Biting The Bullet, Upgrading To N95 8GB

8GB Nokia N95I’ve been waiting, and waiting, for the Nokia N95 8GB to hit O2. While Vodafone have recently announced the dramatic price drop in the N95 8GB model (moving to Vodafone could bag you for phone for under the €200 price mark), I’ve opted to stick with my mobile operator and take the N95 upgrade, available from today online.

Of course, my local O2 shop knew about this but won’t have any phones in stock until the end of the week at the earliest. Carphone Warehouse didn’t actually know anything, their response being “It’s only available on Vodafone, you know that?” until directed to the O2 website. There doesn’t seem to be any physical stock available in Kilkenny, Waterford or Carlow (trying all the numbers listed on the O2 website, yes, I was willing to make an early morning Saturday spin 40 minutes and back in one direction or another) so I’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade the phone online, saving €30 in the process and picking up 300 free texts to match.

When I caught wind of the phone in August I thought, excellent, there’s my Christmas present. When asked what the next gadget I would buy was I replied “Nokia N95 8GB” please.

I learned a valuable lesson in the purchase of a sim free iPaq early in 2006 which didn’t last me six months so I’ve held off again and again in switching to a pricey mobile phone. However, in terms of productivity, further ability to work on the move, as well as tie in some terrific online resources (e.g. Qik) into activities outside of the office (thinking KilkennyMusic.com and The Devious Theatre Company), I feel I’ve made the right move.

The next part of the plan is to pick up an O2 mobile broadband connection before the end of the month, allowing me a bit of freedom when I hit the road for Sligo or find myself driven in the direction of the studio (which doesn’t have any form of web connection) later in the year.

While Carphone Warehouse couldn’t offer any assistance (I wouldn’t have bought the phone there anyway given the grief I had to put up with in 2005), the 3G store in Carlow (Meteor dealers) did tell me that Meteor are also bringing the handset to the market for April 21st / 22nd, something of interest to you Meteor contract holders looking for an upgrade in handset.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the phone arriving in the post mid-week.

MAXroaming In Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand

MAXroamAs I got to enjoy the use of my MAXroam sim in Germany back in January, I’m “donating it to the cause” in a few weeks, sending my sim and a capable mobile to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand as my father will spend 2-3 weeks cycling between different areas in the three countries. I would hope next year that I will be following the sim on it’s eastern world travels.

Here’s a look at the roaming costs, compared to O2 (the family mobile operator – we’re all on O2 at the moment, including three businesses).

While calling numbers within the countries will likely be low on the agenda, keeping contact with the family at home is key so it’s nice to see that using the MAXroam sim will save at least 50% at peak times in calls to Ireland, but it will save up to 80% on incoming calls while in Vietnam (cheers Pat). Given there is no landline to phone in Sligo, any calls home will be made to Irish mobile phones.

MAXroam vs O2 (Vietnam)

 
MAXroam
O2
Incoming Call
€0.21
€1.36/1.36
Outgoing Call (to Irish mobile)
€0.48
€0.98/0.72
Outgoing Call (to Irish landline)
€0.37
€0.98/0.72
Outgoing Call (to local landline)
€0.44
€0.33/0.23
Outgoing Call (to local mobile)
€0.44
€0.33/0.23
Text Message (SMS)
€0.22
€0.39
Voice Mail
€0.26
€0.98

MAXroam vs O2 (Cambodia)

 
MAXroam
O2
Incoming Call
€1.40
€1.36/1.36
Outgoing Call (to Irish mobile)
€1.64
€1.76/1.76
Outgoing Call (to Irish landline)
€1.53
€1.76/1.76
Outgoing Call (to local landline)
€1.70
€1.29/1.29
Outgoing Call (to local mobile)
€1.70
€1.29/1.29
Text Message (SMS)
€0.22
€0.39
Voice Mail
€1.31
€1.76

MAXroam vs O2 (Thailand)

 
MAXroam
O2
Incoming Call
€0.66
€1.97/1.97
Outgoing Call (to Irish mobile)
€0.90
€1.58/1.58
Outgoing Call (to Irish landline)
€0.79
€1.58/1.58
Outgoing Call (to local landline)
€0.80
€0.61/0.61
Outgoing Call (to local mobile)
€0.80
€0.61/0.61
Text Message (SMS)
€0.37
€0.39
Voice Mail
€0.66
€1.58

Given a lot of the trip will be spent in Vietnam, there should be a good saving on phone calls, if you compare the costs above. Savings are marginal on the Cambodia leg of the trip – though there are still savings while all is good in Thailand.

