Vodafone

Vodafone launches carrier billing for Android Market shoppers

Vodafone Europe has announced it will be offering direct operator billing as an option on Android devices, allowing users to charge apps from the Android Market directly to their phone bill. Available initially in the UK and Germany, Vodafone expects it to have a positive effect on app sales, where users may have previously avoided paid-software over the hassles of adding a credit card to their account. Initially, Vodafone says, carrier billing will only be available to those who purchased their Android device through the company's retail or online stores. The implication, however, seems to be that at some point that will be updated so that anyone slotting in a Vodafone SIM to their device will be able to charge apps to that account. Further roll-outs across Vodafone are expected in future, and we're guessing other European carriers will follow suit. Several US carriers already offer operator billing for Android.

Samsung Galaxy S Plus hands-on and benchmarks

All eyes may be on the Samsung Galaxy S II right now, but the Korean company believes there's some life left in its best-selling predecessor. The Samsung Galaxy S Plus GT-I9001 was officially announced at the end of March, a 1.4GHz upgrade to the original Hummingbird phone, and Android Community caught up with Vodafone UK today to grab some playtime and run some early benchmarks. Outwardly, there's little to differentiate the 119g Galaxy S Plus from the Galaxy S before it: the same plastic casing, 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED display, reasonably slimline chassis and 5-megapixel camera on the back. You also get the same front-facing camera, 8GB of internal storage - with a microSD card slot to boost that by up to 32GB - and Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Samsung's TouchWiz UI. What's different is processor speed and battery life. Samsung has overclocked the original 1GHz chip to 1.4GHz so as to bring it more in line with the performance we've seen from dual-core devices, but it's also managed to extend battery life at the same time. In fact, the company reckons the Galaxy S Plus will last 24-percent longer than the regular S. We took the opportunity to run a couple of benchmarks on the phone, starting with Quadrant Standard. The Galaxy S Plus scored 1241, a neat bump on top of the Galaxy S. Then we turned to Vellamo, Qualcomm's mobile browser benchmarking tool, which combines various web-centric tests into one. Here, the Galaxy S Plus scored 829, slotting in-between the HTC EVO 3D and the HTC Sensation, an impressive boost over original phone. In short, while you're not getting the very best specs of the day, you're getting a phone that needs no third-party ROMs to achieve a turn of speed. Vodafone will be offering the Galaxy S Plus imminently in the UK, priced from free with a new, 24-month agreement at £31 per month ($50) including 600 voice minutes, unlimited messaging, 500MB of data and 2GB of inclusive BT OpenZone WiFi hotspot use. Update: The Galaxy S Plus is available now, on pay monthly plans from £25. Meanwhile, we're giving away a pair of Vodafone Galaxy S II handsets to UK readers over at SlashGear, so head over to see how you can win! [gallery]

My Vodafone app for Android released: Track use, WiFi hotspots & roaming

Vodafone UK has released a new Android app, allowing subscribers to not only keep track of their accounts without ringing through to customer care, but also locate the nearest free WiFi hotspot. The My Vodafone app shows your current usage of minutes, messaging and data, and how close to your tariff limits you are. There's also information on the tariff itself, including contract end date, when you can expect the bill to arrive, and for roughly how much it will be. Those using their phone abroad can also keep an eye on any roaming charges they might be racking up. Finally, there's a map to show any nearby BT Openzone WiFi hotspots, access to which is bundled with many of Vodafone's plans. You'll need an Android 1.6 device or higher to run the app, and it's worth noting that the data isn't updated in real-time so what it says on-screen may not be the exact state of your bill. You can download My Vodafone from the Android Market. [gallery]

Vodafone ditches HTC EVO 3D before it even arrives

You snooze, you lose, HTC. UK carrier Vodafone has confirmed that it has dropped the HTC EVO 3D from its line-up, after continued delays in the glasses-free 3D smartphone's availability. Speaking to a Vodafone spokesperson today, Android Community was told that the carrier had decided that, given the devices it currently offers and those it has in the pipeline, and that "due to delays to the launch of the device" it felt the EVO 3D was no longer required. Those customers who had already pre-registered their interest in the EVO 3D on Vodafone will be contacted and the decision not to range it explained. The handset has already been removed from the Vodafone "Coming Soon" page. "We realise this will come as a disappointment to some people but we already offer some fantastic phones, like the HTC Sensation and Galaxy S2, with some really exciting handsets in the pipeline" the Vodafone spokesperson told us, "and we'll continue to focus on bringing the latest and greatest smartphones to Vodafone customers." While the EVO 3D went on sale in the US on June 24, having been initially announced back at CTIA 2011 in March 2011, European sales of the GSM variant are yet to begin. HTC confirmed it would be offering the device in GSM form back at the end of June.

