Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Vodafone 360: I've had enough

Regular readers may remember this post in December 2009, when I took the unusual decision to opt for Vodafone's first dedicated Vodafone 360 smartphone, the Samsung H1, as my next handset - the reason being I had lost my old phone, was due an upgrade, and the iPhone was yet to launch on Voda.

It was a gamble, but when the operator unveiled Vodafone 360 earlier in September I had been impressed by the 3D address book that aggregated contacts across various social networks and stored their details online. I was also impressed by the H1's specs, which as well as the standard smartphone fodder, also included 16 Gigabytes of built-in memory, a 5 megapixel camera, and a crisp, bright OLED touchscreen as standard.

However, I'm less than six months into my contract, and I've had enough. Despite Vodafone's ambition, its LiMo-based 360 platform is buggy to the point of rendering the phone unusuable.

The clever 3D address book - the star of the show - crashes. A lot. This means I have to look through the call history or the messaging app to find a contact.

It's worth leaving the latter up and running if you're in the middle of a text conversation by the way, because compared to the iPhone and most Android handsets, the messaging app takes an age to load. Sometimes it even renders the touchscreen completely unresponsive and the only solution involves a hard restart and a lot of self restraint to avoid throwing it out of a window.

Sometimes when trying to send a text only half the screen autorotates. So you're left with a horizontal keyboard and a vertical chat box, or vice versa.

Email synchronisation is a nightmare - I'm unable to send any emails, and it's only capable of downloading junk mail from my Webmail account. So I have a smartphone that spams me.

The Internet browser, despite incorporating Opera technology, crashes often and the software keyboard doesn't always appear when you touch on a dialogue box - so looking up train times, or filling out any kind of online form for that matter, is laborious.

Vodafone in March pushed out over-the-air updates to 360, only my phone didn't download them.

So I'm left with a device that has a sluggish interface that includes an unstable address book, messaging application and Internet browser, with an email app that does nothing but spam me. Not exactly the smartphone experience I've been hankering for, and more than once my phone has come very close to being 'flushed'.

Why am I writing about this now? I was sent a Nexus One for the purposes of another story I'm working on, and although it's had mixed publicity thanks to connection issues on T-Mobile USA and Google's lack of dedicated tech support, it has reminded me of what I've been missing out on: Any semblance of a smartphone experience.

So I will keep using the Nexus One until someone asks for it back, and I will keep the blog updated with how I'm getting on - stay tuned!

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