Wordslinger • Dissident • Webwright

The Great Smartphone Hunt

Published 06 August 2007

I absolutely loved my Sony Ericsson Z520a. It was attractive, small, and inexpensive. I also sported uncrippled bluetooth, iSync compatibility, and great Mac support from the Manufacturer. Its camera was shite, but that’s why I have a 10 Megapixel Casio EXLIM.

Then it broke.

Apparently the model has the tendency to wear out when flipped open a lot. This particular model lacked the courtesy to do this during the manufacturer’s warranty period. Or last until my carrier’s free upgrade period. Since any new phone would cost me the retail (eye-gouging) price, I figured I should go high end instead of paying through the nose for something I wouldn’t like.

The Perfect Combination

The hunt is on. I want a smartphone that is sexy, technologically superior and plays nicely with OS X. Sure it’s demanding, but here is my list of must haves:

  • An operating system with which to load and run applications
  • The ability to synchronize my contacts from Address Book
  • Web browsers with which to test Web applications
  • Respectable (but not herculean) battery life
  • Bluetooth
  • Must work with my CingularAT&T contract, although I’d be happy to dump Ma Borg after six months.
  • No keyboard on the face.

To the final point: I don’t know why, but I hate candybar phones and their Blackberry and Palm brethren. Why squint at a miniscule screen just to gain a bunch of acne-shaped keys laid out in an archaic fashion that doesn’t match my hands?

In addition to these must-haves, I gave bonus points for the following features, all of which I lust after, by order of importance:

  1. GPS
  2. 3G Capability or better
  3. Wi-Fi
  4. Touch Screen
  5. Anything that slides or flips
  6. FM Tuner
  7. Unlocked
  8. World Phone

In addition, after researching current mobile operating systems, I ranked them values as well.

  1. Linux (theoretical)
  2. Symbian (intriguing)
  3. Windows Mobile (ugh)
  4. Palm OS (langishing)
  5. Blackberry (boring)

“iPhone, duh!”

That was the first response that I got while asking around, and I got it a lot. Indeed, the iPhone is sexy; in many ways it is technologically superior; it also works seamlessly with OS X. But the more I thought about it, the less appealing the iPhone seemed. My blanket policy is never to accept first-run hardware from any manufacturer. The first X-Boxes spontaneously combusted for the love of Pete, and Apple’s track record with rev 1 hardware is not much better (although less dangerous). I lusted after the iPhone as much as any other Mac zealot, but it needs some time to mature.

Put the iPhone up against my list, and it doesn’t compare very well. It does have a monsterous hard-drive, phenominal battery, industry darling status and the multi-touch thing. But it only has two of the bonus points (#3 and #4). In addition, it barely counts as having an operating system because it is closed to third-party developers, and without Flash Lite, Safari is pretty lackluster. It will make the cut, but barely. What else can I find? Stay tuned!