Smartphone upgrade

Laptops, PDAs, Cell Phones, and all other tech that you carry with you.

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Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:47 pm

I've been subsisting on lower-rent pocket phones for the past five years, using an AT&T GoPhone prepaid account. I've generally been a light user, I run through maybe 50-100 voice minutes and 50-100 texts each month. But my work responsibilities are gradually increasing and AT&T's coverage is infuriating in the mile or so around my dwelling. So, I'm looking at smartphones and a different provider, probably around the late February or early March timeframe. My company has Outlook and a Cisco IP phone system fully integrated, so if I can have Outlook synching, I can travel a lot more conveniently. Touchscreen would be nice. Right now either Android or Win7 are looking like my best OS choices.

If I go with Verizon, I can round out my service plan around $90/month including the corporate discount available through my company. Upshot: more phone choices. Downside: Verizon.

If I go with T-Mobile, I can round out my service plan around $85/month. Upshot: international compatibility, which may start coming up in the future. Downside: Far fewer smartphone choices.

To set a hardware baseline: the Droid Incredible or an iPhone would be my ideal phone size and feature set. Unfortunately, with T-Mobile my best options are looking like either the HD7 (nice phone, friend has one, but kind of big for my taste) or a MyTouch4G. With Verizon, I can get the Droid Incredible or wait for the Verizon iPhone. Opinions on these options? Other options I should consider? I'm concerned mainly with Outlook compatibility, the reception quality of the phone, and being able to purchase a data plan that won't suck my wallet dry.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:18 pm

VZW just killed off the $15/150MB data plans so no matter when you sign up from now on you'll be paying $30 for data. Remember VZW and T-Mo will both be offering up faster phones with faster connections this year. Notably the iPhone4 and 5, HTC Thunderbolt and the Motorola successor to be out this year(droid bionic?) for VZW. I don't know specifics about T-Mobile. Ever thought about a Nexus S?

What do you mean by "downside: verizon?"
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:04 pm

If your company does not have Exchange ActiveSync configured then none of the above really matters. You should confirm you can and are allowed to connect to your Exchange server using a mobile phone first.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:43 pm

If you've got Outlook Web Access running on the Exchange server, that's all any smartphone needs for full Exchange sync. It's native in both Android and iOS.

I'm still using a Droid 1 and love it, because once you root it you can play with it to your heart's content and never be more than a few keystrokes away from restoring a full backup in case you mod too far.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:48 pm

DancinJack wrote:What do you mean by "downside: verizon?"

Never had a totally positive image of them. Their 3G advertising vis-a-vis AT&T is blatantly misleading, and different people I know have had various complaints regarding Verizon's QoS. Unfortunately, where I live right now, AT&T's coverage is appalling and only got worse after the iPhone started gaining momentum, so I've got no qualms about leaving them for Verizon if necessary. However, T-Mobile seems to rank higher on customer service than either.

Flying Fox wrote:If your company does not have Exchange ActiveSync configured then none of the above really matters. You should confirm you can and are allowed to connect to your Exchange server using a mobile phone first.

Yep, it's covered. The company doesn't provide employee phones to the rank and file, but anyone with a compatible phone can have this feature set up for them by IT.

I stopped by a local RadioShack over lunch and had the good fortune to find a MyTouch4G groupie on duty. He was able cover the phone's capabilities pretty thoroughly, and if no better options turn up, I think I could be comfortable with that one.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:26 pm

I've been a more-or-less happy T-Mobile customer for years.

You may want to look into the G2. It's pretty close to stock Android, with a good processor and an excellent hardware keyboard. I picked one up for SWMBO a couple weeks ago and she loves it. On the G2 and the Nexus S, T-Mobile has a wireless calling feature that will let you use your minutes through a WiFi connection. This is extremely helpful in places like my house where coverage is awful. If that is the one complaint I have about T-Mobile, it's that their coverage is not as complete as AT&T or Verizon. If you're primarily in suburban or denser areas, it's not an issue.

We were in Ireland last May and it was child's play to walk into a mobile store, buy a prepaid SIM and drop it in my phone to get a local phone number.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:06 pm

Okay, I'll see if I can find one to look over. Not sure about the "hardware keyboard" though, thinner and fewer moving parts is where I would like to be.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:14 pm

Darkmage wrote:We were in Ireland last May and it was child's play to walk into a mobile store, buy a prepaid SIM and drop it in my phone to get a local phone number.


