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Other Smartphone Advice

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Zurechial, 5 Jan 2010.

  1. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    Hey guys, I'm having a bit of trouble deciding on a new phone, so I'm hoping to get some advice on what to choose.

    I've been using an SE Xperia X1 for the past few months and I wasn't too impressed with it, to be completely honest. The phone is laggy as hell, WinMo 6.1 is a glitchy mess, the panels are slow & gimmicky; and the build quality of the device is sub-par.

    I eventually reflashed the phone with custom ROMs from XDA-developers and managed to get the phone working the way I want (with WinMo 6.5 & PointUI Home2, specifically) but just as I managed to get the phone set up as I wanted, the crappy build quality bit me!
    The QWERTY keyboard never felt all that great (and has very little travel on the keys or tactile response), and eventually the 'r' key on the keyboard broke (literally broke in to 3 pieces and fell off), while the casing is full of cracks in the plastic despite being well looked-after.

    I bought the phone on eBay and my warranty probably isn't valid so I decided to replace the casing and keyboard myself, but things have gone from bad to worse since then. (The cheap, knockoff/imitation casing & keyboard I got from Hong Kong to 'fix' the phone are probably the main source of problems now, admittedly!)

    So, to cut a long story short, I'm going to try and get the phone repaired at a service center outside of warranty if it isn't too expensive, but in the long term I want to just replace it and move on.

    ----

    I'll try to give a comprehensive list of my typical usage and factors in choosing a new handset:

    ++No iPhones!
    I can't stand locked-down devices with propietary software, nor devices that rely solely on their touchscreen for operation.
    I like to modify & customise everything to suit my preferences, and though I can understand the popularity of Apple products they just aren't for me.

    ++Must-have features:
    -Hardware buttons, preferably a QWERTY keyboard. (The quality of the keyboard itself is a major factor after the trouble I had with the X1)
    -WiFi
    -HSDPA & 3G
    -Fast CPU (I can't stand laggy devices)
    -3.5mm Headphone jack (I like to use my phone as my portable music player)
    -External storage (SDHC or similar)
    -USB connection to PC
    -High build quality (The X1 falls apart in mere months from both my own experiences and those of countless people on XDA-devs)

    ++Features that don't matter much to me:
    -Camera/Lens quality (I don't use the camera in my phone much, so it's not important to me)
    -Video capabilities (I don't generally watch videos on handheld devices)

    ++Tie-breakers (Factors that might sway me but aren't critical)
    -Screen size (A big screen is nice but anything ~3" or bigger is probably enough)
    -Exchange server compatibility or a convenient method of backing up contacts & messages to PC
    -Internet sharing (I like to use the phone as a HSDPA modem sometimes with my laptop, but just as a matter of convenience)
    -GPS & Navigation (Nice when I get lost or want quick access to a map, but I could live without)

    Phew!

    I'm a bit of a Linux geek, so Android is pretty interesting to me because of its seemingly tweakable nature (open-source, marketplace, google integration, etc ) and I could stomach WinMo again as long as I can just disable the bloat and stick PointUI Home2 on the device.

    Right now I think the Motorola Milestone/Droid is the one device that seems closest to my needs but it's pretty expensive and hard to find.

    The Nokia N900 looks interesting and the device specs look great, but it's rather expensive.. On the other hand, its 32GB internal storage would save me from having to buy any external storage cards. (I'd never need more than 32GB of storage in a pocket device)

    Blackberry devices seem to be growing in non-business popularity and have the deal-breaking QWERTY keyboards, but I've never used one before and I'm dubious of their interface and OS. How customisable are they and what's the community-driven support like for apps etc?

    Sorry for the lengthy post and thanks for any advice!

    (Tl;DR! :p )
     
    Last edited: 5 Jan 2010
  2. Cupboard

    Cupboard I'm not a modder.

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    Have you looked at a Palm Pre?
    I wouldn't go for it over anything you have already mentioned but its worth a thought!
     
