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Smart Phone Recommendations?


casticus

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Ok, I realize this topic is probably as dangerous as asking what brand oil to use but here goes...

 

Can the "collective" wisdom offer any useful comments on the current range of "Smartphones" available? Hopefully from personal experience...

 

I am leaning toward Alltel as a carrier because here in W. Michigan their coverage pretty much kicks ass. But I am still trying to talk myself out of an IPhone (not sure why).

 

Alltel's offering pretty much comes down to (in no particular order):

 

1. Samsung Delve

2. HTC Touch Diamond

3. Blackberry Curve 8330

4. Palm Treo 755p

 

I'd love to hear any positive or negative comments or just constructive advice. I won't be a "power" business user but I would like to manage contacts, calendar, have the ability to e-mail, surf, etc...

 

Thanks in advance,

 

 

 

 

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I had an IPhone for about 15 months and I was extremely pleased with it. Then my wife gave me an IPhone 3G for Christmas, '08. I can't imagine ever using anything else again - it is, hands down, simply the most pleasing electronic device I have ever used. Does it have a few shortcomings? Yeah, damn few, and of so minor a nature to me that I'm not even going to list them.

 

Aside from being a phone, the premier use for me is that it does double duty on the tank of my Harley, where I affix its hard case with industrial-strength Velcro (usually, I just drop it in my pocket, no case required.) It is both an accurate GPS and an MP3 source of tunes when plugged into the radio in the fairing. If I really wanted to get into communications, I could plug in the earbuds and do the phone thing, too, but I draw the line there. Others may not.

 

You may have different desires and not find it attractive, but don't buy anything else until you at least go handle it and let the salespeople demo it for you.

 

Pilgrim

 

 

 

 

 

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The iPhone is a great product with a pathetic carrier..AT&T. Consumer Reports rates them at the bottom of the service provider list on nearly everything in nearly every market. My own experience with them matches the Consumer Reports rating. When Verizon Wireless gets the iPhone, I'll purchase one immediately.

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I have an ATT Tilt (HTC Kiaser) right now and as far as functionality goes I love it. It depends on what you are aiming for though, the tilt is great for bussiness and has conectivity with outlook and has mobile office on it with the right tweeks you can make it do just about anything but then the Iphone is way more multimedia set up and you can get tons of apps and all that. I will be going to an Iphone when my 2 years are up next winter in order to simplify my life and lighten my pockets of tech stuff.

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+++++on the iPhone. I had the original and now the 3G and it's simply amazing. I travel all over the world in my work and it is a joy -- not perfect but darn close. I have not had much trouble with AT&T -- certainly no more trouble than I had with Verizon. The Treo's I had (4 in a row) were disasters and Verizon was miserable to work with to resolve the issues.

 

Good luck.

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ShovelStrokeEd

I have an LG Dare from Verizon. Pretty decent little phone. Does all the basics of a smart phone and the user interface is pretty easy to learn.

 

It also fits in an I-pod holster just perfectly so I got to save some bucks. Battery life is superb. First phone I haven't felt the need for an extended life battery.

 

I'm a member of their "new in two" plan so I wind up getting a new phone or modem every year for free.

 

I have done the e-mail thing from it and, while it works, given I have a modem for my laptop, I don't use it much. More to check on messages related to work which I will process on the laptop.

 

It has GPS but I have other GPS devices so it would be a rare use. Ditto with the web browser. I can fire my laptop just about anywhere and have web access.

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Lets_Play_Two

I know the iPhone isn't on your list but I'll add my +++ on the 3G model. It does all the things you ask and can do it wirelessly as well. My biggest + on this is all the apps you can add, mostly free that increase the functionality of this phone. I have three pages of apps including the installed ones and more show up all the time. It is also an iPod equivalent with a speaker. (not hi-fi quality!!).

 

I have had ATT wireless service since I began using cell phones and have never had any service or other problems even when I was traveling all over the world.