Was the phone unlocked, or does T-mobile let its handsets accept foreign SIMs?
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:18 pm

ludi wrote:If I go with T-Mobile, I can round out my service plan around $85/month. Upshot: international compatibility, which may start coming up in the future. Downside: Far fewer smartphone choices.


PS If international compatibility is important to you, the only pentaband 3G phones right now are the nokia N8, C7 and E7. If you get a regular quad band phone, you'll have to shop around and do research to make sure that your phone is compatible with any given carrier.

You can still use 2G GSM networks if your phone is not compatible with a given carrier's 3G bands, but you won't be doing getting much mileage out of the smartphone features. Given the exorbitant data rates on prepaid plans, though, this might actually be a plus.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:22 pm

Darkmage wrote:I've been a more-or-less happy T-Mobile customer for years.

You may want to look into the G2. It's pretty close to stock Android, with a good processor and an excellent hardware keyboard. I picked one up for SWMBO a couple weeks ago and she loves it. On the G2 and the Nexus S, T-Mobile has a wireless calling feature that will let you use your minutes through a WiFi connection. This is extremely helpful in places like my house where coverage is awful. If that is the one complaint I have about T-Mobile, it's that their coverage is not as complete as AT&T or Verizon. If you're primarily in suburban or denser areas, it's not an issue.

We were in Ireland last May and it was child's play to walk into a mobile store, buy a prepaid SIM and drop it in my phone to get a local phone number.

The Comet is as cheap and as close to stock Android as you can get. It is also known as the Huawei IDEOS U8150.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:43 pm

ludi wrote:Okay, I'll see if I can find one to look over. Not sure about the "hardware keyboard" though, thinner and fewer moving parts is where I would like to be.
Hmm. In that case, the Nexus S sounds like a good bet. It's available for T-Mobile, but I think you have to go through Best Buy or Amazon. Stay the hell away from anything with MotoBlur, especially the Cliq series.

Voldenuit wrote:Was the phone unlocked, or does T-mobile let its handsets accept foreign SIMs?
My phone came unlocked, but T-Mobile will unlock anything with a phone call to their customer service.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:55 am

Darkmage wrote:
ludi wrote:Okay, I'll see if I can find one to look over. Not sure about the "hardware keyboard" though, thinner and fewer moving parts is where I would like to be.
Hmm. In that case, the Nexus S sounds like a good bet. It's available for T-Mobile, but I think you have to go through Best Buy or Amazon. Stay the hell away from anything with MotoBlur, especially the Cliq series.

I've had two Motorola candybars in the past. The UI quality was comparable to programming a microwave, if microwaves had color screens. I've got no interest in going back to those clowns -- their hardware is nice but their programming skills are...well, not skillful.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:17 am

ludi wrote:I've had two Motorola candybars in the past. The UI quality was comparable to programming a microwave, if microwaves had color screens. I've got no interest in going back to those clowns -- their hardware is nice but their programming skills are...well, not skillful.


Hehe, I've been so frustrated with Moto's UI that I smashed my Razr with my bare hands once. Definitely one of the least user-friendly phone makes around.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:28 am

What about the Dell Venue/Venue Pro. That'll activate on T-Mobile's network.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:34 am

Voldenuit wrote:
ludi wrote:I've had two Motorola candybars in the past. The UI quality was comparable to programming a microwave, if microwaves had color screens. I've got no interest in going back to those clowns -- their hardware is nice but their programming skills are...well, not skillful.


Hehe, I've been so frustrated with Moto's UI that I smashed my Razr with my bare hands once. Definitely one of the least user-friendly phone makes around.


Hmm, that is interesting. I had a Mot Flip-side which started chewing batteries for breakfast, so I upgraded to the Samsung Captivate. I miss the Motoblur syncing functions and the extra setting goodies which come on that phone such as a good task monitor. The free location if stolen service is something you don't think about until you don't have it.

My wife still has her Flipside, so I can do a little side-by-side with it.

The new Captivate has terrible GPS reception (if you are going to use it, which I am), but the Flipside was simply incredible in this area. However the Captivate OLED screen from Samsung is just amazing. I may "downgrade" back to the Flipside if only to get that amazing GPS back.

I am on AT&T but like the OP I barely use my minutes or data and turned off texting. The pay by minute plans were just atrocious for any sort of data, which I found I was using more and more of (weather radar and road conditions). I am a light user, but finding myself away from home a lot now that our son is getting older. Have to feed the addiction for weather and tinkering.

