I went into the Vodafone Shop in Wakefield this morning and returned the N96. I also talked Nicky out of getting an N95.
I walked out with a Nokia E71 which seems to do everything I want it to and with reasonable competence, and Nicky ended up with an E66. Time will tell how we get on with those…
So the time’s come to upgrade my phone – my Nokia E65 is getting a bit long in the tooth and we’ve been on a rubbish tariff anyway, off to the Vodafone shop I go. I’d sorta contemplated an iPhone but the whole kill switch thing put me off.
Our local Vodafone shop in Wakefield has a useful chap working there who’s given me good advice in the past: a very pleasant gentleman called Gareth. I went in, explained the monthly £200-plus phone bills, and tried some handsets. I must admit, I was a bit single-minded about this: a friend also has an N96 and likes it, and I’ve known quite a few friends with N95s who said they’re OK. To be fair Gareth told me it wasn’t a decent handset for my needs and it seemed a little sluggish in the shop but I put that down to “new setup” and things. Bad bad move, should’ve listened to the Bloke Who Knows.
Some of the more interesting problems:
- It’s slow. I’m not talking about odd bouts of sluggishness, it sometimes pauses for 5-10s and buffers the keypresses so you’ll get a rapid burst of functionality followed by nothing.
- Random reboots. It’s done it twice in the middle of calls, once while using the video player on the stock videos it comes with, and once while using the MP3 player.
- The MP3 player itself seems to be purely a reference implementation of the Fraunhofer decoder – it occasionally skips and garbles on known-good MP3s, and once it’s garbled the only way of fixing it is a reboot.
- Awful camera. Admittedly I didn’t get it for the camera, but to say “ooooh 5MP” then chuck out awful poorly-focused shots isn’t good.
- One fun point on Saturday it decided to not switch on: I was pretty sure the battery had died but once I’d removed and re-inserted the battery itself it came back with a decent charge.
- One word: “power saver”. Utterly useless, looks like the phone has run out of charge which I’m pretty paranoid about since the earlier “don’t switch on” problems.
- No thankyou, I don’t want to share that video on t’Internet. No, I don’t. Really I don’t. Please stop asking me. Please stop trying to upload it. Really. JUST STOP, YOU…
- Downloading S60 apps via the browser causes a system reset sometimes – happened with PuTTY.
- Cheap. Plastic. Feels cheap and plastic, almost like I’d break it if it was at the bottom of my bag.
- And after all that, the keypad is awful to type on – buttons arranged in a format which makes it easy to not send texts, or accidentally cancel things out.
Just to give you an idea of how bad it’s got, I’ve put my SIM back in the old E65. The new handset’s off back this morning, and I’ll probably go for an E71 instead on the advice of People Who Use Phones In The Same Manner As Me.
(So, why do I need to give the E71 a miss? Comments please…!)
I’ve been an Orange customer, on and off, since about 1993. My first GSM mobile was an Orange mobile (a Nokia V5, tempted onto the network via the then-embryonic SMS service) and since then I’ve had a succession of reasonable handsets both on business and personal tariffs. The service has moved with me, from Hull to Poole to London to Wakefield and – by and large – I was reasonably happy. Well, until a couple of years ago anyway.
I should point out here that this is relevant to Orange’s voice service. The data service has been crap as long as I can remember, and I have written about it before – both mine and Nicky’s data service has been with Vodafone for two years now.
The main problems with Orange have been with the network itself:
- Driving from Wakefield to Sheffield, there are several blackspots. I can guarantee that I will get dropped calls just south of Wooley Edge Services, even when I have a full 5-bar signal. Occasionally call setups will result in horrible garbled static.
- The Outwood cell (servicing WF3) has been unavailable at least since 2005: this is a bit crap when the main work base for me is in Outwood, and uses this cell most of the week. Again full 5-bar signal, but any attempts to make calls result in ‘Connection Error’.
- Two weeks ago Nicky’s Grandmother was in hospital, very ill. The entire Orange network crashed at a critical point when we really needed to call people and sort stuff out – Nicky was getting the dreaded ‘Connection Error’ in Doncaster, and so was I in Wrenthorpe WF2 and Outwood WF3. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back really.
- Last night the South London cell I was talking to just wouldn’t give me a signal. Zilch. This morning, the same. I come up to Old Street EC1 and it’s back and working, albeit intermittently. I’ve ended up turning the damn thing off since any calls received seem to have me being able to hear the caller but not vice-versa.
Notes: These are most recently with the Nokia N70 (of which both myself and Nicky own), but also happened with other Orange subscribers on different handsets in the same areas. Vodafone works fine, as does O2 and T-Mobile. The Orange shop in Wakefield are about as useful as a chocolate fireguard.
So we decided to leave Orange, and move to Vodafone (who have had our data service for a while, as previously noted). We wandered into the Vodafone shop in Wakefield and spoke to a bloke who actually knew his stuff! Wonderful! Not only that, but we’ve managed to sort out the mess of billing and have a named contact in the shop for our business account. I cannot praise the bloke highly enough, even to the point where the kids were getting bored and restless he had endless patience with us. The thought that I can go in and talk to them if something breaks is very very heartening.
I requested my PAC code from Orange last Saturday. Since then I have had three calls wanting to keep our business since we spend about £200 with them a month (!) – however none of them can sort the Outwood cell nor properly transfer my account to a business billing. We can get free ringdings I suppose, or an 18-month contract to save a few poxy quid with a crap handset. Oh, and unlimited phone calls to Bangalore every time we want to change our tariff (“we can change your current providings sah”). We don’t pigeonhole into any of the tariffs either, so moving off the deprecated Talk-200 bundles we’re on will cost us dear. And it’s all a bit pointless if we’ve not got any service in our office cell anyway.
So, end of an era. Sorry Orange, nice while it lasted but I don’t like paying for a nonexistent service.