This is an unofficial blog by a giffgaff user. It represents only the views and opinions of the author and not those of giffgaff or any of its associated companies. All giffgaff images used with permission.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Top 10 Best Android Phones Compared

Sony Ericsson might be late to the party but the Xperia Arc is  one good looking piece of kit!

So what is the best Android handset? From the basement buys for the budget conscious to the newest handsets sporting vibrant AMOLED screens, it seems there is an Android phone for everyone. That's the beauty of Android, a democratic mobile OS for the masses. Apple's recent unveiling of iOS 5 hardly contained any jaw-dropping features with many of them already present on Android.

See what you think of TechRadars Top 10 list of Android-powered handsets

Monday, 13 June 2011

Unlimited Mobile Internet

The one thing that led me to giffgaff was the need for unlimited mobile internet. It's not even that i'm a heavy user I generally use my phone for tracking mountain bike rides using the everytrail app and loading maps, I upload the odd photo to Facebook and might stream the odd bit of radio or TV. My usage is fairly low but I like the freedom of having unlimited internet and knowing i'm not going to get hit with any hidden charges. It is a shame that the major networks have withdrawn unlimited data unless you sign up to an expensive contract. It feels like a step backwards to me - a bit like Broadband throttling and capping, it goes against progress.

Giffgaff offer unlimited internet with every one of their goodybags from £10 a month, how more people are not aware of this astounds me, the deal is so good I have decided to abandon lengthy pay monthly contracts and go back to pay and go for the first time since I was a poor student!

Others are saying the same, interesting mention of giffgaff on Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert site. Look past the other suggestions (free Skype calls? Er...unlimited Internet + Skype app...Voila!) and it is clear giffgaff blows the competition out of the water.

Get a free Giffgaff Sim

Pay and Go deals compared -

Who are GiffGaff?

As I am coming up to my renewal with O2 and i'm pretty happy with my handset I figured I would shop around for a good SIM-only deal. I looked at all the usual suspects as well as some of the more competitive offerings from Three, Tesco Mobile and Asda amongst others. I had pretty much settled on a switch to Three until I stumbled upon GiffGaff's site, I had never heard of them but they had a swish site and they seemed to offer a fantastic deal so being naturally cynical I dug a little deeper. Giffgaff are part of O2 and reportedly came about as a result of O2's Head of Brand Strategy Gav Thompson studying Web 2.0 technologies (Thanks WikiPedia!!)

GiffGaff Advert

Goody Bags
The basic pay-and-go offering is a great deal with 8p per min calls and 4p texts which compares favourable with other providers but add a 'goodybag' and things start to get a whole lot better. Once you have topped up you have the option to purchase a goodybag which is essentially a package deal. You can view the current deals to the right of this page.

It does seem a bit of a pain to have to top up and then choose a goodybag but you do get the option to queue up 2 at a time which is handy. Having come from being on pay-monthly for a while this seems a bit laborious as first but definitely worth it for such a superb deal. 

Ex-mobiles - The phones I've loved and lost! Part 1

I presume that you have all seen the Mazuma mobile advert where the poor old abandoned phone lives in a dusty drawer, before being 'rescued' by being placed into an envelope. He looked so happy the poor blighter, little did he know he had been sold to the black market for little more than the price of a pint...of milk.

Esoteric interpretations of terrible adverts aside, it did get me thinking about my old handsets. There was the  Nokia 3210 I proudly displayed in the sixth form common room, bathing in the adulation of being one of the first to get a contract phone and mastering the Nokia ringtone composer to make cheesy europop sound even worse. What of my ex-mobiles? Where are they now? Are they happy? Is he better than me? (Oh wait, we are still talking about phones aren't we?).

Hall of fame or rogues gallery? I'll let you decide! feel free to share your own mobile life in the comments section!

"The First"
Vodafone Maxon MX-3204

Purchased from the local Woolworth's store with my Christmas money, this was my first ever mobile phone and was quite the phone to have - though not in the horrific 'champagne' colour that I seemed to think looked quite slick. It had rubber keys that had an annoying click, a stubby aerial that jabbed you in the groin if you leant forward with it in your pocket. Looking at the GSM Arena stats it seems it's only feature of note was it's ability to store the 20 most recently dialled numbers. A pretty crap phone even when it was released, I have no idea what happened to it, I probably swapped it for a Tamagotchi. 

Moving on Up
Nokia 3210

This slimline (at the time) beauty was my first contract phone, procured on my behalf after much begging. I can still remember the excitement of unpacking the box, I ignored the advice to fully charge it as I wanted to show it off.  It had interchangeable covers, in keeping with my previous bad taste I bought an official Nokia cover in a revolting shade of bronze. It also had the novelty of a built in antenna which seemed quite ground-breaking at the time.

It also had the Nokia 'Composer' and after some research on the Internet and about half an hour entering codes I had my first ringtone, people would come from far and wide to hear this mythical sound. Imagine how disappointed they were when they found it was only Blue by Eiffel 65. I was even stopped whilst shopping by a girl from school that I had never spoken to before so that she could hear this marvel of technology! This phone also had the distinction of mobile gaming with the irritatingly addictive Snake. 

This was my first introduction to Nokia and I can remember how easy the phone was to use compared with others, they definitely led the way in terms of interface design until Apple came in and stole the show. Sadly this phone got dropped somewhere, but did find a new owner who decided to make as many calls as they could before it was barred. The subsequent investigation, carried out with the aid of an itemised bill and other members of the sixth-form in the common room HQ rather disappointingly failed to yeild any leads! 

