Vodafone 360 H1

The Vodafone 360 H1 is a touchscreen device designed by Samsung exclusively for the new "Vodafone 360" service.

Vodafone 360 aims to integrate social networking sites, email, contacts and multimedia into one place. Vodafone claim that this is "A Suite of Innovative, New Internet Services for Mobile and PC", but there is nothing particularly new here, Vodafone are just trying to keep up with other operators and manufacturers and persuade customers to be part of the Vodafone experience.. rather than Nokia's Ovi, for example. Vodafone 360 supports Facebook, Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger, with Twitter and other platforms coming soon.

Vodafone say that the 360 service will be available on four Nokia smartphones at launch, but perhaps most of interest is the Vodafone 360 H1 handset itself, which is one of a pair of devices custom made for this application.

Before we do a tour of the hardware, it's perhaps worth looking at the H1's software. It's a Linux-based device, but unlike the sudden recent rush of Android handsets, the 360 H1 runs the rival LiMo operating system instead. Many customers won't be familiar with LiMo, but two well-known examples are the Motorola RAZR2 V8 and Motorola ROKR E8. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo also use a lot of LiMo-powered devices. It's a fairly mature platform with a reasonably large developer community, but LiMo has been eclipsed by the growth of rivals.. recently exemplified by Motorola's switch to Android development instead.

 Vodafone 360 H1 The hardware itself is pretty impressive. There's a large 3.5" 800 x 480 pixel AMOLED touchscreen, a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, GPS plus a navigation client, HSDPA and HSUPA support with maximum transfer speeds of 7.2 Mbps and 5.6 Mbps respectively, dual band UMTS and WiFi.

A comprehensive multimedia player can cope with MP3, AAC and WMA audio along with some other formats, plus H.263, H.264, MPEG4 and DivX video. Media can be stored internally on the H1's 8GB or 16GB of memory (depending on model) or on a microSD card. There is also an FM radio and a standard 3.5mm audio connector.

 Vodafone 360 H1 The Vodafone 360 H1 comes with the Opera web browser with support for Webkit widgets, an email client with support for push messaging and a remote lock-and-wipe capability if the phone goes missing. Of course, the H1 also supports Vodafone's 360 service out of the box, and Vodafone say that there should be 1000 applications available to download when the service goes live.

The large 1500 mAh battery provides up to 7 hours talktime and 19 days standby time, although it is not clear if these are 3G or GSM figures. Weighing 134 grams and measuring 116 x 58 x 13mm, the 360 H1 is a little narrower than the iPhone 3G S, but otherwise fairly typical for this class of device. Vodafone's publicity shots show the 360 H1 available in black and silver.

Vodafone say that the 360 H1 handset and the 360 platform itself should be available by Christmas 2009 in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Next year it will be available in France, Russia, Romania, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand through Vodafone or its partner networks. There's no word on pricing as that will probably depend on the contract you take.

Are we excited by all this? To tell the truth.. no. Although the handset and the 360 service look to be competitive, they do seem to lack a certain spark. After all, Vodafone isn't generally regarded as a "fun" network, perhaps more as a "dull but reliable" network. And we can't help but feel that a lot of these "value added" 360 services are not of much interest to typical Vodafone customers, although the 360 H1 phone itself looks to be very interesting. We will have to see if consumers beat a path to Vodafone's door.


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