Orange launches HD mobile voice calling, but does it live up to the hype?

Orange launches what it calls a revolutionary way of making voice calls with 'in the same room' quality, but questions hover about how many of us will be actually be able to get it

Asavin Wattanajantra
2 min read

Fed up of bad connections and muffled voices on the other line? Orange says it has opened the way to a future of crystal-clear calling by allowing phones to make mobile High Definition (HD) voice calls.

As we reported on back in January, the technology is supposed to improve the sound quality of traditional mobile calls by using the Wideband Adaptive Multi-Rate (WB-AMR) voice codec. The much-improved audio quality is due to its use of wider speech bandwidth of 50-7000Hz compared to the current narrowband speech codec of 300-3400Hz.

But you need a HD Voice enabled handset to use it. At launch, Orange will enable the Nokia 5230, Nokia X6, Nokia E5 and Samsung Omnia Pro to use HD Voice as no extra cost. These will be branded with an Orange HD Voice logo so you know which ones will be able to use the service.

According to the Inquirer, it works. It tested a call between two Nokia X6 devices, and found that the call quality was pretty much perfect, backing up an Orange claim that it was like speaking to somebody in the same room.

Trouble is, it isn't likely many of us are going to be able to use it for quite a while. As the Reg said, it's a 3G technology, so you won't be able to make HD Voice calls to anyone using 2G. And it won't work with other networks, even if they have their own HD Voice services.

It also suggested interoperability wasn't that desirable to the mobile networks, saying, "Once the feature becomes standard in handsets then the user will just find that calls to those on the same network are better quality than calls that interconnect, perhaps prompting calls for friends and colleagues to switch networks."

But anything improving call quality has got to be a good thing, and we'll wait and see how this one develops. If you want to have a go, you'll be able to demo HD Voice in Orange retailers, so let us know what you think.