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Alltel has been acquired by Verizon Wireless. VW will have to divest itself of of some part of Altel or their own system to comply with anti-trust regulations. This may impact your service.

 

I have a Verizon Wireless XV6800 (made by HTC) which I use for syncing to Outlook, a portable library (900+ books), and other business related purposes. Great Windows Mobile unit.

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When Verizon Wireless gets the iPhone, I'll purchase one immediately.

You have a while to wait. Apple agreed to produce only a GSM (incompatible with Verizon networks) version of the iPhone for five years as part of its agreement with AT&T.

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I've had a bit of experience with what I think are the three major platforms: Windows Mobile/Palm (an early Treo, 700W), Blackberry (Model 8800), and iPhone (3G). My carriers, respectively, were/are: Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.

 

First, acknowledging that my Treo had an earlier version of Windows Mobile, it was nonetheless horrible. Constant lockups, many resets (with loss of data), etc. I understand that the later iterations of Windows Mobile are better, but I'm still pissed about it. I sold the thing on eBay.

 

My Blackberry (used for work) offers the best integration of push technology with email, contacts, and calendar functions. T-Mobile's coverage isn't the greatest outside of urban areas, but the basic organizer functions work pretty much flawlessly. However, Blackberry doesn't do such a great job of handling web browsing or other secondary functions.

 

The iPhone really is amazing. The basic functions all work amazingly well and there's a surprising level of integration between those functions. As an example: You can search for a business using the map function, click on the marker for that business once it's located, then either call the business, calculate a route to it, view the business's web page, or save it as a contact with a click or two. There's a wide range of free or inexpensive "apps" that you can buy, you can use it a photo storage/viewing device, you can surf the web, and much more.

 

However, it's not flawless. Even in 3G coverage areas, download speeds can vary significantly. The web browser is limited by the size of the screen (which is still as large as any smartphone), and it lacks some phone functions that I had become used to, like multimedia messaging and voice dialing. While some might tell you it never could happen with an Apple device, I have had it lock up on occasion. It's easy to reset, but it means you're out of commission for a minute or so. And, the battery life is not good if you are using it for extended web surfing, writing long emails, etc. (the Blackberry really excels in this respect).

 

My advice would be to determine how good AT&T's coverage is in the areas where you'll be most often. If their coverage is sufficient for your needs, the iPhone has a lot of advantages. However, if you need extended battery life, forget it. If you decide to stay with Alltel's offerings, I'd lean toward a Blackberry and stay away from anything using Windows Mobile . . . I acknowledge that my experience with that product is dated, but I remain skeptical.

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I have the Blackberry Curve and very pleased with it. I also have the Apple iTouch for my music but prefer to keep my phone/email/pda device separate from my music device. I like the physical keyboard of the BB for emailing much better than the touch screen of the iTouch (which is the same as the iPhone interface). The BB is listed as having one of the highest SAR ratings of US handsets if such things concern you -- but I always use a headset for calls anyway so that didn't influence me.

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Why are you trying to talk yourself out of an iPhone? (asks another iPhone user...)

 

I've had a number of different organizers (pal, WinCE, Newton, etc.) and 'smart' phones. The iPhone is the best convergence device that I've experienced or seen. I LOVE it - and I've never even LIKED any of my previous phones.

 

While I will certainly admit to an Apple bias, I was pretty skeptical about the iPhone. I've seen too many 'this is the perfect device' promises broken to buy one based on marketing hype. So I went down to the Apple store and played with one (first generation) in person, and was so taken with it that I bought two. (Knowing my wife would want one as soon as she laid hands on mine.) I paid $600 each for them - and even if that first version were the same price today, I'd still replace it immediately were it broken or lost. The 3G iPhone has more capability and lower price - how can you go wrong?

 

Does it 'crash?' - Yes. But I've never had the whole thing lock up, just an app that momentarily froze or quit. This has been mostly the browser - but when you re-open it, it remembers the web pages you had open before, so you don't really lose anything. (And the latest firmware update *seems* to have solved that issue, anyway...)

