Tag Archives: smartphones

Zero needs your help! Help me pick a new phone!

The Zero Corporate Communicator is due for an upgrade… My AT&T Tilt has taken quite the beating from me. For 7 months of loyal service, being subject to my drunken rages every now and then, but also being hacked to fit my needs… I am amazed it has last me 7 months. I mean with respect to things… Check out my phone chronology! (Disclaimer: Times are approximate…)

10/2004 – 10/2005: Nokia 3120 (1 Year)
10/2005 – 1/2006: Motorola RAZR V3 (3 Months)
1/2006 – 3/2006: Motorola SLVR L6 (2 Months)
3/2006 – 5/2006: Motorola MPx 220 (2 Months)
5/2006 – 7/2006: Sony Ericsson T637 (2 Months)
7/2006 – 10/2006: Motorola SLVR L7 Unbranded without iTunes (3 Months)
10/2006 – 1/2007: HTC Wizard as a T-mobile USA MDA (3 Months)
1/2007 – 5/2007: Nokia E62 (4 Months)
5/2007 – 10/2007: Palm Treo 680 (4 Months)
10/2007 – 4/2008: DUAL PHONES – Sony Ericsson P990i AND Sony Ericsson w300i (6 Months)
4/2008 – Present [12/2/2008] – HTC Kaiser as an AT&T Tilt 8925 (7 months onward…)

Lately, my phone is going through issues… The slider mechanism is getting loose, unless I lock it in the angular position if I somewhat slack with the screen angle. I am going through a RAM leak issue that my phones go through… So something like the phone’s alarm or an event reminder will lock up or even crash my phone. I have to reboot the phone every other day now rather than every 4 days to keep the phone functional. The worst part… I have tried almost EVERY cooked and stock OEM HTC TyTN II ROM possible to flash into my phone in hopes of having a functional phone that was stable since the maladies happened… But alas… even a bare stripped out BASE ROM that is on the original HTC TyTN II without the garbage still has my phone crashing and locking up.

So yeah… I have been looking at new phones. At the moment, I am eligible through T-Mobile to enjoy the same deals as new users from being eligible for an upgrade as long as I do the 2 year hitch. However, should I choose to hop back to the Death Star and be subject to their funny taxes, rollover minutes and etc… I’d have to wait until around until June of 2009. Time is not of the essence, yet… Unless my phone just purely becomes dysfunctional that it is unstable. I do need a smartphone, as the ability to see my calendar of events and keep my contacts at ready access. Messaging is highly important to me as I do a lot of mobile contact when voice is not an option. Internet plans are being considered, as e-mail and instant messages are my alternative lifelines other than texting and voice calls.

Here’s the line-up… so far that is:

BlackBerry Bold (To be unlocked…)
BlackBerry Javelin (aka 8900 Curve) [Unfortunately no official link yet, link from Boy Genius Report]
Nokia XpressMusic 5800 (The wicked touch screen music phone)
Palm Centro (Unlocked from Palm)
HTC/T-Mobile G1 by Google

My common themes seem to be phones with physical keyboards that are exposed, the only exceptions being the G1 and the Nokia Xpress Music 5800. The G1 has a slider keyboard like my Tilt, while the Nokia has a soft keyboard and it does support written input via stylus.

The issue of billing is not too bad… cause at the moment, I pay $70 for my current plan after taxes and such. However should I go with any device with the optional net plan (for the G1, the net plan is MANDATORY), the price totals out at $80. So it’s about 1 take out meal a month less. Not a big deal, cause I don’t have much time for that anyways. The only pressing issue would really be the $35 activation fee and the device prices.

The BlackBerry devices may be fun, but the Bold, for example is only available in the US as a locked AT&T phone and I would have to spend a little extra coin to get it unlocked for use. The Javelin is not known if it’s coming to T-Mobile USA, but there is already an AT&T unit under testing. For either the Bold or Javelin, this is probably the most expensive route ranging from sniping one off of craiglist at $450+ before any unlocking services.

