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New Phone, 2011 Edition

Created by dave. Last edited by dave, 12 years and 142 days ago. Viewed 4,218 times. #4
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New Phone Time Again

(21 September 2011)

So yeah, the boss has decided that the company is going to switch to Telus Mobility for our cell phone services. And this means all of our Rogers phones will have to be replaced.

There's a budget for handsets, but right now that's not important. What is important is that we look and see what kind of phone we should get.

The Criteria

This is what we had >>the last time around:


  • be a blackberry (see my post about iPhone Mail Filtering)
  • be a phone
  • have a nice web browser
  • have WiFi as an option
  • fit in my pocket
  • play music
  • have a camera of better-than-no-camera-at-all quality or better
  • be of a cost that I can sell the wife on spending
  • GPS
I think we can throw out the blackberry requirement as a "must". About half the team is, or will be, moving away from blackberry and by getting an active-sync capable phone I'm still eating our own dogfood as far as network services go.

I also think the "nice web browser" requirement should be a "must". This is probably the device I do most of my recreational browsing on as I can use it while supervising the kids.

And since the new car does bluetooth, the bluetooth support should be up to scratch.

Today's Phone

Today I'm using a Blackberry Pearl 9100 handset, upgraded to an OS6 release. As a phone it is fine. The OS6 is reasonably nice, although I think it is actually a preview release, since I upgraded it pretty much immediately when I got the phone. As such there are occasional crashes and odd behaviors.

Such as?

  • The bluetooth functionality. The phone will just flat out drop music streaming periodically and turn the bluetooth radio off. No reason why. I was to the point of investigating and locating an appropriate replacement OS6 load for this phone to see if that improved matters; however the Telus thing has come up so there's no point really.
  • When my company switched BES back-end systems, the Blackberry Filters stopped working predictably. (As in, at all in some cases.)
  • And the upgrade to the Blackberry desktop software meant there was no desktop ability to edit filters. You have to do it on the phone now. Which doesn't do much for your ability to trouble-shoot typos that inevitably happen on that tiny multi-tap keyboard (or the much-less-useless-except-when-it-isn't SureType mode).
  • And. The other problem is that I'm getting sick of Blackberry apps. (See Why Do Blackberry Apps Suck So Much?)
Put that all together, along with playing with an iPod Touch we have, and Blackberry as a platform is almost a net negative to me right now.

The Contenders

Feature or
iPhone 4-32GB
Galaxy S2-X
PhoneyesyesI presume so
Actually Available NowMaybeYes (about to be replaced)No
Nice Web BrowserAdequate or betterUsableProbably Very Nice
Fits in my pocketProbably NotMaybeHell No
Play MusicYesYesI presume so
CameraHD VideoYesHD Video
Screen3.7" 800x4803.5" 960x6404.5" 800x480
Weight112 grams137 grams109g
Size120 x 62 x 11.5 mm
(7440 mm2) (85560 mm3)
115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm
(6751 mm2) (62782 mm3)
67.3 x 131 x 9.4 mm
(8816 mm2) (82873 mm3)
Talk Time5.9 hours7 hours9 hours
Standby Time11.8 days (283 hours)300 hours620 hours
Internal Storage4GB32GB16GB
Expandable Storageup to 32GBHell NoUp to 32GB

So here's what I see when I look at all that.

  • The iPhone has the smallest face, which makes it the most likely to fit in my pocket. The Samsung probably will never fit in my pocket and is almost a micro-tablet instead.
  • The Samsung's battery is the clear winner. The Blackberry the clear loser, especially considering the size advantage it has over the iPhone.
  • The iPhone is the heaviest which, with its smallest size, makes it the densest phone on the list. Dense isn't bad. You don't want flimsy.
Other things to think about:

App Ecosystem:

  • the iPhone has a fairly mature, pay-oriented app ecosystem. It isn't trivial to get your app into the ecosystem which winnows a lot of chaffe. On the other hand, brilliant free and/or open source apps will be few and far between, if they exist at all.
  • RIM's app ecosystem is polluted with low-quality apps, with the free apps being used as gateways to the paid-up versions. I run exactly four apps: Facebook, Twitter, WeatherNetwork, and bbTracker (which isn't in the App app at all and I can't find something that does what I want in the App app). I play more free iPhone games on the iPod we have than that. That said, as bbTracker illustrates, it is not impossible to load an out-of-appstore app into the Blackberry. On the other hand, the coming QNX-based OS is likely to fragment the developer base into QNX-vs-old-OS developers, at least for a while.
  • The Android app ecosystem seems dominated by the Amazon thing, which has its problems. I suspect it is going to be like the RIM ecosystem, only more so, since it will be much easier to build your own app and install it on people's devices. This means there will be lots more out there, and most of it will be crap. But if I really really want to, I can start writing my own programs for the platform. And there is an increased likelihood that something very cool will be available for free -- assuming you can find it.
Handset Lifespan:
  • The 9860 handset is basically a Storm 3. Storms 1 and 2 didn't do particularly well. If this one fails as well it will become hard to support should we have to do a warrantee action on it and further OS upgrades might stop supporting it. Unrelatedly, the Pearl 9100 I got just over a year ago (when it was extremely new) seems to be all but absent already from the cell phone vendors.
  • The iPhone4 is about to be replaced by the iPhone5 iPhone4S. However the iPhone4 hardware should be viable for at least a couple years of iOS upgrades. And Apple really only runs one series of phones, so while they'll eventually force us to abandon the platform it won't be for a while since a non-trivial percentage of their user base will be using any given handset.
  • Android devices are the epitome of churn. And since there are so many of them, there is an increased chance that a base OS image update will not work on your phone for some stupid reason, and you'll get abandoned at some point. Also Google now owns Motorola, so the base-OS generator is going to end up competing with its own vendors like Samsung. Google might continue playing fair and avoid favoring their own handsets… but then again, they might not.


Today? iPhone4-32GB.

  • I'm most likely able to put it in my pocket
  • It has the best screen resolution of the bunch of them
  • It should be a passable phone
  • The web browser is usable, better than I'm used to today
  • Since it is about to be replaced, it'll be cheaper than the other two cutting-edge contenders
  • Apple is likely to screw us all over by abandoning the platform at some point in the future due to hardware changes or requirements, but A) we know that up front, and B) we know it will not be in the immediate future
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