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Sky launches its own mobile service

Entertainment company Sky has announced what it’s calling “the UK's most flexible mobile service”.

Customers with another Sky service will be able to sign up for Sky Mobile from mid-December, with a full launch expected in early 2017.

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Vodafone fined £4.6 million by Ofcom

Vodafone fined £4.6 million by Ofcom

UK communications regulator Ofcom is fining Vodafone £4,625,000 for mis-selling, inaccurate billing and poor complaints handling.

This penalty is the result of two separate Ofcom investigations.

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BlackBerry moves away from handset production

BlackBerry moves away from handset production

Veteran smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry says it’s moving away from producing its own handsets and will instead license its software to other companies.

The first deal is with an Indonesian partner, BB Merah Putih, which is led by a leading telecommunications distributor in Indonesia.

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UK mobile users can now send a text to reduce nuisance calls

The Telephone Preference Service and Ofcom have introduced a new text message service that lets UK mobile users opt out of receiving unsolicited sales and marketing calls.

Mobile phone users can simply text ‘TPS’ and their email address to 78070.

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The Nokia brand is returning to mobile phones and tablets

The Nokia brand is returning to mobile phones and tablets

Android-powered devices being produced by a new Finnish company

Former mobile phone manufacturer Nokia has signed a deal that’ll see a new Finnish company producing Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets.

The new company – HMD global – is being granted an exclusive branding and intellectual property licence to create Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets for the next ten years.

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Opinion Articles

Sunday, October 5, 2014

iPhone 6 journal

Spending a few days with the newest Apple handset

Mark Bridge writes:

I open the iPhone 6 box and discover a phone that feels substantial. Well engineered. Practical. Despite being just 6.9mm deep, it doesn't seem unreasonably delicate. In simple terms, handling the iPhone 6 is nowhere near as worrying as washing up wine glasses. In fact, during a week when a few iPhone users made headlines by complaining about the flexibility of their new handsets, I really couldn't see what the problem was.

If I had to grumble about anything, it would be that the restyled iPhone was less distinctive than its predecessors. Although there's no mistaking the Apple logo on the back, the original angular design has been softened with more curves, while the rear panel - once made from glass - is now metal with a couple of plastic inserts.

How did I get hold of this sleek new device?  Well, I'd been loaned a brand new iPhone 6 for a few days by Three UK. This in itself was intriguing. After all, you need to be pretty confident to do this kind of thing if you're promoting your own product. To put someone else's product on your network - and then invite a total stranger to give it a try - suggests an extraordinary level of confidence.

Anyway, into the box I delve. Handset, headphones, charging plug and USB cable. Yes, the phone uses Apple's proprietary 'lightning' connector, so I can't stick with my trusty microUSB lead. I mutter to myself for a few seconds.

There isn't a big manual in the box - frankly, there's no room - just a 'quick start' guide. "To start, turn on your iPhone by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone."

I do, although it takes a couple of tries. It seems I wasn't holding or waiting long enough. First thing: connect to my home WiFi. What's this? The keyboard shows ALL CAPS all the time. I thought we'd moved on from the typewriter. Never mind. One of the joys of the new iOS 8 is that I can download another keyboard later.

Time to start exploring. I use the iPhone to log into my iTunes account and find a song I'd already bought via my PC. When I press 'play' the audio quality is surprisingly good, although it's only a mono speaker. Given Apple's music heritage with the iPod, I wonder when we'll see stereo speakers on an iPhone.

Incidentally, my own phone already plays its media in stereo. It's an HTC One; last year's M7 model rather than the newer M8, although I'd say it's still competing on the same playing field as the iPhone 6.

  iPhone 6 HTC One M7
Size 138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm
Weight 129g 143g
Display 4.7-inches,
750 x 1334 pixels
4.7 inches,
1080 x 1920 pixels
Camera 8 megapixel, 
1.5µ pixels
4 megapixel,
2µ pixels
Storage from 16GB to 128GB 32GB

Let's move to the camera; something the HTC excels at. On the iPhone 6, the camera lens sticks out the back by a fraction (barely 1mm, I'd say). This is slightly disconcerting. It gives the impression of being a compromise in order to claim the sub-7mm depth, which feels a bit like cheating to me.

Still, I like the way it takes pictures. There's a little icon to warn you when the automatic flash is on, there's a time lapse mode for DIY cat videos and there's a self-portrait timer as well. Later, I look online to see some people getting very excited about the iPhone's 'selfie timer'. My own phone's been doing it for well over a year, although admittedly without offering a burst of images to choose from. A 'recently deleted' option even lets me recover deleted pictures that I later wish I'd kept. It's a good idea, although I can see it might result in an embarrassing outcome for some people.

Siri, Apple's voice-controlled virtual assistant, generally works well. It's natural and intuitive. This makes any failures - either misinterpretation or simply "I'm not sure I understand" - all the more disappointing. If ever sentient machines turn against mankind in a Terminator-like uprising, I'm sure they'll be led by Siri saying "no more weather forecasts, you puny humans".

Soon, I've added Twitter, Dropbox and Evernote apps, I've synchronised my Google contacts, calendar and email, and I've even installed the free SwiftKey keyboard app. (I have Swype on my Android phone but didn't want to spend 99p on an iOS version I wouldn't be keeping.) A friendly security-savvy email from Apple warns me that I've linked my ID to a new device.

After a few days, I realise that I'm getting on with the practicalities of the iPhone 6 rather nicely. That lightning connector is pretty convenient, as it can be inserted either way up for charging, unlike microUSB. Everything's running smoothly. Occasionally my lack of experience with iOS frustrates me - it takes a while to turn off those annoying noises in the Twitter app - but it's no worse than getting to know Android.

On the last day before I need to send the phone back to Three, I bump into a couple of my iPhone-owning friends. They're most impressed. They like the bigger screen and love the rounded edges. They'll definitely be upgrading their iPhone 4s and iPhone 5s to an iPhone 6 as soon as they can, so they tell me.

So, in summary, if you're in the market for a new Apple smartphone, this is likely to be everything you'd hoped for. And if you're looking more generally for a high-spec handset, the iPhone 6 - or its larger iPhone 6 Plus sibling - should definitely be one of the phones you consider. Personally, I was sad to say goodbye to my loan iPhone from Three. Still, I'm sure it'll be fine. It's tougher than it looks, you know.

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Recent Podcasts

Reviewing our 2015 mobile industry predictions... and looking forward to 2016

Podcast - 15th January 2016

Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge return to review their mobile industry predictions from last year. Which mergers, partnerships and developments did they forecast correctly... and which didn’t work out as planned?

Later in the programme, the team anticipates some of the topics that will be hitting the headlines during 2016.

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Podcast from Mobile World Congress 2015

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Looking back at February: from security scares to multiple MVNOs

Podcast - 27th February 2015

We're taking a look back at the biggest mobile industry news stories from February 2015, including allegations that the UK's security service tried to breach SIM card security by hacking into one of the world's biggest SIM producers.

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Interview with Chris Millington of Doro about mobile retailing, wearables and technology for older consumers

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A month of mobile: O2 counts on 3, Microsoft counts to 10 and Apple counts its profits

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