Pondering smartphones

2009-06-20

in Canada, Geek stuff, Internet matters

Sasha Ilnyckyj in a cemetery

Soon, I will probably be switching cell phone plans, and possibly phones and providers as well. I am considering getting an internet-enabled phone, and pondering the various associated options. The most appealing phones are the iPhone and the HTC Android phone, followed by the Nokia smartphones. Using the first two would mean switching to Rogers.

In terms of the phone itself, I definitely prefer a physical keyboard to Apple’s error-prone on-screen version. That said, it would be nice to have a phone that was also an iTunes compatible iPod replacement… Does anybody have an HTC Dream or direct experience with a working one? I am curious how they compare with the iPhone for web browsing, email, and instant messaging.

I definitely don’t want to get locked into a three-year contract, so I am considering buying an unlocked phone as inexpensively as possible, then getting a one-year smartphone contract from Rogers. That way, if I move outside Canada, or get into a financial circumstance incompatible with expensive data plans, I won’t have to pay a massive fee to get out of the contract.

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{ 170 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan June 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

I was at a Fido store yesterday and while there are iphone plans as cheap as 75$, the price of an running an iphone can easily exceed the cost of running a car. Something is out of balance.

Matt June 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I would absolutely recommend against any sort of contract, including a 1 year smart phone contract. The only advantage I’m aware of with agreeing to a one year contract is that you get a free SIM card. My advice to you would be to buy a Rogers or Fido SIM card off of craigslist, sign up for the voice plan you want, and add a 500MB smartphone plan onto that. That way, if you find it to be unaffordable, you can cancel without incurring a penalty.

I have a Nokia E51 smartphone. While over a year old, and not as slick as the choices you mentioned, I absolutely love it. When I got it, the iPhone couldn’t touch it for usable features, because at the time the iPhone lacked MMS, video recording, 3G, tethering and more. I had no interest in the iPhone until firmware 3.0 was announced.

I definitely recommend owning a smartphone, I feel like I couldn’t do without mine. Google maps alone makes it worth it. A word about Rogers, though: They are my provider and I hate them for terrible customer service, borderline fraud (they increased the cost of my services while I was under contract [which I will never be again]), and terrible pricing and I will switch as soon as there is some GSM competiton. Competition looks like it will occur by the end of 2009, or somewhere during the start of 2010. For that reason, I would say signing a contract with real competition on the horizon would be a bad move.

Matt June 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I find myself lusting after the Nokia N97 (although the $700US price tag prevents me from getting one). I have owned a range of phones, and my Nokia ones have been the best. Their functionality is amazing and Symbian is a great OS (although I’ve not used any HTC android phones). The iPhones have many easy to use features, but are decidedly consumer. The number of apps available is nice, but unless they’ve changed this, there was no way to manage files on the phone itself, a huge downside. I remember thinking it ridiculous that you couldn’t even send a picture message with one (finally rectified after 2 years with 3.0 firmware).

Milan June 20, 2009 at 4:19 pm

I was told that one year is the minimum smartphone contract with Rogers, and they (and their subsidiary Fido) are the only ones with an iPhone/Android compatible network.

Is that not true if you can get a secondhand SIM card somewhere?

Matt June 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm

I think you were handed some half-truths by Rogers, something they love to do.

SIM card:
You can buy one from Rogers (or Fido whom Rogers owns) or Craigslist (if buying off Craigslist make sure it has never been activated). Buying from craigslist will save you $10-$15, but has no bearing on whether or not you need a contract.

Contract:
Not needed if you are providing the phone. When Rogers provides the phone, they choose whether or not the phone is available without a contract. With an iPhone, for instance, they will only sell one to you with a 3 year(!) contract. Choose a voice plan that suits you, some plans (like the MY5 ones, which allow unlimited calls/ text to 5 numbers) only come with a contract. Most do not.

Data:
For $35 a month, you can add to any voice plan a smartphone value pack which includes 500MB of data, Call display, Voicemail, and unlimited texting, picture messages. The last time I investigated this, there was no contract needed for this. It’s an add-on to your already existing plan, not the plan itself.

Milan June 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm

What happens if you use more than 500 megs of data?

Milan June 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

The N97 looks good: physical keyboard, good manufacturer, lots of disc space.

Does it sync with iTunes?

Matt June 21, 2009 at 5:41 am

I don’t know how the N97 plays music or interfaces with iTunes. With mine (which is a Symbian device, although a different release than the N97), you just drag the MP3’s you want anywhere on the memory card, or phone’s memory. For organization, I keep everything in a music folder. You can easily copy the files you want from by dragging them from Tunes. I believe m3u playlists are supported. Like an iPod does, songs are sorted by album, artist, etc. It’s probably not as elegant as the iphone’s music player, but totally functional.

If you use more that 500megs of data, you pay $0.03/MB. I was just reading that 95% of iphone users use less than 500MB a month, and 97% use less than a gig per month. However, tethering a phone to your computer could eat that 500MB pretty fast.

The contracts do give some advantages, exclusive deals and such. As a matter of principal, though, I will never be under contract to Rogers again. However, I obviously don’t expect you to follow this restraint. Consider this, though: To get an iPhone from Rogers, you have to sign a 3 year contract. The iphone has been released in 3 iterations, each a year apart. If this trend continues (and why shouldn’t it) your phone will be obsolete for 2/3rds of your contract length.

Milan June 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

My iTunes music is sorted in some fairly sophisticated and iTunes-specific ways, such as using tags in the comment section and smart playlists to sort songs by mood. One advantage of the iPhone is that all that would copy over, as well as any videos sorted within iTunes.

My sense is that the iPhone would definitely be the best media device, but would not be the best for email or web browsing.

Tristan June 21, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I suppose some of the value in smartphones is the all-in-one aspect. And, fair enough, it does make good sense to combine a media device with an internet browsing device. That said, to me the idea of supplementing a conventional cell phone with an itouch is much more appealing than replacing it with an iphone. What you don’t get is internet-anywhere, but the total costs over a year, I think, would be an order of magnitude lower.

Milan June 21, 2009 at 1:18 pm

What you don’t get is internet-anywhere, but the total costs over a year, I think, would be an order of magnitude lower.

First off, the constant availability of internet is 95% of the reason to get a smartphone. Just the combination of GPS and Google Maps suffices to demonstrate how useful that is, not to mention being able to easily check and send email anywhere, read blog posts on the bus, etc.

As for costs, it seems possible to get a smartphone plan for about $60-70 per month – well under an order of magnitude above the price of a much less useful Touch. (The cheapest touch is C$259 plus tax, whereas a year at $70 would be $840.)

For me personally, a Touch would be useless. At home, I have a laptop and desktop. At work, there is no WiFi. The Touch keyboard is awful, to boot.

Milan June 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I still have an old 20GB iPod – from before colour screens, video, etc.

One advantage of replacing it with another iPod when it dies is sheer disc space. A 32GB iPhone is pathetic compared with a 120GB iPod. The latter would keep all my music, have lots of space for video, and let me make another daily backup of my photography…

R.K. June 21, 2009 at 2:10 pm

You should be concerned about the ‘shifting baseline’ effect. Now, you are reasonably happy with a normal phone. Once you get used to having a smart phone, it probably won’t make you much happier. Having to give it up for some reason, however, might annoy you a lot.

. June 21, 2009 at 2:14 pm

iPhone 3G S and Pre head-to-head benchmarks: iPhone wins

by Nilay Patel, posted Jun 20th 2009 at 11:29PM

Now that we know the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre share extremely similar 65nm ARM Cortex A8-based internals, it’s time to break out the stopwatches and see how these blood brothers stack up. Anandtech has the first head-to-head tests we’ve seen, and it seems like the 3G S has the slight edge

BuddyRich June 21, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Rogers just reintroduced their $30/month 6GB plan for a limited time… no idea what it takes to qualify to get it (ie. iPhone only or all smartphones) and if its contract only but this is above and beyond the best deal for data in Canada. Still behind most of the rest of the world but its what we have in Canada. They are saying it’s a limited time offer, as it was when they introduced it when they launched the iPhone 3G last year… much better than the 500MB plan, especially as the 3GS supports tethering…

It is tempting me, but much like Matt I can’t stand Rogers and refuse to get into another contract with them. Curently I use a barebones Nokia phone with a 7-11 prepaid wireless SIM to use for talk. I am a self-confessed technogeek but so far I have refused to get back into bed with Rogers again (cable, wireless, phone, anything)…

Tristan did make a good point, the $75 to $100 you would spend on the phone a month is quite expensive… ive got a touch and have found open wifi hotspots are plentiful enough in the downtown core to not be without inet but I do still covet one for those times when I can’t find a hotspot…

Milan June 21, 2009 at 9:14 pm

My current Bell plan certainly isn’t great. For a bit more than $60/month it includes no daytime minutes, unlimited evening and weekend minutes, free weekend long distance within Canada, voicemail, caller ID, and unlimited texting.

The only really nice features is ‘evenings’ starting at 6:00pm (which neither Bell nor Rogers offers now) and the unlimited texting.

Milan June 21, 2009 at 11:03 pm

The costs of the various handsets discussed, without plans:

  • 32GB iPhone 3G S (from Rogers): $680.00
  • HTC Dream (from Rogers): C$599.99
  • HTC Dream (from Pure Mobile): C$440
  • Nokia N97 (from Amazon.com): C$743.66 (plus shipping and duty)
  • Nokia N97 (from NCIX): $899.99

The iPhone is best for media, largely due to iTunes sync and the big screen. I could probably find a cheaper version of the old 3G iPhone somewhere. The Dream would probably be best for Google applications, which is very important to me. That said, it is probably the most expensive handset, relative to its capabilities. The N97 might be the most open handset of the lot, and has a lot more space than the Dream, but it is quite expensive.

Matt June 21, 2009 at 11:05 pm

You can get 6pm calling from Rogers and Fido for an extra $7 a month.

Cell phone costs in Canada are out of hand. When I got my first phone caller ID was $3. Now it’s $8. A text was $0.05 to send and free to receive. Now it’s $0.15 each way.

