2006-03-02

Best phone to go with the 770?

My Nokia 7110 phone has served me faithfully for 6 years as a phone and an alarm clock. Now however I need a cellular data connection and a working calendar solution, so it is time to retire it. Phones are the popular convergence device of our day, but pads like the Nokia 770 make many of the smart phone functions almost useless. Symbian/s60 is a fairly limited platform in comparison to Linux (sorry to all s60 fans out there). Today's phones will mostly do what my 7110 used to do, and a bit more. They need to be miniature gadgets with some casual functionality.

I would prefer 3G for the fast data connection, but this limits my choice of phones quite a bit. One could go with the Nokia 6021 which provides the bare essentials for just 140 euros, but the network connection would be half as fast as for 3G phones. It seems the main candidates would be the small 3G clamshells from Samsung, alongside with the soon available Nokia 6280. Other 3G phones from Nokia or Sony-Ericsson might be worth a look as well, but don't seem that appealing.

The Samsung Z500 and Z300 (the music phone version at cheaper 350 eur) are two small clamshells, about 100x45x25mm, both with 3G networking. Today I had a close look at both, unfortunately the shop had only dummy versions of its phones, so I cannot comment on the functionality and user experience. They felt pretty ok as for design - the keyboard felt fairly good. The hinge area is maybe a bit too edged a form, they could have designed it into something smoother, more rounded and better looking. The phones have bluetooth, mp3 player, photo for incoming calls and SyncML. Doesn't sound bad but I rarely buy anything without proper research and this device might stick with me for years... The z510 (with 138MB memory) and z520 are the successors of these models, coming out this spring, but I don't think I want to wait that long, I need a new phone now. (Yeah I've become dependent on electronic calendar devices to remind me that I have a meeting with my customer...)

The 6280 is an interesting phone from Nokia, as it appears to be the first one that could really go with their 770. It has 3G data connectivity and the form factor is very close to the forementioned Samsung models - a little thinner, a little taller. It has a slide-under phone keyboard and silver/black colours. Features wise it sounds strong: 320x240 display (same resolution as on many PDAs), 2 Mpx camera (1600x1200), mp3 ring tones/alarms, plus the usual Bluetooth and mp3 players. I am not sure if it actually has a calendar of any kind or whether it supports SyncML. Also it's not a Symbian device, unlike other interesting models from Nokia, so no smart phone functionality. The camera functionality is a pretty interesting detail as I would consider a good 3 Mpx digital camera good enough for my general use, and if the optics on this phone are what I'd expect them to be, then I would really have little need for an additional camera device. Convergence scores another point, I would say! The 6280 is supposed to be available in Q1, but that might still mean weeks of waiting...

The open questions here are how these phones would work out in practice, and whether they have the syncing options I really need. I am hoping to handle my calendar entries on the 770, then sync via some means (software support still needs to be added on 770) to the phone directly. So maybe opensync, SyncML, whatever would be good to have... If you have any insight on these matters, please share. What kind of phones do you like to use?

3 Comments:

At 20:59, Blogger Jussi said...

My requirements:

1. does phone calls and sms
2. is small and light
3. has long battery life
4. has good data capabilities (3G, BT,...)
5. is not ├╝ber-expensive

Unfortunately this phone, while entirely possible to manufacture, does not seem to exist. Every phone I see has a huge color screen (or sometimes two!), a camera and a buggy, complicated operating system with loads of unneeded features...

Adding those extra features is not a plus for me. In fact they directly contradict my requirements 2 and 3.

 
At 09:48, Blogger Varis said...

Thanks for the comment Jussi! Indeed we may be a neglected market segment - IT professionals (and enthusiasts) who just need the basic phone + the L2 to transmit our IP packets on.

I suppose the phone vendors get drawn into making complex phones because each small feature is rather inexpensive (how many euros is the camera hardware? 5?) but may allow you to take on a new market segment (eg. somebody may be looking for camera AND BT AND e-mail...). Likewise on a generic platform like Symbian/s60 it is easy to add software support for just another function...

Looking at the current models it seems that there is some hope of getting good tech and your requirements 2+3 fulfilled. But it looks like eg. Nokia has a strategy where they first introduce a big ugly phone with all the latest tech then maybe 6-12 months later they offer essentially the same tech in a small, better-looking format... so at least you have to wait at times.

Looking at the features of 6280 I think I'm going for this model. Mobile-Review has a review of this model up at http://www.mobile-review.com/review/nokia-6280-en.shtml . The camera has some issues with sharpness, I suppose it's fixed focus? This phone seems to be available in parts of Europe already. It also has OMA DRM 1.0, which I don't know about - does this do anything evil?

SMS I don't really use (unless it's max 2 sentences) on a traditional phone, the keyboards/word completion are just awful... A communicator like 9500 or a 770 would be much nicer in my view for SMS.

 
At 20:12, Blogger Jussi said...

Just a follow-up...

I recently spotted a slightly used Samsung Z500, and decided to go for it. The battery life is not great, but I have to say that otherwise it is a very good companion to 770.

It does have two screens and two cameras... But hey, if they can cram all that and a 3G-phone in 100 grams, who am I to argue.

 

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