Vodafone 360 H1 review: first look

Vodafone's new social network-focused service and handset is available at the end of the week. We got a brief hands on with the H1 to see what value it offers to business users as well as its target audience of consumers.

Let's cut to the chase. Vodafone 360 and its H1 handset are targeted at consumers. But that's not to say they don't have a valuable role to play in the business world. In fact, far from it.

As more and more businesses turn to social networking to keep their customers and partners informed and help employees collaborate, share ideas and let their hair down if needs be, what used to be consumer-only territory will have its dividing wall broken down and invaded by the corporates.

The Vodafone 360 web-based service and the first handset to run the new operating system, the H1, will officially be available from Friday this week. We'll be getting our hands on one then to bring you a full review, but in the meantime, we thought we'd share our initial thoughts following a brief hands-on with the device.

The H1 is a nice looking handset. The 16GB brushed silver version we played with has a minimalist design with just three hard keys. (There's also a black, lower-end version that has just 1GB and will be out before Christmas.) These are clad with the icon of a phone, people and some small squares.

They serve quite obvious functions. The first controls calls, the second shows what your contacts are up to and the third serves as an activity/apps shortcut.

The handset is fairly lightweight and pocketable at just 134g, although it still has that reassuring heaviness in the hand that means it won't smash into smithereens should you drop it.

A 3.5in capacitive (480x800 pixels) OLED touchscreen sits centre stage above the hard keys. We found it very responsive to our commands.

The handset runs the LiMo operating system and the user interface is bright and colourful. Some may find the sweet shop colour scheme a bit too sickly, but others will love it.

You can view contacts in linear view vanilla would be the wrong description here as it's anything but or in 3D mode. To access contacts or groups (you can create around 20 self defined groups on the H1) using the latter, you simply swipe across or up and down.

The colours on the contacts denote which group they belong to and a green blog informs you that this particular contact is online so you can chat to them right there and then.

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