  3. planem997

    planem997 New Member

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    go for a Android phone like the HTC Hero or the new google nexus phone
     
  4. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    Thanks for the input!
    I've looked at the Pre but I'm not sure if the OS has the kind of community-driven support I'd like for customisation and third party software. I'll need to take a closer look though, I had forgotten about the Pre again until you mentioned it. :)

    Android is very, very tempting but neither of those phones fit the bill. :(
     
  5. daniel_owen_uk

    daniel_owen_uk New Member

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    Motorola Droid (milestone)

    ++Must-have features:
    -Hardware buttons, preferably a QWERTY keyboard. (The quality of the keyboard itself is a major factor after the trouble I had with the X1) Yes
    -WiFi Yes
    -HSDPA & 3G Yes
    -Fast CPU (I can't stand laggy devices) Yes
    -3.5mm Headphone jack (I like to use my phone as my portable music player) Yes
    -External storage (SDHC or similar) Yes
    -USB connection to PC Yes
    -High build quality (The X1 falls apart in mere months from both my own experiences and those of countless people on XDA-devs) Yes

    ++Features that don't matter much to me:
    -Camera/Lens quality (I don't use the camera in my phone much, so it's not important to me) Yes
    -Video capabilities (I don't generally watch videos on handheld devices) Yes

    ++Tie-breakers (Factors that might sway me but aren't critical)
    -Screen size (A big screen is nice but anything ~3" or bigger is probably enough) Yes AMOLED High Res
    -Exchange server compatibility or a convenient method of backing up contacts & messages to PC Yes
    -Internet sharing (I like to use the phone as a HSDPA modem sometimes with my laptop, but just as a matter of convenience) Yes (tethering)
    -GPS & Navigation (Nice when I get lost or want quick access to a map, but I could live without) Yes

    Should cover it all
     
  6. alastor

    alastor New Member

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  7. PQuiff

    PQuiff New Member

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    Id second any phone from HTC. My hero is the best phone ive ever owned.
     
  8. JaredC01

    JaredC01 Hardware Nut

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    I just got the Sprint HTC Hero a couple days ago ('upgraded' from a Touch Pro), and I will NEVER look back to a WinMo phone. That includes a custom flashed one (I've tried various ROMs from different developers, last one being EnergyROM, over at PPCGeeks) like my Touch Pro was.

    Honestly, Android is the way to go... The market place has a TON of useful apps, including a lot of apps that I loved having on my iTouch such as Shazam, Pandora, and a few other.

    The Droid is about the best one out right now with a hardware keyboard, but I will say after using it, I wasn't at all impressed with it. The keys are about the same as my Touch Pro, but the directional pad at the right hand side makes it very uncomfortable to type with your right thumb due to the distance to the keys (the whole keyboard is off center to the rest of the phone). I personally used to HAVE a keyboard as well (which is why I bought the Touch Pro over the Touch Diamond), however I will say after having my Sprint HTC Hero (different from the GSM version mind you) I'm not missing my hardware keyboard one bit.

    Sprint has the Samsung Moment, which is an Android phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, though I've not heard much good or bad about it... It's nowhere near as popular as the Hero is though, so I suspect there's room for improvement.

    As for future developments...

    T-Mobile is getting the new Google Nexus One, which is an Android based phone, running a 1GHz Snapdragon Qualcomm processor, with a 3.7" AMOLED screen, and various extras... Down side, it doesn't have a hardware keyboard, and it's not running the HTC interface, which may or may not be a minus to you. If I could live with having T-Mobile's service, it would be an awesome option... YMMV on their service of course. -- Just checked, apparently the Nexus One is shipping already. http://www.google.com/phone

    Sprint is releasing a new phone at CES TODAY (6 Jan 2010) by LG that's supposed to have the Snapdragon CPU as well, though I don't know about the keyboard yet, and it's rumored to be a WinMo phone... I'll let you know the details once I find them out.

    That aside there's not MUCH buzz for January... There's a few more phones to look forward to for Q1 / Q2 2010, but they're a short ways away.

    If you haven't yet, I would recommend checking out http://phonedog.com/. They have a lot of HD reviews of current phones, as well as the inside scoop on some of the new ones coming out.
     
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  9. Cateye

    Cateye New Member

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    Few days back i short listed couple of cell phone for my next upgrade.

    Google Nexus

    HTC HD2
    HTC Hero

    BB 9000
    BB 8900 Curve

    Nokia E72

    personally i will love to get my hands on Nexus but for the time being its price is way above my budget then Hero > HD2 > E72 > BB9000 > BB 8900.
     
  10. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    Thanks for all the useful input guys, very helpful.