Vodafone UK switches Samsungs: drops Galaxy Tab 10.1v for thinner 10.1

Bad news if you were holding out for an 8-megapixel Galaxy Tab 10.1v in the UK, with Vodafone UK deciding to switch their attentions from the original Samsung slate - announced as an exclusive to the carrier back at its debut in February - to the updated, slimmer version that followed on in March. Vodafone has alerted pre-interest customers to the change in an email today. Samsung whipped the original 10.1 back into the labs after Apple unveiled the iPad 2, returning at CTIA with a slimmer version that switched out, among other things, the 8-megapixel original camera for a 3-megapixel alternative. Vodafone initially pushed ahead with its plans for the Galaxy Tab 10.1v, launching it in Australia and Germany, but the UK arm has obviously decided the thinner model is more competitive and opted for that instead. It's unclear when exactly the Vodafone Galaxy Tab 10.1 will hit the market, with the carrier still yet to announce launch dates or, indeed, pricing. The slate arrives in the US on June 8 in WiFi form, with an LTE version hitting Verizon Wireless this summer. [via Vodafone]

HTC ChaCha on sale next week confirms Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK has confirmed to Android Community that the HTC ChaCha is going on sale next week, the first of HTC's "Facebook phones" from MWC 2011 back in February. Offering Android 2.3 with a custom Facebook widget and interface, the ChaCha has both a touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. Interestingly, Vodafone will also be offering bundled BT OpenZone WiFi hotspot access with the ChaCha, letting users get online via hotspot rather than use their data allowance. Although pricing for the smartphone - and the plans it will be paired with - hasn't been confirmed, HTC always intended the ChaCha to be a budget device, and free WiFi can only help reduce monthly data bills. The ChaCha has a dedicated Facebook button that allows users to share whatever they're doing on their Facebook wall, along with a 5-megapixel camera and the usual mixture of WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. SIM-free sales are expected to begin on June 6. There's a pre-interest sign-up page for Vodafone here.

XPERIA Play and Arc Android/Facebook update out for Vodafone handsets

Sony Ericsson's Android 2.3.3 update for the XPERIA Play and XPERIA Arc has been released for Vodafone UK's versions of the two smartphones. The updates bring the two handsets up to speed with Google's latest version of the OS, as well as adding in Facebook Inside XPERIA integration as on the mini and mini pro. Rather than an OTA update, the new firmware is delivered using a USB connection to your computer and the Sony Ericsson Update Service app. Vodafone says it will also improve voice quality, device stability, email setup and Exchange account performance, and introduce various bugfixes and security enhancements. Full instructions for the Play are here and for the Arc are here. Let us know how you get on!

HTC Sensation hits stores today

The Vodafone HTC Sensation has been up for pre-order since early May, and now the dual-core smartphone is headed into stores. Vodafone tells us that pre-order customers should be receiving their Sensation today, while everyone else can pick one up from free with a new, £35 per month, two-year agreement. Your money gets you a 4.3-inch, qHD 960 x 540 touchscreen, 1.2GHz dual-core MSM8260 processor, 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus, flash and 1080p Full HD video recording, and the front-facing camera for video calls. There's also the latest iteration of HTC Sense on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. All in all, it promises to be a mighty impressive smartphone. There's more information in our hands-on video below, and in our report from the Sensation's launch. [vms a2b4e80506f582af3676]

XPERIA Play heist was fake confesses Vodafone New Zealand

Vodafone New Zealand has admitted that it faked the entire "stolen XPERIA Play shipment" story, now confirmed to be a promotional campaign designed to mark the launch of the Sony Ericsson gaming smartphone. Doubts arose after Vodafone released "security camera footage" of the theft, which failed to convince viewers. Company spokesperson Matthew East confirmed to The Australian that the announcement had, in fact, been a marketing stunt rather than a legitimate crime. It's unclear when, exactly, the phone will launch. Would-be XPERIA Play owners in New Zealand can find out more about the carrier's competition here. The rest of us can sleep easily in our beds tonight, knowing that there aren't rogue Sony Ericsson handsets roaming the streets, flaunting their illicit IMEIs and generally being rowdy. [via Engadget]

Entire Vodafone New Zealand XPERIA Play stock stolen

Vodafone New Zealand has been forced to delay its launch of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play, after its entire launch stock was stolen. According to the carrier's Facebook page, a "major security" breach saw thieves make off with all the gaming phones. The carrier shared a (tiny) photo of what looks to be a store with a boarded-up window, though it's unclear if this single retail location actually had all of the Vodafone stock on-site. The handset is yet to be listed on the carrier's site. Vodafone hasn't said exactly when would-be mobile gamers can expect more stock to arrive. Conspiracy theories already abound, however, with some Facebook commenters going so far as to suggest that the carrier has staged a fake robbery to cover up a more mundane delay of the XPERIA Play. [Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]
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