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Neo-SiN

An alternative to the iPhone

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I've never been a big fan of the iPhone, the original iPhone was a piece of shit phone that had a decent interface. But so far I've been hard pressed to find an alternative.

 

Basically I don't really need a new phone, my Nokia 6280 serves me just fine for making phone calls, but I've always wanted a PDA, and although I've had a few in my time I almost never carry them with me or they're out of batteries when I need them. So I'm looking for a smartphone (and the iPhone 3Gs is the first iPhone that can actually be classified as a smartphone), but the lack of keyboard, no SD slot, no removable battery and paltry 480x320 resolution (compared to the 480x800 of the Jet and others) really make me wonder if there isn't something better?

 

Just briefly looking at phones on the Three website and there seems to be quite a few options for phones that are free on the $49 cap (my current plan).

 

  • HTC Magic
  • Nokia N97
  • LG Viewerty Smart
  • HTC Touch Pro
  • Samsung Jet

I don't mind jailbreaking any phone that I buy to install custom apps, but some ideal points things that I would like it to do would be:

  • Automatic syncing with my WinXP Computer over WiFi - I never sync my current phone because I need to use a cable
  • Using GMail and Google Calendar
  • Facebook
  • Basically a decent inbuilt calendar that can sync with Google Calendar
  • A Dvorak keyboard - it occurs to me, what's the point of having a physical keyboard if it's stuck as a qwerty board - I'm not sure if you can touch type on the small keyboards but I certainly can't touch type on a qwerty board. I know that no phone is going to have this on the physical board, but I would hope that I can map it to Dvorak the same as I do on a computer.
  • Bluetooth - because I hate not being able to use a headset.

Really all I want out of a phone is something that can make phone calls, use as a diary/calendar (and thus obviously a high resolution screen is great for this), check my email, and google things every now and again.

 

I'm also really surprised how few manufactures use multitouch screens (does anyone apart from Apple).

 

I know that there are some other choices which really should be on that list, the Hero, Nexus One, N900 and Droid just to name a few, but unfortunately I can't get any of these phones for $0-10 a month on a $49 plan.

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Your lack of knowledge of the iPhone, portable devices and “the scene” is disturbing. Maybe don’t be so critical.

 

If you want a mediocre input method such as a physical keyboard, and expandable memory; I have played with the N97 and it will do. It’s a bit clunky, but then you so are your requirements.

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I'd rather get a HTC touch 2 pro than the N97 for sure. Symbian sucks nowadays.

 

 

And DVORAK!? Serious??

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Closest thing to a keyboard is a Qwerty keyboard. Dvorak is rare in computer circles let alone mobile phones, you may have to play with the keyboard mapping. Your choices are HTC Touch Pro 2 / Nokia N97.

 

Dvorak? I have been using qwerty all my computing life.

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The HTC HD 2 has been officially announced for Australia, that may be a viable option. It's got quite a big screen and is running the latest WinMo 6.5.

 

I just recently got a HTC Diamond 2 to replace my Palm Treo 750. I'm finding it does everything the Treo did (all the PDA and phone functions), plus a lot more. The on-screen keyboard is taking some getting used to (fat fingers!) after having a physical keypad for so long. The Diamond 2 is also running 6.5, and the HTC Touch-Flo interface is really quite good and intuitive.

 

In terms of app development, I haven't looked at the Microsoft Marketplace yet so I don't know what's available or how it compares to the iPhone App Store (just lazy I suppose). There are certainly a lot of WinMo developers out there; the OS is reasonably mature, and if you're willing to look around you'll find plenty of third-party people hosting their own stuff. I suppose the Marketplace will be centralising a lot them soon, plus a lot of older apps run just fine on the new OS.

 

As for storage, all HTC phones have a Micro-SD slot. My Diamond 2 has about 400Mb of RAM onboard, and I expanded it by adding a 2Gb card just the other day. (FWIW, I was in Target and Big W today, and they're both selling 4Gb Micro-SD cards for $16 or $17.)