Milan June 21, 2009 at 11:07 pm

The iphone has been released in 3 iterations, each a year apart. If this trend continues (and why shouldn’t it) your phone will be obsolete for 2/3rds of your contract length.

The same thing is true of computers; you just need to learn to live with it. For instance, I fully expect my iMac to last me five years, at least. Over that span, it is virtually certain that several updated models will be released with better specs.

When it comes to electronics, you always need to choose a time to commit, with the understanding that whatever you choose will probably be obsolete well before you replace it.

Milan June 21, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Is there a cheaper Nokia phone with a slide-out horizontal keyboard? In terms of physical features, that one is most appealing for me. Basically, I see this phone as a potential laptop replacement, for email, blogging, instant messaging, etc.

Like Matt, I have found myself happiest with Nokia phones, among the types I have owned and tried.

Anon June 22, 2009 at 10:53 am

Another option to consider is a small netbook and a cellular internet stick. Rogers offers 500MG for $25, 1GB for $30, 3GB for $60, and 5GB for $80.

Matt June 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm

It looks like the Nokia E75 might fit the bill. 3G, Wifi, and QWERTY slide out, in addition to numeric keypad like a regular candy-bar phone. In fact, it looks quite similar operationally to my E51, which as I mentioned above, I love.

Unlike the N97, though, it doesn’t play flash video. I think this is a worthwhile feature that’s lacking, although you can still watch youtube videos because youtube supports the native media player.

Too bad a bout the price of the N97. It really does seem to be a great phone.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Another option to consider is a small netbook and a cellular internet stick.

I really want something that I will carry with me all the time. Even the smallest netbook means carrying some kind of backpack of briefcase, and they are hardly the sort of thing you can comfortably break out at a street corner to check your bearings.

Matt,

The E75 does look like an ok cheaper option. It’s not all that much cheaper, however. Pure Mobile is selling it unlocked for C$582.00. It has 140MB of internal memory, compared with 32GB in the N97. The N97 also has a pretty decent looking camera, with an f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens. The N97 also has a built-in Skype client, though Rogers might block it. Does the E75 have an electronic compass? GPS? Accelerometer?

If I decided on an N97, I would probably get it sent from Amazon.com to a US address, then go pick it up there.

Matt June 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm

The E75 has none of the things you asked, it is definitely not as well equipped as the N97. It is around $400 cheaper, though (see below). It is GPS capable if you have a bluetooth GPS, although that’s a definite hassle compared to a built-in one.

With a phone with smallish internal memory, I’ve found, the memory is is only good for installing apps to. You have to make use of the microSD card option to store your music, photos, etc.

Looking on Ottawa Craigslist I’ve found the E75 advertised locally for $439. I don’t know anything about the quality of the seller. I’ve purchased two phones from Puremobile, but due to their prices I probably wouldn’t do so again. Their customer service was so-so; uncommunicative, but in the end I received my order with not too much hassle.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 1:41 pm

At present, I am leaning toward the HTC Dream. The iPhone’s keyboard is a major limitation, and the N97 is very expensive.

Are there cheaper Canadian sellers of unlocked phones than Pure Mobile? They are just the first ones I turned up on a Google search. Once again, I really wish Amazon.ca had the same selection as Amazon.com.

Matt June 22, 2009 at 1:55 pm

There might be some ma-and-pa, brick-and-mortar stores locally. There are in Vancouver. Apart from that, tigerdirect.ca sells phones, but I’ve never used them.

I agree about Amazon.com/.ca.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 2:05 pm

What problem did you have with Pure Mobile?

TigerDirect doesn’t seem to carry the HTC Dream, the N97, or the iPhone.

Matt June 22, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I didn’t have any problem with Puremobile that I’d warn people completely off of them. They were just poor at responding to inquiries about my order, and seemed unreachable by phone (even though they give a phone number, when I called it rang and rang). They did ship the phones with no major snags, although I actually wound up canceling my first order, and then re-ordering a few days later because I was fed up with their lack of communication.

If you know exactly what you want, are comfortable with the price, and don’t need any hand-holding with you order, then they’re adequate.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I definitely don’t want to pay $599.99 for a locked phone from Rogers, if someone reasonably reputable sells the same unlocked phone for $440.

That said, maybe it’s worth shelling out $800+ for an N97. After all, it would probably be the single electronic device I use most often, and I would probably stick with it for three years or more. Less than a dollar a day for an excellent phone and decent always-with-you camera isn’t necessarily an absurd price.

R.K. June 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Less than a dollar a day for an excellent phone and decent always-with-you camera isn’t necessarily an absurd price.

More like $3 a day, really: $1 for the phone, and $2 or more for the cellular access.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Thinking about it comprehensively:

If cell service is $60 per month, that is $2,160 over three years. If it’s $75 per month, that is $2,700 over the same span.

A $440 HTC Dream will be about $500 with taxes, whereas an $800 N97 would be about $900.

With a $60 plan, the HTC phone would represent 23% of the total cost, while the Nokia would be 42%. With a $75 plan, the HTC would be 19% and the Nokia would be 34%.

Matt June 22, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Having a camera is very nice, useful for times when you need to take that spontaneous photo. I think we’ve discussed this before in a personal conversation, but they’re no replacement (quality wise) for a Canon P&S camera. So, good for documenting something, but bad for ‘the memories.’ What’s really exciting about the camera is the barcode reader!

I would call Puremobile “reasonably reputable,” I certainly don’t think they’re going to rip you off. Also, if it were me, I’d way rather give them my money over Rogers (a company adept at eliciting frustration).

I had an odd issue with Fido, too, though. At one point I was going to switch to them and called in to setup a new account. Because I called too close to ‘closing time,’ I was instructed to call back the next day, which I did. When I called in the next day, I was told that the representative I talked to wasn’t working that day and that I’d have to call in on a day when she was, due to the fact the new representative didn’t want to “steal her commission.” I was amazed that their commissions took precedence over taking care of a customer.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Yesterday, I downloaded photos from my Nokia 6275i to my computer for the first time. I was surprised by how poor they are: grainy, with terrible colour. They look ok on the phone’s 4cm by 3cm screen, but seem pretty useless for any other purpose, despite ostensibly being two megapixels. My Canon P&S produces much nicer images when set to shoot at 640×480 pixels (0.3 megapixels).

I have a while to decide on the phone, in any case. My Bell contract doesn’t expire until July 12th, and they require a month’s notice for cancellation. I need to check a few more things before I decide for certain to switch to another phone and/or plan and/or company.

Maybe I could find a decent used option by then. For instance, someone who is upgrading to something brand new and uber-fancy, and thus ditching an older but still rather good model.

Matt June 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Out of curiosity, assuming you want to port your existing number to your new provider, how do you go about canceling your account with Bell, while not losing your number in the process?

I assume porting your number causes the first account to be canceled.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I am not sure how the number porting works, but it would be no tragedy to lose mine. There are only five or six people who call it regularly, and I am in touch with all of them via email, MSN, Facebook, etc.

. June 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Welcome to the home of Wireless Number Portability in Canada

Wireless Number Portability (WNP) is a wireless consumer’s ability to change service providers within the same general metropolitan area or local calling area and keep their existing phone number. WNP also allows consumers to move a phone number from a wireline phone to a wireless phone (and vice versa). Canada will be the second country in the world (after the US) to offer complete wireless-to-wireless, wireless-to-wireline and wireline-to-wireless portability.

WNP became available in metropolitan areas across Canada on March 14, 2007.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I notice that Pure Mobile also sells Rogers SIM cards for C$14.95.

That and a GSM phone is all I need to go on a month-to-month, no contract plan, right?

Matt June 22, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Yes, that’s all you need. I’d research the plan you want, options you want, etc. have it all written down with costs, and then call Rogers to confirm that everything you want will work, without a contract, for the prices you’ve asked them.

I’m excited for you. Smartphones are an amazing piece of technology. Way better than Star Trek communicators, and 2 centuries sooner than expected. Although, granted, their transmissions are only lightspeed.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 5:30 pm

I want:

1) Free evenings and weekends (I would pay an extra $7 for them to start at 6pm)

2) Unlimited texting, or thousands of texts

3) A good amount of data. Say, more than 1GB

4) Voicemail and (if it’s affordable) Caller ID

I almost never use daytime minutes, and would be fine with paying $0.35 or so for non-plan daytime minutes. I also don’t need any long distance minutes, as I use cheap calling cards.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm

This looks plausible:

Mega Value $25 w/ Double Your Minutes
* 200 + 50 Bonus Weekday Minutes
* Unlimited Evenings and Weekends from 9 PM
* double your mintues

$7 for earlier evenings

Smartphone Data Value Pack | $35.00/month
* 500 MB for e-mail, IM, browsing
* Call Display with Name Display
* Enhanced Voicemail
* Unlimited Sent/Received Text Messages
* Unlimited Sent/Received Picture/Video Messages
* WhoCalled™

$6.95 monthly System Access Fee

That would be about $85 with tax, not including very much data at all. The website isn’t clear about what happens if you exceed the 500 meg limit on the data value pack.

I know some wireless companies offer a government discount. I will ask Rogers about that. Also, it may be that Fido has a cheaper plan with the features I want.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm

A Fido alternative:

$20 monthly plan
* 50 minutes
* Unlimited evenings and weekends
* Unlimited text messages sent and received
* No system access fee

$15 Value pack
* Call Display with Name Display
* Enhanced Voice Messaging
* WhoCalledTM
* 5 p.m. Early Evenings

1 GB of Internet access: $30

That would be about $75/month with tax, and would cover most of what I need. Again, there is a concern about going over on the data.

Both Rogers and Fido offer a $35 1GB data plan that rolls over automatically into a $50 2GB plan if you exceed the first limit.

Tom June 22, 2009 at 6:39 pm

What Canada needs is some GSM competition. The Rogers Fido monopoly stinks for consumers.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Image from my 2MP phone

0.3MP image from my Canon A570IS

Note that these are about the best possible conditions for a small digital sensor: bright sun, no excessive differences in brightness, and everything at an infinite focal point.

