10 July, 2009

Just give me a cell phone that does everything I need it to do

Thesis Statement:

There is no cell phone that does what I need it to do

Here's what I need:
  1. I need a phone that has a keyboard, and preferably a small compact keyboard that is easy to type on. I do not want a phone that has only a touch screen, because I cannot type well on them. I was fast as lightning on my old HTC Shadow. Now, I am completely hobbled on my iPhone because of typos. This requirement rules out the iPhone and a handful of other models.

  2. I need a phone that connect to my work email and calendar easily, without using a web browser to do it. That basically means I need Microsoft Exchange Server support. This requirement rules out the Blackberry which, from the sounds of it, is challenging at best to configure, and not sure if calendar or meetings is possible at all.

  3. I need a phone that has good signal in my neighborhood. This requirement rules out T-Mobile as a provider, because they've got basically no signal in my part of town.

  4. I need a phone that has navigation, maps, and web browsing, i.e. a Smartphone. This makes the list of choices short.
If those 4 things were all that I cared about, the decision would be, of course, to buy a Windows Mobile device, such as the Samsung Jack or Samsung Propel Pro. But in addition to the things I need, there are also things that I want.
  • I would prefer a phone that has a 3.5mm headphone jack so I can use the phone as my music player, with my good earbuds. Oops, that requirement rules out all of the Windows Mobile devices that AT&T carries which met my other requirements! The Samsung phones both use a stupid proprietary headphone jack and would require an awkward dongle to use my regular headphones.

  • I would prefer to be able to connect my phone as a music player to my car stereo. Only an iPhone seems to do that. I could not get my Zune to work, and I could not get any other mp3 player I own to work either, unless I use the radio tuner route, or the audio input directly, which is workable but inconvenient.

  • I would prefer the phone to have easy access to things like Facebook. This doesn't seem to rule out any of the options, but Blackberry and iPhone do it better than Windows Mobile
The bottom line is that, no matter which option I choose, especially with AT&T, I am hosed in one way or another. I love the iPhone in some ways. It gets all the little things right. But some of the big things it gets very wrong. Call dropping is an issue. Battery life is an issue. And typing, which I do a lot, is abyssmal. The latter is the reason I am on the verge of dumping my iPhone. But there needs to be a better option, and both Windows Mobile and Blackberry have Achilles' heels that, right out of the gate, I suspect will make the experience worse. Especially when you consider that they both lack nearly all of the bells and whistles the iPhone possesses.

There's really no winning. Perhaps the way to win is to say the hell with the Smartphone and go back to the Dumbphone?

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