Archive for November, 2010
For anyone that even vaguely keeps up to date with technology, the launch of Windows Phone 7 will not have gone unnoticed. This mobile version of Windows is a complete departure from the Windows Mobile days of old, and is really set to compete with Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. At least, in theory.
Microsoft has set a minimum hardware specification that all devices must meet, regardless of manufacturer. Despite that, the range available at launch is more varied than you might think. Some have Super LCD screens, some AMOLED or Super AMOLED, and some standard LCD. Some have 5 megapixel cameras, the required minimum, while one has 8 megapixels. They all have a minimum of 8GB on board memory, with expansion slots a very rare feature. All have a screen resolution of 800×480 and the same 3 buttons across the front, Back, Home and Search. This variety is not necessarily good, as some are definitely better than others.
Unfortunately, if you decide you want a particular handset, getting one is not easy. There is only one handset currently due to be available directly, not tied to a network, the Dell Venue Pro, although the release date keeps slipping back. All others are tied to a small number of networks. For example the HTC HD7 is exclusive to O2. The Samsung Omnia 7 is on Orange, T Mobile and Three. In the case of my handset of choice, the HTC 7 Mozart, this is only on Orange. I do not want to take out a new contract, so this is a problem.
The obvious solution is to buy one on Pay as You Go. Simple you might think. The HTC 7 Mozart is currently the only Windows Phone 7 offered on Pay as You Go on any network. Orange however seem to be going out of their way to make getting one complicated. At launch, I had 2 friends who also wanted to buy this same handset on Pay as You Go. They were with Orange on contract, but not at a point where they could upgrade their handsets. The Orange website does list the HTC 7 Mozart on Pay as You Go, but has constantly said ‘Out of Stock’ so you cannot buy one this way. They enquired with Orange, and found only 1 store in London, on Oxford Street, was selling them, and had them in stock. All other stores would only offer them on contract. So queue a quick trek in to London.
Once at the store, they were then told that there were none in stock on Pay as You Go, despite having checked only hours earlier. Queue more trekking to other Orange stores in London. At these we were told that Orange did not sell the HTC 7 Mozart on Pay as You Go. Not that they weren’t in stock, but they actually didn’t offer them in this way. The staff were completely unaware of a Pay as You Go version. Fortunately, after more telephone enquiries, and returning to the first store, they were able to buy their phones on Pay as You Go. They were even given free bluetooth headsets as compensation for the trouble they went through thanks to Orange’s poor customer service.
Now 2 weeks later, the situation has gotten worse. I have checked at 3 local stores, outside of London, in the hope that as it has been some time since launch, they may now have them on Pay as You Go. Instead, I am consistently being told that Orange do not do that phone on Pay as You Go. One store did believe me when I mentioned it was on their website, and checked their catalogue, finding a price. But of course, there were none in stock.
This week I returned to the same store in London where my friends actually purchased their handsets. I was first told they had them in, and I could buy one. Then I was told they were out of stock. When I asked when they were getting more in, I got a response I was not expecting. I was told Orange were no long going to sell this phone on on Pay as You Go. According to the staff, they were only available this way at launch, and when sold out, would not be available again. The only way I could get this handset is by taking out a contract.
It seems Orange can’t work out what they are doing. From denying the handset is even available on Pay as You Go, to not having them in stock, to now claiming they will no longer be sold on Pay as You Go. From what I have heard, O2 have had no such problems or availability issues with the HTC HD7 they offer. They sell this on both contract and Pay as You Go, and all stores I have visited know this and have both in stock. Unfortunately, having tried one, I personally do not like it, and so do not want one.
Orange certainly seem to have dropped the ball here. They are offering two of the better handsets, in my opinion, those that are also scoring higher marks in reviews than their counterparts, but they are not making it easy to get them. Not everyone wants to take out a new contract or is able to upgrade their handset. Pay as You Go is normally a suitable option. The handset is still network locked, and not a true SIM free solution, but it is not tied to a lengthy and expensive contract. My opinion of Orange wasn’t high before, and this experience has certainly lowered it. If only Orange were able to launch their Windows Phone 7 handsets in a smooth and consistent way. While the HTC 7 Mozart is still my preferred phone, I may have to settle for second or even third best if I want a Windows Phone 7 handset.
Or perhaps I should reconsider an iPhone or an Android handset?