Going Shopping for a New Phone

Recently it's been becoming more apparent that I'm having less and less free time to blog (and tweeting more instead) - but that's really because I've been doing two very important things: studying for my exams in April and shopping for a new phone. As far as studying for my exams is going, it's not going well. I'm not sure how to study for something I've studied for before, and practising isn't quite working as well as I'd hoped. Finding a new strategy is a lot more difficult than I thought. I guess I'll be roughing it out until I find new motivation and methods to study properly.

Shopping for a new phone hasn't been easy either. There are now three smartphone-type operating systems to choose from - the last time I went shopping for a PDA + phone combo in 2006, I had only one choice - Windows Mobile. Now, there are three main contenders in my view - Windows Mobile, iPhone OS and Android. (I'm aware of Symbian, and even more aware of Blackberry - but let's face it - the flagship devices of these two OSes are totally incomparable to the other three. Perhaps the iPhone 3GS is lagging in this area now, but I'm sure the next iteration due this year will change that - and when I'm shopping in this window of time, it's worthwhile to wait 2-3 months.)

The best thing is that phones of this class have gotten much cheaper. They used to cost RM2,500 to RM3,000 pretty easily - and while they still do sometimes, they can often be bought much cheaper a lot earlier in their life cycles. (like say RM2,000)

Windows Mobile's flagship device is clearly the HTC HD2. Nothing else comes close to it. The biggest reason I dropped it out of contention was the fact that Windows Mobile is going to be replaced by Windows Phone 7. And Microsoft seems to be fully intent on alienating its current userbase. With every announcement they make about Windows Phone 7, I get less and less happy. I can't blame Microsoft for the radical changes they are going for for WP7, but they could have at least made an effort to keep their remaining userbase.

Let's move on the iPhone. The current flagship is crappy compared to the HTC HD2 and the HTC Desire. It has one button. It doesn't have a nice home screen - if you could call what it has a home screen. (I lived with a home screen like that once. That was when Palm OS was king, and was about to be dethroned because it forgot that OSes need updating.) What it does have however, is awesome third party support. There are apps for everything - and if those don't satisfy all your needs, you can jailbreak for the remaining missing features - customizable home screen, lock screen info and so on. However - the current flagship is set to be replaced this year, and so anything could happen.

The Android flagships are probably the Google Nexus One (for the US) and HTC Desire (for the rest of the world). Considering that Android's situations is similar to what Windows Mobile's situation was previously, it's difficult to know when they will be replaced - although a good bet is within a year's time. I didn't even consider Android until I saw it for myself and realized why it just fit. I don't even know why. Widgets on the home screen, the apps all felt like what I was used to. The openness of the platform seems the same as Windows Mobile - except that the SDK default language is Java - which I'm guessing can make things a little sluggish at times - but I'm not worried since there's an accompanying NDK for those apps that really need speed. When people realise that speed matters more, they'll work on apps in the NDK.

So, currently, I'm planning to purchase a HTC Desire - but I'll be waiting 2 months to see if Apple can change my mind. It hasn't won any points with me with iPhone OS 4, but Android so far certainly has won many with version 2.1.