Digg Good news for UK mobile addicts: Orange's long-anticipated HD Voice service has officially made it to the Land of Hope and Glory. Starting today, British customers can pick up a HD Voice-enabled handset -- including the Nokia 5230, X6, E5 and Samsung Omnia Pro at launch -- from Orange, and start buttering their ears with "crystal clear" phone calls while within the carrier's 3G coverage. Prior to the launch, we were fortunate enough to try out the new service on a couple of Nokia E5 prototypes in Piccadilly Circus, and boy, that was some pretty impressive stuff there -- the wider speech bandwidth really added a lot of clarity to the caller's voice, and additionally, the noisy traffic from the caller's end was well suppressed at where it'd otherwise crackle over a normal call. Perhaps the easiest way to put it is that this is much like jumping from a bad FM radio broadcast to some sweet CD audio, thus making conversations a lot easier to interpret, even if the recipient is in a noisy environment or has hearing problem (as proven by Orange's public trial). As always, hearing is believing, so do check out our sample audio clips after the break.
While Orange remains a dominant driving force behind this mobile revolution, the carrier assured us that it expects other companies to pick up this open standard. That said, it's rather disappointing that current owners of the aforementioned handsets won't be getting a software patch for the HD upgrade (we were told that no extra hardware is involved), but we can understand -- the manufacturers do need to sell new phones to stay alive in this rapidly changing market. Anyhow, here's hoping that the forthcoming flagship Android and Windows Phone 7 devices will also get a taste of this crystal clear call quality.