The image from the Canon camera is also half the filesize of the Nokia image.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 7:42 pm

What Canada needs is some GSM competition. The Rogers Fido monopoly stinks for consumers.

I agree. It’s a shame Bell, Virgin, Solo, etc all seem to use proprietary forms of CDMA.

. June 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Nokia N97 review: a tale of two bloggers

by Engadget staff, posted Jun 22nd 2009 at 2:00PM

Recently, Engadget editors Thomas Ricker and Chris Ziegler received Nokia N97s just days apart from one another. Already established pen pals, the two immediately began to correspond across the Atlantic via carrier pigeon, discussing their very different experiences using Nokia’s most powerful smartphone to date. This is a recounting of those letters.

Thomas,

I hope this letter finds you well. I understand that you’ve received an N97 from Nokia Nederlands recently and was wondering what you thought of it? As luck would have it, I’ve happened across a unit myself — the US was the first country to get them, interestingly, which is really big deal for a company accustomed to delivering its best hardware early and often to Europe. I’ve been flogging it for a few days now, just enough time to form some opinions.

Milan June 22, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Remember, the Nokia test snap above is in ideal lighting circumstances. Here is how the photos look from a moderately well-lit room.

Here is a test shot from a room that was really very well lit, both with overhead incandescent light and sunlight through windows.

. June 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm
Matt June 22, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Remember to factor in the one-time setup fee, another gouge, of (I think) $35. I so look forward to the day when I switch to a startup provider and tell Rogers where to stick it. Setup fees are just a disincentive to do business, but one they can get away with with no real competition.

Tristan June 23, 2009 at 9:34 am

I wonder if there are ways to reduce your consumption of data without reducing the usefulness of such a device. Is it not the case that media (i.e. not text) is the greater part of data transferred, in general? A way of accessing blogs which did not automatically download pictures, and using google maps only without satellite images, would certainly reduce your data footprint.

Milan June 23, 2009 at 9:59 am

According to some people I have talked to, only people who use their phones as a laptop tether generally exceed 1GB of monthly usage. Also, with Fido, you pay $30 per gigabyte or portion thereof if you go over your plan amount – high, but not terrible.

Milan June 23, 2009 at 10:04 am

I cancelled my Bell plan today. I therefore have until July 22nd to get a new phone and provider, if I want to transfer my existing number to it.

I will probably order an HTC Dream online and go with Fido. Their staff were honest about offering no-contract, month-to-month billing, whereas Rogers keeps lying to me about it.

Milan June 23, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Some inside information on Rogers:

1)Unfortunately there are no awesome smartphone plans, no plans at all really, that don’t require a contract. The only service Rogers offers that isn’t on a contract is Pay As You Go, and there’s no way of adding data.

2)To run a decent smartphone plan, you’re going to be looking at about $70/m. I’d recommend something like the $25 Mega Value plan with the double-your-minutes option, the $15 Value Pack (includes voicemail, call display and 1000 txts) and the $30 6GB data service plan (a promo plan that’s only on till the end of June.) If voicemail and call display aren’t a necessity you can just get a 1000 txt bundle for $10. I’d also recommend adding on the 6pm early evening option for $7, because otherwise evenings start at 9pm, which is dumb.

If you’re wary of lengthy contracts you can do that plan on a 1 yr term. Also I’d advise to get your data plan on a month-to-month basis (as opposed to 1, 2 or 3 yr term) because if you opt out of you plan early, there’s an additional $100 cancellation fee on the data plan. I’m not sure if that 6GB promo plan is available on month-to-month, but if not you could do the regular $30 1GB that way for sure.

I think plans may differ somewhat province to province also, so tell him to keep that in mind.

I definitely won’t go with Rogers, then. If they don’t offer a no-contract plan, I am not interested.

. June 23, 2009 at 1:33 pm

T-Mobile G1 (black)

The good: The T-Mobile G1 features a full QWERTY keyboard, 3G support, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. The Google Android operating system offers good integration with Google applications as well as access to the Amazon MP3 Store and YouTube. As more applications become available, the G1 will also become a more powerful smartphone for all types of users.

The bad: The G1 doesn’t include a standard heaphone jack and lacks Microsoft Exchange support. There are some annoying design quirks that make the smartphone uncomfortable to hold and difficult to use. You can’t save downloaded applications to a memory card. Speakerphone quality wasn’t the greatest.

The bottom line: While we’re not in love with the design and would have liked some additional features, the real beauty of the T-Mobile G1 is the Google Android platform, as it has the potential to make smartphones more personal and powerful. That said, it’s not quite there yet, so for now, the G1 is best suited for early adopters and gadget hounds, rather than consumers and business users.

. June 23, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Whether you view the T-Mobile G1 as a success or not will depend largely on your expectations. If you are a hard core smartphone user that travels in enterprise circles and expects to find a huge assortment of software available for your device, the G1 will not be for you. At least not yet. But if you are more of a T-Mobile Sidekick type person that is just looking for a fun phone that offers good calling and mobile internet access, then the G1 could well be the perfect cell phone for you.

This is especially true if you are one of the Google faithful that uses that company’s services for things like mail, calendaring, IM, and maps. The G1 ties in tightly with these Google services, and will likely support others in the future.

The G1 hardware might not be as slick looking as an iPhone, but the UI has that same kind of look and responsive feel that will please users. And if you are heavy into messaging, nothing beats a hardware keyboard. Even the G1’s average QWERTY keyboard puts any on-screen virtual keyboard we’ve used to shame.

Even though we love the new OS and are pleased that there are no real deal breakers in the G1, there are enough small issues and 1.0 type features that keep us from giving the G1 our highest rating. But with that said, the G1 is certainly a device that deserves your consideration, especially if you are in the market for a mobile internet device that also happens to be a very solid phone.

R.K. June 23, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I have read that better Android phones will be coming out in the next few months. You might want to wait for those, either because they will be better or because they will make the older Android phones cheaper.

Milan June 23, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Considering phone options:

They all include GPS and web browsing capabilities.

1) HTC Dream (C$479)

Advantages:

  • Physical keyboard
  • Good Google integration
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Relatively open platform
  • Electronic compass and accelerometer

Disadvantages:

  • Reviewers complain about several flaws, like lack of a headphone jack and mediocre sound quality
  • A first generation product
  • Piddling internal storage – 256 megs
  • Unusually bad camera

2) Nokia N97 (US$$799.95)

Advantages:

  • Apparently very well made
  • Skype included
  • Physical keyboard
  • Most flexible, in terms of software
  • Good camera
  • Electronic compass and accelerometer
  • Manufacturer with good quality standards

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • Would have to be shipped from the US, with unknown tax, duty, and brokerage

3) Nokia E75 (C$582.00)

Advantages:

  • Physical keyboard
  • Manufacturer with good quality standards

Disadvantages:

  • Smaller screen, due to numeric keypad
  • No compass or accelerometer
  • Small internal memory – 140 megs

4) iPhone 3G C 32GB (C$699)

Advantages:

  • Would carry my music as well, syncs with iTunes
  • Slick interface
  • Lots of applications available
  • Electronic compass and accelerometer
  • Manufacturer with good quality standards

Disadvantages:

  • Lack of physical keyboard
  • Apple’s restrictive policy on applications

The N97 definitely looks like the best, all told, as reflected in its high price. It would also be awkward to get into Canada. The best compromise options seem to be the HTC Dream and the Nokia E75. I have more faith in Nokia as a manufacturer, but the HTC phone seems to have more features, as well as the more interesting (if not necessarily better) Android OS.

Which would people think is the better choice, between them?

. June 23, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Nokia E75 looks and behaves above average, thus it’s supposed to stand out from the crowd. It offers the sturdiness and the security a businessman needs, thanks to the partial stainless steel casing, and the features needed to be reckoned as a true messaging device. Add to this one of the best QWERTY keyboards on the market and you have one of the best Eseries smartphones available.

The Good

As a business phone, Nokia E75 offers a full Email service, as well as powerful connectivity options (HSDPA, Wi-Fi). The QWERTY keyboard and the features included raise its desirability among businessmen on the go. I would recommend this phone in an instance for its strong points: HSDPA, the QWERTY keyboard, Email and the user interface.

The Bad

Even though it’s a swiss-knife in terms of messaging, Nokia E75 has its drawbacks. I wouldn’t recommend the phone because of the crowded numerical keypad, small display, high price and cheap plastic on the front that makes it a fingerprint and grease magnet.

Milan June 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Some other options to consider:

Nokia E71x (C$467.00)

Palm Pre

Matt June 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm

While I have nothing but good things to say about my E51, it’s not the slick multimedia powerhouse some of the new phones are (iPhone, N97, Palm Pre), and I suspect the same is true of any of the E series.

That being said, I love the fact the Eseries tend not to be huge bricks that you’re carrying around. Their internet capabilities are decent, as are their connectivity options (painless bluetooth, USB, tethering) and platform openness; there are a lot of good Symbian apps out there. The E71 you posted looks like a nice phone with but an irritating keyboard; dialing a phone number on those tiny buttons would be frustrating.

Milan June 23, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Another consideration is software. There are tonnes of interesting (largely free) apps for the iPhone. There are apparently a decent number for Android, and almost none for the Palm Pre.

A dedicated WordPress app would be very useful.

. June 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Video: Nokia N97 gets a torture testing, goes great with milk

by Tim Stevens, posted Jun 24th 2009 at 12:19PM

If the opinions of two star-crossed bloggers weren’t enough to sway you firmly into either the “yea” or “nay” column regarding a Nokia N97 purchase, perhaps seeing how it fares after being dunked into a bowl of corn flakes will help you make up your mind. N97Geeks.com has gone the ‘ol torture test route, including of a series of scratch attempts for the screen and the body as well, plus the aforementioned test where it became a part of This Complete Breakfast. The result was an almost fully functional if slightly scuffed up handset that now has a non-working menu key and a wee bit of internal condensation, meaning you can probably get by without a screen protector or case if you hate buying accessories. But, for best results, keep this one clear of your Kellogg’s.

