HELIO OCEAN - besting the iPHONE 24/7...?

Cleverboy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
So, I was recently browsing a Mac centric website, and ran across an ad for Helio (clearly the best places for competitors to advertise, no doubt). The ad read:
Don't Buy a Cell Phone
E-Mail + Photo + Surf + IM + Call. Helio Ocean: Don't Call It a Phone.
HELIO.com/Ocean
And then linked to this page:
http://compare.helio.com/
Here is the comparison chart in its entirety.


Why on GOD's green EARTH, would ANYONE choose an iPhone if all these things are true? Reading the comparison, you'd have to be coo-koo to choose an iPhone over this thing of genius. Well, look at the plans too...

Helio Ocean - only $295, with new activation and 2 year agreement
  • $65/mo. - 500 minutes
  • $85/mo. - 1000 minutes
  • $100/mo. - 1500 minutes
  • $145/mo. - Unlimited minutes
All plans include:
  • Text messaging - Unlimited
  • Picture/Video messaging - Unlimited
  • Mobile MySpace - Unlimited
  • Web browsing - Unlimited
  • High Speed 3G - Unlimited
  • GPS-enabled Google Maps - Unlimited
  • Nights + Weekends - Unlimited
  • Mobile to Mobile - Unlimited
$6 device protection program if lost (nothing like that on the iPhone!), $6 TV programming for Comedy Central, Adult Swim, VH1 content and more. Bluetooth Stereo headset at $95. Sweet!

Nice checkout options too... look... expand to 2GB of SD memory for $45 or 1 GB for $30. $30 activation fee (compared to AT&T's $35... not bad). Shipped FedEx 2Day. Neat!

CNET rates the device 8.3 out of 10 (the iPhone only scored an 8.0), which is simply EXCELLENT!
http://reviews.cnet.com/cell-phones/helio-ocean/4505-6454_7-32390958.html

THE BIG QUESTION: HUH?

So... I ask you iPhone enthusiasts and non-iPhone enthusiasts... why hasn't this phone completely blown the iPhone out of the water, turning its media hype into a whirlwind of shame? Why isn't this phone just trampling the iPhone underfoot like a rampaging bull elephant? Is it just missing the "Apple" logo? Helo quite cleverly referred to the iPhone everywhere as the AT&T iPhone (although that's sure not to fool many).

At the end of the day... what's the deal here?

CNET noted iPhone's negatives as: "The Apple iPhone has variable call quality and lacks some basic features found in many cell phones, including stereo Bluetooth support and 3G compatibility. Integrated memory is stingy for an iPod, and you have to sync the iPhone to manage music content."

CNET noted the Helio Ocean's negatives as: "The Helio Ocean is a bulky device with a poorly designed numeric keypad. Streaming video quality was not the best and photo quality was mediocre. It also has not yet implemented the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync application that many mobile professionals would covet."

Where'd Helio even come from, you'd think... why didn't Apple just do a deal wtih them? One analyst, Pam Duffey, a telecom analyst at Visiongain, at some point last year, thought that would be EXACTLY what would happen. March 2006, so, don't be to hard on her:
"There exists a relationship between Apple and Helio management that goes back to the ROKR iTunes phone, and Helio has declared a target audience identical to iPod's existing market. Helio's top rank executives have also publicly voiced frustration with mainstream carriers and appear to be on a crusade to radically shake-up the industry," adds Duffey.
Sounds like Apple to me! MobileTracker.com wrote her opinion in brief this way:
Apple will design and brand its own mobile phone and that this handset will launch with upstart MVNO Helio. Helio is the partnership between Earthlink and SK Telecom that aims to bring high-tech Korean phone technology and services to US consumers.
I have an iPhone, so I'm biased on the face of it, but open minded and almost preternaturally addicted to looking at the opposite side of an opinion to see both sides. I've heard about the Helio Ocean for months and months, and kept comparing it to the iPhone and wondering. The let's go mobile website reveals some specs:
http://www.letsgomobile.org/en/cellular/0981/helioocean/

