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The state of the cell phone market. What happened when I went shopping.

By Andrew Pollack on 12/22/2007 at 12:35 PM EST

I need a new phone, as I've stated before. I use a Motorola e815 and generally like it, but if I have to buy another phone (I have to replace one for my daughter) I thought I'd check out Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Motorola, and so on. I spent hours on this yesterday and came away disgusted.

I tried the Blackberry 8130, and I liked its size and form factor. The typing for text messages was pretty great even with two keys per button -- I did have trouble finding the period when doing a web address, but I assume with a few minutes practice it would be second nature. The browser on it, however, totally sucked. It was the worst of any of the smart phones I tried. It didn't even render the whole page -- let alone render it in any way resembling readable. I'd love to have ssh access to my linux boxes with it, but the way rendering is handled I can't see doing anything real with it. It also would cost me another $40 a month to have it on the Blackberry network so I could have it hit my BES and thus get my own Notes mail.

I tried the LG Voyager - its big and thick, and it promises a big screen with touch controls, but the browser didn't do the job and the touch screen was so insensitive that I couldn't comfortably use it. It felt half-functional and bulky.

I tried the LG VX-Envy - it does have a keyboard so text messaging would be better, but they ruin it by using fully half the open size where a nice wide browser screen could be with a pair of bad stereo speakers.

There was only one phone I tried all day that was exciting. Yeah, it was the iPhone. I hate myself for buying into the hype, but the truth is in 5 minutes of using it I was totally blown away by its form and function. It rendered web sites extremely well - even using AJAX to pull in the comments on my blog site. The touch screen was intuitive and friendly even to my thick fingers, and the size was small and thin enough to carry around. Verizon doesn't carry it and won't be any time soon and I'm not switching to AT&T for it - coverage here is too weak, and I'm not giving up my internal EV-DO rev. A. for anyone. If Verizon carried this thing, I'd have paid cash for it yesterday.

Blackberry, LG, Samsung, Motorola, and Palm -- listen up. Apple has indeed raised the bar here so much higher than you're even close to getting near -- and on their FIRST TRY -- that I'm disgusted by the rest of you. You should be embarrassed by the half measures you've been getting away with. I'm not an Apple fan boy either. I prefer XP to OSX, use linux only through the command line, and carry a Zen Vision M instead of an iPod. Still, Apple's phone product is so clearly and fully superior to the crap the rest of you are pushing out that you should be ashamed.

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re: The state of the cell phone market. What happened when I went shopping.By Dwight Wilbanks on 12/22/2007 at 04:16 PM EST
I agree that Apple has raised the bar, I expect that when google android based
phones become available, they will exceed the bar.

My contract is up at the end of the month and plan on holding out for the new
class of phones.
Yes, iPhones rockBy Julian Robichaux on 12/22/2007 at 04:31 PM EST
I actually just bought an iPhone myself -- which is a big deal for me because
I'm neither a "gadget person" nor a "cell phone person" (and I don't even own a
Mac). It's an amazing phone. I already had AT$T, so it was a no-brainer for me.
my writeup of the t-mo wing experienceBy Ken Yee on 12/22/2007 at 06:05 PM EST

In case you're curious. I went into a lot more detail about what is good and
not about it.
The iPhone runs Linux underneath...I'll bet it's a lot more stable ;-)
Google's Android will run on an entire new frequency (700MHz), so it's not a
worldphone (quad band GSM) and that's one reason I'd be against it unless they
keep GSM support. Competition is good. Hopefully, Linux on cell phones will
force MS to improve WM more than Symbian has forced them...
re: my writeup of the t-mo wing experienceBy Vitor Pereira on 12/22/2007 at 06:15 PM EST
Ken, Google's Android will not run only on the 700MHz frequency.
re: my writeup of the t-mo wing experienceBy Dwight Wilbanks on 12/22/2007 at 08:21 PM EST
Google has anounce that they want to "bid" on the 700MHZ range, they don't have
it yet, but, andriod is available to developers now.

They have arangements with T-Mobile & Sprint in the US, so both GSM & CDMA.
Android is an OS. It should run any freq.By Andrew Pollack on 12/23/2007 at 12:16 AM EST
The idea behind Android from Google is a phone operating system and development
kit to compete against Windows CE, Palm's new OS (which may come out at the
same time as Duke Nukem Forever), and RIM's OS. Google sees those platforms as
closed and inflexible. The want to support anyone's phone efforts regardless
of hardware platform, and transmission network.

Google's venture into 700mhz is interesting, but is a completely different
issue and if I'm guessing right will be more about building a nationwide open
(not necessarily free) standard for mobile networking. I think what Google
will want to do, is define a protocol stack and publish it for use on the
700mhz spectrum and then charge some kind of access fee for use. It wouldn't
surprise me to see the whole thing be ip6 based either.

Remember, from Google's perspective, selling access isn't the only way to make
money from the network. Google already carries such a huge majority of search
engine traffic, that simply opening up more people using the net from more
places increases their bottom line almost exponentially.
Android will need more appsBy Ken Yee on 12/24/2007 at 11:53 AM EST
Thanks for the correction on what networks Android runs on...I thought they
were locked out of the other frequencies since other companies filled them :-)

The other main issue is Android's apps. Not sure what you use your phone for
besides ssh, but nav is one of my main apps and there are no Linux ones that I
know of (Garmin ported their to the Moto's A780 Linux phone ages ago, but you
can't buy it). There's also the Notes Traveller client that probably won't run
on it, etc.
Just something else to think about, but if you're thinking of the iphone and
BB, apps probably won't matter that much to your phone usage...

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