Thursday, July 02, 2009

Short breaks, long days, and giving in to the Jesus Phone

It's been a few days since I last posted - I'm making this one from my desk job in a 5-minute "eye break" as I've been flat out today with several different things as usual. I've realised my work-life balance may not be as good as it could be, but mainly because I'm pushing myself a bit too hard during the day. I'm not really doing enough musically in the evenings and I've had a lot of cold type stuff recently (I suspect allergies too, I'm a scottish coastal boy, not this inland english NO2 laden humid hell!) so I've been remiss on the practise side, which I have just started really ramping up again.

The "Jesus Phone"? It's a term often applied to the iPhone, an item recently upgraded to the "3Gs" model which finally sees the iPhone having capabilities which catch up to the 3-year-old P990i I'm still using. In version 3.1 of the iPhone operating system they finally get voice dialling, something I suspect Apple have put in pronto because the new Android handsets don't have it.

This raises an interesting observation for me. I was in mobile phones for many years, and I used a long succession of SonyEricssons, from an old brick 768 (my first phone!) all the way through
to my current P990i. I liked the SEs because their feature set was larger than Nokias, and the user interface seemed slightly more intuitive to me (probably because it built on earlier SEs) and more comprehensive.

I've kept a weather eye on mobiles recently looking for smartphones which I thought I'd be interested in buying: the P990 firmware does crash quite regularly, and it's a little slow. Plus, the browser really doesn't handle sites very well.

Everything I saw left me feeling a bit "meh". A bit "so what?". A bit "Well, that doesn't do much beyond my P990", and the iPhone was a total turn off because 1) it's locked to O2 here in the UK, and you can't buy it anywhere else, and O2s network sucks, and 2) it was a "dumb" smartphone - no cut and paste, feeble camera, etc etc.

In addition, Nokia's utterly dismal smartphones (bad physical design, a version of Symbian which is falling apart at the seams and has an AWFUL UI) - their recent N97 is a case in point, it's already being criticised as a missed opportunity - just turned me right off. SE have pretty much stopped making UIQ smartphones (the P1i being the last), although some WXXX badged walkman phones are still running Symbian / UIQ.

Anyway, SE are about to release some new sparkly things, but the OS is... symbian, which is now entirely owned by Nokia (albeit under some form of "open" guise) - so I'm right off Symbian.

Android ain't looking bad, but no voice control for dialling! I've had that on phones now for 4 years! So no dice there.

Net result? I've been looking again at the iPhone, which I've had a certain amount of respect for, with Apple pulling their usual act of releasing something unique, well-formed and compelling into a market full of the above-mentioned miserable hacked, patched, ancient or not-quite-complete mobile OSs. Until very recently OSX on the iPhone fell into this category (no cut and paste? Dinosaur!!!) but with v3.1 they finally surpass my P990i. Bravo!

Now, I'm thinking I want an iPhone. But I'm on vodafone and I want to stay that way (they have a good network - it's all Ericsson - whereas O2 have got mixed-manufacturer infastructure and a rather poor comparative coverage. But I don't want to jailbreak an iPhone, I can't be bothered knowing internals anymore: I want something that "just works" (to borrow from Jobs).

Up pops Pete Stewardson at work and reminds me that in Italy phones HAVE to be sold UNLOCKED. I'm popping over there later this year - so I'll buy a PAYG from TIM and have a totally unlocked, feature enabled iPhone! Woohoo!

Addendum: I'll also not have the first hardware iteration - I hope - the iPhone 3Gs has been getting some rather dodgy press for overheating (although this could be gimps who left it in the sun while using it as a GPS device) and poor battery life. Here's hoping it's all good by the time I buy one!

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