Tristan June 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Whatever happened to that linux, open source, iphone alternative project? Is it just never happening? Does anyone know anything about it?

BuddyRich June 25, 2009 at 8:01 am

There are a couple of different linux based mobile OS’ specifically for phones (that have actually been released /w products)…

OpenMoko, Access Linux Platform, Qtopia

However none of these have ever taken off like the iPhone or the Nokia’s… but they are opensource and have development communities, just finding hardware for them is problematic, and the hardware is outdated.

Given the iPhone OS’ BSD underpinnings (Just as OSX itself has BSD underpinnings) it could be consider another *nix smartphone as well.

The Android OS is also based on the Linux kernel, perhaps this is what you meant, otherwise I don’t know of any current largescale opensource mobile movement?

. June 25, 2009 at 8:48 am

Openmoko
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Openmoko is a project which encompasses two related sub-projects, with the combined aim of creating a family of open source mobile phones. The project is sponsored by Openmoko Inc.

The first sub-project is Openmoko Linux, a Linux-based operating system designed for mobile phones, built using free software.

The second sub-project is the development of hardware devices on which Openmoko Linux runs. The first device released was the Neo 1973, which was followed up by the Neo FreeRunner on 25 June 2008. Unlike most other mobile phone platforms, these phones are designed to provide end users with the ability to modify the operating system and software stack. Other Openmoko-supported phones are also available.

On 2009-04-02 Openmoko canceled planned phones and will probably concentrate on other kinds of hardware, but will still support and sell the current Neo FreeRunner.

. June 25, 2009 at 9:08 am

Apple Makes Over $400 Profit Per 16 GB IPhone, $500 Per 32 GB Model
DailyTech

Apple earns approximately a $400 profit per 16 GB iPhone 3G S sold, and $500 per 32 GB 3G S sold. (Source: iSuppli) Apple has reportedly the world’s strongest brand image, yet it also has a reputation for being pricey and marking up its products.

Matt June 25, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I think one of the hurdles to writing an OS for a non-open platform phone would be compiling the code for the specific processor in every phone. I bet they all have somewhat differing instruction sets. Certainly, they all have different hardware capabilities and further to that, the exact specs are kept secret by the manufacturers.

Milan June 25, 2009 at 1:46 pm

True.

I wish there was somewhere where I could try the HTC Dream and the E75 for at least a few minutes: GMail, Google Maps, WordPress, etc. I would also like to get a feel for the keys, construction, and pointing devices.

Matt June 25, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Apple Approves First iPhone Porn App

This changes everything. I think it’s obvious what your choice should be.

Matt June 25, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Also, couldn’t you try the HTC Dream at a Rogers store? I don’t think they carry the E75, though.

Milan June 25, 2009 at 2:31 pm

They only have non-working mock-ups of the Dream. It feels decent, though some reviewers have said that it gets creaky pretty quick.

Tristan June 25, 2009 at 3:15 pm

“Given the iPhone OS’ BSD underpinnings (Just as OSX itself has BSD underpinnings) it could be consider another *nix smartphone as well.”

The Iphone has unix underpinnings. The difference between Linux and Unix is GNU. Iphone is not GNU.

Milan June 25, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I don’t think open source is well suited to technologies like cell phones. They all use proprietary hardware, and reliability is a key feature. Hardly anybody wants a phone that is all that customizable, and everyone wants them to work effortlessly and without exception.

Being open to installing applications is important, but openness beyond that doesn’t seem so valuable.

Matt June 25, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I don’t necessarily agree that open source isn’t desirable on phones, but like I recently posted, it’s hard to implement. I could see it being viable for very popular devices like the iPhone, though. You’d need a large user base to make it worthwhile, or to even get the people with the talent to hack the device interested in doing so.

There’s a large minority of people out there that love to tinker, myself included. If there were an open OS for my phone, I’d probably at the very least try it. When I installed a Linux firmware to my router I was so pleased with it, I didn’t go back to the OEM. If you look at other successful open platforms like Firefox, it’s easy to see that maybe the programming community might come up with some really innovative things.

Milan June 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm

If someone makes a good open source phone, I will gladly abandon my skepticism. There are certainly open source successes (Firefox and Apache being two of the most important), and it is possible that someone will eventually apply that model to a phone or phone software.

BuddyRich June 26, 2009 at 7:35 am

” “Given the iPhone OS’ BSD underpinnings (Just as OSX itself has BSD underpinnings) it could be consider another *nix smartphone as well.”

The Iphone has unix underpinnings. The difference between Linux and Unix is GNU. Iphone is not GNU.”

That’s why I wrote *nix and not linux! Though not to get on a tangent, Darwin, which is MacOSX without the interface and a few other proprietary things is released under an open source license (not the GNU but the APSL). The whole reason they release it is to meet their open source license requirements for OSX (whose source is also mostly available in the Xcode package SDK you can get from Apple). It was this open source that led to all the homebrew apps being coded for the iphone/itouch after it was jailbroken, long before apple released their official SDK for the phone (which didn’t come about until the 2.0 version of the OS and the release of the 3G model)…

All I was trying to say though is that there are a lot of linux derived phones, some that are successful, some that aren’t. So linux and open source software is more than capable of being used as a phone OS. Now whether they were developed collaboratively or not and if that model can succeed is another question. The phones that have succeeded are the ones that have the brand power behind them (Google, Apple)… They are also the ones that embraced limited customization (Apple being more limited than Google) but with a stable, non moddable OS (without hacking anyway). Different hardware architectures are a challenge, as optimizations for each different system are kernel specific, though increasingly, only one or two processors are used (the same Intel ARM processor is used in the new iPhone3GS and Pre for example, older iPhones just used a slower ARM processor) so its not as big a hurdle as expected. Whats needed is for someone to release a phone free of digital locks that allows full customization (as the projects I mentioned earlier aimed to do) but no major player has stepped up to the plate to do that yet.

. June 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

Reseller market for iPhone 3G is a lot like used Macs

One of things that long-time Macintosh owners will tell you is that the resell value for Apple computers trends higher than other PC brands. It’s not uncommon for even three- or four-year-old Macs to sell for hundreds of dollars, while PCs of similar vintage go for less. It’s the sort of thing you tell yourself before you drop a couple thousand dollars on Apple hardware to mute the sting a bit, but in my experience it tends to be true.

Milan June 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm

One of the most annoying things about the iPhone is Apple’s patronizing and paternalistic obsession with blocking ‘inappropriate’ applications, according to arbitrary rules inconsistently applied.

What they don’t mention is that the phone’s web browser lets you see stuff that is as tasteless as you could possibly want.

Certainly, Apple’s reflexive control freak character can manifest itself in maddening ways sometimes.

. June 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Scam artists con Apple into killing app that tells you when the bus is due in San Francisco

By Cory Doctorow on Gadgets

John sez, “NextBus Information Systems, (confusingly distinct from NextBus, Inc.) claims ownership of SF MUNI’s arrival time data. The company persuaded Apple’s App store to remove iPhone applications that told San Francisco users when their bus was coming. Muni spokesperson Judson True says the data is free to reuse and remix, but no word on when the application will reappear.”

Yup, it’s true, it’s hard for Apple to adequately assess the conflicting claims about proprietary rights on the iTunes Store. Say, I’ve got an idea: what if they stopped playing mad pope emporer of your telephone and let you install any code you wanted on your property?

Milan June 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm

HTC G1 (C$479.00) vs Nokia E75 (C$582.00)

The E75 has High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data and two more WCDMA frequencies (900/1900).

The G1 has more talk and standby time.

The E75 can shoot video, and includes a light.

The E75 has more colours in its display (16,000,000 versus 65,000) but the G1 display is larger (3.2 inch versus 2.4 inch)

The G1 has more internal memory (192 megs versus 50).

The big unknown is how high the build quality is with each, as well as how usable each one is.

Matt June 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Forget counting the circuit switched data as a feature, the Rogers network doesn’t support it. Besides, compared to packet data, it’s like comapring a 2400BPS modem (ahh, remember the days?) to DSL.

. June 29, 2009 at 4:35 pm

T-Mobile G1 test conclusion

Did T-Mobile stir up the telecommunication industry with the Google G1? I doubt it. Google has indeed produced a mighty nice piece of software, but unfortunately the phone it is integrated to, is simply not prestigious enough. The Google Android Market, the antithesis of Apple’s App Store for downloading additional software appli-cations, is highly interesting. In addition, the standby menu which can be customized to personal preference is a very valuable feature. And it is also extremely easy to synchronize your Google contacts, emails, and agenda items. On the other hand, the T-Mobile G1 Android is not an example of the perfect design; the mobile phone has a feebly performing battery, a complicated operation structure and a poor digital camera on board. Google and T-Mobile have not yet succeeded in their mission. Nevertheless, we are very optimistic about the future and the possibilities of the Android software. All in all, the T-Mobile G1 Android is a step in the right direction.

. June 29, 2009 at 5:11 pm

The full Qwerty slide-out keyboard enables me to write emails and text messages faster than any previous Nokia phones I’ve played with, including the Nokia E71. I think it looks and feels great when slid closed, but not when the Qwerty keyboard is showing.

The Nokia E75 is clearly not the right phone for me, but it could be for many other people who makes email and messaging a top priority. I feel like it has too many buttons. If I had to pick between the Nokia E71 and Nokia E75 based solely on form factor, I’d choose the E71.

Milan June 29, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Given how most reviews of both the HTC G1 (Dream) and the E75 are largely negative, I am also considering the similarly priced E71 (C$478). I prefer the slide-out QWERTY keyboard concept, but reviewers seem happier with the E71’s Blackberry-inspired design.

The E71 has a more capacious battery than either of the alternatives. The sceen is the same size as the E75, but horizontal rather than vertical.