Take the red pill (or was it the blue one?)
Nokia 7110 AKA 'The Matrix Phone'

After experiencing the sudden popularity that can ensue from having the latest handset, I needed something even better than my old phone. Cue, this, the so called 'matrix phone' on account of a similar Nokia (Actually a modded 8110) appearing in the film of the same name. The phone was the must-have phone of it's day, it was the first phone to allow WAP browsing, it had Snake 2, It even came in a funky flip colour scheme that changed from green through to gold and purple. Hours of fun could be had clicking the button at the side that made the cover spring down. It made answering the phone seem impossibly cool. Unfortunately I over did this and wore it out which did spoil the impact somewhat.

WAP browsing was appallingly bad and relied on a custom protocol meaning that actual content was pretty limited. Teletext probably offered more interactivity (Remember the Bamboozle quiz on C4 Teletext?). 

Waiting for WAP to load often led Neo to fall asleep standing up. That and all those Pills of course.
Glorious Technicolour!
Samsung T100

The next innovation to catch my eye was this Samsung, which was unique when it was released as it was one of the first phones with a colour screen. A friend bought one first and due to phone envy I bought it the next day, it set me back the princely sum of £150 on contract. It had some funky animated wallpapers as well as a virtual pet style game and polyphonic ringtones that were actually pretty good. People were impressed with the colour screen, and the addition of a naked lady as my wallpaper made it very popular (although I had to remember not to lend it to my nan) . It also had a dual screen although disapointingly the top screen was just bog standard lcd. Note that it still had one of those annoying stubby antennas! This phone had to go when it started to develop a habit of not receiving calls, with one incident leaving a 'date' waiting outside my halls of residence for 45 minutes trying to reach me as she didn't know the number of my flat. It had to go after that, my date thought similar of me!

Charitable Donation
Nokia 3310

The humble Nokia 3310, a rather chunky 'upgrade' to the 3210 which just felt really ordinary. This model was given to me by someone who had tired of its frumpy ways and soggy text life (An awful attempt at a pun) A solid, uninspiring phone that texted proficiently and made phone calls. For a while that was enough! By now I had also tired of changing fascia and stuck with the safe and dependable Navy original case. Dependable but achingly dull, I'm not sure how it met its demise, It may have continued on its way as a faithful 'loan phone'.
The Baby Brother
Nokia 6100

Another phone that was procured on the cheap in return for a bit of web design work. The trusty Nokia form-factor but in a slinky case and with a colour screen. It was a no-nonsense phone and oh so dinky. What more to say? It didn't deserve it's watery grave locked in a washing machine pressed against the door in a vain attempt at escape. The washing machine mocking my absent-mindedness with its every spin. After two weeks on a radiator it rallied briefly but was never the same!

Another Donation!
Nokia 6230

Continuing my streak of free handsets, I inherited this from my younger brother, it even came with some genuine Iraqui sand due to seeing some active service out there. It was scratched to buggery and the buttons were barely readable. An official Nokia fascia (Hurrah...a return to the good old days!)  for the 6230i was purchased and made the phone look like new - It even upgraded the rubbery keys with some more solid and tactile silver ones! A great phone in its day it looked a bit long in the tooth in the end particularly once I stood on it and smashed the screen.

Play That Funky music
Nokia 5310 XpressMusic

My first actual purchase in years this was an interesting phone, good looking and really slim. It had buttons on the top that controlled music playback (blatantly stolen from Sony Ericsson!) a 3.5mm earphone socket on the top and the in built speakers were pretty good too. Unfortunately the buttons on the side were really easy to press, they also had a knack of selecting the guiltiest of guilty pleasures and blasting them out to all and sundry in the most inappropriate places. After a business meeting was interrupted by the strains of Whitney Houston it had to go!

The end of the Nokia era
iPhone 3GS

Having resisted earlier iPhones due to the expense of the contracts, I got to a point where I realised I had to have a smartphone. I had always been a texts and calls guy but I now needed e-mail and Internet on the go and I wasn't really fond of the look of the Blackberry. I had to go for the white one, simply because then everyone would know it was the new 3GS model..I know, such a poser!

The first one I had was a bit of a lemon and seemed to struggle with reception, my solution? Go on a summer bike ride to the pub and let it slip out of my pocket. Despite retracing my steps (or should that be wheels?) furiously it was nowhere to be found. I explored every option when considering a replacement but as I was not even half way through my contract I bit the bullet and bought a new one, thankfully the new one was much better and people could actually call me on it. I was initially wary of 24 month contracts, thinking the phone would be outdated within 12 months. I needn't have worried, it seems the focus has shifted from handsets to operating systems and given that I have been able to upgrade the OS, the phone still feels modern.

The Future

So where next? I'm eagerly awaiting the next iPhone but I'm no apple fanboy and if it doesn't float my boat I will either hang onto my current phone or switch to an Android phone. As long as I can check my e-mail, use the web, phone and text I'm not too fussed. In the current economic climate, I'm taking a perverse enjoyment from saving money and have just switched from a contract phone to a GiffGaff pay and go sim.The £10 goodybag is so good I'll even put up with the FiffFaff (see what I did there) of topping up each month! 

If you want to give it a go click the link below (Yes I do get commission but you get £5 of free credit if you order through my link - Thats the GiffGaff ethos, a favour for a favour!)

Get a free Giffgaff Sim