About 2 years ago, I started looking around for a new cell phone. At the time, I just wanted a simple, no-frills type phone, but I kept an open mind and looked at some of the more advanced features that were becoming available. I eventually settled on a small, low-end Nokia. I instantly regretted the decision not to get a camera phone, but otherwise, the phone has performed admirably. The only other complaint I really have is that the call volume could stand to be a little louder. In any case, in the comments of one of the above linked posts, I mentioned:
I’m actually kinda surprised that cell phones aren’t… better than they are now. I figure in about 2 years, my dream phone will be more attainable, so for now, I’ll make do with what I got.
Well, it’s been 2 years, I’m once again looking into purchasing a new phone and… I’m still surprised that cell phones aren’t better than they are right now. Seriously, what the heck is going on? My priorities aren’t that unusual and have only changed a little since my last foray: I want a phone that has strong battery life, good call quality (with louder call volume), good usability (i.e. button placement, menu structure, etc…), and a quality camera (at least 1.3 megapixel). There are lots of secondary features and nice-to-haves, but those are the most important things. This is apparently difficult to achieve though, and I’m distinctly underwhelmed by my options. Actually there are a lot of decent phones out there, but I think I’ve fallen into the classic paradox of choice trap. Here are some phones I’m considering:
- Sony Ericsson W810i: When I bought my last phone, I remarked that the Sony Ericsson W800i seemed really interesting because it was basically knocking out 3 birds with one stone: phone, camera, and mp3 player. At the time, it was obscenely expensive and it seemed to suffer from numerous glitches. The W810i is the successor to the W800i, and by all accounts Sony Ericsson has worked through a lot of the issues to produce a pretty solid phone. I have some minor concerns about the keypad, but everything else seems in order (and the phone looks great – 2 MP with a flash) and the price tag is pretty reasonable for such a fully-featured phone. The only thing that really goes against my requirements is the “staticky call quality” that’s referenced in the reviews. Also, I hate Sony. I really don’t want to give them my money.
- Motorola SLVR: I’ve never been a big fan of clamshell phones, so I never really cared that much about the RAZR when it came out. Then Mororola released the SLVR, which seems like a decent phone at first glance. Decent battery life (not as good as the Sony Ericsson though), reasonable sound quality, and all the standard cell phone features. The one big problem for me is that the camera looks crappy. I believe the newer models are improving the camera, so we’ll see how that goes (in general, Motorola’s phones don’t seem to have great cameras though, even when they have decent resolutions). If they improve the camera, I’d gladly pick this over the Sony Ericsson.
- Motorola KRZR: This is another interesting option, but once again, I’m a little turned off by the camera. It seems better than the camera on the SLVR, but still nowhere near the Sony Ericsson. There seem to be a lot of different versions of Motorola cell phones (no matter what variety), so it’s a little confusing going through them all and trying to figure out which one meets your needs. I don’t normally love flip phones, but I think this one’s pretty good. Aside from the camera, this one appears to be a little more expensive too, which is a bummer.
- Nokia 5300 Xpress Music: Well, this one isn’t a real option just yet simply because it’s not available on Cingular or Verizon. That said, it’s a quality phone, and I’ve had good experiences with Nokia. Again, the camera seems decent but nowhere near the Sony Ericsson. The only other problem is that it seems the volume doesn’t go loud enough, and that’s one of my primary annoyances.
- LG VX8600: This is the flip-phone version of the hip Chocolate phones, and it seems to have improved upon the Chocolate as well. This supposedly has one of the better cameras, but it has awful battery life.
There are some interesting phones coming. I’d love an iPhone, but I can’t justify the cost. I’m interested in the rumored Microsoft and Google phones, but I doubt they’ll be coming anytime soon. Of course, there are probably dozens of phones that would readily meet my needs, but they’re not available in the US. I’m hardly the first person to note this, but it is quite frustrating. I understand why this is happening (the US is a small, fractured market that utilizes a variety of technologies and frequencies that are different than what Europe & Asia use. So companies naturally focus on the larger, more homogenous European & Asian markets.), but it’s still annoying. I’m not sure how this will be rectified; perhaps we’ll just have to wait until 4G comes along (assuming everyone adopts the same 4G).
Update: Drool. Battery life looks lame, but otherwise it’s great. Not that it matters, as it ain’t available yet.