Tuesday, 30 September 2008

To upgrade or not to upgrade? Is that the question?

The time is getting close when I am going to have the 18 month phone call from my mobile provider telling me that my contract is up and I am eligible for a hardware upgrade. Excellent!...or not...?

There are stacks of options out there however very few of them meet the lofty criteria that I have convinced myself that I will need met by my next upgrade. After all I have gotten used to the idea of being able to... erm... make phone calls and periodically check the weather and significantly less often use Google maps to find out exactly where I am (or within a few 10s of metres) or where I am going.

In all honesty the mobile I have more than meets the hardware requirements for what I want to do and has served me quite well for the last 17 months. I currently have the Samsung D900.


It's brilliantly slim, easy to use, has a UI designed by Adobe which is quite slick (apart from some rather convoluted processes for sending texts to people) and has my favorite function - the camera flash which can be used as a torch. If there has been any one function on this phone that has gotten more regular use than either the calling or the texting, it is the torch. With my next hardware upgrade, it had better be able to cook me breakfast because the torch bit really had me at hello.


The real question then is - what will I choose to replace this current device? Should I join the masses of people that have sold their souls to Apple and go for the iPhone or be a rebel and wait for something like the HTC Touch HD? I really am very tempted by the HTC HD - pretty much the same form factor as the iPhone, twice the screen resolution and the lofty promises of Googles Android. The current down side of this 'up and coming' is that it uses windows mobile which is every bit as frustrating as it's parent OS can be - Windows XP.

I've had a cursory play with the new Android phone and at this stage really quite like it. The hardware is a bit clunky and it doesn't have the instantly intuitive UI (User Interface) of the iPhone however what it does have is a really clever set of tools that make the phone significantly more than 'just a phone'. The most important of which I believe is the web browser which is every bit as useful, and usable, as the iPhones. I firmly believe that mobile browsers have absolutely no future in their current stripped down 'mobile' state. It's slow, clunky, and if we're being honest just a pain in the rear end to use. Every conceivable tool that we might desire can be found online and with the support of great hardware, my latest favorite bit of hardware convergence GPS, and a rock solid OS (Operating System) the mobile phone is really coming into it's own as a truly useful bit of kit and not just a constant irritation on the bus or train. I believe that Android is a serious threat to the iPhones 'must have' status and the only thing holding it back is the less than stellar HTC Dream (G1) hardware that it's initially getting release on.


At this stage I guess I should answer my own question; what am I going to upgrade to? Apple iPhone with it's frankly stunning UI and gorgeous hardware design but astoundingly anal and controlling greater than thou approach by Mr Steve Jobs or the HTC Touch HD? Again very well designed hardware, beautiful screen, built in GPS (that actually works well) and the long distance promise of an open source operating system developed, in the end, by people who have a little more vision and are a little less focused by lining their pockets and controlling the masses (at least that's the image they're selling - the pessimists among us know better!).

The bombshell answer! Neither at this stage. My phone works perfectly well and I have my trusty iPod Touch to keep me entertained and it grants me wireless access for my holiday internet fix. The GPS can wait till Android has moved along a bit from it's early release state and has matured a bit as can the hardware. Unless I get my hands on the HTC Touch HD and get really blown away by it, the fancy screen doesn't really have me sold. Besides, my current mobile phone service provider have a Sony PS3 promotion going on at the moment and I could quite possibly wrangle a 'free' console out of them. A complete bonus as convincing my fiance that spending £300 on a 'must have' piece of entertainment just hasn't been floating.

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