 

Is the keyboard hard to use? - No. I can type pretty fast on the touchscreen, because it predicts to some extent the next key you're going to hit, and has a smart spell-checker that knows you'll sometimes hit a key adjacent to your intended target - it does a VEY good job, and the dictionary learns the 'corrections' that you've overridden.

 

What improvements would I like to see, that haven't already made it into the 2nd gen (3G) iPhone?

- A better camera would be nice, though it's still quite good for a cell-phone.

- I'd like to have stereo bluetooth profile. I know why the left it out (battery life) but c'mon - it's an IPOD fer crying out loud!

- The ability to use it as a mobile modem without having to 'jailbreak' the thing. AT&T obviously dictated that omission.

 

 

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The iPhone really is amazing. The basic functions all work amazingly well and there's a surprising level of integration between those functions. As an example: You can search for a business using the map function, click on the marker for that business once it's located, then either call the business, calculate a route to it, view the business's web page, or save it as a contact with a click or two.

 

Well, I can do that in Google Maps on my 755p. Most times, when somebody whips out their iPhone, I can do the same thing as fast on my 755p. Plus, AT&T coverage is lousy away from cities and interstates. If you're traveling to remote areas, you'll find much broader coverage with Alltel.

 

I'm really happy with my 755p. It does everything I want (except have built-in GPS, but I have the add-on Garmin car package), and it's very reliable. Unfortunately, it's an aging model. Sprint is expected to discontinue it in June or July, after the new Palm Pre comes out and replaces it. Alltel will probably keep the 755p around longer because the Pre will be exclusive to Sprint for a while, but the end of the line for the phone is definitely in sight.

 

On the other hand, with rapidly changing phone and network technology, whatever you pick will likely be obsolete in a year or two anyway.

 

 

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On the other hand, with rapidly changing phone and network technology, whatever you pick will likely be obsolete in a year or two anyway.

Yeah, but at least with Apple that's designed in from the start... :grin:

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Plus, AT&T coverage is lousy away from cities and interstates. If you're traveling to remote areas, you'll find much broader cove

 

Not trying to pick a fight over something inconsequential, Eebie; this is just an observation.

 

I keep hearing about AT&T's lousy coverage, but I just haven't had that experience.

 

My first pocket-sized phone came from AT&T back in 1997 or '98. I bought it for a ride from Washington to New Mexico to North Carolina to Maine, and back to Washington. I only lost coverage in the Applechain mountains for a while in North Carolina, and in very rural Vermont.

 

Out here I have found the coverage good overall, at least on the highways I travel. That's not to say it's 100%, but it's good enough to suit me. However, there are occasional dead spots that are surprising, such as at a high-end outlet mall along I-5 north of Everett, WA. Within the (outdoor) mall, there is nearly no signal at all. Go a 1/4 mile either way, and it's five bars. I've seen that in several places, most of all around Washington, D.C. There, I suspect deliberate blockage of signal by the govt. Has anyone else noticed that?

 

Pilgrim

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Here-here for the iPhone! Whatever AT&T lacks for coverage the iPhone more than makes up for in features and convenience. I only have version 1 of the product; I have not experienced their 3G model yet, but I still think it's the best cell phone I ever used.

 

I also have good coverage from AT&T. Sometimes, like Pilgrim just described, I hit pockets of no signal, but it's rare.

 

Since I also have a 120GB iPod Classic with about 50GB of music on it, I guess I can live with my 4GB iPhone, but I am waiting to see what this summer's upgrade is going to have.

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I have to say that I also use AT&T primarily in rural areas and have not had any problems worth mentioning. I guess this is all highly dependent on where you are, but just FWIW.

 

Regarding micro-dead spots, that's not unexpected at the very high frequencies used by cellular and these are difficult to engineer out to 100% reliability. Whether one carrier is worse than another would probably again be highly dependent on your location with one area perhaps favoring one carrier and another favoring someone else.

