Advantages Cheap to join
Disadvantages Quality of service is abysmal
I joined the 3 network in August, taking advantage of the 1p NEC e808 from OneStopPhoneShop (see my other ops for reviews of both). The idea of video calling was tremendously exciting and I was looking forward to trying out the new technology. It seemed like a real leap forward in mobile communication, and something I really wanted to try for myself.However, three months later, I am now back on Orange, with my NEC e808 passed on to a new owner and a 2g Motorola v500 on order to replace it.
Here's a brief summary of my own experiences with 3, some other views I've read as I've researched the network, and why you shouldn't join - yet.--> WHAT IS 3?
'3' is the brand name for the new 3G (third generation) mobile services in the UK. The same brand is operating in some parts of Europe and Australia. 3G - theoretically - provides better voice call quality, video streaming and downloads, and broadband-speed wireless mobile internet access. The handsets on the 3 network offer varying amounts of gadgets and gizmos, from video recording and calling to voice notes to sport, information and entertainment downloads and touch-screen handsets. You can also (again, theoretically) use your 3G phone to find a 'quick map' of a postcode area, or see up to date weather forecasts and news headlines. The service in the UK also has a limited email service.3G coverage is not that great, and you are likely to only get a 3G signal on major motorways and rail routes, as well as city centres. Where 3G coverage is not available, the phone will switch to o2, which only offers 'normal' 2G services. No downloads, no video calling, and voice calls are actually more expensive when in a 2G zone.
--> WHAT CAN 3 DO FOR ME?Aside from the obvious selling point - video calling - Three are selling their service cheap and cheerful at the moment. Credit checks are easy to pass, free minutes are handed out by the bucketload and handsets with a supposed RRP of £500 are being given away free to anyone who'll take the risk on the new network. These things all sound very impressive at first glance, especially since everybody is looking for the best tariff with the most minutes included - but the reality is that the Three service is not as great as it looks on paper.
--> MY EXPERIENCE WITH 3: HANDSETSMy NEC e808 handset certainly looked impressive, but I was shocked at the size... it looked like a sandwich maker with the ergonomics to match. The standby time was about 18 hours, which meant I had to charge the phone every night without fail - and when I had been using it, it would run out of juice before I even got back home to plug it in.
When moving around with the phone - driving or walking - it would beep every few minutes as I moved in and out of 3G coverage areas. While on 2G the phone constantly searches for a 3G signal which only makes the battery life drain faster. There was no option on my handset to 'lock' the phone to 2G, so the beeping and battery draining continued, even in a city centre - and when the phone was completely stationary, sitting on my sofa.
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