 

The only other thing I haven't tried is the media features. It's got a YouTube app installed by default and all music and video can be handled by the Windows Media Player it sports, so it's not like it's lacking in anything. I imagine the HD 2 will have all of this, too.

 

Oh yeah, the best feature I found was that it's got Opera Mobile installed and configured as the default browser. This is by far the best phone-based browser I've ever used.

 

Anyhow, that's my two-bob's worth. I tried to give you an honest opinion without too much bias. For my money, the HTC phones are right on the mark so I'd heartily recommend you give them a try.

 

As always, YMMV.

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I too endorse the HD2, as a very satisfied owner.

 

zzozzach, did you know that the Opera Mobile 10 beta versions allow you to sync bookmarks between your phone, the cloud, and thus your desktop (for desktop Opera users only tho, no sync to Firefox/IE/Chrome -- yet). but hey that seems to be you!

 

Physical keyboards aren't that big a deal IMO. one of the pluses of a soft(ware) keyboard is that you can redesign the whole thing, layout, what keys appear etc., with little difficulty (if someone one XDA hasn't done the same thing already).

 

As far as non-iPhones without a physical keyboard go, the HTC HD2 is about the best out there. That's why I bought one :)

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zzozzach, did you know that the Opera Mobile 10 beta versions allow you to sync bookmarks between your phone, the cloud, and thus your desktop (for desktop Opera users only tho, no sync to Firefox/IE/Chrome -- yet). but hey that seems to be you!

You import your Firefox, IE, whatever bookmarks into Opera desktop then sync it with MyOpera, I think this came out around Opera Mini 3.

 

I was using it years ago.

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zzozzach, did you know that the Opera Mobile 10 beta versions allow you to sync bookmarks between your phone, the cloud, and thus your desktop (for desktop Opera users only tho, no sync to Firefox/IE/Chrome -- yet). but hey that seems to be you!

You import your Firefox, IE, whatever bookmarks into Opera desktop then sync it with MyOpera, I think this came out around Opera Mini 3.

 

I was using it years ago.

 

Yes, that's correct, but I think what Apocrypha is referring to is Opera Link where all current versions of Opera (desktop, mobile, mini, and I think DS & Wii, too) can have bookmarks, Speed Dial, Notes, and some other things centrally synchronised. You just enter your MyOpera login details, select what items you want to share, and it's all done automatically. You can still import your FF or IE bookmarks, too, if you like.

 

I never bothered to sync my desktop bookmarks with Opera Mini because I found I looked at very different web sites on my phone than I do on the desktop.

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Yes, that's correct, but I think what Apocrypha is referring to is Opera Link where all current versions of Opera (desktop, mobile, mini, and I think DS & Wii, too) can have bookmarks, Speed Dial, Notes, and some other things centrally synchronised. You just enter your MyOpera login details, select what items you want to share, and it's all done automatically. You can still import your FF or IE bookmarks, too, if you like.

 

I never bothered to sync my desktop bookmarks with Opera Mini because I found I looked at very different web sites on my phone than I do on the desktop.

Hey they are still there, in MyOpera, check this one

 

Things haven't changed much.

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I too endorse the HD2, as a very satisfied owner.

Yeah, the HD2 looks awesome, unfortunately no carriers stock it except Telstra and I'm sure you can guess my opinion of Telstra. Basically I'm not looking to spend any upfront money on "buying" a new phone, my primary insentive is that I can get an iPhone/N97 on a plan, fore marginally more than what I'm paying for my current plan.

 

I looked at Vodafone, Optus and Three, Telstra is a joke, Orange has shut down and Virgin don't really sell phones. Am I missing anyone?

 

Oh, and regarding the Dvorak keyboard, obviously I don't mean a keyboard that has the letters written on them in the Dvorak layout (aka a real Dvorak keyboard), just one that I can remap to Dvorak. For instance my laptop has a generic Qwerty keyboard but I have remapped the keys to Dvorak.

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You can get a HD2 from many other places other then just telstra.

Care to name one? I have yet to find a single place that offers the HD2 on a contract other than Telstra. Both the N97 and the iPhone 3Gs are available on $49 caps +$10 per month ($59/month total expenditure). I currently pay $49 per month, so I figure this as "I pay $10 a month and get a new phone". I have no interest in spending $800+ on a new phone.

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Just a note on the HTC HD2. The review in APC gives it's capacitive display a cross saying it's not as accurate as the iPhone - "things like moving the cursor to a particular spot in a document and typing on the software keyboard were prone to error". This would be a concern for me since it's how you use the device. Apart from that it was "highly recommended", though the iPhone is still the top smartphone they recommend.

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You could check out the Nokia N900. Very good firefox browser and multi tasking. You could remap they keyboard based on dvorak through a maemo program or write one yourself if you are so inclined.

Edited by 2SHY

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You can get a HD2 from many other places other then just telstra.

Care to name one? I have yet to find a single place that offers the HD2 on a contract other than Telstra. Both the N97 and the iPhone 3Gs are available on $49 caps +$10 per month ($59/month total expenditure). I currently pay $49 per month, so I figure this as "I pay $10 a month and get a new phone". I have no interest in spending $800+ on a new phone.

 

 

I was referring to buying it out right.

 

 

Goodluck with telstra lol.

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I'd like to know why you'd choose a device running Windows Mobile over an iPhone?

 

I've been using loads of WM devices for a very long time.

Since I got my hands on an iPhone, there's no turning back.

 

For a start, as MD pointed out, things are too small on the screen...WM devices are HEAVILY reliant on a stylus.

Dude, a stylus is so 2005.

Give me a device I can use one handed or GTFO.

Besides that, the WM OS really is a dog...Actually, it's more the CRAP that the OEM's bundle ontop of it that make it crappier...so you really need to fuck with it, or load up your own ROMs if you want to make it half decent.

And it's getting worse with every release.

WM 6.5 being the worst.

MS will be putting out another release of the WM6.5 code before WM7 hits the shelves ( if it ever hits the fucking shelves at all )

And I tell you it better be good otherwise MS are going to rapidly lose a large chunk of market share...which they are already gradually losing.

 

 

iPhone is a really good, stable, fast interface.

It doesn't need a stylus...infact if you even try using a stylus it won't work.

That's how much a stylus sucks.

 

The keyboard on iPhone took a bit of getting used to.

But with it's corrective input mode, it makes up for your fat sausage fingers.

I personally do like a hardware keyboard, like a Blackberry or Motorola Q...but I'm happy with the iPhone keybaord after a while.

And you know what, I don't really plan on writing novels while I'm on the train, do you?

I read and respond to emails, do a bit of surfing...if you want to do that much typing, any keyboard other than a laptop is going to annoy the hell out of you.

 

No SD card? - 32GB of storage on an iPhone....what more do you want?

 

Removable battery? - WTF? Do you want to wash it or something?

 

"Automatic syncing" - Of what?

 

"Using GMail and Google Calendar" - You can get Gmail push on an iPhone, I'm quite sure. I don't use Gmail though.

 

"Facebook" - I've used Facebook on a Pocket PC, Smartphone, iPhone and an Android....iPhone is by far the best interface...the Android one is almost as good, Windows Mobile Facebook interface really does suck.

 

"Decent calendar" - any mobile debvice has a decent calendar.

 

"A Dvorak keyboard" - are you retarded?

 

"Bluetooth" - can't really comment, I detest bluetooth headsets. I use the phone normally, or I plug in headphones.

 

 

 

 

 

Have I already said stay away from WM6.5?

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I'd like to know why you'd choose a device running Windows Mobile over an iPhone?

 

I've been using loads of WM devices for a very long time.

Since I got my hands on an iPhone, there's no turning back.

 

For a start, as MD pointed out, things are too small on the screen...WM devices are HEAVILY reliant on a stylus.

Dude, a stylus is so 2005.

Give me a device I can use one handed or GTFO.