WHAT SUCKS ABOUT THE HELIO OCEAN

Reviewing Helio's website and looking around the net, we can start
seeing the possibly serious downsides in my book:
  • MVNO if you want out early, you'll need to get another Helio phone that does even less. Uses Sprint for voice and Verizon for data, but can change these things and manage them as business needs see fit (the recent YouTube cur-fuffle was somewhat telling).
  • Battery - With 3G, etc, etc... the talk time is only 5 hours vs iPhone's 8 hours. Start browsing the net, and who knows.
  • 240x320 screen, much smaller than the iPhone's 480x320
  • NOT touchscreen, buttons all the way, baby!
  • Default 200MB, whoopee! That's like 40 songs or a 10 minute movie... sweet! NOTE: I heard that its supposedly 512MB (though the spec says otherwise), but in any case, I love how its ambiguous with many of these phones.
  • Maxes out at 2GB at a time, even though it features removeable memory
  • No WiFi, but unlimited 3G. That counts right? Who needs local networking?
  • Nice and thick, like 2 packs of cards glued together and busting the seems in your pants pocket, unless you're slick and dapper, sporting your cargo pants.
  • Does NOT sync your calendar OR your contact to Outlook. Only to Helio's website, which you can upload information to in CSV format. Yikes! NO THANKS!
  • Still no Flash support. Does YouTube through 3GP, and only recently stopped blocking customers from accessing it after paying up.
  • AccuWeather - $3.99/mo. paying FOR THE WEATHER. That's not cool.
  • Personal Organizer, Meh - Gizmodo writes "Nobody wants to maintain two different calendars with their schedules on it. There's also no task list, so if you wanted to use this phone as an organizer, it'd be kind of a stretch."
  • Browser Zoom, nice try, but its NO iPhone
  • Buy music tracks over the air at $1.99 a pop. Nice, huh? No? What's wrong?
  • Coverflow? Where for art thou?
  • Supports Yahoo Music and a couple of other DRM formats. No iTunes though (understandably).
  • Web browser ALWAYS starts in Google "mobilizer" mode, chopping full HTML down to mobile sizes. You can choose "full HTML" but it stays only for the rest of that session. Give that "mobilized" content is the default, it gives you an idea of how inconvenient full-HTML browsing is on the Helio compared to the iPhone. AS shown in this Gizmodo video on YouTube, it looks like Craig's list full-html becomes a nightmare. Imagine telling the browser to jump from control to control, section to section with no screen tapping. Click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click... almost there!
  • No specific podcast support.
  • Ah, yes... NO MAC Sync SUPPORT. (feel free to Bluetooth though)

VERDICT: WHY I CAN'T BRING MYSELF TO CARE

I'll be honest... I'd love to applaud Helio and their Ocean. I'd love to cheer and shout, and hoot. I'd love to say, "way to GO!" and "Sticking it to the man!" I really would. At the end of the day? At the end of the day, HELIO is just another suped-up version of the same phones I didn't want to use anymore. Why? All the reasons above.

I just want to tap on the screen and have a decent size to navigate through. Give me my 480x320 media browsing and podcast support! I use these things, you know? How many clicks does it take to use this phone every day? 2,000? 3,000? I'll probably stop using the features long before that. Scroll to the top and bottom of an iPhone web page, I'll say it will beat a clicker-phone any day. I liked this review here, called "Why I Won't Buy the Helio Ocean".
Apple takes features that already exist in other products and reduces the cost of using them, i.e. makes them more usable. Simple idea, but the results are magical. That is the reason people that switch to Macs become evangelists and why Apple has fan boys. And that is why the iPhone will shake the market.
He added in the comments:
--it was the interface of the Ocean that I didn’t like. Too much clicking. This is why I don’t have a smart phone now and why I don’t use all the cool features on my Nokia. They are a pain to use.
Amen, and amen. Isn't the devil just totally in the details? Perhaps Helio is a cautionary tale of the rumored Apple MVNO. Not exactly where Apple would want to position itself. Not exactly the kind of device Apple believes would "shake up" the industry.

I see the Helio as "more, better, different". This is the hallmark of evolutionary change. I see my iPhone as something revolutionary. It is something I ALWAYS find myself picking up, and looking for if misplaced. I've sat in my car for 30 minutes before going in the house, surfing my WiFi connection, knowing that the second I step in the house, I'd have other things to do. For the most part, I'll even browse the web on my iPhone while sitting IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER, its so natural. I don't think I'll EVER return to wanting to browse the web on a device with a click-button 4 direction system. The amount of times I've held the iPhone with one hand in landscape or portrait, and wanded my finger to scroll through the page... I can appreciate HTC Touch mimicking the behavior that had audiences clapping furiously in January.

