Tagged With mobiles

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reports that for the first quarter of the year the level of complaints about mobile phones dropped by 30 per cent, but Australian consumers still found plenty to complain about, with an overall rise in complaints of 4.5 per cent.

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New entries in the L series (inventively named the L II), new 4G capable Optimus F5 and more make up LG's rather budget-centric 2013 Australian range. The news isn't so good if you were hanging out for the large screen Optimus Pro, however.

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Optus customers who go over their "cap" limits will only be charged up to a certain pre-set point, which is a major victory over bill shock. Optus, though, has implemented this in a very quiet fashion.

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ALDI has sold plenty of cheap gadgetry over the years, including tablets. Its latest rumoured move will see it launch into the competitive Mobile Virtual Network Operator space, reportedly reselling Telstra coverage in the same style as Kogan Mobile. How well will that work out?

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RIM has reinvented itself as BlackBerry, and this morning I got some very brief hands-on time with a BlackBerry Z10. Here are my initial thoughts on BlackBerry's new platform and the first BB10 smartphone.

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We've all been waiting with bated breath to get the iPhone 5 pricing. Will it be more expensive? Will it be cheaper? Optus has taken the plunge first and put its pricing online. Take a look.

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Telstra's long been the whipping boy of Current Affairs television when it comes to excessive bill charges, so it's great to see that the telco has finally moved to improving its usage alerts for customers. At least when it comes to voice, SMS and MMS usage.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning this week to providers of ringtones, games, wallpapers and other "premium" mobile content, noting that "attempts to distract and confuse so that consumers cannot make informed choices are not acceptable". At the same time, it reminded consumers not to dive into these deals without careful consideration:

Television advertisements with small print disclosure and busy or distracting images and magazine advertisements featuring tiny print and confusing clutter mean that many consumers would not appreciate the significant ongoing costs they could incur by simply texting in to the number on the screen or in print.

While this may seem obvious advice, it's worth reinforcing in an era when people will rush out to buy the latest fashionable phone and its accessories (though arguably one advantage of the iPhone is that it doesn't work with most of these providers). If you want to make your own ringtones instead, here's how to get it done for Windows and Mac users.

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A survey of Australian consumers by retailer Allphones found that 13% of phone buyers plan on replacing their handset every six months, and 40% expect to do so once a year. While the survey size (110) is so small that the figures can't be taken very seriously (especially in a country where there are more than 20 million handsets), it does raise an interesting issue.

As a tech journalist, I get to test out quite a lot of new phones (though I'm an amateur compared to Nick at Gizmodo) -- but I've tended to hang onto my actual working phone for two years or more. What's your preferred phone replacement cycle? And what drives you to change over -- a sexy new design, enhanced features, or a dead battery in your old phone? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Rampant confusion over mobile phone plans and charges (and yes, we're still waiting for Vodafone to get back to us on its particularly bad case of iPhone plan perplexity) has apparently got so bad that the ACCC is getting involved. ACCC head Graeme Samuel has reminded consumers to be especially careful with excess data fees:

"The ACCC is particularly concerned that consumers may be misled if they are not made sufficiently aware that their data allocations can be exceeded - at significant cost. In the case of smartphones, consumers can download greater amounts of information from the internet than ever before. With this, comes the potential for them to exceed their phone plan value and incur considerable additional charges."

This is sound advice, which we'd almost deem obvious if so many people hadn't signed up sight unseen for iPhone deals. The ACCC is asking phone companies to supply evidence of their consumer education programs in this area; given the speed with which many responses are handled in telcos, we'd suggest self-education is still the best option. Read that small print carefully!

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While it isn't actually the first provider to offer untimed mobile calls (goTalk's VOIP plans have a similar feature), Optus' new Timeless bundles do offer a cheap option if you make lots of calls to mobile numbers. Of particular note given the ongoing debate over iPhone plans is the $129 bundle, which includes 2GB of data and an all-you-can-call policy for $129 -- a much better deal than the iPhone's $149 1GB launch plan on Optus. If nothing else, this is yet another reminder that signing up early for the iPhone was always like to be a costly decision.

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Mobile phones might be ubiquitous, but that doesn't mean they're equally well-designed for everyone. If you're short-sighted, seeing small buttons may be impossible; if you have limited muscular control, then a touch screen's a non-starter. Nokia Australia has just published an accessibility guide for its phone range, which includes some useful tips on picking the right phone model for your needs and setting it up for accessibility (in amongst the inevitable self-serving corporate gumpf and cheesy photography). While it's Nokia-specific, the guidelines are potentially useful whatever phone you end up buying.

Nokia Accessibility Guide (PDF)