Sunday, 2 January 2011

Slumming it

My replacement Nexus 1 has, apparently, become lost in the backlog of Christmas deliveries due to the unexpected snow storms. Earliest expected delivery will be late next week, although the tracking number I've been sent by Vodafone doesn't work as it's missing some digits.

So not wanting to be cut off from the world too long I went into Car Phone Warehouse to buy me a backup device. Apparently PAYG phones start at 99p plus £10 for phone credit, but that seemed a bit too basic. The cheapest devices with data connectivity come in at £50 plus the £10 for calls. There was even a touch-screen device at slightly more.

However I opted for the Samsung Genio QWERTY which looks incredibly like a BlackBerry. Even the user interface looks superficially like a BlackBerry. Because of this it is easy to criticise the device for not being a BlackBerry: no 3G, no WiFi, virtually no interface customisation, lumpy email client, and 220x170 screen, but that would be missing the point. This device costs a fraction of a real BlackBerry and you get what you pay for, and this includes excellent call quality, a better external speaker than the Nexus 1, a reasonably music player, and preconfigured for Facebook, Bebo, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa and pretty much any other useful mobile service.

However there are a couple of things that struck me as weird. The first was that connecting the built-in email app to my gmail account showed me the oldest 100 messages and had no means that I could find of looking at the newest. So I installed the good old Java ME gmail app which works a treat. Except that once in the app the screenblanker is disabled, so the device chews through batteries faster than an N95 with GPS enabled.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the phone, however, is how light it is after years of smartphones. I barely notice that it is in my pocket. As ever batteries are where we wait for big progress. Maybe 2011 will bring some power breakthroughs - that could be the next mobile revolution.

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