In my last column, I mentioned the fact that I was shopping for a new handset, and, at last, that process is now complete. Now, as I work in the mobility field, I don’t go all ga-ga over new toys. Well, OK, I do, for a couple of days, anyway, but truth be told I just hate buying new technology products because it always takes time to configure and to learn to use them efficiently. And then there’s the poor documentation and vendor nonsense that even the best of them suffer from – who would have thought, for example, that you’d have to connect your iPad to a PC in order to get it running out of the box? I continue to marvel at Apple’s closed-system thinking.
Which is why I didn’t get an iPhone. I’m a Verizon customer, for historical reasons of both coverage and reliability (but certainly not price; have you checked out the deals from the MVNOs lately?), and with the iPhone coming to Verizon (it must be such by now, right?), and as a Mac user, I should jump on this, right? Surprise! No way! Give me openness or give me a phone that doesn’t do data – which until recently I also had one of. So, we’re down to BlackBerry or Android. Is it me, or do even current BlackBerry models just feel a bit dated?
You can probably guess where I’m going with this, but I decided to follow the advice I give my clients – don’t start with the handset, or even the carrier – start with the data, the information you need to access. Then proceed to the applications required to manipulate this data. Then settle on device features, and then pick the carrier. OK, it’s Verizon for that one, but, as for the data, I’m a Web/cloud services guy and want everything there – securely, mind you, but I view the subscriber unit as an interface, a terminal – not a PC. I don’t care much about local apps, but I’ll use them if I have to or if they make life easier. I use Yahoo Mail, so their mail app, for example, makes sense, although their plain mobile Web client is just fine on my new handset, at least when Yahoo is working, anyway. I need some kind of local office-file readers and writers, but not a full office suite. But, above all, that browser better be sweet. And, yes, my new one is. I love the way I can scale text on Web pages to fit the screen in either orientation – always a hassle in every previous handset I’ve owned.
Because I want to tether (via Wi-Fi) my iPad and Ubuntu-based netbooks to this device while traveling, I also needed cost-effective service here. Verizon charges $20/month for tethering, but it can be activated month-to-month and I save that $20 by blocking texting, which I never use. OK, already, I picked Android. I do worry about Google spying on me, and I don’t like the requirement for an account with Google to download apps (Apple, having learned lots of bad habits from Microsoft, being influential in more ways than one here, I suspect). But Android is the most open of any of the handheld OSes out there, and it’s burning up the track in sales. I do think, BTW, that webOS has a shot now that it’s in HP’s hands, and perhaps MeeGo does as well. But Symbian is dead, despite the largest installed base in the handset world, as is Windows Mobile, although I know many don’t agree with me on that one, but, trust me, it’s Linux for reasons purely of cost, with some following for iOS for reasons of cult-like behavior. And it may also be that BlackBerry OS as we know it is doomed, to be replaced by QNX. Anyway, even with that, the BlackBerry line just isn’t of interest. Android is it, at least for me and a few million others, and likely a long-term survivor unless Google mucks it up.
What else did I need? Support for audio and video, although entertainment use of this device is only for emergencies. A swappable battery. Recharging via USB (although this is very common now, it wasn’t two years ago). A USB port. A memory card slot. And I just needed a simple, thin silicone case and a screen protector sheet – no real protection, but this handset needs to fit in my pants pocket. Men operate at a severe disadvantage in the mobile world.
I thought an HDMI port might be a good idea, but the only available handset with one is the Motorola Droid X, and it was just a hair too big. Giving presentations via Wi-Fi is where I want to go anyway. So it was down to the HTC Incredible or the Samsung Fascinate – and the Samsung won, mostly thanks to its great OLED screen. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with this handset – in fact, this is the first handset that I’ve ever truly been happy with. So far (three weeks), so good. And highly recommended!