The Palm is a rather nice and pint sized little smartphone and at roughly $300 unlocked from Palm is a great deal. The sad selection of white only is a little sobering… Though the final issue is compatibility with the T-Mobile mobile web… I am highly considering mobile web, so it puts the Centro on a very thin edge. The Nokia XpressMusic 5800 ($500+) is also on that same thin edge with the mobile web compatibility… Though the XpressMusic is more media centric rather than a corporate looking communicator.

The T-Mobile G1 is probably the underdog of them all… Priced at $180 with a 2 year renewal, fully Linux and open source, and quickly becoming versatile. It’s made by HTC, so I am not too afraid of build issues. Sure, it looks a little caddish and far from corporate professional… But to know that it can basically give me near remote control over my own site is damn near staggering, especially when there are times I’d kill to blog something but only to find that I have to pay for a wireless LAN at Starbucks for an hour I may not use entirely.

I digress…

If anyone has an opinion, feel free to comment and let me know! If you have a recommendation, tell me your reasoning why! Any reasonable insight is welcome and encouraged!

Google May Have Android eDrama – Editorial

A few days ago, I stumbled upon [H]ardOCP talking about a “front page” article saying that Google may have inadvertently pushed some Android developers to the iPhone SDK… This is rather an ironic tale of karmic shock as about a year ago, there were some whispers in the grapevine that Google was proposing to OpenMoko prospective programmers with a rather gutsy move to say “Come to our project, cause we are Google after all! We have tons of capital and our project is more financially stable.” So naturally, most programmers do want a buck for their efforts and most basically said “bye” to the OpenMoko Project and hopped on the Google Android bandwagon. In the midst of all the hub-bub of Google vs. OpenMoko, the Apple iPhone crowd was rather disappointed that their shiny $500+ toy had no clean API layer to play with like Windows Mobile or PalmOS. They managed to juryrig their own method of installing applications onto “jailbroken” iPhones by apps like iPwn or WinPwn to free the phone’s certification of applications in a means of giving the device a gray zone to play in. Of course, the problem with that was Apple’s coders releasing new firmware builds for the iPhone would render these “jailbroken” iPhones into paperweights unless the unofficial teams such as the “iPhone Dev Team” found ways to circumvent Apple’s check-sums. That somewhat changed with the iPhone 2.0 software release and the offical push of the iPhone Software Development Kit (or SDK for short).

Let’s delve into the background of the 2 “major” projects…

The Android project (in my observation) almost is a deceptive concept of “open source” as depending on how you rank with Google, you get certain layers of access with Android. What do I mean? Like if you’re an amateur coder who wants to make an application for fun, you would have basic access to the API. Now… let’s say you did something like won the “Google Summer of Code” competition or you are dumping millions of dollars to Google’s Android venture, naturally, you get premium access to the newest SDK builds and even API access to even control device functions. That could get some users who have slaved hours on Google’s Android project pissed! This is really the pressing concern from the article highlighted by AppleInsider, actually. Imagine that you and a few friends of yours make a killer app that just requires you to know the exact pressure sensitivity readings of the touch screen for an Android phone, but the caveat is none of your “staff” are big name commercial people or Summer of Code winners… This could be the one failing crux to your masterpiece to ever find completion. However, someone who won the Summer of Code competition may have an all access pass to all functions of the phone and could create a killer app that could rival yours. End result: Your team loses out on a chance to monetize on your killer app, yet your competitor gets a chance to dominate the market. Could you imagine the frustration to know your competitor’s app would be up for sale in Google’s Android App Shop for $2.99 a download while you’re going “If only Google let us access code on touch screen sensitivity…” with your friends?