    It looks as though the Motorola Droid/Milestone is the device for me but I'm a bit dubious about the position of the keyboard as JaredC01 mentioned, so I think I need to get my hands on one to try it out first.
    Sadly, that's going to be next-to-impossible over here. :rolleyes:

    I've had others recommend the HTC Touch Pro2 to me as well, with comments suggesting that it does everything my X1 does, but better - particularly the keyboard.
    It's very tempting, but I'm not sure I want to invest in another WinMo phone so close to WinMo 7's supposed release, I'd feel cheated if I can't flash WinMo 7 to the device! :p
    Plus, just knowing that a Linux Kernel sits at the core of Android appeals to my inner (& outer) geek.

    Those of you with the HTC Hero and other Android phones, how customisable is the interface?
    I see a lot of devices showing off their own interpretations of the Android home screen and extra UI layers like HTC Sense (which, as far as I can see is just an Android equivalent of their TouchFlo UI for WinMo) but I'd like to be able to try third-party solutions when I want, or return to a standard Android UI if I find that I don't like Sense.
    Is that possible with Android?

    I originally assumed that Android would be an extremely customisable and flexible OS, with its opensource nature, but few (if any) of the reviews I've seen of Android phones have touched on that topic and seem to be focused on just extolling the virtues of the default UI or HTC's Sense UI.

    Currently I use WinMo 6.5 & PointUI Home2 on my X1 and I find that great - I like it so much that if I can get the phone properly repaired I'll actually hang onto it for a few more months or until it falls apart again.

    PS;
    Those of you who think HTC phones are incredibly well-made, don't be so sure. Their RMA service has a reputation for being woefully slow and difficult and my infamous Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, with its awful build quality and propensity to falling apart is actually manufactured by HTC and rebranded by SE.
    As far as I can see, it's hit and miss, with some of HTC's devices being great and others being dire.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2010
  11. LJF

    LJF Modded

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    Moto Droid/Milestone certainly ticks all the boxes.

    I ordered one yesterday. I should have it pretty soon. I'll let you know how I get on with the keyboard. It may just be one of those things you need to get used to.
     
  12. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    Awesome, please do!

    After putting up with the crappy keyboard on the Xperia X1 for so long I have a feeling the Droid's keyboard would be a pleasure in comparison even at its worst! :p
     
  13. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    I've been a blackberry user for business purposes for over 3 years now, as well as having a Curve 8900 for my personal handset now for the past 8 months.

    My general Blackberry observations are thus:

    - You won't be customising the UI without doing some SERIOUS hacking. Themes are quite common though, and they have options for your screen layout.

    - All blackberries include all the features you've mentioned above (the must-haves are all there [caveat - not all are 3g and wifi], what you don't care about they don't have in spades, and it has ALL the tie-breakers), with the exception of "Fast CPU" for the Pearls. Avoid.

    - The trackballs get dirty and break. So far in the UK the only one with the trackpad is the 8520, which is what I'd consider entry level, although its mid-range actually. The pearl is entry level and sucks.

    - With the trackball exception, they're sturdy, with my work phones having survived several drops before.

    - Think all models are 2.5mm jacks designed for hands free kits, but the Curve 8900 and Bold 9000 (and I assume 9700) do come with such a stereo headset which can be used for music. They're OK quality. Adaptors exist afaik.

    My model specific Blackberry observations are thus:

    - Did I mention the pearl sucks? Doesn't have full qwerty keyboard either. Avoid any 81xx model.

    - I've used the Bold 9000 (3g, wifi, 2mp) and its good although there are have been issues with software on it. Last had one over a year ago and the software has matured out now, although still YMMV. Trackball, so it will eventually get dirty and stop working. Same software level and features as the Curve so I won't write it out twice.

    - I've got currently a Curve 8900 (2g, wifi, 3.2mp) and its been a great phone, but the trackball is spotty as described above. (From here on in, applies to Bold 9000 as well:) I use it for pretty much what you list above. I can tether (though work gives me 3g USB sooo...) it comes with Blackberry maps and has GPS built in, Google maps is a free download and works OK too. With the personal blackberries you can pull in upto 10 accounts (T-mobile UK, but YMMV) which can be pop3, imap, or Exchange outlook web access. I use pop3 and OWA and its fine.

    - Curve 8520 (2g, wifi, 2mp, trackpad lower res screen). Some of my colleagues at work have these as their work phone. As I mentioned above I'd consider them as the lowest point I'd recommend a Blackberry. Its functional and neat and tidy, and importantly it has a trackpad. Not a ball. Works nicely too.

    - Bold 9700 (3g, wifi, 3.2mp, trackpad). This will be my next phone. All the best bits of the 8900 and 9000 in one package, and its got the trackpad, which won't break. Woo!

