Thinking of Phones

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:17 AM

My cellular contract is ending in two weeks and I'm pondering a new phone. The one I have, a Nokia 3600, has served me well, but I'm thinking I might be able to do better. Particularly, I love the built in camera, but at 640×480, I still regret when I only have my phone and not my camera. I don't expect my phone to replace my much more serious digicam (a Sony Cybershot DSC-S75), but I would like it to take printable quality photos if possible. As much as I like the pictures from my Nokia for the fact that without the camera in it I would not have them at all, they are usually less than perfect.

So, for the last six months or so, I've been following the new Nokia N90. It has a Carl Zeiss lens, 2 megapixel CCD, flash, digital zoom, etc. It is in a flip phone form factor, which it uses to provide a twistable viewfinder for the camera. It looks really nice and runs an updated version of the same Symbian OS with Series 60/S60 interface that the 3600 runs. However, three things emerged that dampened my enthusiasm. First, the price is $499 with a two-year contract (it is $799-$999 without). Second, it is supposedly very slow and unresponsive. Third, it is only available for T-Mobile presently.

Ok, so that's not so good. But Nokia has some nice non-flip units in the pipe. I'm not so keen on flip phones anyway, so I've been looking at the N70 and the N80. The N70 is a traditional Nokia “brick” with a 2.0 megapixel CCD but sans the Zeiss lens. The N80 is one of these new slider-style phones with a 3.0 megapixel CCD. The problem is neither of these has yet been picked up by a carrier in the U.S., and when they do, I wonder if they too will be fairly pricey. I'm guessing the N70 might be closer to the $200-$300 range, but that is still a lot of money for a phone. (The N80 is not yet even FCC approved.)

With that in mind, I'm considering either the Nokia 6682 or one of the several Sony Ericsson 1.3 megapixel camera phones (such as the Walkman W600). Sony, like Nokia, uses Symbian, but places the UIQ interface on top of it instead of S60. All of these are in the $0-$200 range, after the incentives that come from reupping a contract with Cingular. My main requirements are that I want a Symbian GSM (preferably with EDGE support) phone, I want it to have as good of camera as possible and I want Bluetooth; I think these phones are the only ones that fit those requirements, but I'll keep searching.

I need to decide: do I bite the bullet with one of these presently available phones or wait a few months and see what comes about concerning the Nokia N-Series phones? I'm leaning toward the latter, but if the prices are astronomical, the wait won't do me much good and perhaps the models I do like wil be unavailable.

Re: Thinking of Phones
I too have been thinking about a new cell phone.
Posted by Michael - Dec 16, 2005 | 11:24 PM

Re: Thinking of Phones
Bluetooth, camera pixels...all that I've considered, but I've never ever thought about a phones OS or interface. What's so special about Symbian?
Posted by Jason - Dec 17, 2005 | 3:15 PM

Re: Thinking of Phones
Michael: Now always seems like a good time. :D Jason: Well, I really have been pleased with the way it works, more than anything, I think. You can also find a ton of applications for it. As it turns out, the two Sony phones aren't actually Symbian-based, so I may not stick to it. But, it seems intuitive, and ideal for a smart phone (a bit more powerful than just a normal, generic phone OS but not overpowered like running Windows Mobile on it).
Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Dec 18, 2005 | 10:40 PM

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