Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cell phone progress report

Now back to the all-important (?!) Quest for a Phone!

We're switching to AT&T. That's inevitable and (for all intents and purposes) out of my hands. So I have to pick a phone. And I find that Verizon has all the best phones... but nothing to do about that.

In the previous post's meta, I got a wonderful array of advice. Consensus was for the glorious iPhone, though pfk57 made a powerful case for a Fuze.

I've been to stores several times, and done a fair bit of reading, though not to the point where I really think I have a full grasp... at all. But here's where I've come:

HTC Fuze is impressive, but the keyboard is probably a pointless addition for me. I have these big sausagey man-fingers, and push 2-3 of those tiny little keys at a time. (Ditto for the BlackBerries with keyboards.) The touch-screen and features are okay, but didn't knock me over.

Samsung Eternity is very impressive. It's got a nice display, a haptic touch-screen (i.e. it vibrates when you connect), and reputedly has a lot of nice features. Its users are very enthusiastic about it, and it's called an "iPhone-killer." What's more is that the data plan is far better than the iPhone's. With the iPhone, you pay $30 a month, period, for unlimited internet access. With the Eclipse, it's $15 max for the same access. The internet is a Java-based html browser that might not "get" everything. The Eclipse (unlike the iPhone) is not categorized as a "smart" phone, and I'm not sure why. It seems to do just about everything.

Half-priced data pack, plus the battery is removable (see below), and you can upgrade memory with a card.

Plus, it is touch-sensitive, irrespective of temperature. So you can use your finger, or a stylus, or a toothpick or whatever's handy. It also has a "handwriting" feature that translates your scribble into words, which is nice.

It has a 3Mp camera that takes good pictures and video; but no flash. The camera has many settings available. But there is no comparable app-store, such as the iPhone has. Reportedly, it also has a pretty sweet GPS. It has an app-bar, but it's not customizable beyond the apps that come on it. You can load your own ring-tones.

iPhone. I went in not wanting to be impressed, wanting to love one of the others... but wow, what a phone. It's extremely impressive. The graphic interface is amazing and fairly intuitive. It comes with a truckload of apps, with more available for free or cost at the online app store.

Also, you can do two-finger touch, which others can't. So, like a science fiction movie, you can pinch in, then open out your fingers, and expand a picture.

The camera is only 2Mp, and gets varying reviews. It doesn't natively do video, or voice-dialing. But the calls (if recognized) identify the caller, and the voicemail is stored on the phone - so it can be listened to out of order, fast-forwarded, paused. Also, you can use it as an iPod (I wouldn't have to carry two little machines any more).

The on-screen keyboard is sweet for my fingers. Letters expand when you touch them, and you can slide to the right one if you miss it at first.

However, it's very expensive, and you can't get a "deal." It's $199 for 8GB, or $299 for 16GB, period. And you have to get their data plan, which is a whopping $30 a month for what Eclipse gives you for $15, not including text-messaging.

Also, you have to get apps from the Apple apps store. And, if the battery goes out, you can't replace it. You have to send it to Apple. I've read a battery only takes 300 charges, which means it'd only last a year. And you can't upgrade the memory card. This is what turned me off of Apple in the early '80s: I saw they'd get you and own you so you could only do business with them. They haven't changed.

Oh, and another thing. The Eternity is pressure-activated. So you can use it in any weather, with anything that will touch it. But the iPhone is heat-activated, meaning you can't use a stylus — nor, in cold weather, your hands in gloves, or your fingernails for precision.

Oh, and the iPhone has its glorious all-problems-solving system update coming out... in two months.

At which time there will be a new iPhone, reportedly, too — to be announced in June.

All that to say... I'm still stuck. Educateder, but stuck. Sigh.

UPDATE: I just added this question for iPhone users to the meta — is there a way to get the phone to record a conversation on it? That would have been very useful in the interview with Ryne Pearson; and I have other interview possibilities.


Aaron said...

LOL, Dan. You came to the same conclusion and result as me when I evaluated cell phones. I'm trying to force myself to like the Epix.

I too like the ability to expand capacity via a card. I use a microsd card in my mp3 player and my phone so it's easy to swap and plug into my computer (I hate having to actually attach my device to the computer via cable).

On the other hand, the Eternity uses a microsd card. Unless it actually takes microsdhc, you can only get a maximum of 2GB of additional space from the microsd slot.

The battery thing is ridiculous. I like ordering secondary market batteries for my phone since they tend to last much longer. I would be very concerned about the battery life if I was using my phone as a phone, GPS, and MP3 player. Currently I can go two to three days without charing my cell phone. But If I used it as an all in one (which I could do) I'd' probably have to charge it all the time.

DJP said...

Coworker just told me his dad had to send the iPhone back for battery work after four months.

Aaron said...

I'll add that data plans seem excessive to me. I pay a combined$60 for both my wife's and my phone plan (at AT&T) and that is more than I want to pay (since I pay another $50 for home phone service).

