Vodafone 360 Samsung H1 review

Can Vodafone re-invent mobile social networking?

The definitive Vodafone 360 Samsung H1 review
The definitive Vodafone 360 Samsung H1 review

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So we get into the nuts and bolts of Vodafone 360, and this is sadly where it gets a little confusing.

If you've read our review of the INQ Mini 3G then you'll understand the problems of a phone trying to do too much – it's a similar problem here.

Only this time, it isn't the phone itself that's at fault – it's the mission statement Vodafone is now giving out with the new 360 service.

The first thing that's key to point out is that the H1 is not the Vodafone 360 phone – it's just the one that embodies all the principles of it, such as internet chatting, Facebook integration and location updates, in the cool 3D interface too.

Vodafone 360 samsung h1

Vodafone is working on different versions of the 360 application for other phones – some (like the little brother to the H1, the M1) will have a similar OS, while others (such as those based on Symbian) will have a download that basically updates the contacts list on the phone to offer additional information, like Facebook pictures and updates.

With that brief update out the way (which hopefully gives you some clue to what's going on here) we'll get onto the way Vodafone wants you to interact with contacts on the H1.

As we mentioned earlier, the main selling points for those buying a Vodafone 360 handset are the 3D contacts view and the ability to synchronise with the cloud.

We'll deal with the latter option first, only because it's the more confusing. Once you've set up your user name and password on Vodafone 360 and logged into all you social networks and email addresses (which Vodafone promises us it will help users do when they buy the phone) then you can see all your handset, social network and email contacts in a big long list.

Vodafone 360 samsung h1

The idea is simple – all your friends in disparate groups should be linked together instead, so no longer will you have to email and Facebook and call from different places.

So now comes the laborious bit – you have to find the person you want to condense (not literally) and then find their various profiles, then click on 'merge'. Once completed, the contact will show up with all the relevant information including their Facebook picture, on the contact tiles in the 3D view.

However, while you think this may be instant, you'd be very wrong. Once completed, the phone won't update for hours, or until you restart it. And annoyingly, we couldn't find a way to manually synchronise, which meant having to just sit and wait.

But once it is all sorted, then it does make a big difference to proceedings, with contacts looking more rounded when filled with information.

And Vodafone wants you to go one step further – linking up with others on Vodafone 360. Voda says that in the future it will offer a 360 application that can be downloaded to phones regardless of the network, but for now this only applies to other Vodafone H1 users.

As you can imagine, the scope for this is going to be pretty small initially, but as the 360 service is rolled out further, more people will be involved.

And those that are will be much more versatile on your H1 phone, as you'll be able to chat with them over the likes of Google Chat, or send them nudges to where you are, by giving them your GPS details, making finding one another a cinch.

Vodafone 360 samsung h1

But we're unsure over the point of the Facebook integration – yes, you can see status updates, but that's it. There's no built-in Facebook application, and (as you'll see later) there's not even an option to message them either. Essentially it just adds a whole load of new people into your phonebook, but with only status updates available to see.

Vodafone 360 samsung h1

These online contacts (be it just for chat, or the full 360 experience) will be marked by a green circle, rather than a foreboding red dot, so you can simply see which of your buddies is online and ready to chat.

What's strange about something like the chat function is that it works both on the phone and the 360 website, so if one of your pals is online, you can chat to them through both mediums.

Vodafone 360 samsung h1

However, this service is very erratic, meaning that you will only get certain messages sent to you, and not all – with some appearing online, and some only on the phone.

Back in the 3D view and you can see how it gets confusing to see all your friends offered in this scrolling fashion. If you'd rather, you can switch to list mode by pressing the contacts button again, or you can sort them into groups.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.