month to decide, and can call and chat to them, or cancel. Many people have proudly tweeted that they are taking this option, and soem seem to think this will somehow upset Three, which is ironic as I would suggest that Three make a loss on these old contracts now. OK, I have no proof at all for this, but come on, £15 for everything?
So, I took a look around, since my last One Plan runs out in a month or so, many of you will recall I knew it was ending and took one out just before the axe fell in 2014. I pay £32 a month at the moment, and it included a phone, iPhone 5 or 5S I think.
So what can you do if you are losing your old contract? Well, can you live with 200 mins of Talk time? If so you could do worse than the 12 mth £20 a month SIMO deal, which will still give you unlimited handset data and a decent 12GB tethering each month, along with unlimited SMS
On top of this if you can bear to start a new contract, you can order this sim via Quidco and possibly get £50 cash back, making this just over the £15 per month that you enjoyed for a long time.
I do understand some people want to keep an old number, but ask yourself, do I really need to?
Frankly, none of the other networks offer any AYCE data deals, which I find gives me a lot of peace of mind, sure, I might only use about 10GB maximum, but I don’t have to think about it, nor worry about some rogue app taking me over my limit.
I have been VERY critical of Three in the last few months, but on this one, I think the people who are getting this letter could do worse than at least acknowledge that they have had a fantastic deal for a lot longer than we all thought, and maybe have a go at the deal I mention above?
I was simply going to post most of this as a response to Matt Miller’s latest post on ZDnet, but I have a few bits to add, so thought it might make an interesting post here.
Lets go back to the release of the iPhone 6, specifically the 6 Plus. From day one reports started coming in that these were bending in people’s pockets. A Youtube video from a guy who makes a lot of money from this sort of thing became available that showed that if you applied enough force in the right spot, it would indeed bend. As this was Apple, and we all know how good Apple is for a linkbait article, it spread like wildfire, and more people came out of the woodwork to claim that “it just bent in my front pocket”.
I was (and remain) skeptical about just how many of those iPhones were bent in pockets, after all, once the #bendgate tag got going, it was pretty simple for anyone who had bent their iPhone by sitting on it for example to get a free replacement from Apple. Also keep in mind, the internet is terrible for getting facts on this sort of issue, as there are plenty of people who jump on any anti-Apple story with childish glee, and I have no doubt some of the claims were just blatant trolling. Now having said all of that, the whole thing did make me think a little more about how I would treat the 6 Plus should I own one, and I think a lot of people got a heads up that it did (quite understandable) have a flaw in certain circumstances, and I suspect quite a few iPhone 6 Plus owners never did bend their phones, in part due to the publicity around the subject.
So I can’t agree anymore with those that simply say bend tests are stupid. Granted, most of us will never try to break a phone on purpose, and those big Youtubers who have multi million views earn back way more than the cost of the phone, (or phones) they break. I happen to think that is one sign our world has gone mad, but it is a fact.
It seems that although quite a few people found it pretty hilarious when iPhones were bending, they don’t seem to find it quite so funny now its the Nexus 6P that is in the spotlight. Another Youtuber going under the moniker JerryRig did a test of the Nexus 6P, and showed it did *seem* to bend pretty easy. The internet quickly jumped up and said “hang on, he put a flame on the screen and it bent at that spot” (one example of many similar articles) this then prompted the following video of a brand new unboxed 6P being bent right out of the box without too much effort.
Now, I think the two video’s title (The Nexus 6P is a Joke!) is a poor choice, because for those people with the attention span of a goldfish, it easy to automatically assume the guy is some sort of Android hater, when in fact he seems pretty balanced, and if you can force yourself to watch whole 7 min video, he clearly states that in normal daily use, the Nexus 6P will probably not bend at all.
My point is that during normal use, people do sit on there phones, drop them, and jam them into tight pockets and bags. I say that these tests are on balance a good thing, they almost certainly made Apple strengthen the original 6 Plus, and will undoubtably lead to Huawei doing the same with the new Nexus, so it will benefit all owners in future.
Back to Matt’s article now, and it is interesting to hear him say his wife’s HTC M9 showed signs of bending when she sat on it. Why interesting? Well, the JerryRig Youtuber tested lots of phones lately, check his channel, and the only other phone to bend rather easily lately?
Yep, the HTC M9