Mobile phone situation

I was a Nokia user since about 2000 and it was hard to give up on these high quality phones during the first quarter of this year. I also have seen other phones, like a Sony Ericsson after changing job - and (just to mention one of the few strange UI concepts) I will never understand why it offers switching to flight/airplane mode when I turn on the phone instead of when I am about to switch it off. I have also seen the iPhone (used for about 2 years by my wife).

And now I am looking back to about 6 months of Android use on two different phones. Even my wife switched to Android after an unrecoverable error in mail sync (since then no e-mail access any more on the iPhone). I was not able to fix that due to the poor (or better non-existent) options to clean-up temporary files, cache or application data. There is a simple rule for the iPhone: The user can't ruin the OS, but the user even cannot fix it. Apple did not consider software bugs that affect their bricks.

On the other hand I was able to completely recover after several problems with SD card (resulting in a final permanent failure - hardware defect) on my Android phone.

What they do not tell you while pushing you to buy a smart phone:
  1. You must recharge your smart phone nearly every day!
    The very bad thing with smart phones these days is battery lifetime. And it's the same for the iPhone and for the Android phones. Out of the box most smartphones last a single day of medium usage.
    Fortunately you can optimize battery usage by dimming display, turn off W-LAN, GPS and so on (I will get to this in a another post). I get about 2 days of medium use now - but hey, there have been times where I needed to recharge only after 10 days (like the Nokia 6210). Still very good the Nokia 6310i and later the Nokia E-71 (which I still use as my business phone only for doing calls).
  2. Speaker and Microphone quality drops drastically!
    I don't know a single smart phone which has a real good microphone and speaker. The best I ever experienced was the Nokia E-71. Driving in the car with freehand speaking was still possible even if I was driving on the highway. Nothing can top that! Neither the iPhone or any Android phone reaches that. I am used to say: "With todays smart phones you can do everything but phone calls." In fact, this most important feature gets out of focus.
  3. Radio reception drops.
    Maybe it is just my impression, but the older phones still got radio reception at locations where I don't get connection anymore now.
  4. You are quite naked when you leave the country.
    As soon as you leave the country and roaming gets active, all the network features that require data connection are usually switched off. This means that a lot of features are inaccessible or only at a high cost. However, there are a few exceptions: Three does not charge roaming (neither for calls nor for data) while you are in one of the countries where Three is present. For other countries it means, you need to use W-LAN where possible.
  5. You enter in the world of software updates and even malware.
    With the large set of applications you will now need to update those from time to time and you might either install malware by accident. So this means: Maintenance work.

The good things are:
  1. You get your emails quite as fast as SMS!
  2. Social networking on the go.
    You can go through the news during short waiting times (public means of transport, doctor, queue at the supermarket etc). Such situations are the best opportunity for social networking.
  3. You can manage to-do-lists, expenses etc with the appropriate applications.
  4. You can use your phone as a GPS navigator or photo camera. This means that navigator or photo camera can be left at home, if you don't plan excessive use of them and just use your phone instead.
  5. Web browsing on the go for getting informed.
    While in a foreign city, talking to a friend or to get information to an art you look at, the mobile phone can help you by serving you helpful information.

I first had a ZTE Blade, which although very uncommon, had quite good specifications - "good" in the sense of "in equilibrium". Why I say this? Well, there are already dual-core processor phones, but more power does either consume more battery - combine this with a small phone (= usually smaller battery) and you are done.

In that first attempt I really did not want to spend a lot because what I have seen from the iPhone I was very skeptical, if I really want to have such a "smart" phone. I was quite satisfied with it - of course, pressing the buttons you feel that it is a cheap phone and the touch screen is not the best. Freehand speaking is to forget also.

Now I have an HTC Desire Z. It is only a little heavier than my Nokia E-71 and offers a real keyboard which I like very much in general. A real keyboard is still better than every touch screen. That said, with this phone you have both anyway. For those who plan a more intensive use of the Android phone, the HTC Desire Z is a good choice. I also thought about a Samsung, but from what I heard and read, I expected less battery lifetime of Samsung (maybe also due to more widely used AMOLED displays, which take more than normal LCD as far as I know). Also I like a few features of HTC, like turning/flipping the phone to make it silent or ringing getting near to silent automatically when you take the phone from the table in your hands - as it is now clear that you heard it ringing (but maybe want to take a look who it is before taking the call). Freehand speaking is not quite as good as Nokia, but a lot better than the ZTE. I was able to use it while driving (slowly).

I enjoy the additional features but the last time I left the country, I worried if the battery will last. In the meantime I have 3 multi-loader (capable with adapters to load all type of phones), one in the office, one at home and one that I take with me so I can load the phone even in the car - just to make sure I can get power if it is needed. And battery lifetime can even drop fast if you are not really using it, but you are in an area where it takes a lot of energy to keep being in reach with the next radio mast.

Related post: Efficiently following web news with RSS, Mobile world with Android.

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