Update: My review of the SPV M1500 is now available.
We upgraded our handsets through Orange the other day, so I thought I’d share our thoughts on the process. End result (in case you can’t be bothered with reading all this) is that I now have an SPV M1500, and Sam has an SPV C550. If you’re just after knowing what I think of the handsets, skip on down a bit – I’ll start with a bit of background that may be tedious…
We’ve been with Orange for quite a few years now, so we’ve been through the upgrade process a few times. The idea is simple – they want you to stay with them for another year, so in return for signing another annual contract, they let you have a new phone for free (or for a smallish payment if it’s an expensive phone). Since we’re happy with staying in a monthly contract, it’s always seemed like a good deal for us.
We do what we probably would have done anyway, but we get new toys for free (or nearly free). Orange get our trade guaranteed for another year, and the new toys give us extra incentive to use the services, so we end up spending more on calls and data. Win-win.
We’re on a talkshare plan – we have one handset each, but they’re attached to a single contract. It’s always surprised me that this doesn’t make things horribly difficult when it comes to time for upgrades. All that’s happened each time in the past is that we’ve been given a shiny new phone each for free.
Online or In Store?
In theory it should be easy to do the upgrade online – they’ll deliver the new handsets to you, and you just fill in a few forms. We’ve done it all in a store the last few times, though, as it saves a bit of hassle and gives us the instant gratification of walking out with the new phones. Also, it gives us a chance to actually see the handsets we’re thinking of getting, which can make a difference. We had a few problems last time, when the guy doing the upgrade swapped phones around and sent us away with the wrong handset, but it should be easier done in a store, so we did it this way again.
Plans for Handsets
We both had the SPV C500. I’d been pretty happy with it, with a few exceptions, but Sam hadn’t really liked it much. The navigation controller was difficult to use, and tended to go either up or down when you tried to ‘click’ it in the middle, which made selecting things in menus difficult. It wasn’t too bad if you used one thumb on each end to push it down, but that way it takes two hands (er, obviously), which isn’t too convenient. This same controller also got quite badly worn in normal use.
The syncing with Outlook was reasonably good, but you can certainly tell that the SmartPhone edition of Windows Mobile is only intended for contacts and a little calendaring. The tasks program doesn’t support categories, which makes it pretty near useless to me, and neither files nor Outlook Notes sync at all.
For quite a while, we’d been checking the handsets listing from time to time, and neither of us had found anything too inspiring.
There were plenty of decent enough handsets, but nothing really interesting.
Some time ago, I bought an iPaq hx4700 – a fantastic machine – but when I got my tablet PC, Sam got the iPaq. I ‘borrowed’ it back for a few days recently, and got a lot of use out of it, but since Sam is out at work three days a week, whilst I just sit around at home, so she needed it more than I did.
The Orange SPV M1500
Then I noticed the SPV M1500. It’s more PDA than phone, which I like. It wasn’t free, but it was only Â£50, which seemed do-able. That gave us two choices…
- I get an M1500, and Sam gets a new phone to go with the iPaq. She liked the idea of going back to a Nokia.
- Sam gets an M1500, and I get the iPaq and a new phone to go with it. I was thinking about the Motorola RAZR, since it’s nice and slim to fit in a pocket along with the iPaq.
We hit a snag with this plan at the store, though. This year, Orange have changed the way they do upgrades for TalkShare customers. Each handset is now graded separately, so Samâ€™s handset doesn’t get the same free upgrade options that mine does. The cheapest way of doing what we wanted to do worked out as getting the M1500 for Â£50 on my line, but the RAZR on Sam’s line would be Â£150. Too expensive by a long way. The only phone with Bluetooth that was free on Sam’s line was the Orange SPV C550. The C600 is out now, but it’s Windows Mobile 5, which needs ActiveSync 4.0 â€“ the iPaq is Windows Mobile 2003, which ActiveSync 4.0 doesn’t support. So attaching both devices to one PC might be a problem. Might not, but I’d rather not find out by getting a new phone home and finding we couldn’t use it alongside the device we wanted to use it alongside.
The other thing that’s changed is that we now have to sign up for an 18-month contract rather than just 12-month to do the upgrade, but they sweeten the deal with a 10% discount on the line rental. On balance, we donâ€™t get as good a deal out of it as with the old system, but I guess that’s why they’ve changed it
Anyway, the result is that we left with an SPV M1500 for me and an SPV C550 for Sam. I’ll post more about the M1500 soon, but brieflyâ€¦
It’s more PDA than phone. The ‘phone’ part of it is actually a little Windows Mobile application that runs when you press the green ‘handset up’ button. If you want a device that’s mainly phone, you probably wouldn’t like it. I like having a PDA, and use it a lot, and carrying a phone too is just an extra hassle. Putting the phone in the PDA works well for me.
As a PDA, it’s not bad at all. The screen doesn’t compare well with the iPaq – the hx4700 has a VGA screen, so this one is a quarter of the resolution. It’s very nice and bright, though, and the OS makes good use of the pixels it’s given. It has 128Mb RAM (double the iPaq’s rather tight 64Mb), which means much less fighting to get things to fit than I’m used to. As far as connectivity goes, along with the direct GPRS connection for Internet access, it has Bluetooth (which I’ve set up for ActiveSync so I can sync from anywhere in the house) and WiFi. We don’t have any WiFi at home, but it will come in useful when visiting my parents.
I was a bit surprised that it came with a cradle – I was expecting them to have taken the cheap option of just giving you a cable, but it comes with a cradle with an extra slot for charging a spare battery. Also included is a ‘leather look’ case, with space for credit cards or money and a couple of SD cards. Not great, but certainly better than I expected to be bundled with it.
I didn’t think this would have improved much over the C500, but it actually feels a lot better. More solid and chunky, and the buttons have a much better ‘click’ to them. The old navigator control that was so bad on the previous model has been replaced with a little stubby joystick thing that is much easier to work with. The only major grumble Sam’s had with it so far is the dedicated music buttons – they seem to be tied to some Orange online service – but this might just be that she’s not had time to investigate it much yet.