As this is a mobile communications device email is also part of the package and I was hoping to be able to access my office email while on the move. Even though the manual seems to be slightly out of date with regards to this, setting it up was fairly painless. You need to set up a 3 voice mail account first and then a 3 email address. With this done I figured it shouldn’t be any problem to set up my POP3 email, but I was wrong. It turns out that 3 won’t allow you to access a POP3 mail server and you’re forced to use the 3 service, as with the online content.
Emails are charged by the kilobyte, so you end up paying anything between 5p and 50p to send and receive each mail. Considering that it takes around two minutes to send and receive a few emails via a GSM dialup connection using any POP3 account, I can’t see too many people wanting to use 3 email.
Oh yes, Voice mail, I almost forgot about this. If you don’t check your voice mail, 3 will email you a reminder with the option to download an attachment with the voice message. What I didn’t realize was that the file I ended up downloading was close to 500kb, which would set you back quite a lot outside of any included data traffic.
Not exactly what you would call customer friendly, but I imagine that most users will only fall for this once.
There were of course several features I was unable to test, partly because I don’t know anyone else with a 3 phone. Features such as SyncML require a server to sync with, again something I didn’t have access to. Several of the online features weren’t available or didn’t seem to work. A word of warning here, 3 does charge for most of its online services, anything between 5p and £2 and this is worth bearing in mind before you go mad downloading things.
So what about making phone calls? As this was the reason for getting the A920 I had high expectations and as the A920 roams on O2 when you’re outside 3’s network I was expecting no less than excellent voice service. Sadly this was the biggest flaw and disappointment. Sitting at home, making a voice call, the network would cut out without any apparent reason and it was even worse when on the move.
It seems that the problem is when there is a weak signal on 3’s network and the phone is trying to roam, but still detects the signal from 3. This makes the phone swap between the 3 and the O2 networks without being able to decide which one to stick with. I would have thought that it would be smart enough to stick with one network until you finished the call you were on, especially if you were stationary at the time.
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Obviously the price depends on the contract option that you go for, but the A920 doesn’t seem to be available free anymore. The best price we could find at the time of writing was £129 with a 12 month contract.
Somehow it seems that technology has got the better of usability and I will be returning my handset to 3 thanks to its two-week no questions asked return policy.
It has to be said that the A920 does have some solid features, but the poor network performance and the inability to use my office email means that the phone and the service are of little use to me. If 3 allowed you to use third party services and not force you to use its own, then the A920 could be a very useful tool. However, the intolerable voice service can not be forgiven, especially since the generous talk-time package are what will entice the majority of buyers.
Score in detail