. June 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

We’re at the end of the review, but by now, you’ve seen how impressed we are with the phone. It takes a lot to get us excited but the E71 has done it. This thing, in our opinion, is the best phone Nokia has made to date. That’s a very bold statement, we know. But this really is going to be the phone to beat by a lot of manufacturers. From the design, to the specs, to the size, the feel — it has the entire package. It’s not for everyone, though. Some people prefer a straight up phone like a flip phone, but in terms of a smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard, this takes the cake. It is just striking compared to the shit device the E61 was. It’s ok, we still love y’all that carry the E61, but this puts it to shame. One thing I personally can’t get over is the awesome dimensions of the device. It’s so perfectly thin, yet incredibly comfortable to hold and use. We just hope Nokia doesn’t wait too long to bring this to market as they need to strike now. Like right now. This second. After seeing all of the detailed shots and our impressions, how do you guys feel about the phone? Are you foaming at the mouth waiting for it or ice-grillin’ us?

. June 29, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Nokia E71

There’s a lot to really like in this latest Eseries miniaturised masterpiece. The build quality is fabulous, the styling striking (within the qwerty world, anyway), the communications options vast, text input potentially fast and flexible, the software support and built-in enterprise features almost second to none. And all in something that’s as thin as your average feature phone. Which is almost certainly enough to ensure strong sales to the usual Eseries audience.

The E71 fills a very important gap in the line up of 2nd generation Eseries device. While the E90 is an extremely capable device, its form factor and price point make it rather niche. The E51 is a great entry level enterprise device, but lacks the power that a full size keyboard provides. The completed portfolio of 2nd generation Eseries devices (E51, E66, E71, E90) has a real sense of maturity about it. This comes from the hardware (variety across the range, build quality and feature set), but also the software – the enterprise applications, and crucially, the enterprise device management options have been significantly improved. The Nokia E71 and its sisters look set to give Nokia’s Enterprise rivals (Blackberry and Windows Mobile – and, yes, in time the iPhone) some sleepless nights.

A tougher call is for those buying the E71 for personal use, as the smallest qwerty-equipped S60 device. While the keyboard is very useable for anyone with nimble fingers, I found the multimedia side of the E71 disappointing, from the relatively low (compared to other recent S60 mainstays like 2006’s N95) camera quality to the undistinguished audio and video playback. The E71 is better than the E61i, hugely so, but in truth I’d hoped for a little bit more, given that this is now mid 2008. And yes, I know the E71 is built to come in at an attractive price, but… Don’t let these slight negatives put you off investigating this great smartphone all rounder though.

Milan June 29, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Given that I will eventually be buying a 120GB iPod anyhow, the E71 looks like a pretty good smartphone option, and it is cheaper than either the E75 or the N97.

Milan July 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm

The last thing Canada needs, less competition in the cell phone market:

Bell closes deals for The Source, Virgin Mobile Canada
Last Updated: Thursday, July 2, 2009 | 5:10 PM E

Tristan July 4, 2009 at 9:19 pm

This Bell deal means I am seriously considering becoming un-cell phoned again. I only got into the game because there was a provider that had what I understood as a deal which was not coercive to me, considering the way I like to concieve my own spending habit. If there is any sign of a departure from that philosophy at Virgin, I will become much less difficult to reach.

Milan July 5, 2009 at 12:46 pm

How could antitrust regulators best improve the situation in Canada?

Limiting the total market share of any particular company doesn’t seem terribly likely to prompt anyone to offer a better deal.

Perhaps it could be made easier to switch phones to a different network, such as by forbidding ‘locking’ phones, making it easier to get out of contracts, and/or requiring that phones that work on many different networks are available. That would probably significantly increase the initial prices paid for handsets, since firms would not feel safe providing a big subsidy, but it might cut monthly rates.

Matt July 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm

One option to subsidize phones is to offer credits towards a new phone based on length of time spent with a provider. That way after 2 years, you should have enough for a free cheap phone or for a $200 iPhone. That way it doesn’t matter if the phone is locked or not.

Milan July 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Would imposing a legal obligation on providers be the only way to do that?

. July 6, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Justice Department to review wireless carriers for anti-competitive practices

By Xeni Jardin on politics

The DOJ is reviewing large American telecoms including ATT and Verizon over concerns the companies have abused the increasingly centralized market power they’ve gained in recent years, according to an item in the Wall Street Journal today.

Matt July 7, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Would imposing a legal obligation on providers be the only way to do that?

I suspect a favorable consumer environment would exist in the realm of cellular providers if only the CRTC allowed true competition. Currently, there are barriers to foreign ownership of cell companies in Canada that prevent capable players from entering the market. While I don’t know for sure, I bet companies like Vodafone and Orange would consider entering the Canadian market if allowed. I guess trade protectionism is a topic for a different thread, but it’s hard to look at my ~$60 monthly cell phone bill (which doesn’t include data, I canceled that) and not think I’m getting screwed.

The prices we pay here are way out of line. If you look at Australia, a country with a similar (but smaller) population size, and similar population density, you really have to wonder why they can have more affordable cellular service than us.

Milan July 7, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I am told that there are several firms planning to launch GSM networks in Canada soon. Do you know anything about that?

$60 for voice and texting does seem very high. I am hoping to pay less than $75-80ish for voice, text, and data.

. July 8, 2009 at 9:07 am

A review of the Nokia E71
by Joel Spolsky

This phone is inevitably going to be compared to the Apple iPhone 3G, so I might as well list the big pros and cons of each.

* The iPhone has a bigger, touch-sensitive screen, which makes the browsing experience better. On the other hand, the Nokia E71 has a fantastic physical keyboard that makes it very easy to reply to email. This is just a tradeoff; you’re going to have to decide whether the browsing or the typing is more important to you.

* The iPhone apps are easier to use and simpler. Apps on the Nokia tend to have more features (for example, there is true multitasking, so you can listen to podcasts while working on email and downloading web pages in the background, and then you can take a picture without losing a beat). In general I think that geeks will prefer the Nokia for its functionality, while the iPhone is totally the phone for people who are less technical and don’t want to spend any time setting up their phone and downloading software to get it exactly the way they want it.

* The Nokia has a replaceable battery and a replaceable storage card which may make it fit your lifestyle better if you’re a heavy user.

In any case, it’s the best phone I’ve ever had and I’m loving it.

Milan July 8, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Does anyone know which of these sites is more reliable, for ordering an unlocked smartphone from?

puremobile.ca
expansys.ca

Rogers sells the E71 for about the same price as both, but it would be locked for use with their network only. I want an unlocked phone that I can migrate to any GSM carrier.

Milan July 8, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Why don’t brick and mortar stores with no particular affiliation with a provider sell full-cost unlocked phones? If they did, they would be a lot more attractive than somewhat dubious websites that create the risk of problems.

. July 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Consumers
Cellphone breakout
The pros and cons of unlocked handsets
Last Updated April 16, 2007

Cellphone carriers don’t want to make it easy for customers to switch providers because the cost of acquiring a new cellphone user — in terms of advertising, marketing incentives, handset subsidies and so on — is greater than what they make on the first 12 to 18 months of service, says Joseph D’Cruz, professor of strategic management at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

“Churn numbers [percentage of customers who leave a service] have always been a problem for the cellular market,” he said. “Other vendors try and steal customers. Or the customer may try to give one service up for another.”

. July 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

From a policy perspective, it is readily apparent that locked cellphones undermine efforts to encourage greater competition in the marketplace. Both the U.S. and Canada have mandated wireless number portability, which is designed to enable consumers to switch carriers without being forced to change their phone number. However, locked cellphones run counter to that policy by requiring consumers to fork out hundreds of dollars on a new phone to make the change.

Unlocking cellphones also raises some interesting legal issues as consumers ask whether the practice of unlocking cellphones is legal. In certain respects, this is an odd question to even have to ask – no one would ever question whether consumers have the right to tinker with their car or to use the same television if they switch providers from cable to satellite, yet the telecom industry has somehow convinced the public that unlocking their phones – consumers’ own property – is wrong.

. July 13, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Rogers Introduces Canada’s First 3.5G Embedded Netbooks
(Business News & Technology News, 14 Jul 2009)

Another innovation first from Rogers was announced with the launch of mobile Internet ready netbooks. Canada’s fastest network is now the mobile Internet service provider for the first 3.5G embedded laptops in Canada – exclusively from HP.

The HP Mini 110 netbooks include embedded mobile broadband technology to connect to the Web over Rogers 3.5G wireless network across Canada – three times faster than any other – offering customers the freedom to choose when and where they enjoy a true broadband Internet experience. With download speeds up to 7.2 Mbps, Rogers mobile Internet ready netbooks deliver the ultimate convenience and productivity for work or play online with just a few clicks – no need to search for WiFi or wired access.

BuddyRich July 14, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Well to add confusion to your decision I went ahead and got myself a 32GB 3Gs from Fido after all of this pondering… as much as I like the tactile feel of hard keys, I already use the keypad on the touch and am used to it, and with the 3.0 OS the major apps support the wide screen keyboard, making it much better, and larger than the hard keys on the Dream, which I checked at the Rogers store and found too close for my larger hands.

No real attempt at dealing was made, but I got the guy to waive the $35 activation fee… My goal was to get the monthly cost down in the $50 to $60/month range, so this was close.

My plan and cost breakdown:

$25 plan which includes:
100 talk minutes (billed by the second)
Unlimited talk on Evenings and Weekends (7pm to 8am)
Unlimited text messages
Free received text messages
No SAF…

+$30 6GB/month data plan (with tethering support)

+$10 iPhone value pack which includes:
Call Display
Visual Voice Mail
WhoCalled service (let’s you know who called when the phone is shut off, normal caller id doesn’t grab those numbers).

I was going to skimp on the above and just get caller id, but that was $8 by itself so I got the package. If I really didn’t care I could drop this as well. I was somewhat enraged at the cost of this, CallerID is a cash cow for them, as much like texting it costs them next to nothing to provide the service but c’est le vie, if the market will bear it…

$299 for the 32GB iPhone 3GS…

About the only negative is the 3 year contract length but it ensures I get the 6GB data plan for 3 years.