    Hope this helps you.
     
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  14. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    Very helpful, thanks for all of that! :)
    I've never had the opportunity to play around with a Blackberry before so I'm not very informed when it comes to them.

    My father's getting a Storm2 for work in the next couple of weeks so I'll get my hands on that and see what I make of it.
     
  15. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    Hope it wasn't too much tl;dr :hehe:

    Overall, based on your requirements, I'd say a Blackberry will be a very good fit, and using the UI on the storm will give you an idea of if you like it.

    The diff between the Storm and the Bold/Curve is that you press the screen directly instead of using the trackpad to highlight/click the menu options, and that's about it :)

    Oh, and there's a Blackberry App Store application with plenty of stuff available for it.
     
  16. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    After my OP I don't think I could honestly regard any response short of a novel as tl;dr. :D
     
  17. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    Don't tempt me. I like to take my time researching my options and making informed choices so I'm happy to argue to the last rag about why I stand by my choices!! :)
     
  18. unknowngamer

    unknowngamer here

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    HTC Touch Pro 2 with custom ROM (XDA devs)

    I love it.

    The only thing it didn't have in your list is a headphone jack, but an adapter is 99p.


    I've got a custom ROM on mine with a few tweaks.
    more software available than you expect.
    And flexable

    for using my GPS system I have
    tomtom7 + Cycle trip computer + Nivigation computer + GPS location sender.
    All use the GPS in different ways.
    Tomtom is a standard sat nav.
    Cycle trip computer is used for a cycleride/workout for calories-speed-route-laptimes.
    Navi computer is a direction finder and altimeter with a few extra functions such as using a map overlay, good for off roading
    And GPS location sender send my gps co-ordinates and event details for meeting mates.

    My point is it's a very flexable system and can be used in many ways.
    I love mine.
    There isn't another phone out there I'd rather have.
     
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  19. pimonserry

    pimonserry sounds like a party.

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    I actually bought a Milestone just before the VAT rise and got it yesterday. It's not lightning-fast (you mentioned CPU as a priority) but certainly not laggy either.

    Also, the keyboard takes getting used to (I'd say a day of heavy keyboard use and you'd have it) but once you've got to know it it's great.

    The GPS receiver is fantastic, I was in my house and it locked on in under 20 seconds. My old Nokia N82 flat-out refused to get a GPS signal indoors...

    Also, Android is great, apart from the lack of proper 3D games (apparently 3D will be available in Android 2.1) and quite tweakable, not to mention hackable if you're into that.

    Oh, and the Milestone comes with an 8GB MicroSDHC card, but ~2 or 3GB is used up with the Motonav (which is pretty decent) and 5MP pictures are ~800kb each. Haven't taken any videos on it yet, but apparently its 3GP format which is slightly compressed. Personally, I'm going to buy a 16GB card in time, to store more photos and music.

    I can't fault the phone basically, other than Motorola haven't released the 2.01 update for Euro Milestones yet :( Although hopefully 2.1 (with 2.01 hopefully before...) will be coming later this year (as is on the Nexus One).

    Hope that helps, if you haven't already bought anything :)

    Edit: Oh, and Zoon: there is an 8530 in the works, not yet available in the UK. It is the 8520 + GPS + 3G according to BlackBerry.

    Edit again: Nevermind, as you said (which I missed) the 9700 has the trackpad and GPS + 3G. My bad.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2010
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  20. Zurechial

    Zurechial Elitist

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    Thanks unknowngamer and pimonserry, more useful input. :)

    Software-wise the Touch Pro 2 is going to be practically identical to my X1 since I've flashed my X1 with various XDA-devs roms throughout its life and I'm familiar with the WinMo way of doing things. ;)
    Hardware-wise it's certainly a step up from the X1 though, I just don't think I could justify buying a Touch Pro 2 if/when my X1 is still functional.

    If I can't get the X1 repaired for a reasonable price I'll probably bite that bullet.
    The sheer childish excitement of playing with a new OS (and an open-source one at that) is what's really pulling me towards the Milestone, though.

    I've an exam on the 11th so I'm studying like crazy at the moment, but after that I'm planning to send my X1 off to the service centre to see if I can get it repaired.
    Depending on how that goes I'll see if I keep the Xperia for a few more months or get the Milestone.

    Maybe the Milestone will go down in price over the next few months, we'll see. :D
     

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