Aaron said...

and what, may I ask, did he do for a phone while waiting on it?

DJP said...

His dad had had another phone, an old phone, that he used. I just found out this was a 1st gen iPhone, and it was 1 year ago, no problems since.

Aaron said...

But the point is the same. If your battery goes bad on your current phone, you go to the store or order one online. With an Iphone, you're at Apple's mercy. This wouldn't be a huge issue with me because I have to carry two cell phones, so I could forward one to the other for a short time. I imagine to others, it would be a very difficult proposition.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

"iPrecious... one ring to rule them all"



Daniel said...

I have been looking at the Xperia X1 (Sony Ericsson), it looks to have as big a screen (but better resolution) than the iPhone, but runs Windows 6.1 mobile has the standard 3mp Cybershot™ camera (with xenon flash I think), and a bunch of bells and whistles included a full keyboard that looks to the the most solid thing you have ever seen.

By the time it comes to Canada, it may be old hat though...

Aaron said...


The Xperia looks sweet. But the price tag doesn't. It originally sold for $700. You might get one for $500 now.

DJP said...

Review says $800, and there is no US carrier yet. Does look pretty sweet. CNET review, however, is not too enthusiastic.

Solameanie said...

I've been using the Voyager Titanium, which is touch screen and has a querty keyboard inside of it if you prefer to text that way. Has internet and lots of the bells and whistles. Some might find it bulky, but I don't mind. I would prefer the iPhone, but this is pretty dern good. Oh, BTW, the package is Verizon.

JeremyT said...

Personally I'd say, if you can't wait 2 months, get a current iPhone. If you can, wait 2 months and get the new iPhone. It should be released at the World Wide Developers Conference, which is June 8-11 (It will be a Tuesday that they release it).

But then again, I am an Apple fan so... I'm a bit biased :P

Aaron said...

It is in fact, $799 at Sony's store. I found some other places to get it for less, but I don't know if they are new, hot, or what. It would look sweeter if for $800 it was diamond studded or encased in actual titanium. Maybe if it could call my wife and tell her to pick up the kid because I'm going to be late at work...again?

Even the expense of the Iphone gets me a bit nervous. How long until I drop the thing in a puddle of water?

JPT: Apple makes phenomenal stuff. But Apple reminds me of the days when the southern plantation owners paid their "employees" in vouchers and then made them buy from the company store.

CR said...

I think if you get your iPhone at Best Buy and buy the warranty, they'll just replace the phone with a new phone. That's the way they do it for the iPod. My iPod is still ticking away, but if the battery has issues, I just get a new iPod.

I always go to Best Buy to get my electronics. Depending how much you spend it's 90,120,360,...days as good as cash. I got my new computer for 2 years as good as cash.

I would just go into Best Buy and check out their warranty plans.

Aaron said...


Dave Ramsey would most certainly disapprove...LOL.

Chris H said...

Here is my biggest complaint about the iPhone and iPod Touch: you cannot simply "push a button" to skip to the next song. You have to go to the mp3 display and then slide to the next song. In other words, you have to look at it. Fine if I'm sitting in the back of a car or on a plane or in an office or whatever; not good if I'm trying to drive or workout and don't want to break my concentration.

Interesting news about the battery. That certainly is a knock against the iWhatever

Anonymous said...

The iPhone is worth the price. If you're worried about the storage space just pony up the extra $100 and get 16 GB. It is more storage than you'll probably need. I have the 8 GB version with about 100 songs on it, 3 dozen apps, and I'm using less than 2 GB.

Apple products are just plain intuitive. Things work and they work together without a hitch. I haven't been able to say that about any other manufacturer except JVC.

As for the battery issues, I've had my iPhone 3g for 6 months, charge it every 2-3 days, sometimes less frequently if I don't play games or read your blog on it!

Apple is one of the most competent companies out there and they support their products and customers well. I just bought a new iMac from them with a rebate and they mailed the rebate 2 days after I filed the form...from my iPhone, of course.

I'm sure, like any maker of electronics, there are defective units out there. I think Apple's defect rate rivals some of the Japanese firms that are known for high quality.

DJP said...

Question for iPhone users — is there a way to get the phone to record a conversation on it? That would have been very userful in the interview with Ryne Pearson; and I have other interview possibilities.

DJP said...

userful — or "useful." Either way.

threegirldad said...

Well, since none of the iPhone users have chimed, I figure I'll mention this. You can't just cable your iPhone to transfer recordings, though; you'll have to use a Wi-Fi connection.

DJP said...

Well yes, thanks, that is a recorder. But it doesn't say it records cell phone conversations.

threegirldad said...

That's true. I've seen people mention using it that way by recording through the speaker phone. It's the only app of this type I've seen discussed that doesn't require a hacked iPhone. And since there is a free trial, I thought I would pass it along, just in case...