My monthly total comes to:

$65 before taxes, $73.45 taxes in. My total cost of ownership over 3 year length – 2639+taxes… of course that also gives me service for those 3 years as well…

That is a hefty amount to swallow per month but when I read Rogers/Fido (which is also owned by Rogers) officially allows tethering and brought back the 6GB data plan, I jumped (I just had to find a 3Gs in stock). Plus Fido has an incentive akin to one Matt mentions, with Fido you earn Fido bucks that go toward a handset upgrade… The rate is 15% of your bill (minus new phone purchase and other admin type fees) get credited as Fido dollars so you rack up quite a bit for that next handset.

If I wanted cheaper I could have took a 15 or 20 dollar talk plan that only included 50 minutes (still billed by the second) but only 50 texts (and on the $15 one, no unlimited evening and weekends) and still got the $30 6GB/data plan… and I can always switch down in the future if I do need to save money.

As for why anyone would choose Rogers over Fido, I don’t know (they both use Rogers 3.5G network when available…). You can get a MY5 plan with Rogers, so if you do all or the majority of your calling to only 5 numbers, its worth it, otherwise Fido is the better bang for your buck and as of July Rogers is charging for incoming text messages, its made it an easy decision.

As for all of the Apple heavy handedness, I figure I am only going to jailbreak the phone anyway and install apps that apple doesn’t control on it (and perhaps unlock it if I leave the country for an extended time and just get a foreign SIM card for traveling). Now that the 3.0 OS has already been jailbroken I have no worries about using the new features, plus I can use Skype on 3G, alternative methods to tether if Fido ever gets silly and disallows it, etc…

A jailbroken iPhone is the closest thing to an open platform, open source phone that has active developers coding for it, it was an easy decision.

Milan July 14, 2009 at 10:19 pm

A lot of things I think I would enjoy doing wouldn’t pay enough for me to be comfortable spending $60+ per month on a cell phone. As such, getting on contract is somewhat akin to a commitment to frustrating but remunerative work for a fair fraction of my remaining lifespan (about 6%, on a three year contract).

I figure that I could sell an E71 for a decent fraction of its purchase price, if I decide to abandon smartphonery in a year or two.

BuddyRich July 14, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Very true… I could have shelled out $799 to buy it outright, and go month to month, but that excluded the 6GB data plan, it was only availble on the 3 year term.

The cheapest reasonable data-only plan is still $25 per month for 1 GB/month (at least in Canada) which isn’t enough if you plan to tether as I aim to do… and then you’d have to pay 15 to 25 for a voice plan if you wanted one, or just pay the by the minute rates if you aren’t a big caller and then get a text add on if that’s your thing.

Of course now I am just trying to rationalize my purchase when I am clearly suffering from cognitive dissonance… but overall I am happy with what I got.

The real kicker for me was the censoring of Inet at work recently. Certain sites have always been blocked (and for good reason) but now all blogger, wordpress, live-journal sites are blocked as well, even this site falls under the censor. Ah the joys of working for the feds!

Before this I was content on a pay as you go phone…

Milan July 14, 2009 at 11:06 pm

The real kicker for me was the censoring of Inet at work recently. Certain sites have always been blocked (and for good reason) but now all blogger, wordpress, live-journal sites are blocked as well, even this site falls under the censor. Ah the joys of working for the feds!

I have long dealt with this, and have developed some potent tricks. Terminal servers and encrypted iframes are good places to start.

Milan July 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Is WebSense the blocking software being employed?

BuddyRich July 15, 2009 at 6:42 am

Indeed it is. The only way around it is going through https to a web-based proxy page but they are also stepping up their monitoring efforts so its just not worth it.

Instead I will just bring my cell (and some days laptop) and tether…

Milan July 15, 2009 at 9:17 am

If a site isn’t blocked, or is only blocked in the ‘click through if you dare!’ way, you can subvert WebSense considerably using SSL and iframes.

On an SSL-capable site you control, set up an iframe on an encrypted page, which loads a blocked page you want. It won’t work with some pages (GMail, for instance, won’t run in an iframe), but it works for many.

Milan July 15, 2009 at 9:18 am

Another good route is to use a terminal server. If you have a Mac, it is very easy to set up remote desktop access, with a password. You don’t need an admin account on an XP machine to install Microsoft’s remote desktop client.

Milan July 15, 2009 at 9:23 am

Oh, and one rather significant loophole I’ve found is that RSS feeds for blocked pages are not blocked. You can subscribe to them with Google Reader, BlogLines, the Firefox built-in system, etc.

Milan July 15, 2009 at 9:24 am

Lastly, even though webmail sites are often blocked, accounts with POP3 or IMAP capabilities can be accessed using Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.

R.K. July 15, 2009 at 10:25 am

It is unwise to reveal your tricks here. Someone from the censorship company will Google ‘WebSense,’ find this, and block these approaches.

BuddyRich July 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

The “man” is always watching!

In truth i used to run a webbased Cgi proxy via https (so ssl). I modified jmarshels script so the telltale return URL was different to evade filtering.

However they’ve completely blocked ssl sites save for a whitelist of sites which happen to include banks, etc. so the rank and file don’t revolt, but anything remotely off the beaten path is denied. As an IT professional I salute them. Denying all and allowing certain sites is good security practises but annoying.

Milan July 15, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Trying to block malware and time wasting, while allowing legitimate use to proceed, must be awfully tricky. WebSense certainly seems to block useful stuff often, especially if you work on files where blogs can be a good source of information.

. July 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Nokia cuts market share targets as Q2 profits plummet
By Thomas Ricker on nokia

Ok Nokia, this is getting serious. The world’s largest cellphone maker just announced a 66 percent yearly drop in Q2 profit while lowering its 2009 market share target for its cellphones. Originally, Nokia had expected market share to rise in 2009, presumably based on a successful launch of the N97 flagship device. However, outside of a core group of S60 diehards, the N97 has been universally panned in both reviews and user forums alike. And with nothing but rumors of an Atom-based Nokia netbook on the immediate horizon, well, let’s just say that we’re suddenly concerned about the health of our friends from Espoo.

Milan July 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I ordered the E71 from PureMobile. At the time I did, it was listed as ‘in stock.’ Now, it is merely ‘available.’

Today, I got this: “We have received your order but currently there are one or more items that are out of stock.Typically stock arrives weekly, but in the case of discontinued or special order items it may be two or more weeks. We would like to know how you would like us to proceed with your order.”

I have tried emailing them, but received no response. Three phone calls have also not led to a live person, just endless hold music.

They are definitely poor communicators. If I don’t activate the phone with Fido by the 23rd, I will lose my old number.

Matt July 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Hmm, that sucks. This is sort of what I experienced with them the first time I placed an order. I wound up cancelling the order via email (they responded to that one!) and replacing the order when they assured me and then it was going to be delivered. My second order was smooth.

As for activating the phone, you don’t need a physical phone to do so, only the SIM card you intend to use. Call them up with the serial number on the card and they can activate it. That way, hopefully you’ll keep your number.

Matt July 17, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Apologies for poor grammar above.

Milan July 17, 2009 at 4:42 pm

So you think I should buy a SIM from Fido and send the information to Pure Mobile, so they can activate the phone? That seems a lot more elaborate than simply calling them, which I have been unable to do so far.

The E71 seems to be a pretty widely available phone. Hopefully, they will be able to express ship me one by next Wednesday.

Of course, it will end up at a UPS depot somewhere, since I won’t be home to sign for it.

Matt July 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

You’re a bit confused about GSM, I think, from your years as a Bell customer!

The phone doesn’t need any activation. You stick in an activated SIM card and off you go. That’s it.

Milan July 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Ah, so I can buy the SIM from Fido early and wait for the phone to arrive.

Good to know.

It would be even better if my current phone was also GSM.

Matt July 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Maybe I should be more elaborate for clarity:

Get a new SIM card from Fido, or from a store that carries them. I believe they are $35. (I looked on Ottawa CL for you, there weren’t any listed for sale there cheaper. In Vancuover there are lots.)

Call up Fido, tell them the plan you want, get your account setup sorted out and provide them with the SIM card serial number to activate.

When you receive your phone, insert the SIM card. It will be ready to make calls without anything further. The beauty of the SIM card is that it is your phone number. If I wanted to have 7 phones for each day of the week, I could swap my SIM card in and out of them at will and always have the same number without informing Rogers (or in your case Fido) of what phone I’m using.

Milan July 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I got through to someone at PureMobile, they said they will send the phone when it becomes available, which they estimate will be in a week.

Matt July 17, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Your post beat me, but you’re correct.

As an aside, Ottawa Craigslist is VERY sparse compared to Vancouver. I was going to suggest picking up a cheap ($30), crappy used GSM phone while you wait for your nice one to arrive. Then sell it again when you get your nice one.

An alternative is to buy a Nokia 1208 and Prepaid SIM card from Petro Canada for $50. The phones are unlocked and can be used on either Rogers or Fido. Then, when your E71 arrives you sell the unused prepaid SIM for $25 (a standalone Petro-Can SIM card is in hot demand without a phone because their plans are so good but their phone selection is limited and people like providing their own) and sell the Nokia 1208 for another $30.

Milan July 20, 2009 at 10:48 am

I take it those Petro Canada phones are unlocked? PureMobile still doesn’t have the E71 in stock.

Milan July 20, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I wonder if it will be possible to tether my G4 iBook using the E71. If so, it could be rather useful from time to time (though it would risk leading to extra data use charges).

Matt July 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Yeah, my mom has a 1208, it’s definitely unlocked. I’ve tried my Rogers SIM card in it. Your E71 will almost certainly tether, my older E51 does with no hassle. You don’t even need a USB cable if your G4 has bluetooth.

Antonia July 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I’m considering waiting for the Sony Ericsson Saito but even once that’s released there isn’t a single phone which does all I want. I may well go for the W995 and see what’s about next time I’m due to change. (Nokia’s N97 also made my shortlist but I can’t get it on the contract I’ll probably stick with). I was also weighing the Nokia Experia X1 for a while, having decided the Blackberry is becoming rather defunct and I want a multipurpose phone with a good camera. I might have settled for older tech if I could have got a Sony Ericsson C901 Greeneye (Cybershot), for the guiltwashing.
Sorry to post twice. Unsure what I did to misplace this with climate change earlier.

