While every geek loves a new toy, the best toys are those which you can easily prove to your friends/family/boss as being absolutely indispensable for your proper interaction with this thing they frivolously refer to as “real life”.
In my case, I needed a smartphone that could access a diary easily updated from my computer and the Web. Because I have a lot of appointments, mostly medical, but appointments nonetheless. And it should make texting easy, because not only do I have stiff fingers, I also need to write messages in more than one language.
Oh yes, and it should actually have a sync utility that won’t go out of date 6 months after I buy the phone.
So that meant an iPhone, a Blackberry, or something Androidy. iPhones and their monthly charges are ridiculously overpriced, I don’t like being nannied (I have no desire to ogle boobies, but I object to Apple telling me I’m not allowed to), and the iPhone 4 antenna debacle was the final cock-crinkler, really.
Both my daughters have Blackberries, and seem happy enough, apart from no 3G and poor camera picture quality. However, Blackberries were still fairly expensive for me, as I’d just be changing handsets, not opening a new account or switching to a more expensive rate, and therefore not eligible for special offers.
After research – and instant elimination of Samsung, who make nice phones but don’t support the sync software to any noticeable extent (they are still flogging phones that only sync with Windows XP) – I chose a HTC Wildfire. It got a good review from The Register and elsewhere, so what the hell. Cheap too, compared to other handsets.
This is what I liked about it :
- Comfortable in my hand
- Large, good quality screen
- Decent quality camera
- Onscreen keyboard fairly easy to use
- Android 2.1 (sync with Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Gmail, Google calendar, etc.)
- Good quality phone reception
- You can use ordinary jack headphones to listen to music
- You can link contacts who occur on various networks (e.g. phone, Facebook, Gmail) so that only one contact file is visible
I didn’t like:
- No printed manual, and no CD with sync software. You have to download the latter from HTC’s own site to discover that both are available in the ‘phone memory should the idea occur to connect it to the PC in hard disk mode
- You can’t assign ringtones to groups of contacts, only to individual contacts
- Battery life isn’t too great, in fact it’s pretty poor. I have to recharge every 2 days with light use
- You cannot sync phone contacts with Google contacts, only contacts already on Google
- Editing linked contact files can play merry Andrew with the info in there
- Requires a PC with Windows (and MS Outlook if you want to sync address book and calendar): no Mac or Linux. Fortunately, my phone company provides a web-based sync service
- I’m not convinced it’s possible to change the memory card, not that I’ve really tried, and available memory isn’t too good. You can’t install your entire music library. Probably best not to include too many snaps of the kids, either (this is quite possibly a Good Point for your friends and colleagues, though. Don’t make this the decisive part)
- Impossible to delete pre-installed apps you have no need for
On the whole, I’m quite chuffed with it. For all its faults, it’s easier and more pleasant to use than my previous phone. However, my trusty Samsung lasted me 2 years and only got the boot because of the diary/text/sync issues. Will the Wildfire keep for as long?