Besides that, the WM OS really is a dog...Actually, it's more the CRAP that the OEM's bundle ontop of it that make it crappier...so you really need to fuck with it, or load up your own ROMs if you want to make it half decent.

And it's getting worse with every release.

WM 6.5 being the worst.

MS will be putting out another release of the WM6.5 code before WM7 hits the shelves ( if it ever hits the fucking shelves at all )

And I tell you it better be good otherwise MS are going to rapidly lose a large chunk of market share...which they are already gradually losing.

Yeh, I'd have to agree that the iPhone OS is one of the best OS's, but it's running on some of the lowest specced hardware. I wouldn't even consider an WM 6.5 system on an equivalently specced phone to the iPhone, it's more the case that many of the alternatives to the iPhone have much better hardware - and I have no problem loading my own ROMs or jailbreaking a phone to get the most out of the hardware. Also note that the Sense interface that lies on top of WM on the HD2 is pretty awesome.

 

But the hardware is a serious consideration. I doubt this would be the be all and end all of choosing a phone, but one thing that I do experiment with is new ways to interface with computer (I'm a cybernetic engineer so that means voice control, brainwave control, muscle actuated control) and I'm thinking of how cool it would be to be able to do this without lugging around a laptop. Anyway, these methods of interfacing tend to be processor hungry and I think the snapdragon processor actually makes these options reasonably feasible.

 

iPhone is a really good, stable, fast interface.

It doesn't need a stylus...infact if you even try using a stylus it won't work.

That's how much a stylus sucks.

Yes but stylus's have there advantages - crap if your trying to type on an onscreen keyboard, but decent if your doing other things. For instance I use a tablet at uni, and whilst I type up my notes for most classes, I write on the screen using when I'm in German because it's just a much better way of taking notes for that class.

 

The keyboard on iPhone took a bit of getting used to.

But with it's corrective input mode, it makes up for your fat sausage fingers.

I personally do like a hardware keyboard, like a Blackberry or Motorola Q...but I'm happy with the iPhone keybaord after a while.

And you know what, I don't really plan on writing novels while I'm on the train, do you?

I read and respond to emails, do a bit of surfing...if you want to do that much typing, any keyboard other than a laptop is going to annoy the hell out of you.

I'm not going to be typing novels, but my average email length is about 500 words. However the main advantage of a real keyboard is the haptic interface, I can actually use the phone without looking at it. So if I'm writing a message whilst walking, changing the volume whilst on the phone, or basically just doing anything else whilst using the phone, I can. An iPhone requires your full attention to use it.

 

No SD card? - 32GB of storage on an iPhone....what more do you want?

Transferring files between my laptop and phone (my laptop has an SD port) is much easier with an SD port. This is particularly the case at uni, where I have free internet access on my laptop (it is not possible to get access on the iPhone because of the VPN the uni uses), which is where I spend most of my day.

 

Removable battery? - WTF? Do you want to wash it or something?

Really, this is a pretty standard feature since what, 1985? It's often easier to take a spare battery on a trip than a charger, also if I forget to change my phone I can just grab the charged backup battery.

 

"Automatic syncing" - Of what?

Calendar is the big one, my outlook is currently synced with GCal, but I prefer Outlook's layout because I can colour code things. The other major thing is uni files; I do a lot of design work for clubs and societies, so it's convenient to show people pictures/pdfs or check guidlines for meetings or review minutes without having to pull out my laptop.

 

"Using GMail and Google Calendar" - You can get Gmail push on an iPhone, I'm quite sure. I don't use Gmail though.

"Facebook" - I've used Facebook on a Pocket PC, Smartphone, iPhone and an Android....iPhone is by far the best interface...the Android one is almost as good, Windows Mobile Facebook interface really does suck

Ok sounds good

 

"Decent calendar" - any mobile debvice has a decent calendar.

Yeah, no. The one thing that used to give me the shits with WM is the way you entered new appointments (i.e. press and hold with the stylus) and the calendar on my current phone is so useless I don't even try to use it.

 

"A Dvorak keyboard" - are you retarded?

