I’ve left the best bit till last, and that’s the price: Sipgate is currently selling the Pirelli DP-L10 for £59. It’s hard enough to find any SIM-free mobile for that kind of money, so to get a dual-mode phone is, I reckon, a steal.
My aim is Tru
I first wrote about Truphone 18 months ago in issue 149, and you may remember it as the VoIP provider that used to be based on a cheese farm. Back then, Truphone only supported a few Nokia phones, and its current list still only contains a dozen or so E and N series Nokias. I half-jokingly wondered whether Truphone is angling to be acquired by Nokia, but the official line is that it currently only works with Nokias because the battery life under Windows Mobile when using Wi-Fi isn’t good enough to support the application. And I’ve heard rumours of an imminent iPhone announcement.
The Truphone software has changed quite a bit during those 18 months. It used to be little more than a set of scripts to configure Nokia’s built-in SIP client, but the new version is far more of a proper client application that runs on the handheld. I suspect that underneath, this client still calls down into Nokia’s own Internet Telephony transport, but there’s nothing wrong with that since the quality of Nokia’s SIP implementation is highly regarded. It’s only the setup and configuration options available via the S60 interface that are rather unfriendly, and Truphone makes that bit easy – at the expense of tying you to the firm as your SIP provider.
What makes Truphone 4.0 really special, though, is the way it goes beyond VoIP. A new feature called Truphone Anywhere means that even where you don’t have a Wi-Fi signal, the software looks at the number you’ve dialled, and if it’s in, say, Australia, will re-route the call over the mobile network to a domestic server. From there, Truphone routes the call overseas using its own network – it’s a bit like using carrier pre-select services on your home phone. The result is that rather than paying 50p per minute to your mobile provider, you pay just 3p a minute to Truphone, and to top it all the call to Truphone’s server is included in your monthly bundled minutes because it doesn’t use 08xxx numbers.
It’s a very neat service that integrates well with the supported Nokia phones. The only thing you notice is a slightly longer than normal delay when dialling the number, but call quality is excellent.
That’s great, but I’m even more excited about what’s to come from Truphone, and it’s all down to a company it bought a few months ago called SIM4travel. This was set up a couple of years ago by some senior people from one of the main UK mobile networks who’d jumped ship, and, to date, they’ve been providing SIM cards with worldwide roaming capabilities, ideally suited for people travelling abroad. These SIMs are special because they have multiple identities on one physical chip, which means the same handset can have multiple numbers, from multiple countries, without the hassle of swapping SIM cards. When you’re in France, the +33 number on the SIM becomes active, when you’re in Ireland the +353 number becomes active. In short, no more roaming charges! And, most importantly, while you’re abroad you don’t have to pay for incoming calls. I still hear tales of people who’ve come back from a brief trip abroad to find a bill for several hundred pounds on their doormat.
Once Truphone is fully integrated with SIM4travel, it will be issuing Truphone SIMs that combine the SIM4travel concept with Truphone’s VoIP network, and it will work in the UK, too. The mobile networks are always telling us they provide coverage to 99% of the UK population, but if you’re anything like me you’ll often find yourself in a mobile black spot. Next time you find yourself in that position, go into the network settings on your phone and change it from Automatic to Manual – while you won’t be able to register on them, I’ll bet you find that several other companies’ networks are in fact available, and that yours is just being slack.