If anything, Apple's little wonder is the true quickening of the singularity in my opinion. For all its quibbles, its on the stage by itself, and competitors are dreading each and every new feature addition it picks up. I thought my iPod was useful and great... but looking back, I hadn't seen anything yet. :apple:

~ CB
 

janey

macrumors 603
Dec 20, 2002
5,319
0
sunny los angeles
One long (nice and not as biased as I thought) post. Short reply:

The iPhone is more intuitive to use.

Enough said.

Don't really care about some of those other extras, but Apple does UIs best.
 

Sobe

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2007
1,791
0
Wash DC suburbs
Ask anyone who really loves their iPhone and I would almost guarantee you that there is an emotional almost visceral attachment to it.

No IMs? Bah I don't need em that much, can use web 2.0

No gps? who needs it

and on ad infinitum for each weakness of the iPhone.

And hey I count myself in this group. I'm an extremely logical person 99% of the time, but tell me how the iPhone can't do such and such (when it should matter) and I simply won't care.

I love the iPhone so much for what it does right that I don't care if some other phone does things the iPhone can't (yet).

So I would put this seemingly nifty gadget (the Helio) into that category -- it sounds great but it's not an iPhone.

Not entirely logical, but there we are.
 

Cleverboy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
No IMs? Bah I don't need em that much, can use web 2.0
Yeah. I mean, the coming of Trellian Astra aside... I've been hearing people around the forum mention BeeJive. I thought... "Meh, whatever... must be like that iPhoneChat... kind of experimental, etc, etc." I thought Meebo will work for me (secretly thinking that its a bit of a pain, being a full website page and a custom environment, etc)!

So, in reality... I've never been that impressed with Web 2.0 progress with IM on the iPhone, until recently. Yesterday I tried BeeJive (http://iphone.beejive.com/ - AOL/GoogleTalk/ICQ/Jabber/MSN Messenger/Yahoo support) on my iPhone for the first time. Oh... my... GOD. END GAME. I'm done. I don't need anything else. :D This positively THE BEST IM client I've ever seen on a mobile phone, and I have a hard time reconizing that I'm still in Safari. iPhone interface, great controls, well... well... WELL... thought out interface. Portrait/Landscape... however I want, it just works! I can't imagine the 1.0 Blackberry version of the service even looks half as good.

I'm not sure Apple can actually introduce a better solution either, given the nature of iChat and the lameness of the "connectivity" agreements the big companies have tried with each other. I have the feeling that Apple's AOL agreement actually prevents it from simply adding an easy "Google Talk" button, considering it already works with Jabber, its a bit silly. Someone uploaded a video demo on YouTube, but I'm tempted to make one that's much more descriptive a walk-thru and less noisy and uncoordinated (but it gives you an idea).

No gps? who needs it
To be honest... GPS would be nice. I would even be satisfied with Bluetooth receiver support. That'd be FINE! GPS can be built-in for the next iPhone, I just don't want Apple to leave us first buyers out in the cold. Nothing like a universal "You-Are-Here". I agree though "need" is not part of that equation. If I can pull-over and use Google Maps, I'll figure out EXACTLY where I am. It's almost ONLY just a time saver.

I love the iPhone so much for what it does right that I don't care if some other phone does things the iPhone can't (yet). So I would put this seemingly nifty gadget (the Helio) into that category -- it sounds great but it's not an iPhone. Not entirely logical, but there we are.
I think you sell yourself short. I think, even logically, the iPhone is simply a superior CLASS of product. Even the HTC Touch costs MORE than the iPhone, and HTC has been in the business for a while making far more capable devices. Why should it cost MORE? To me it just sounds like a lot of effort and premium is placed on products with an interface that much superior to the other categories. I'm still compiling a large comparison chart, and there is a specific NEXUS of features that automatically put phones into the same class as iPhone, and they're not cheap.

~ CB
 

elppa

macrumors 68040
Nov 26, 2003
3,230
108
iPhone was never the best featured phone on the market.

