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Hong Kong visitors get all-in-one guidebook and phone

International calls, 3G internet and discount deals aplenty

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Visitors to Hong Kong’s sub-tropical shores got a welcome boost on Thursday with the launch of a new rental smartphone service designed insulate short stay punters from bill shock and high roaming charges and offer pre-loaded local guides and discount deals.

The 'handy' smartphone rental service is the brain child of local tech start-up Tink Labs, which has set up two service counters at Hong Kong International Airport’s arrivals hall.

It seems to combine the benefits of a typical phone rental package with services you’re more likely to expect from the likes of Groupon or Lonely Planet.

Punters pay a set fee of HK$68 (£5.70) per day for the handset and in return get an unspecified “tablet phone” device – something like a Galaxy Note then -as well as unlimited local and international calls, and unlimited 3G access.

On the international call side, the package allows calls to fixed line and mobile devices in China, USA, Singapore, Thailand, India and Canada.

However, rather less handily, it will only support calls to fixed line numbers in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands and Spain.

Anywhere else and you’re on your own with pay-per-use rates.

A city guide including shops, bars, restaurants and other attractions comes pre-loaded and there are “exclusive deals” available for some of the listings.

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB tethering are all included in the package.

The device is available to reserve pre-trip and until the end of September the daily charge is a discounted HK$18.

It could be a bonus to anyone fed up with the frankly ridiculous roaming charges incurred on any trips around APAC and given travellers rarely spend more than a few days in Hong Kong anyway, is perfectly suited to its locale.

It's unlikely to tempt seasoned business travellers away from using their work device, although if you're paid a BYOD stipend and find yourself in Hong Kong it could appeal.

The unlimited 3G internet access will be particularly useful for using online maps to navigate around Hong Kong's crowded streets.

However, it's success or failure will likely depend on the quality of the experience - from booking to pick-up - the standard of pre-loaded tourist info and the pedigree of the deals available to punters. ®

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