Milan July 20, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Matt,

Good to know. I might be able to borrow someone’s old GSM phone to cover the span between getting a Fido SIM card (no later than the 23rd) and actually receiving the E71.

As for the tethering, the iBook doesn’t have Bluetooth, but using a USB cable isn’t too annoying.

Antonia,

I zapped the comment on the other thread.

BuddyRich July 20, 2009 at 12:58 pm

It’s too bad the sim was deactivated when I ported my number out of 7-11, I had a $50 balance that I lost. Still I do have the unlocked Nokia 1208 handset that I could give you. Just add the Fido sim like Matt mentioned and you are laughing until the e71 arrives.

Milan July 20, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Borrowing a 1208 would certainly be helpful, so as to retain connectivity while waiting for PureMobile to sort themselves out.

BuddyRich July 20, 2009 at 3:09 pm

The 1208 is yours if you want it. I’ll email you with my contact information.

Milan July 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Many thanks.

I will be giving away my Nokia 6275i pretty soon. Right now, it is locked for Bell, but I can include a USB data cable that would allow anyone with a PC to unlock it using Nokia’s Diego software.

Matt July 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Do Bell and Telus allow you to provide your own phone? I thought they restricted it, although I could be totally wrong. One of the reasons SIM cards are nice is that it take a bit of control out of the hands of the Telcos. The GSM providers don’t have a choice about which phone you put a card into.

The CDMA phones of Bell and Telus are registered via ESN (serial number), aren’t they? This means they can choose which phones to activate and which to deny.

Milan July 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I think Bell would probably re-activate it (it shows their logo when turned on).

Other CDMA providers may be unwilling, however.

. July 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Why Japan’s Cellphones Haven’t Gone Global

TOKYO — At first glance, Japanese cellphones are a gadget lover’s dream: ready for Internet and e-mail, they double as credit cards, boarding passes and even body-fat calculators.

But it is hard to find anyone in Chicago or London using a Japanese phone like a Panasonic, a Sharp or an NEC. Despite years of dabbling in overseas markets, Japan’s handset makers have little presence beyond the country’s shores.

“Japan is years ahead in any innovation. But it hasn’t been able to get business out of it,” said Gerhard Fasol, president of the Tokyo-based IT consulting firm, Eurotechnology Japan.

The Japanese have a name for their problem: Galápagos syndrome.

Japan’s cellphones are like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on the Galápagos Islands — fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins — explains Takeshi Natsuno, who teaches at Tokyo’s Keio University.

Milan July 21, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I canceled the PureMobile order and will be picking up an unlocked E71 at the ByWard Market Fido retailer tomorrow. It was even $5 cheaper than at PureMobile, with no shipping costs on top.

Matt July 21, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Nicely done. Pure Mobile has got to get it together a little better. While they won’t outright rip you off (I think), their customer service is severely lacking.

Are you listening Pure Mobile?

Milan July 21, 2009 at 1:36 pm

The clerk at the Rogers distributor told me about some excellent software for Nokia phones.

It makes the phone act as a WiFi router, using your 3G data plan to provide the connection. That means no finicking around with tethering software, cables, or Bluetooth. You simply have a WiFi hotspot in your pocket that follows you around.

Hopefully, it includes WEP or WPA encryption.

. July 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm
. July 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm

JoikuSpot Light

JoikuSpot Light is a FREE limited edition of JoikuSpot that shares your phone’s 3G internet connection over WiFi.

JOIKUSPOT LIGHT SUPPORTS HTTP PROTOCOL. JoikuSpot Premium with FULL INTERNET PROTOCOL support now ON SALE WITH 40% OFF the retail price at JoikuShop.

JOIKUSPOT PREMIUM EDITION supports FULL internet protocol including HTTPS, VPN (Intraweb access), WEP SECURITY, EMAIL CLIENTS (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) and service protocols such as Skype and Messengers. Get JoikuSpot Premium from JOIKUSHOP at http://www.joikushop.com.

Milan July 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

The world seems to be conspiring to keep me phoneless. The Fido authorized retailer I ordered the E71 from didn’t get it yesterday (because the warehouse just missed the last UPS shipment) and didn’t get it this morning (because UPS tried to deliver it before the store was open).

That said, PureMobile still doesn’t have a grey one in stock, and is now sold out of white E71s as well.

BuddyRich July 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Indeed. So is the store is going to pick up the missed shipment at the UPS depot, meaning you should have a phone in a day or 2 at most? Or did you cancel your order?

Milan July 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Actually, UPS made another delivery run and I was able to pick up the phone.

Now, I just need to learn a new OS and set of keys…

For instance, on my old phone backspace and cancel were the same key. Accidentally treating them the same way on the E71 has annoying consequences.

Still, I am very glad to finally have the machine in hand.

Matt July 23, 2009 at 3:12 pm

The one thing I wish I learned sooner on my Symbian phone is to hold down the home key to access task switcher. Perhaps you already know this, though.

Also, I changed the functionality of my one touch keys. I installed gmail client, and now a short touch on the mail key brings that up. A long touch I’ve set to bring up the messaging home page (text/MMS, etc)

Milan July 23, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I was just Googling ‘use GMail as default mail client E71.’

Also, for some reason, the default mail client will receive GMail messages, but refuses to send them. I have double-checked the server settings.

Milan July 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm

I got email sending in the default app working properly. Apparently, if you mistype your password while setting it up, retyping it is useless. You need to delete the mail account and start over.

Matt July 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I have better luck with the downloadable gmail client for Symbian, although it’s not quite as ‘Push’ like (using IMAP) as is the Symbian variety.

The gmail client just provides a better Google-y feel. As well, it retains search, etc.

Milan July 23, 2009 at 4:24 pm

I now have both the GMail app working and the default app properly configured for GMail.

Milan July 23, 2009 at 5:23 pm

One rather useful feature of my 6275i seems to be absent in the E71.

On the 6275i you can program in a calling card. Then, if you hold down the green dial button, it will automatically call the calling card and enter your access code. Then, you press the button again and it enters the number for your contact. That means never having to enter any of that manually.

Is this built into the E71 somewhere non-obvious? Perhaps there is an app that does this…

Milan July 24, 2009 at 1:24 am

My Apple wireless keyboard half-works with the E71. It is easy to type things with it and see them appear onscreen.

Oddly, it is very hard to get these emails or blog commends to actually send.

If I can figure it out, it would be pretty good. The keyboard is small, light, and a reasonable companion for the smartphone.

BuddyRich July 24, 2009 at 10:08 am

What’s the problem sending?

I assume you’ve setup smtp posting that allows posting via email? I’ve had luck with the iPhone wordpress app. It relies on XML-rpc being enabled in the admin panel. You my be able to find a symbian app that does the same thing that would be better than posting via email.

Milan July 24, 2009 at 10:23 am

It seems to be a bug. If you mistype your password when first configuring your email, it will be able to receive but not send after you correct it.

Typing good passwords (high entropy) into an unfamiliar key system produces errors pretty often.

All told, the experience is reminding me that there are reasons why a fixed blade knife can be better than a Swiss Army knife. My old phone was limited, but did what it could do quite intuitively. It will take some work to get back there with this phone.

Milan July 24, 2009 at 10:54 am

There seem to be a fair number of bugs. For instance, text messages are listed as last name – first name, even when the phone settings are the opposite.

Also, it seems to crash fairly often. I get a blank white screen and no option but to turn it off and restart it.

Milan July 24, 2009 at 7:44 pm

One thing that really bugs me about the E71 is how it constantly harasses you about which network to use.

Every single time I update my GMail inbox, it asks: “Can I access the internet?” Then, “Should I use the fast Fido network or a slow Fido network?”

It should take the iPhone approach and automatically use a trusted WiFi network, if available, and otherwise use the fastest cell network possible. After all, my contract is for 1GB a month of data transfer. I may as well get it quickly, rather than slowly.

. July 25, 2009 at 2:24 pm

The Irksome Cellphone Industry

“David Pogue of the NYTimes wonders why Congress is worrying about exclusive handset contracts when there are more significant things that are broken, unfair, and anti-competitive in the American cellphone industry. He lists text messaging fees, double billing, handset subsidies, international call rates, and ‘airtime-eating instructions’ among the major problems not being addressed by Congress. ‘Right now, the cell carriers spend about $6 billion a year on advertising. Why doesn’t it occur to them that they’d attract a heck of a lot more customers by making them happy instead of miserable? By being less greedy and obnoxious? By doing what every other industry does: try to please customers instead of entrap and bilk them? But no. Apparently, persuading cell carriers to treat their customers decently would take an act of Congress.'”

Milan July 25, 2009 at 2:26 pm

The audio quality on the E71 actually seems to be worse than on my old 275i.

Often, it is a bit scratchy – like a Skype call struggling with too little bandwidth.

Milan July 27, 2009 at 6:05 pm

One neat use for smartphones: QR code

Nokia has a page for generating them.

. July 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Last week, fellow columnist Ross Rubin talked about the state of mobile platforms and how the era for launching new platforms has come to an end. I tend to take a different view of the mobile market. There are currently six major platforms vying for the hearts and minds of users and third party applications developers — RIM’s Blackberry, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s s60, Palm’s WebOS and Google’s Android — and there’s simply no way the market will support that many device ecosystems. But there may yet be opportunity for other players to enter the market.

This is not a new phenomenon. In the early 80s there were a multitude of personal computing platforms. Atari, Commodore, Radio Shack, Texas Instruments, Apple and even Timex (yes, Timex) all were in the personal computing business, long before IBM entered the game. All survived for a period of time selling to an enthusiast market with a focus on out of the box featuresets. Once the target became the mass market, however, user expectations changed from the out of box experience (which essentially meant programming in Basic) to additional capabilities provided by third party software. The success or failure of each PC platform was decided in no small part by the availability of third party software. Exclusive titles, best of breed titles, and titles that appeared on a given platform first determined winners and losers. The same thing is happening today in the mobile space.

