Over the past few weeks my trust Motorola RAZR V3 has become well, not so trusty. The three batteries I have for it have worn out, and the phone itself will switch off randomly when it's tapped or hit (even gently). It's also developed some sort of rattle (I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the random switch-offs or not). The RAZR is, without a doubt, past its best. This means that I've been on the lookout for a new cellphone.
On my list of possible replacements was, of course, Apple's iPhone. I have an iPod touch so I'm familiar with many of the iPhone's features, and I've had plenty of hands-on time with a number of iPhones. Also, part of the reason that the iPhone was on my list was the fact that, overall, I quite like my iPod touch. Music quality is good, video playback is excellent, the touch-screen is amazing (both to look at and to use), and the interface relatively unambiguous and quite easy to use.
But, there are downsides. For example, take the keyboard. Despite all of Steve Jobs' reassurances that the keyboard will work just fine if you have faith in it, I've not found this to be the case. If I had to pick a single word to describe my months using this keyboard, it would be "frustrating." The keyboard is slightly less frustrating in landscape mode than in portrait, but not hugely so. I find typing simple web addresses to be a pain and composing even the shortest email takes too much time and is far too exasperating. Put simply, the keyboard sucks. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it's the suckiest input system I've used. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, or maybe is my sausage-like fingers, but either way, try as I might, the keyboard for me is a huge let down.
My hatred of the keyboard on one side, I quite like the apps on the iPod touch - the email client, while basic, is functional, and the notes program is ideal for jotting down lists and ideas. But what I can't shake off is how the iPod touch (and the iPhone) feels like a data black hole. I can download emails but my ability to handle attachments is limited. I can surf the web but I can't save any information or bring in downloads. While third-party apps are coming, it's hard to know what these will be, how much they will cost or how good they will be. That's just too much of a gamble.
So, what did I get in the end? A Windows Mobile 6 Smartphone. An E-Ten M800 Glofiish. While I'm happy to admit that I'm not a huge Windows Mobile fan, this device so far is working out well. The main feature that sold this device to me was the slide-out keyboard. Within minutes of getting my hands on the M800 I found the keyboard to be much easier to use, quicker and more responsive than the one on the iPod touch. It just works without having to hope that the zen/jedi stuff that Jobs was talking about will kick in.
The handset has a load of features such as twin camera and GPS (an excellent SiRF Star III chipset) which is debatable whether I will use or not. The complement of software is the predictable Windows Mobile stuff, it works but hardly earth shattering. While the same could be said of the iPhone, at least there more room to do stuff on the Windows Mobile platform. And if I don't like the software, I can always install something better. Storage on the M800 is small compared to the iPhone but since I'm not planning on loading it with music isn't a problem. If I want more storage, I can add a microSD card.
Oh, and the M800 comes with a replaceable battery ...
Maybe when this phone is due for a replacement (I usually get a couple of years from a handset, at which point I pass them along if they are still functional) the iPhone will be a more mature platform and many of the 1st generation issues will ahve been ironed out.