my smartphone search is over…sort of

31 08 2010

Perhaps you’ve heard about my longing for a smartphone.

Well, I finally got myself down to a Rogers store this weekend to look at my smartphone options. My first stop was the local Rogers video store that has one of those Rogers service kiosks. I went with my husband and we had our daughter in tow. She very much wanted to touch all the shiny phones on display.

Let me tell you that my smartphone search has narrowed down to an iPhone 3Gs or the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10.

We asked a few questions and our young Rogers representative did an OK job of comparing the features of the iPhone to the Xperia. He himself has a Blackberry. I know this, not only because he told us, but because he felt it was fine to text his friends while serving us. So you know…I saw the Blackberry in his texting-on-the-job-hands.

That move didn’t impress me too much. My husband and I left feeling no more ahead in our smartphone search than when we first walked in the door. As we meandered down the Kanata Centrum boardwalk grumbling this very fact, we all of a sudden noticed there is a Rogers store – as in an authorized dealer store – selling all the same stuff as the Rogers video store sans video rentals.

The representatives here were extremely helpful. They took the time to compare phones for us and this is what we learned.

Xperia X10

Plus: The Xperia has a lot going for it. It’s built with the Android operating system (OS) and is super fun to use. It’s also immediately available, which can’t be said for the iPhone 3Gs or the iPhone 4. It features “Timescape” and “Mediascape” – which aggregates your friends’ status updates across Twitter and Facebook as well as creates a timeline of photos, text messages, emails, etc. The timelines are presented in a 3D stack called “Splines” that are pretty cool to scroll through.

Minus: The Xperia is built using the Android 1.6 OS – a bit disappointing because newer software is out (i.e. on-the-not-available-through-Rogers-for-some-reason-Nexus-One); apparently a software upgrade to Android 2.1 OS is coming in September.

About that Nexus One: I read on Wikipedia that Google stopped selling the Nexus One through its web store in May, but has plans to sell the phone through its many partners. Maybe the Nexus One will be available in the near future through Rogers. Although that same Wikipedia article also stated that Apple is suing HTC (who manufactured it for Google) for patent infringement, so who knows.

Plus: With an 8.1 megapixel camera, the Xperia has one of the greatest camera phones on the market.

Minus/Plus: You have to manually download music (yes copy/paste aka drag and drop) – no easy sync with iTunes. At least this is what I was told. If you know different – let me know! The plus of course is you’re not locked into DRM. Also, around 62% of apps are free in the Android Market, while only 23% are free in the Apple app market.

Minus: Reading the reviews on the Rogers website, it looks like the battery life is short and the call volume doesn’t go very high. That’s disappointing.

The iPhone 3Gs

Minus: I’ll start with the obvious minus. It’s currently out of stock and who knows when it will come in. Our helpful young man at the Rogers service kiosk told us to call everyday to see if an order has arrived, then come in and buy the phone – first come, first serve.

Because we have time to keep calling Rogers to see if any iPhones are in.

Plus: What was helpful is that through the authorized Rogers dealership store (or whatever it’s called), the representative said I can order the phone and they will call me when it’s in. Even better, there’s no commitment to purchase the phone if I change my mind.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Plus: It’s built by Apple so you know it’s extremely easy to use and has thousands of apps available. You can also run more than one app at one time (Apple calls it multi-tasking), so you can check your email while listening to music and it won’t slow down the performance.

Minus: It locks me in to doing things the Apple way – but honestly, I’ve already been drinking the kool-aid for a while. I use iTunes, we bought a Macbook in the spring and really, what is one more sip going to harm?

Plus: I can sync my iPhone to my Mac and share all kinds of nifty files easily.

Plus/Minus: When at networking events, I can be a part of the geeky iPhone huddle (you know what I’m talking about) and instantly share contact info via MMS or email. You decide whether that’s a plus or a minus. 😉

My verdict

Interestingly, there are no reviews for the iPhone 3Gs on the Rogers website, while there are tons of reviews – good and bad – for the Xperia. It’s food for thought because it seems that the people who give the Xperia a thumbs up really think it rocks. Yet, I’m hesitant about the battery life and the low call volume.

What I’ve decided is to go ahead and order the iPhone 3Gs (there’s no harm and no rush), and do some more research on the Xperia.

I don’t want to rush this purchase because I want to really be sure that I get the right phone for me. I don’t want to be disappointed with my decision.