Can you show us demos of the software and how it works?

The hype about the iPhone is not just to do with features, it's to do with how easy those features are to use.

Some of those comparisons are misleading marketing, for example the iPhone only has a "HTML browser" whereas the do-it-all-for-under-300-dolars device has a "full HTML browser", whatever the difference is.

Has the do-it-all-for-under-300-dolars device got a glass screen? good battery life? seamless integration with the desktop? enchanting user experience? easy to roll out software and firmware updates?

Looks like there little table has a few omissions.

Anyone can produce tables which makes their product looks better than the competition, here is Apple's effort:

 

defeated

macrumors regular
Feb 22, 2007
188
0
lol, this chart isn't much more fair than Helio's chart

You should at least list the detail of the size rather than only thickness.
You should at least list the network they are running on, rather than ignore it
You should at least find some source of battery information rather than say nothing, and make sure people understand which phone's battery is user replaceable
You should at least indicate the resolution of the screen

I mean, be a little bit fair is all this post about.

For Helio, It has no Wi-Fi. I haven't got information about what engine its browser is using.
 

Gonzlobo

Suspended
May 9, 2007
344
0
Albuquerque
lol, this chart isn't much more fair than Helio's chart

You should at least list the detail of the size rather than only thickness.
You should at least list the network they are running on, rather than ignore it
You should at least find some source of battery information rather than say nothing, and make sure people understand which phone's battery is user replaceable
You should at least indicate the resolution of the screen

I mean, be a little bit fair is all this post about.

For Helio, It has no Wi-Fi. I haven't got information about what engine its browser is using.
Charts are like statistics, they can be skewed to point to one's advantage. My choice was strictly made on wifi. My second choice, the 95, has it, but I would've selected a helio too.
 

Cleverboy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
For Helio, It has no Wi-Fi. I haven't got information about what engine its browser is using.
With unlimited 3G, I guess that's not supposed to matter. The browser ****s ****s in my opinion (NOTE: fake censorship). If it always starts in "mobile mode" until I "reset" it to "HTML" mode, requires I "click around" through the DOM "tab order" before I can activate a control at the bottom of a large page, and no one seems willing to disclose exactly what the rendering engine is (which doesn't matter at this point), I think I'd already be looking elsewhere. Imagine pulling up Mac Rumors forum and seeing a long list of threads for "what's new". Pick the thread in the middle of the list with the Helio controls. God forbid you run into a line of too many controls/links (like a calendar). I'll come back in five minutes.

Watch Gizmodo navigate Helio's Surf browser to Craig's list in the YouTube video. It's amazing how no one talks about this, simply because that's exactly what you're limited to:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dlt6P_IENjY

~ CB
 

Dermot81

macrumors member
Jun 10, 2007
96
0
Excellent comparison--shows why looking good on a comp sheet doest equate to a better device.

Lack of touch screen, poor resolution, bulky frame, and limited browser are deal breakers for me
 

plumbingandtech

macrumors 68000
Jun 20, 2007
1,993
1
You ever see those lists from car makers like Hyundai that show that it has more "features" then a BMW sedan?


It's all in the details my friend.......the iphone just runs better...

phhtt.. but go ahead and buy a ocean.. whenever i pass by them at the mall they are so lonely and look like they could use a sale.
 

FleurDuMal

macrumors 68000
May 31, 2006
1,802
0
London Town
Yeah, but that Helio Ocean thing looks monstrously ugly.

The iPhone looks like something your average teenager might pull out of their pockets. The Helio Ocean looks like something only an accountant would use without blushing. Superficial, I know, but still important.
 

constant L

macrumors member
Jun 4, 2007
77
0
holy crap that beejive is awesome. Just set it up and booked mark it. Definately the best iphone chat website I have seen so far. The UI is great and feels like an iphone app. Thanks!

(posted from my iPhone)
 

plumbingandtech

macrumors 68000
Jun 20, 2007
1,993
1
The iPhone looks like something your average teenager might pull out of their pockets.
Nahh.. Since its 500-600 bucks and something like this has not seen before, teenagers, are not the first demo group for this and to me are not the first type of person that comes to mind when i think of the iphone.

In fact the ocean reminds me what a teenager would pull out of their pocket as the sidekick has become very very popular among the teenybopper crowd.

the iphone speaks of people with taste, who want the best, who do not want to settle...
 