Thinking of checking out the soon to arrive HTC G4 phone at Radio Shack instead, as I am starting an app that will use the GPS as part of it's operation.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:40 pm

If Verizon is still an option, have you considered Sprint?
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:44 pm

T-Mo's customer service is top-notch -- they speak native English and fix problems super quickly. Had to wait less than a minute to get someone on the phone. I have a 3G Samsung Vibrant and it's awesome -- their data network is quite fast. Also haven't had any coverage problems with them in the 4 years I've been with them. I have unlimited data + text, 300 anytime mins, and the Fav 5 calling program and it costs me about $100/month with the phone insurance added.

Their 4G service is faster than Verizon's and is internationally compatible, too.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:41 am

Dizik wrote:If Verizon is still an option, have you considered Sprint?

Somewhat "meh" on Sprint, mostly because they've always been a me-too provider and I'm more partial to GSM over CDMA for the future international compatibility. It's looking like T-Mobile is my best all-around option.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:24 am

liquidsquid wrote:The new Captivate has terrible GPS reception (if you are going to use it, which I am), but the Flipside was simply incredible in this area. However the Captivate OLED screen from Samsung is just amazing. I may "downgrade" back to the Flipside if only to get that amazing GPS back.


If you like the screen on the Galaxy S (of which the Captivate is a clone), wait for the Galaxy II S, which has a new SAMOLED screen without a pentile matrix (the biggest point of criticism for Samsung's existing SAMOLED displays).
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:11 am

By way of follow-up, I should mention that I ended up buying a lightly-used, unlocked Nexus One from Darkmage. Then I picked up an Otterbox protector and a fresh battery from Amazon for good measure. So far, it's exactly the phone I was looking for, harmed not in the least by the fact that it was already rooted with Cyanogen mod. At the moment, I'm actually using my AT&T GoPhone SIM card and burning off some of the accumulated rollover minutes (getting close to $250 before I started experimenting with 3G data). Got my work email synched, got all my contacts transferred and cleaned up, the works.

Plan on switching to T-Mobile in early April. It will eventually become AT&T again, but if I'm lucky, I'll at least be able to grandfather a better plan than anything AT&T offers now.

Also, buying Fruit Ninja was a mistake. A big mistake. Now, back to playing Fruit Ninja :oops:
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:16 am

If I were with a GSM carrier and going for Android I'd probably have done the same thing as you. I have CyanogenMod 7 RC4 on my Droid right now. I'd have to say it's the best ROM I have used thus far.

Find any apps/launchers/anything else that you really like?
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:22 am

DancinJack wrote:If I were with a GSM carrier and going for Android I'd probably have done the same thing as you. I have CyanogenMod 7 RC4 on my Droid right now. I'd have to say it's the best ROM I have used thus far.

Find any apps/launchers/anything else that you really like?

No, nothing for serious work yet, although I have customized the Info Bar power widget so I can switch all of the wireless devices/methods on and off at will. Mostly to keep GPS off when I don't need it (battery life), to keep WiFi off when I don't have it (same reason), and to prevent the mobile data connection from burning up my remaining GoPhone minutes with synch activity before I have a chance to switch to a real data plan.

Meanwhile, I'm watching the Android App thread that Dizik started in this same sub-forum.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:26 am

Since your phone is rooted, you can install a ton of sweet apps. To save battery you can find apps that control how often your WiFi scans. I think that's even built into some ROMs now. I have my GPS off all the time unless i'm using Maps or something that relies solely on my location. WiFi is always on with my phone. The screen is the biggest battery hog of any Android phone though. Do yourself a favor and equip it with a dark wallpaper and set screen timeouts low. Can't stand the battery life on my phone. Might get 1.5 - 2 days out of it if i'm lucky.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:39 am

DancinJack wrote:Can't stand the battery life on my phone. Might get 1.5 - 2 days out of it if i'm lucky.

For about $60 I can buy a high-capacity battery at nearly twice the mAh rating that also comes with the requisite fat rear cover replacement. I may do that if any week-long business trips appear in my future. Haven't had one of those in a while, but sooner or later another will come around.
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Re: Smartphone upgrade

Postposted on Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:46 am

You may want to look into the Tasker app for Android. There is a lot of customization potential about switching your wireless, bluetooth, GPS, etc. based on time of day, location, battery state and all sorts of stuff. I have my phone set up so that when it connects via Bluetooth to the car, it fires up the podcast app and when it connects to my motorcycle helmet, it starts the music player.
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