If you own an Xperia, iPhone 3Gs or any other smartphone, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you like and dislike about them.


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6 responses

1 09 2010
sdc

Why the 3gs? Why not the 4g? I don’t understand, this article was posted today (Aug. 31, 2010) but you made no mention of the 4g.

Myself, I currently have the HTC Magic with Android OS 1.5. After just about 2 years with Android, I must say, it is one of the most unreliable phones I have ever owned. Sure, it vastly improved with the Sense UI upgrade back in March but it still crashes on occasion, many apps auto start and use up memory which slows down the phone to where it is no longer responsive. In some ways, Android is like Windows… the Magic needs a reboot every now and then just to clean things up.

>Also, around 62% of apps are free in the Android Market, while only
>23% are free in the Apple app market

Well that still leaves more free apps available for the Apple market (even at 23% vs 62%).

Besides, never mind the numbers, since I also have an iPod Touch, I quickly came to realize that the overall quality of apps (free or not) is vastly better on the iPhone. Also, because of serious memory and 3D graphics limitations in the Android design (e.g. all apps must reside in primary memory), larger and more advanced commercial apps do not exist on the Android (quick example: the many Gameloft games). Some off these limitations will get fixed: memory problem is addressed in OS 2.2 (but apps need to be re-written) and OS 2.x (or 3.x) is expected to correct the graphics mess.

There is no argument that the Android OS will improve….but so will Apple’s iPhone OS too!

The difference is, with an Apple iPhone, you will always be welcome to update your phone the moment the update is released by Apple. On the other hand, with Android that is not the case. Unless you are willing to do your own hacked install, you are at the mercy of both the hardware manufacturer and the carrier. But why should they spend 10’s of thousands of dollars ensuring that an older phone has the latest Android OS?

Because of this and more, I have decided to wait another few months for the next iPhone (4gs) and say good riddance to Android. I can’t wait because I will finally have that slick zip car app, Google Earth, some specific local city apps (including transit maps), Lets Golf from Gameloft, fully working version of Skype, CBC Radio, Metro news, Justin.TV, CHUM Radio, some amazing musical instruments, OpenTable, Dan Bricklin’s Note Taker, a much better official eBay app, FountainPen, etc.

None of these are available on Android and there are no equivalents.

1 09 2010
melgallant

Thanks for your detailed review! I appreciate it. Funny thing – I was going to mention the iPhone 4 and then didn’t.

With the 3Gs, I was able to order it and Rogers will call me when it’s in. No daily calls to Rogers, no standing in line hoping they don’t sell out before me. That’s why no iPhone 4.

But yes, I should have mentioned that fact in my post. 😉

1 09 2010
sdc

Hello Mel,

BTW, I had an opportunity to read some of your other blogs. I love your writing style.

I am curious about your 3gs decision. Why did you specifically choose the 3gs over the 4g? I have no beef against the 3gs, especially with its shinny new OS which fixes a lot of issues that caused me to choice Android in the first place.

Was the 3gs less expensive?

Okay, off to work…. 1/2 hour commute by Skytrain (I am in Vancouver – but originally from Ottawa).

1 09 2010
melgallant

Hi SDC,

Yes the 3Gs is less expensive and it really has all I need. So ya, less expensive…less of a wait; that’s the reasoning.

Glad you like my writing style. I like writing! 😉

p.s.: I used to live in Vancouver so I know that Skytrain commute well.

2 09 2010
sdc

I had dinner with my sister tonight and asked her about her 3gs. Since the OS 4 update, she absolutely loves it. She especially loves the new faster video and photo capture capability.

My 21 month year old niece moves fast! Attempting a photo with my Android (HTC Magic), usually only catches a blur of what she was doing, about 2 seconds after I snap the photo! In stark contrast, my sister’s iPhone captures a photo (or video) at instant speed and with surprising clarity.

But some of the new Androids do HiDef… it is probably not fair to compare the HTC Magic to an iPhone.

BTW, I thought migration was exclusively East to West. Never heard of anyone moving from B.C. to Ontario. You are the first that I know of. Except for the soon expected long rainy season, I love it out here.

2 09 2010
melgallant

Ha! No, not too many people move West to East but sometimes it happens. 😉

Really appreciate your examples comparing the iPhone to your Android phone. That’s exactly the kind of info I’m looking for!

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