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Take a look at the coverage maps in the western rural states. Verizon (CDMA) coverage is clearly superior to AT&T (GSM) coverage in Nevada away from the US395, I80, I15 corridors...

Experience bears out the maps....

US50 is not the place to run into trouble with only a GSM phone...

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I have to say that I also use AT&T primarily in rural areas and have not had any problems worth mentioning. I guess this is all highly dependent on where you are, but just FWIW.

 

Regarding micro-dead spots, that's not unexpected at the very high frequencies used by cellular and these are difficult to engineer out to 100% reliability. Whether one carrier is worse than another would probably again be highly dependent on your location with one area perhaps favoring one carrier and another favoring someone else.

 

I don't have many points of comparison, but my AT&T coverage seems to be pretty good in rural areas. I'd say it's been about equal to my experiences with Verizon and noticeably better than T-Mobile. I've never used Alltel, so I can't really comment on their coverage. However, I would always choose the carrier with better service in the places I frequent most often, then choose the device I like best.

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Regarding cell service, the January 2008 Consumer Reports gave the results of 47,000 readers who responded regarding quality of service. Verizon came in first in the top 20 U.S. metro areas (except for Phoenix, where it was second). Out of the major carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Alltel) AT&T never did better than third place (except for Detroit and Dallas, where it was second.)

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A comprehensive listing of a number of different studies rating the quality of the mobile carriers can be found here .

 

Every individual's experience is, of course, different. Long ago, I was with AT&T. I switched to Verizon after becoming weary with AT&T's crappy customer service. Then--at least in my individual experience--Verizon started tanking in much the same way. So, I went back to AT&T, where I am currently very satisfied.

 

The choices can be very confusing. The big studies can be helpful, but I still think you need to try to narrow your comparison by looking at the quality of service in the areas where you're most likely to be using your phone. I'd check out all of the studies listed on the page I linked to, in order to determine the best choice.

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Take a look at the coverage maps in the western rural states. Verizon (CDMA) coverage is clearly superior to AT&T (GSM) coverage in Nevada away from the US395, I80, I15 corridors...

Experience bears out the maps....

 

Last summer while driving around for the Butt Lite we went from Bismark ND straight south to Rapid City, then down US 85 toward Lusk WY. There was about 5 minutes in western SD and about 15 miles near Lusk that I had no service on my Sprint phone (roaming on Alltel), but my phone on AT&T was dead except right around I-90. AT&T phones are useless at our place in Maine, even though their map shows strong coverage 4 miles away. (Oddly, even though it's a Verizon area, Verizon phones are useless there, too).

 

Is there AT&T coverage in Torrey yet? Last time I was there, there wasn't, but people with CDMA smartphones had full data service.

 

That's another important consideration with any smartphone - you may have voice service, but will you have data service, and at what speed?

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AdventurePoser

Hi David,

 

No Iphone for me as AT&T service around here pounds sand. I am a very loyal Verizon customer and this phone works extremely well. I've had it over a year with NO system crashes. Seamless internet and email capability as well. I am hooked!

 

blackberry_8830_4.jpg

 

cheers,

Steve

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Is there AT&T coverage in Torrey yet? Last time I was there, there wasn't, but people with CDMA smartphones had full data service.

 

I had excellent signal in Torrey on AT&T on the iPhone. In fact, the EDGE service was faster than the 3G I'm used to getting around the Bay Area... And it was faster than the lousy in-room wireless.

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Happy Treo (PALM version, not Windows Mobile) user here. Considering the Palm Tre (due out soon).

 

I've seen the iPhone, and while it's "neat", it just doesn't fit me personally. YMMV.

 

Windows Mobile sounds like a good idea, but I haven't cared much for the one I have to test with. (I haven't spent much time on it :o)

 

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Well first off thanks for all the advice...this site is always an excellent source of information. I apologize for not replying sooner but I am working third shift now on 12s so basically I was sleeping during the day and my partner was sitting the desk while I worked the street for the first 1/2 of the night....