Note: O2 suggest using Viettel as their ‘preferred partner network’ in Vietnam, Cam GSM for Cambodia and AIS (as opposed to DTAC) for Thailand. Prices also correct for both parties as of March 18th 2007.

iPhone Ships March 14th Wearing A 1GB Cap

iPhone Available On O2

As mentioned earlier, the Apple iPhone has been announced by O2 and will be available to the public from March 14th 2008. The rumoured prices of €399 (8gb model) and €499 (16gb model) are also true.

Three tariffs have also been announced by O2

  • €45 p/m inc 175 anytime minutes, 100 texts, 1gb data
  • €65 p/m inc 350 anytime minutes, 150 texts, 1gb data
  • €100 p/m inc 700 anytime minutes, 250 texts, 1gb data

Notice a trend here? The tariffs seem reasonable if you’re a heavy voice user but I know for a fact I wouldn’t be using the iPhone to make 350 minutes of calls, never mind 700 minutes. As it stands, I pay O2 €35 bucks a month for my 150 anytime minutes and 100 texts. That would make the 1gb data an extra tenner on my contract – of which I would have to sign a new, minimum 18-month term contract on an iPhone only tariff (non-transferable).

So, for €65, should I not be entitled to 3gb of data, presuming the extra 1gb costs ten euro extra a month? And what about a €100 option? Still capped out at 1gb?

Considering that O2 offer mobile broadband at €30 a month for a 10gb cap, could this not be factored into the iPhone price plan? That way at €65 I’d get 10gb worth of data, plus my 150 anytime minutes and 100 free texts. I’m not a heavy voice-user, I could live with that.

Considering the number of podcasts, photos, videos etc. I consume in any given month I’d find the 1gb cap rather restrictive – each extra megabyte costing you 2c. Small change, but it would mean I could pay anywhere up to a euro per podcast when out and about, more for videos, maps etc. General surfing, not so much a problem, but I’m a multimedia head by nature…

Apart from the 1gb cap, it is nice to see the phone finally hit the Irish market. The O2 site comes decorated with the usual Apple warnings against modifying your new iPhone or attempting to unlock it to any network.

If you do want to secure an iPhone for the 14th of March you’re going to need to visit your nearest O2 retail storing, bringing proof of ID and two crisp 50 euro notes as a deposit. If you’ve already upgraded your phone, or recently upgraded your phone, you won’t be charged an upgrade penalty to buy the iPhone (which also means that there are no discounts available to long-term contract users on the O2 network). Plus, if you’re a new customer you can start out on the iPhone or upgrade again at no penalty, once you commit to the 18 month contract.

The 18 month contract would put the cost of the phone at €810 (contract) plus the minimum €399 spend meaning you’ll have splashed out over €1200 come Autumn 2010, before you count any additional voice, SMS, voicemail, roaming or data charges.

It’d be a hell of a lot cheaper to pick up an iPhone elsewhere and jailbreak that sucker.

I’ll be the one in the corner waiting by the N95 8GB bus stop.

Apple iPhone For UK On November 9th – Some Points To Note

I almost forgot about this one this morning until skimming the Guardian over breakfast, but Apple have announced the iPhone for the UK, with a release date of November 9th. Here’s some points to note from the press coverage this morning…

  • The iPhone will retail at £269 (€386) and will be carried, as previously suggested, by O2
  • There will be no discount on the handset
  • First-time buyers subject to minimum 18 month contract with O2
  • Steve Jobs wouldn’t talk revenue share
  • Subscribers in UK will have bundled access to 7,500 WiFi spots – what does that leave Irish market?
  • No 3G
  • 80% of O2’s “high value customers” would love an iPhone, not necessarily buy an iPhone
  • Contracts start from £35 (€50) per month including unlimited data
  • EDGE and WiFi all the way
  • UK only today, other European countries within the next quarter…

As much as I have a love for all things Apple, there’s still not enough in an iPhone to sway me, plus no concrete details on a rollout within the Irish market. Did someone tell me the Nokia N95 8GB model is hitting the shelves here around the same time?