After three or four months deliberating over which new mobile phone upgrade to, a process that’s caused me to realise that there is no single solution that does everything I require, I’ve finally managed to get a new phone.
The final contenders were: Apple iPhone, T-Mobile Vario III (a rebranded HTC YyTN II), Nokia N95
Apple’s iPhone looked like an obvious choice for me. An Apple user since around 1984 and and now on my third iPod, I instinctively understand how to use the iPhone. I love the way it feels in the hand, although the onscreen keyboard is a bit small for my fingers, and just love the sexy, cut-down version of the mac interface. I would have bought one if the iPhone didn’t have two serious shortfalls – the lack of a better than average camera, no GPS (replaced with maps?!) and no 3g internet. The latter of these was the real show stopper. I simply cannot work on the train, something I spend at least an hour a day doing, without fast mobile internet. I’d also find the lack of video camera disappointing but this wasn’t really a consideration.
The T-Mobile Vario III (HTC TyTN II) seemed the least obvious possibility but, in the end, nearly became my choice. Up until yesterday, my kit bag contained both a Nokia N70 (mostly for using zonetag) and a T-Mobile Vario II that was given to me by a PR Agency. As it’s based on the Windows Mobile platform, I have no idea how to use the vast majority of the features in the Vario II. In fact, I hate everything about it except for the keyboard which is fantastic, probably industry leading. The Vario III has a screen that can be angled to make viewing more comfortable and has 3.5g internet, a touch faster than the Vario II. Would I rather have a Vario III than an iPhone? Hell no, but I would be forced to choose a Vario III over the iPhone because of the 3g and keyboard. Would I have chosen the Vario III over the N95 IF the Vario had the same camera? I’m afraid that would have tipped things this way. Indeed, if the Vario could run zonetag and had a camera slightly worse than the Nokia I probably still would have had to go with the Vario. But that’s not the way things went in the end…
The Nokia N95 isn’t particularly sexy, unlike the iPhone, and lacks a keyboard, but it’s easy to overlook these shortcomings due as everything else is present and correct: HSDPA (3.5g) mobile internet, a 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens that can be used for stills and video, wifi connectivity, GPS mapping, and the ability to subscribe to podscasts and vodcasts. There’s also a particular piece of software, zonetag, that really shines on the N95 because it takes full advantage of the excellent camera and the built in GPS. I bet the N95 will also be the cameraphone of choice for Qik users too.
The audio-visual abilities of this phone make it easy to understand why Reuter’s has based it’s Mobile Journalist Kit around the Nokia. Unfortunately, unless someone at Reuters or Nokia can help me out (?!?) I’ll still have to carry my ipod and micromemo for high quality audio.
I chose the Nokia’s high speed internet (essential) and a good camera (damn near essential) over the svelte looks and an intuitive interface of the iPhone and the practicality of the Windows based, keyboard wielding HTC on the other.
The N95 isn’t, however, my dream phone. What I really want is an iPhone with 3G and a better camera, or a Nokia or Sony that looks and feels gorgeous, has a usable keyboard and can connect up with my mac. Until then, I’ll be carrying a phone and lugging a laptop wherever I go…