EE stores prepare to open with white Nokia Lumia 920
Posted on 29 Oct 2012 at 14:56, by David Ludlow
EE is ready and prepared for its 4G roll-out, completing the rebranding of its existing Orange and T-Mobile stores. We were on-hand at the Oxford Street branch to take a look at the new retail space and find out what the company has on offer.
When the store opens tomorrow, it will sell seven 4G handsets including the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the [a href="http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/smartphones/1292644/samsung-galaxy-s3"Samsung Galaxy S III[/a], HTC One XL, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, Huawei Ascend P1 LTE and the Apple iPhone 5.
It's good to see a working Nokia Lumia 920 live in the store, with promises that the handset would be available to buy when the network goes live on the 30th October 2012. EE's deal includes the handset for a reasonable £50 up-front fee, plus £41 a month on a 24-month, 1GB download-limit contract.
As well as running the latest Windows Phone 8 operating system, the Lumia 920 has a curved 4.5in screen, and supports NFC and wireless charging. While the handset is available in black for T-Mobile and Orange customers, EE will get an exclusive white version.
In addition to the handsets, EE will also sell two data modems: the Huawei E850 Mobile Wi-Fi (from £26 a month) and the Huawei E392 USB Stick (from £16 a month). The company will also be selling SIM-only plans.
We tested an iPhone 5 with www.speedtest.net and managed staggering download speeds of almost 53Mbit/s. There wasn't much load on the network at the time, but we were told that when the staff in the shop were all running tests at the same time, it was averaging out at around 20Mbit/s.
We asked Marc Allera, Chief of Sales, if there was a minimum speed that people could expect from 4G once the network was under load. With exact figures hard to come up with, due to large variances depending on the network load, he was keen to point out that EE is just giving a minimum example.
"We're saying that you'll get five times the speed of 3G," Allera said.
We also chatted to him about the contract pricing with some segments of the press berating the data caps and the fact that the entry-level 500MB data limit could be exhausted in just over two minutes of full speed downloading.
Allera explained that the data caps are based on existing user's data consumptions and that EE would stop the data connection once the limit had been reached. Text messages will keep users up-to-date with their data usage and, once the limit has been hit, new data add-ons can be bought through the phone using a website that doesn't count towards the cap. Users that constantly hit their cap can upgrade and move up to the next contract tier with no penalties - and they won't have to increase their contract length to do so.
As for arguments about how quickly a data cap can be exhausted, they seem simplistic to us. Some users may watch more online video we suppose if that becomes easier to do on the move - we'll see next week how well 4G connections stand up to use on our short commutes to work. But with the service only available in large cities at present, no one will be watching iPlayer on a train all the way in from the shires.
If video isn't your thing, then your data usage shouldn't spike. You won't massively increase the amount of webpages read, maps checked or Facebook updates made It seems unlikely to us that the speed of the connection directly impacts the amount of data that you download. However, as the network is built for data, it's a shame that there is no truly unlimited option for people that can do without fixed-line broadband. It also makes it harder to use data-intensive apps, such as TVCatchUp for live TV, which was demonstrated to us in the store, as streaming over 4G gives you better image quality than using 3G.
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