. August 16, 2009 at 6:17 pm

How would you change Nokia’s N97?

It’s the phone that Nokia should’ve used to introduce the world to Symbian S60 5th edition, but is it the “hero”-type device that it was marketed as? Nokia’s N97 is undoubtedly expensive, debatably beautiful and thoroughly polarizing (as two of our own found out). While it’s impossible to say the handset was introduced to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone (the whole “only sold off contract” thing kind of hampers that), there’s little doubt that this phone was Espoo’s most significant attempt yet to make a name for itself in the full-touchscreen smartphone market. If you handed over the handful of C-notes required to take this bad boy home, why not tell us exactly how you feel now that you’re an owner? What would you like to see changed on Nokia’s next attempt? What measures up? What falls short? You’ve got one shot (maybe two, depending on the mood of our comment system) — don’t screw it up.

. August 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Nokia Leaks Phone With Full GNU/Linux Distribution
“It is now clear why Nokia has been so slow with S60 updates: the upcoming N900 just left everything else in the dust. Unlike Google’s Linux platform, Nokia is not intentionally breaking compatibility with real distros, choosing instead to bring you the unmatchable power of GNU/Linux on your phone. This is the most awesome device I have ever seen: MAP3 CPU/GPU, 3,5″ 800×480 touchscreen, keyboard, Wi-Fi, HSPA, GPS; 5-MP camera, CZ lens, 32 GB storage, SD slot; X11, VT100 terminal emulator, APT package manager. Estimated price without credit: $780 (N.5800: $390, iPhone 3GS: $750). Developers should note that even though the current desktop is still GTK+, Qt will be standard across all Nokia platforms in the near future (less powerful phones will use Qt on the Symbian kernel). Users can download flashing software from Nokia, and patches can be submitted at the Maemo site.”

. August 27, 2009 at 10:23 am

Nokia unveils its first Linux phone
Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:34am EDT

HELSINKI (Reuters) – The world’s largest handset maker, Nokia (NOK1V.HE) unveiled on Thursday its first phone running on Linux software, aiming at improving its offering at the top end of the market.

The focus of cell phone business has shifted to services and software following Apple (AAPL.O) and Google’s (GOOG.O) entrances to the market in the last two years.

Nokia also unveiled a new Solutions business unit, which aims to better tie together its phone operations and new mobile Internet services offering.
The Finnish firm has been looking for business opportunities from offering services like music downloads or games to cell phone users as the handset market itself is maturing, but so far its offerings have gained limited traction.

. September 15, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Cell Phone Cost Calculator Killed In Canada

By Soulskill on careful-with-that-light-of-day

inject_hotmail.com writes “Internet and law genius Michael Geist writes about some shenanigans by the cell phone carriers and the Canadian government in his column in The Star. Canadian taxpayers funded a ‘Cell Phone Cost Calculator’ so that the average person could theoretically wade through the disjointed and incongruent package offerings. The calculator wound up being yanked a couple weeks before launch. Geist suggests that the major cell carriers lobbied the appropriate public officials to have the program nixed because it would bite into their profit if the general public could make sense out of pricing and fees. Geist continues, ‘Sensing that [Tony] Clement (Industry Minister) was facing pressure to block the calculator, Canadian consumer groups wrote to the minister, urging him to stick with it.’ Moving forward, Michael makes a novel suggestion, one that would show an immense level of understanding by the government: ‘With public dollars having funded the mothballed project, the government should now consider releasing the calculator’s source code and enable other groups to pick up where the OCA (Office of Consumer Affairs) left off.'”

. September 22, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Google Sync: Now with push Gmail support
Tuesday, September 22, 2009 8:00 AM

Earlier this year, we launched Google Sync which allows you to synchronize your Gmail Contacts and Google Calendar with your iPhone, Windows Mobile, and S60 devices. Today, we’re adding Gmail support to Google Sync for iPhone, iPod Touch and Windows Mobile devices.

Using Google Sync, you can now get your Gmail messages pushed directly to your phone. Having an over-the-air, always-on connection means that your inbox is up to date, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Sync works with your phone’s native email application so there’s no additional software needed. Only interested in syncing your Gmail, but not your Calendar? Google Sync allows you to sync just your Contacts, Calendar, or Gmail, or any combination of the three.

. October 1, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Nokia N900 undergoes extensive preview, N97 found sobbing in a corner

Our amateur sleuthing skills tell us there might be a tiny bit of excitement about this N900 device. With the Maemo 5 environment already measured up, it’s the turn of the hardware to get exhaustively previewed. The My Symbian team took a look at a prototype unit and were immediately impressed by the 800 x 480 display and relatively compact dimensions for such a loaded phone. The resistive touchscreen was on par with the N97, though it picked up scratches too easily for their liking ( a screen protector is recommended), while the keyboard was deemed small but still a major improvement over the N97’s. Internals rated well, with the 600MHz Cortex-A8 CPU and “superb” video recording grabbing plaudits. Perplexingly, there was only 256MB allocated to application installs (see image after the break), which can be altered by those with Linux knowhow, but this may draw plenty of ire from mainstream, app-hungry consumers, considering the device is capable of holding 48GB of total memory. On the outside, the camera cover was found to scratch the case around the lens (but not the lens itself like on some N97 units) while sliding, and removing the stylus from its slot revealed some bare electronics, both of which rather undermined the overall feel of a well-built device. They did find connectivity on the device a pretty dreamy and trouble-free affair, but we’re still only scratching the surface here — hit up the read link for the whole enchilada.

. October 5, 2009 at 10:54 am

Flash moves on to smart phones
By Jonathan Fildes
Technology reporter, BBC News

One of the most common technologies for watching video on a computer will soon be available for most smartphones.

Flash software is used to deliver around 75% of online video and is the key technology that underpins websites such as YouTube and Google Video.

Until now, many smartphones and netbooks have used a “light” version of the program, because of the limited processing power of the devices.

The new software is intended to work as well on a smartphone as a desktop PC.

Adobe, the maker of Flash, said it should be available on most higher-end handsets by 2010, although Apple’s iPhone would continue not to use the software.

“The sort of rich apps we now see being delivered on PCs will now be coming to the phone,” Ben Wood, director of mobile research at analyst firm CCS Insight, told BBC News.

“You’ll be able to access a lot of the cool stuff that web designers are coming up with.”

. October 6, 2009 at 10:49 am

Bell, Telus confirm iPhone launches

Simon Avery

Globe and Mail Update Last updated on Tuesday, Oct. 06, 2009 10:00AM EDT

BCE Inc.’s BCE-T Bell Canada and Telus Corp. T-T will begin selling the iPhone next month, breaking the stranglehold on the iconic device that rival Rogers Communications Inc. has held for more than a year.

The country’s two largest incumbent telecom companies, under pressure to re-ignite growth as new wireless competitors begin operations this year, are banking on Apple Inc.’s ground-breaking smart phone to help them sign up bigger-spending customers and shift the balance of power in Canada’s mobile market.

. November 13, 2009 at 10:03 am

Verizon Doubles Early Termination Fee and More

“If you buy a smartphone through Verizon, be prepared for an increase in the early termination fee. Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350. What’s more, is that Verizon also actively charges customers for accidental data transmissions of as little as 0.02kb. ‘They configure the phones to have multiple easily hit keystrokes to launch ‘Get it now’ or ‘Mobile Web’—usually a single key like an arrow key. […] The instant you call the function, they charge you the data fee. We cancel these unintended requests as fast as we can hit the End key, but it doesn’t matter; they’ve told me that ANY data–even one kilobyte–is billed as 1MB. The damage is done.'”

. December 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Cool-Tether Links Phones’ Bandwidth To Make High-Speed Hotspots

“Microsoft Research has found a novel way of beating the deplorably slow speeds of mobile broadband, by combining several phones together to make one high-speed hotspot. Dubbed Cool-Tether, the system harnesses the mobile data connection of multiple mobile handsets to build an on-the-fly Wi-Fi hotspot. ‘To address the challenges of energy efficiency, Cool-Tether carefully optimises the energy drain of the WAN (GPRS/EDGE/3G) and Wi-Fi radios on smartphones,’ Microsoft’s research paper claims. ‘We prototype Cool-Tether on smartphones and, experimentally, demonstrate savings in energy consumption between 38%-71% compared to prior energy-agnostic solutions.'”

. January 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm

The next steps in a teardown are identifying the parts and calculating the costs of materials and assembly. Components, especially memory chips, have continued to fall in price. This is why the first iPhone model cost $218 to build and the latest only $170, despite its superior performance. Assembly costs are minimal—just $6.50 for the current iPhone. Even though the parts in high-end smart-phones differ widely, their total construction cost often falls in a narrow range of $170-180 (see chart). Makers apparently set a budget and see what they can fit in, says Mr Rassweiler.

Most smart-phones’ retail prices (before operator subsidies) are around $500-$600. Not all of the difference is profit. There are many other costs, such as research, design, marketing and patent fees, as well as the retailer’s own costs. But the big gap between the cost of building a smart-phone and its price in the shops should widen further as ever more previously discrete components are packed on to a single main microchip. Howard Curtis of UBM TechInsights predicts that as software and mobile services come to represent more of a smart-phone’s overall value, this too will widen the gap between manufacturing costs and selling prices. “

. June 15, 2010 at 10:43 pm

iPhone 4 is unlocked in Canada, too

Americans: gaze upon your neighbors around you if you want to see what a healthy GSM ecosystem looks like. Okay, we’re sure many of our Canadian friends would disagree that the Rogers / Bell / Telus oligopoly is anything close to “healthy,” but nonetheless, we’re still envious of the fully-unlocked option Apple is offering for all iPhones in the online store — just like the UK — along with a promise that a “reduced initial price with a contract directly from your wireless carrier” if you’re still interested in getting tied up in a contract. That’s a lot closer to the European phone sales model, and it’s a model American carriers have never even come close to touching. Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to get back to refreshing our connection to this utterly dead upgrade eligibility server.

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