Apple’s iPhone SDK is much in the same spirit like Google, an illusion of open source, but I feel they have mitigated drama by allowing all users certain levels of access. There’s the “Free” SDK which is just basic tools to build and test apps for personal use. But to get your name out there… Apple wants you to pony up $99 for a Basic Developer license which gives you the right to distribute your app to other iPhones via WiFi and also sell/give your app away at the iTunes App store. Should you sell your app, you do get 70% of the revenue. Then there’s the “Enterprise” license for $299 which allows you the power to make in-house corporate apps for the iPhone, like a trippy app that monitors and plays with your custom ECU for a tuner shop or other endless things your corporation wants to use the iPhone for. This license in particular is recommended for firms employing 500 people or more.

In my opinion, Apple’s rules are a little more concrete than the undefined access rules that Google has imposed on it’s users… We’ll have to sit and see how things brew down. The fact that Google’s been dawdling with producing a real and hard phone is making their time slip, while Apple and even OpenMoko have live phones to play with! Sure, Google has a deal with HTC to have a phone created as well as make it so that users with HTC phones can do a firmware update to have Android operational on their phones… Add to this that they are trying to fight between T-Mobile USA and Sprint|Nextel as official providers… You have a concept that may simply have trouble breaking the market in a solid fashion. I guess in a sense I am saying… Google better give everyone an “eHug” and get their crap straight or come up with a better strategy quickly unless they want to let Apple take more limelight from them..

The Second Coming of the Jesus Phone – 7/11/2008 – 3G iPhone

With the summer here, all your big and essential technology shows are abound. You have the Computex show out in Taiwan being the big one for computer hardware and E3 for the gaming folks. However, if you’re an Apple fanatic, WWDC is the most noteworthy to you. This year has been no slouch either. If you are a big phone fanatic like yours-truly, then obviously you know that this year’s WWDC has the second revision on Apple’s new “killer handheld”, the 3G iPhone.

iPhone Announcement

For some, this is the boat that a number of frustrated Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Nokia S60 users have been waiting for. The inclusion of 3G cellular baseband chips, A-GPS functionality, and a few more things are just a few of the things that many iPhone naysayers and bashers had picked on the first iteration iPhone. This announcement has not shaken down some of the other competitors just yet, as far as I know. I have not seen any price breaks from manufacturers like HTC et al from the WWDC announcement, but then again, it may not matter to them because they may have a pocket ace up their sleeve thay may not be known to the masses yet. (The Touch Diamond is rather prohibitive at $700+ at the moment, eh? – Zero)

iPhone Profile Shots

Notice this time that there’s a curvature to the back of the iPhone, much like a Palm Treo. The device comes in two colors, black and white. The colors signify the device’s storage capacity: black being an 8GB and white being 16GB. This also signifies a change in how the device is built. The aluminum back of the first iPhone is a thing of the past, the back of the 3G iPhone is plastic. Some fans on the web have speculated the curvature and plastic back are more to accomodate the fun new additions of circuitry inside the phone.

The new iPhone boasts that it will be using the new 2.0 software improving the user experience with features such as a customizable Home Screen, the App Store, a Map App that can use BOTH A-GPS and cell tower and/or wi-fi hotspots to triangulate data. For those enterprising corporate users who are jonesing for a tricked out phone but were sadly disappointed in the lack of support for Microsoft Exchange server for their jobs, the new rendition of the iPhone has added support for syncing up to Microsoft Exchange servers. Early or late first generation iPhone owners can still get in on the some of these features with the new iPhone 2.0 software update, so they are not quite left out in the cold.

If you want to behold more of the features about the iPhone, check out the Official Apple iPhone page (Link)! Need more visual porn? Check out the new iPhone gallery link here.

What about the pricing information? How bad will AT&T rape me for service?” are probably the next questions for curious 3G iPhone buyers seeing to get their hands one one and possibly escape their old provider. Let’s break into the leaked confidential bulletin posted up by Boy Genius Report and find out, shall we?

