Sunday, April 24, 2011

Smartphone dilemmas

I often feel a need, even an urgency, for a smart phone. Usually it comes up in situations when it would be impolite, impractical or too conspicuous to break out a laptop (such as standing in line in a store -- can't type very well cradling the laptop with one arm, plus there's no WiFi), but a smartphone would be socially acceptable, especially as everyone else is playing with them. Those 5-10 minute snippets would be enough for me to write another paragraph of a story, a blog post, or a Facebook comment. But that would depend on a good keyboard. The matter of keyboard is what kept me in analysis-paralysis stage about a smart phone purchase. Ever since my AT&T Tilt, a Windows phone, died 2-3 years ago, I've been at loss of what to get next. Not because I miss it, but because I saw how unsatisfying a phone can be even when it looks great "on paper". It had a slide-out keyboard, but the keys were so tiny and what's worse, so closely spaced (there were no gaps between them), that typing was near impossible. If the keys are further apart (even if they are tiny), it is easier to type. Such is the keyboard on G2 (a.k.a the Google phone), which is high on my candidates list. But lately I also tried some touch screen keyboards, and they are not so bad, especially on phones with larger screens. But how would I know which of them is best for my purposes? Unlike most smart phone users, I intend to do quite a bit of writing on those keyboards. "Playing around" with a device does not give you a good idea what it's like to type on it for longer periods of time. So what is the solution? To buy one and discover that it doesn't work for me? Physical-vs-onscreen-keyboard is one of my dilemmas.

Another issue is, should I wait until mid-July when I'll be eligible for an upgrade at AT&T, my current carrier, which will enable me to buy a smartphone for a fraction of a price? Or should I buy a phone at full price? They can be damn expensive. Or should I switch to another carrier, such as T-Mobile, which is the only one that has G2? Then I could buy a G2 at a discount with a 2-year contract. But my monthly data plan would cost more than if I bought it at full price, without a contract. So after 2 years, buying it at full price would have paid off. And if I stay with AT&T, will it turn out that the only kind of phone I can get cheaply is a refurbished one? My Tilt was refurbished, and it died after 10 months, long past its warranty. So if another refurbished phone dies on me, I will need a new phone again, and won't qualify for an upgrade.

All of this gives me so much headache that I throw up my hands and give up.

1 comment:

BovineOne said...

I love my T-Mobile G2, especially with its tight synchronization of gmail, google contacts, and google calendar.

I thought the G2's physical keyboard would be important for me (all of my previous smartphones have been keyboarded: RIM 950, Sidekick, Sidekick 2, T-Mobile Dash), but I've found that its Swype on-screen keyboard to be accurate enough and more convenient for short replies and entries.