It is unbelievably confusing having all the keys around the wrong way (i.e. Qwerty), not generally a problem with a haptic keyboard because I don't actually look at the keyboard whilst using it - but an on screen keyboard I have to look at it to use it - and if the keys are in the wrong spots it becomes quite confusing. Basically, if it's a hardware keyboard it doesn't matter what the keys have printed on them (i.e. that it looks like a qwerty keyboard) as long as it functions like a Dvorak keyboard. My keyboard on my computer is a qwerty keyboard but I have remapped it to Dvorak - not that it's terribly obvious that it is a Qwerty keyboard, because half of the letters have worn off (which pisses off my non-touchtyping housemates when they attempt to use it).

 

"Bluetooth" - can't really comment, I detest bluetooth headsets. I use the phone normally, or I plug in headphones.

I cycle absolutely everywhere so answering the phone without a bluetooth headset simply isn't an option. Plus I also use it for transferring files - and I imagine that I would use it a lot more if I had an iPhone. "Hey, I have this cool app on my iPhone - do you want me to send it you over bluetooth". Note I also use the text to speech a lot, I actually wrote about half of my thesis (i.e. roughly 40 out of 110 pages) using a bluetooth headset and Dragon Naturally Speaking. It's so convenient writing essays by recording speech whilst riding or walking around and then using speech to text when I get home.

 

Have I already said stay away from WM6.5?

Yeah, I agree WM isn't my preference for obvious reasons

 

One more thing that I didn't mention is micro-usb port. I mean really, wtf is with the proprietary port on the iPhone - this seriously limits what I can connect to the phone (and what I can connect to the phone without it costing $50 for a proprietary cable). Obviously I would hardly ever use a cable, but it does get used on occasion (say if I want to transfer 20Gb of music) or if I'm transferring my thesis work over (~4Gb).

 

I was speaking to a couple of my friends that work at Google (and whom both received a free Nexus for Christmas, yay Google), and they both recommend an iPhone - although they do both use their free Nexus as their primary phone.

 

At this point I think I'll probably get the iPhone, not because it is the best phone, but because it is probably the best phone that I can actually get. As far as I can tell, the 'viable' alternatives (HTC HD2 and the N900) are not really available through any plan.

 

I'm not buying the phone outright so can every stop suggesting these awesome phones that I can't get

 

 

*Chuckles.*

 

Plus, there was an SD card reader just released for the iPhone:

 

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/02/zoo...der-for-iphone/

 

So not as handy as an internal slot, but if you just want to carry around an extra few gig of movies with you, it could be useful.

I would say 'most pointless device ever', but considering it is marginally larger than an SD card - it might actually be useful.

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Make sure you try out a N97 before you make a decision mate, used my mates Iphone for a week and I reckon the N97 trumps it well and truly.

 

The qwerty keyboard is like nothing I've used before, the buttons actually stick out a bit and click in as you press them, I have large hands compared to most and yet it is perfectly comfortable, no huge spacebar either, a triple button wide one to the right that feels just right.

 

Semi decent video capture and a 5.0mp camera with dual led flash, carl ziess lense and one fo the only sliding camera covers i've used that actually work.

 

Screens great and if you convert your media properly the video looks simply outstanding.

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I am the other way on the N97, I hate it, it feels clunky to hold and to use.

 

I use a blackberry bold and an iPhone 3GS and have to say, the iPhone trumps the blackberry, even as far as keyboard entry goes.

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If only you could have the hardware of a HD2 and the OS of an iPhone. Then you would have pretty much the best phone thus far.

 

I am also in this predicament, I currently have a Nokia N85 but want to upgrade to something with a larger screen and a bit more internet friendly. Also the fact that I really dislike Apple is also hindering me getting an iPhone, so thus far I'm thinking of going with the HD2. From what I've read, yes, WM is a load of poo, but HTC's Sence interface actually makes it usable.

 

EDIT: Spelling.

Edited by Electr0

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I'd wait for WMO 7 Electr0 It looks like it will be worth it hardware and software wise.

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