Before we pick through the plans… Let me make this one point from the confidential bulletin loud and clear for you curious readers: In America, there is no way to buy the 3G iPhone without committing to AT&T and GoPhone customers are not permitted to buy them for GoPhone use either. I repeat, you cannot just buy an iPhone without a plan even in the Apple Stores. In other countries, you may be able to purchase an unlocked iPhone due to anti-competition agreements, but not much information is known on that. The caveat for the American market is that due to this closer partnership between AT&T and Apple is that now AT&T can finally subsidize the iPhone to an entry price of $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. A very gutsy move as this puts the iPhone right at the same price points as AT&T’s corporate communicator market. HTC, Pantech, Palm, and RIM Blackberry devices be damned, AT&T basically created an internal smartphone war within their ranks! This has me curious as to how RIM, Palm,and HTC will play their cards in America, but that’s another discussion… 😉 for later this week.

Let’s go over the major points quoted from the Boy Genius Report post:

  • iPhone 3G will be activated at point of sale when the device is purchased in store.
  • Return period has been changed from 14 days to 30 days
  • $199 and $299 pricing is for new activations or qualified upgrades with a 2-year agreement
  • 2G iPhone data rate plans will remain available for 2G device suntil further notice
  • The new iPhone 3G data plan is $30/month and includes unlimited data and visual voicemail
  • There is not a no commitment price. This means you can’t just walk in and bang $500 on your credit card and walk out.
  • If you are an existing iPhone customer in good standing, you will be able to extend your contract for two years when the iPhone 3G launches and get the ill-na-na $199/$299 price point. Doesn’t matter when you bought an iPhone either.
  • AT&T and Apple stores “unbrick” the iPhone 3G at time of purchase, but for some reason if that doesn’t happen, you’ll be required to use iTunes at home.
  • Pre-paid and Pick Your Plan will not be allowed on iPhone 3G
  • Device purchase limit remains at (3) per customer in AT&T stores.
  • Launch day will mirror last year’s launch. This includes extended store hours, crowd controls, etc. Security will be provided to stores requesting armed police or guards.
  • AT&T is working with Apple to roll out GPS-enabled applications.

One of the first things I noticed as a definite step to progress is the in-store activation. I had read a few accounts online about some people having trouble with doing the activation at home due to the servers timing out and having to activate their phones a few days after purchasing an iPhone. This ensures that end users will have a working phone on purchase instead of angry users griping that their new toy is useless until the server can activate their device.

The purchase of an iPhone will require an iPhone data plan. The unlimited personal plan starts at $30 with any qualifying voice plan, however if you need to link with corporate e-mail accounts… you’ll need to front $45 per month for the enterprise data plan. My assumption is that a “qualifying” voice plan is a plan that is priced at least $39.99 and has 600 anytime minutes. As far as the press release from AT&T goes, there’s no mention if the unlimited iPhone data plans will include any text messaging… but that could change come July 11, 2008. As far as AT&T’s texting plans go, that could range from $14.99 – $19.99. So about $30 (estimated) for the lowest qualifying voice plan, $30 for the unlimited personal e-mail, web and visual voicemail package, and then $15 for the texting plan. A rough grand total of $75 before miscellaneous taxes and service charges would be due on the billing date; possibly around $80 – $82 after those charges. That’s decently competitive to an individual corporate user with a smartphone or Blackberry configured in the same manner. This combined with the subsidized price of the iPhone actually gives AT&T some leg room to fight. If they combine texting with different tiering of iPhone data packages, like the unlimited personal data plan being able to also get unlimited texting for a total of $80 before taxes, this may give providers like T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon more incentive to step up to the plate and really be creative.

Tune in tomorrow when I’ll play Devil’s Advocate and spin my thoughts from the anti-iPhone camp from the eyes of the T-Mobile/Sprint/Verizon/HTC/Palm/RIM side of things. This will actually be a 3-part series of things. The floor is now open to any pro-iPhone comments. If you have hate or bones to pick with the iPhone, save your energy for tomorrow.