3G Phones Hit The Shops This Weekend

It almost feels like we’re watching some sort of bizarre geek reality show – following every overhyped and over-publicized move of Hutchison’s 3. Watch now as the (gasp!) actual phones arrive in stores. 3 is milking this “launch” for all it’s worth. Technically, they launched back on March 3rd (03/03/03 – get it?), but it’s a funny sort of launch when no phones are available. So, now the phones are here and 3’s PR people get to celebrate their second “launch”.Update (PA): On a trip to London earlier this week I checked out the 3 shop on Kennisington High Street. The well appointed store was empty and the employees were milling about fixing store displays, etc. It was about 10AM, so I didn’t expect it to be very busy. They sat me down and gave me a demo and let me play with the NEC e808, the one with the keyboard. It has a nice screen which makes watching downloaded video easy. But it’s too big to use as a phone. And in my brief testing I wasn’t blown away by the email UI which I would have expected to be better for a device with a keyboard. For all the 3G speed hype, the services I tested, like maps and video downloads, looked great, but weren’t exactly instant downloads. I will admit that video calling was neat. However it did take a couple of trys to make it work and I’m not sure if people will use it after the novelty wears off. That’s if they know someone else with a 3 phone. When I asked the sales person how the pre-orders were going he predictably said “Quite well.” Later on I jumped into one of the mobile phone chains that 3 has signed up as a reseller and asked them the same question. Despite the prominent 3 display the sales person said they hadn’t taken any pre-orders yet. People are disappointed when they realize that they have to switch their current service and seem unsure of this new network.

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