Friday, November 26, 2010

What phone to buy and why

I was recently asked by someone which phone would be the best phone for them which got me thinking about the different reasons people choose their phones.  As far as I can tell there are 3 main categories of phone buyers with very different expectations and usage patterns.  Phone users seem to fall into 1 of 3 categories:

People who just want a phone for making calls and SMS.
People who want power, choice and openness.
People that want a fashion accessory.

Luckily there lots of choices out there to meet every niche so I'll give a rundown of the top 3 choices in order of handset sales.

If you want a phone that just makes calls and SMS and does it well get a Nokia.  You can spend anything from $80 to $700 on a Nokia depending on what features you want.  I've owned many Nokia's over the years and they have all been awesome at just being a phone(and admittedly not much else).  I recently purchased a Nokia N900 based on Maemo 5 which strikes a nice balance between being a phone but also providing the features you expect in a modern smartphone.  I've only used the N8 in a store but it seemed pretty nice and has actually gotten pretty good reviews despite being based on the older Symbian operating system.

If you like choice, freedom and power you'll want to grab something running Android and you are certainly spoiled for choice with nearly every major hardware vendor(except Nokia and Apple) providing a range of Android based devices.  Android has a ton of Apps available and you'll be able to find one to suit almost anything you want to do.  Android works well for both the geek and non-geek with a nice UI and easy integration with google services, Facebook, Twitter etc.  If you're a geek you'll love the ability to hack, modify and customise your phone to your hearts content.  Also the Android Market's fairly open policies mean you'll be able to enjoy features iPhone users can only dream of(without jail breaking) like flash, native apps for remotely controlling torrents or even downloading them directly to your phone.  You can also easily change your input methods to alternative keyboards like Swype, install third party UI's or use your phone as a wireless router.

If you want something that will look great next to your chai latte while you work on your screenplay at Starbucks then this is the phone for you.  We've all used iPhone's and you pretty much know what you are getting into, they are solid and usable, but in comparison to the multitude of Android devices available you'll get better value if you shop elsewhere.  The iPhone UI is also in need of some overhauling and hasn't changed a lot since the original iPhone and is starting to look a little 2007.  In the last year iPhone has fallen behind Android in terms of features and sales with 3 Android phones being sold for every 2 iPhones sold.  That being said the iPhone is still a classic and iconic piece of hardware.

In the end they all do pretty much the things that we expect from a phone, make calls, SMS and email, play mp3's and video, browse the web(except for the low end Nokias) so the choice is really just down to personal preference and dependent on your needs and budget.  I realise that there are a ton more choices out there but I just wanted to cover the top 3 selling phones at the moment.  Windows Phone 7 might shake things up a bit but there are no reliable sales figures yet and until features like tethering and cut & paste are added it's probably not the best choice for most people.  I'll be picking up a WP7 phone after christmas so I'll be taking a closer look at what WP7 offers soon(especially the development side of things).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dual Boot Meego on the Nokia N900

Last week the latest image of Meego for the Nokia N900 was officially released so I figured I'd pick up an N900 and give it a try.

Nokia N900 Unlocked Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touchscreen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB--U.S. Version with Full Warranty
The Nokia N900
While Meego is coming along(particularly the Netbook version) the latest N900 release is definitely just for developers, testers and hackers and I certainly wouldn't recommend it for everyday use.  There are a lot of rough edges at the moment but it's nice to get a look at what Intel and Nokia have in store for us.  While you probably won't see Meego handsets hitting the market till around Q3  2011 hopefully we'll see some more complete and usable builds for the N900 coming out before then.  I'll be taking a more in depth look at Meego and the N900 in general but for now here is a short video of Meego running on my N900 dual booted with Maemo 5.

If you're interested in dual booting Meego and Maemo 5 you can follow the  instruction found here: