The old phone
Until recently, I was Nokia 6610 user. What a great cell phone. I used this phone with T-mobile service and it made me a big, big fan of Nokia phones. The hardware was very robust (my phone took quite a beating over its long life — when it wasn’t being chewed by my daughter, Ananya, it was being dropped on a hard surface). And the software, ah, well, the software was wonderfully simple and usable. My love of the Nokia 6610 should probably be the subject of another article… Back to this story. In the past 6 months or so I was looking for some things that Nokia didn’t offer on the 6610 or on any other phone that fit what I was looking for — bluetooth, a good web browsing experience, and a directory that would store more than 200 contacts.
I sat on the decision to switch over to a new phone for a while and recently made the decision to switch over to Cingular because of the reviews I read about Cingular’s 2125 aka the HTC Faraday and because of the good things I had heard about Cingular’s EDGE data network. I was hesistant to move away from Nokia’s software, but decided to make the leap anyways because of everything I read, including Robert Scoble’s praise. Here are my thoughts so far…
The only reason the Cingular 2125 was even an option for me was that it packed a smartphone into a normal phone form factor. I know a lot of people are Treo fans, but I’ve never been able to handle its larger size. I’m not a clip-my-phone-on-my-belt kind of guy and the Treo has never been small enough to comfortably fit in my pocket (I don’t wear parachute pants). Plus I hate the fact that there are so many small buttons on the Treo (I know, I know, it’s the alphabet, but I guess I don’t plan to type text so much on my phone). I like phones with phone style keypads. So the size and weight of the 2125 are perfect for me, just a bit larger and heavier than my old Nokia 6610.
The keypad’s buttons are a little bit small and positioned low on the phone so dialing without looking is more difficult. But I’m getting used to it — I’m going on a slim finger diet. The tradeoff of the smaller keypad, obviously, is a much larger screen compared to the Nokia 6610. So the screen is nice, high-resolution and bright. I’m a bit concerned about scratching it, so I need to look into something to protect it with, something that doesn’t add much to the size of the phone.
Battery life appears to be OK, not as good as my Nokia 6610, but we’ll see how it holds up under regular usage.
I read a lot about how the 2125 power button was hard to use — I would have agreed with this until I figured out how to use it properly (press down, not in). It’s very easy to use once you figure it out.
The Software (Windows Mobile 5.0)
I love being able to surf the Internet from my phone. It’s practical and useful, the biggest “new” thing for me as a part of this upgrade. My favorite web apps / sites so far:
- Gmail (http://m.gmail.com/)
- Google Local
- Google Homepage
- A bunch of news sites… (nytimes, bbc, the onion 🙂 )
I’ve been using Internet Explorer as my browser but I did download Opera Mini to try it out. I’ve played around with it and like some things about it, namely, the way you can scroll up and down by page and how the font size can be adjusted to pack more information on the screen. But I haven’t delved into how to reconfigure Windows Mobile to use something other than IE as the default browser, or, for that matter, how to establish a direct link to a Java application like Opera Mini from the Windows Mobile “home page”. So anyways, at this point there isn’t anything compelling enough for me to switch to Opera Mini. Let’s see if that changes as I play with it more.
The app that I’ve been using to show off my 2125: Google Local for Mobile. I had to choose the Audiovox SMT5600 to get a version that works on the 2125 because the 2125 wasn’t listed (hopefully GLM adds it soon). This application is really, really cool. Do searches and get results on an interactive map. Zoom in on the map. Scroll around with the joystick. Choose the right matching result and get directions to and from that location. Click to dial the phone number for that location. It remembers your last x searches so you don’t have to search from scratch everytime. It’s another java app so I’ll have to figure out how to link directly to the application rather than going through the MIDIlet manager everytime I want to launch it. But it’s incredibly cool and useful.
Then there’s MSN Mobile, a piece of client software that came pre-installed on the 2125 that wraps a bunch of MSN services into a Windows Mobile client. MSN messenger was interesting, I had a couple of chats on Saturday with it and it worked well, but I had a really strange experience with it earlier today. The application hung up on me while it was trying to connect and it blocked all incoming calls (presumably because EDGE can’t be used at the same time as a voice phone call). I wasn’t able to kill the MSN messenger task using task manager so I had to reboot the phone to begin receiving incoming calls again. Scary that something on my phone could block incoming calls! I’m not running MSN messenger on my phone again…
A bit about the basic Windows Mobile interface: I can already feel the home screen getting cluttered up. Hotmail (which I never use!) installed an entry for itself on my home screen and after I sync’ed my outlook schedule and contacts, I’ve got a couple of daily schedule items on my home screen. Lot of stuff on my home screen now, there’s stuff I’d like to take off of there, there’s other stuff I’d like to add (like a link to gmail). Have to learn how to do this.
I send and receive a lot of SMS text messages so that part of the WM software is important to me. So far, I’m happy enough with how Windows Mobile does text messaging, even though my old Nokia did it better. There are matters of habit, like I’m used to the space button being the 0 on the keypad, not the #. I’m also used to having text messaging one button press away (with Windows Mobile, have to scroll down to the text messages option on the “home page” — or I have to go find the messages icon in start menu and then choose text messages). Once I’m entering words, I like the way Windows Mobile automatically learns new words. When I toggle between different modes of text entry (t9 vs T9 vs. abc vs. Abc vs. numbers vs. symbols), one of the modes (symbols) clears the screen and brings up a matrix of symbols — ack, confusing. I also find it annoying that using the joystick I can’t wraparound from the end of a line of text back to the beginning of that same line. Also, when I’m T9ing a proper noun, it lets me do one word stem and then another to build a word that it hasn’t already learned — that’s good. But let’s say I’m done T9ing something and then I go back to that word because, say I made a mistake, it doesn’t go back into T9 mode on that word. I have to delete and then re-T9 that word. Also, when a new message comes in, I want a single click to take me to read that message. As it stands, I have to click down to “text messages” and then choose it and then choose the message in question.
One other nitpick I have: I loved the way that my Nokia 6610 let me take a number down while talking on the phone and save it to the directory. So far, I haven’t seen this to be easily possible on my 2125. When I enter a number while talking on the phone, after the call is disconnected, that number is lost forever. Maybe I need to go into a “add contact” screen while talking on the phone. Maybe another example of less is more.
That’s it for now… More to come. I’m looking forward to getting all of my numbers transferred over to this phone from my Nokia. I’m also hoping to get a solid photo sync / slideshow app, preferably something that syncs with Flickr and/or Picasa. If you have a 2125 and have any tips on how to solve the problems I’ve talked about above or have a cool mobile website or application to recommend, please let me know!