Tuesday, November 02, 2010

BroadBand Nation: Oh The Selection – What Phone Should I Go For Next

I am one of those guys that always has the latest and greatest, meaning living on the bleeding edge – dealing with misconceived GUI’s, unforeseen bugs, and no end of frustration.

When it comes to phones, I have had the latest Windows Mobile device out there, from the old CE and PPC devices to my latest HTC Windows Mobile 6.5 phone.

I have avoided the hyped-up iPhone for one reason – I am am Microsoft geek and never the two shall meet. My friend recently showed me his latest Android phone and I think I might become the latest convert to one of the fastest growing communications interfaces out there.

My questions is, which type of phone is really the best phone for me? I would evaluate the technologies and devices on several criteria, including user interface, speed, application availability, network coverage, and coolness.

1. User Interface

For as long as I can remember, I have had a phone based on Windows, and well it is Windows. Not the slickest, rather slow, and not very inventive, but you have to admit, it takes no training to use the phone if you have ever used a computer. Having full Office apps and access to a plethora of shareware I know and love, makes purchasing a Windows device a safe choice, especially when considering support for my back-end VPN and Exchange servers.

I have dabbled in the Palm and Blackberry technologies, but never really enjoyed the interfaces, so never bought one.

No one can say the iPhone interface is not cool, and I did have iPhone envy for the first months of the initial release until I discovered SPB and the mobile shell that converts my antiquated Windows interface to something as cool as the iPhone, but with some bells and whistles that only us MS people would adore. Even the latest version of the iPhone doesn’t offer much that my shareware offers, but of course they have it all built into the core interface, which is a big plus when I have to flash my phone after loading some stupid app that I can’t remove properly.

I was a happy camper until I saw the HTC G2, I just about fell over with jealousy for the slick interface, speedy menus, and built-in applications that put my HTC Pro 2 to shame.   The simplicity, yet functionality of the new Android system is exactly what a phone should be.

2. Speed

One thing I could always say about my Windows Mobile devices – they were never speedy. Several times a week, I am rebooting it (got an app on my front page for a soft boot); constantly waiting for contact lookups; and even the interminable waiting for the phone to switch from status to keypad so I can enter my conference ID. I always assumed that when I got the newer phone, that it would be faster, only to discover that the system only got more bloated and the phone was just keeping up with the software size -- not getting any faster. I have not met an iPhone fan that has told me they think their phone is slow, so I have to assume that is only my problem.

I would expect an appliance-based device like the Blackberry to be speedy since you don’t have to deal with tons of apps to slow your device down. The Android seems to have taken an entirely new approach, starting with a slim, quick interface that lets you bloat it yourself and to your own detriment.   I have not seen an Android phone yet that is not fast.

3. Application Support

Who has the most apps in their store – that seems to be the biggest challenging all the developers. While there are numerous sites that offer Windows shareware outside of the Microsoft Store, there is no doubt that Apple’s store far out apps them all essentially 100 to 1 with over 180,000 apps compared to about 30K for Android and 2K for MS. But when it comes down to it, how many of those apps are really useful – I am guessing no more than about 50 %.

Also, the iPhone has a slight advantage of a year or more over Android for developers, so with over 5K apps being added every month, you can be sure it will be a pretty even race in the near future.

One advantage the Android store has over Apple is costs – over 50% of the Android apps are free as opposed to only 25% of the Apple apps.  I am sure that no matter what phone I went to, I could find several time-consuming apps to waste my resources and days.

4. Network Coverage

You might say I live in a cellular black hole – only Sprint works worth anything in my house, and I have tried every carrier out there. That has been the one main reason for not choosing an iPhone sooner (that and the fact that I might be converted).

Making a deal with just one carrier did not seem like the smartest thing for me, especially when the carrier chosen by Apple is horrible where I live. I also could not figure out why Apple would bring out an iPhone 4 that does not work on 4G – then again, I never understood marketing people.

With Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Palm and Android, you get to choose your carrier, not being tethered to a single choice. With Sprint deploying 4G in my area this year, I am all over the possibility of a new Android on the new network for true mobile broadband. It might be fast enough to consider getting rid of my local DSL and just tether my computers to my phone when I am home.

With having multiple carriers and phone manufactures available for wishful owners, there is no wonder why Android growth has been 886%, surpassing iPhones as a percentage of the market in September with 27% as opposed to Apples 23%.

Since I am a long-time HTC fan, I am sure the G2 will fit my needs as long as Sprint carriers it or something similar – but that is the advantage of Android – choice.

5. Cool Factor

Blackberry – nice, Windows Mobile – functional, Palm – slick, iPhone – cool, Android – Superb. I am sure you can supply your own adjectives to this exercise, but when it comes down to it, cool only gets you more people looking at your phone, not making your communications easier! I am sure a Porsche is cool, but with 4 small kids, it is not the car for me.

I see several factors pushing my decision for an Android phone, but will it turn me to the dark side or bring me into the light? Whatever the outcome, I am sure I will be sufficiently “cooled”. Luckily, phones are so cheap, I can try Android without much expense before “upgrading” to a real ‘droid phone like the G2.

No matter what my choice and reasons, feel free to comment or make suggestions. That is what this forum is all about – discussing telecom-related issues and products in an open and interesting debate.

Robert Wakefield-Carl, QoS Telesys

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff L said...

Cracks me up how you won't touch an iPhone since you're a MS geek, but you admit your Windows devices have been crash prone and slow. I understand "to each his own", but to eliminate one of the market leaders due to a prejudice (and then write about it!) is great irony.

12:28 PM  
Blogger RobertWC said...

Guily - I am unexplainably baised against Apple. My main problem is that AT&T has horrible coverage in my area where Sprint works all the time everywhere. I would not say I eliminated the iPhone - just jealous that I cannot have one of my own!

12:16 AM  

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