 

I have talked to 2 local IPhone users (one of our interns and a friend who lives near me) they both are happy with coverage, service, and the device.

 

I messed around with someones Itouch (functions the same just no phone capability) and one IPhone. Pretty slick device. I need to check on rate plan costs and stop by an Alltel store to look at what they offer for my own mental health but I guess I am now kicking around the idea of the IPhone.

 

As much as my first personally owned cell phone was purchased with workign anywhere there was tower coverage in N. America in mind with a 9 month old at home my long distance motorcycle trips are pretty infrequent right now.

 

I am going to take the advice to have the Apple Store demo the phone for me I want to see that it really does function just like an Ipod.

 

How "tough" does the collective wisdom consider the IPhone to be?

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How "tough" does the collective wisdom consider the IPhone to be?

 

I watched a video online "tough test" of one. It was done, as I recall, by one of the major IT publications.

 

The couldn't scratch the screen with any object normally found around the house, including a car key repeatedly dragged over it. (Nevertheless, I bought a stick-on screen protector that is tougher than elephant toenails - I forget the brand. You can get one that covers the whole phone.)

 

They dropped it on a corner on various surfaces, carpet, wood, linoleum tile, from chest height, replicating what a user might do. It required two drops onto concrete on the same corner before the screen cracked. The electronics continued to function.

 

It's as tough as I need.

 

I frequently have mine in a clear, plastic case, but only because I use Velcro to hold it in a lot of places and that keeps the Velcro off the phone itself.

 

Pilgrim

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How "tough" does the collective wisdom consider the IPhone to be?

 

I've abused my about as much as I abused my previous mobile phones, and I haven't had any problems. I carry mine in my pocket. Initially, I used one of those rubbery "skins," but it added a bit of bulk. So, I stuck on a Zagg Invisible Cover (seems similar to the material used to make clear bras for cars). About all that does is protect it from scratches, but it seems to be fairing pretty well.

 

When the first version of the iPhone came out there was some issue with how the glass screens were installed, and some of them cracked. I haven't heard of that problem with the 3G, nor have I heard of any issues with the phone being particularly delicate.

 

If you buy your iPhone from an AT&T store, their 30-day return policy applies. Just make sure you save all the original packaging, accessories, etc.

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So, I stuck on a Zagg Invisible Cover (seems similar to the material used to make clear bras for cars). About all that does is protect it from scratches, but it seems to be fairing pretty well.

 

Yeah, that's the one I meant and couldn't think of. The manufacturer claims they came up with the stuff to put on the leading edges of helo blades to prevent metal erosion in desert operations.

 

Pilgrim

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Nobody (including the OP) has mentioned cost, so it's hard to know what the parameters are here...

 

As a 'part-time' smart phone user, I have Treo's little brother, the Centro. It does everything the OP mentioned and more -- I keep my contacts, to-do lists, calendar, etc (it syncs w/Outlook). For someone who rarely needs access to the internet and certainly doesn't want their email pushed out to them, I think it's great. Those features are all there, however, if I need them. It's tiny too -- perfect for someone who isn't a power-user.....we're talking shirt-pocket tiny. I also didn't know these things could crash until I heard it mentioned here, and I've had it 11 months of hard use (I have a hands-on job) without any issues.

 

Bought it for $100 and it's an add-on to our existing service at $10/month on our family plan. I don't subscribe to the unlimited monthly data service anymore -- I found that I rarely used it.

 

It really depends on how you plan to use it. As Springsteen once wrote...."now don't try for a home run baby, if you can get the job done with a hit."

 

 

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AdventurePoser

My last "smart phone" wasn't so...Windows OS crashed so many times I eventually turned in the phone and picked up my Blackberry. I am addicted now...and I love the look, feel, and operation of the I Phone, but for me, the lack of AT&T service was the deal breaker.

 

With Verizon, the only place I've been in CONUS where I could not get a signal was the Panamint Valley...

 

Have fun,

 

Steve in So Cal

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