Sutekidane

macrumors 6502a
Jan 26, 2005
936
1
It's a different phone, for a different market. Simple as that. Not everybody wants to spend $500-$600 on a phone and also jump into a 2 year contract. Also, some people require a physical keyboard. No comparisons are fair because they are 2 very different devices.
 

marksman

macrumors 603
Jun 4, 2007
5,764
5
I would say any phone with a hardware keyboard is a loser.

By the way I agree with Cleverboy. IM was my biggest missing link on the iPhone and Beejive pretty much fills the bill. Would a native app be appreciated? Sure. Can I do everything I need to do with BeeJive? Yes. And fairly easily.
 

Starfall

macrumors member
Dec 2, 2005
62
0
Denver
Ask anyone who really loves their iPhone and I would almost guarantee you that there is an emotional almost visceral attachment to it.
I think that says it.

I've owned a lot of high-tech devices over the years, which I've eagerly demoed to other people. I have never seen one that has the instantaneous appeal of the iPhone.

Within ten seconds of showing someone my iPhone, the reaction is almost invariably "Wow. That is the coolest thing I've ever seen!" or something similar. I've even had people say, after all of the pre-release build up, "That's so much cooler than I expected it to be". It just has this "object from the future" quality that is not apparent on a feature grid.

Really, any list of iPhone features goes out the window as soon as people see how it actually works in person, which is why Apple can successfully advertise it by simply showing someone using it. What other phone (or high-tech device, for that matter) has been advertised by showing it's user interface?
 

Cleverboy

macrumors 65816
Original poster
It's a different phone, for a different market. Simple as that. Not everybody wants to spend $500-$600 on a phone and also jump into a 2 year contract. Also, some people require a physical keyboard. No comparisons are fair because they are 2 very different devices.
Oh, its the exact same market. I'd say Apple has an even wider net, but it certainly encompasses the full breadth of Helio's target market. Anyone paying $295 for a phone could easily consider paying more, if they see what they want. Just a little more saving. You have to remember as well... First, that Helio themselves are the ones drawing comparisons (they made the chart above)... not Apple... not a 3rd party, so its not really forced comparison of any kind. Second, I can guarantee you that NO ONE *wants* to spend $500-$600. Who would *want* to spend that?

The question will always be, how much are you *prepared* to spend, to get what you want? I personally know people that paid $175 to end their previous phone plans (like from Sprint for instance), even within months of expiration just to get their new iPhone. Oddly, when push comes to shove, monthly fees on the Helio start at about $60 more "per year" than the iPhone, without purchasing memory upgrades it can't hold much of your music/media either. --So you're already saving money there. Look at it this way:

$499 iPhone / 4GB Flash
$0 extra yearly service expense ($60/mo.)
$5 extra activation cost ($35)
------------
$499 Total


$295 Helio Ocean
$90 2 x 2 GB SD
$60 extra yearly service expense ($65/mo.)
$0 extra activation cost ($30)
------------
$443 Total


Not that far apart price wise, right...? It's like 60 bucks difference. You throw in all the stuff the Helio does, and its not very compelling to most people, weighed against what its lacking (bigger screen, touchscreen, nice browser with auto-zooming/multi-touch, slim form factor, etc.) You can access MySpace from the iPhone's Safari browser if you want, why is Helio advertising "MySpace integration"? You have full instant messaging support from programs like BeeJive for iPhone (or the coming Trellian Astra), so nothing lost there. Would you really value the ability to "beg" your other Helio-having friends for music?
Not everybody wants to spend $500-$600 on a phone and also jump into a 2 year contract.
Want to guess how long the Helio membership plan is? Want to guess how much you'll pay for breaking it? Also, note that you could sell your iPhone at a discount, keep your plan, and use ANY other AT&T compatible phone you want (there's quite a wide selection, including Treos and Blackberries). Unlike the urban legend is implying, there's no actual penalty that I know of tying you to using the iPhone for 2 years (although you have a limited amount of changes I believe).
http://www.helio.com/page?p=terms
THE COMMITMENT: A 2 year initial term ("Initial Term") will apply to your account, unless you sign up under a special “no term” promotion or arrangement when you activate service. It is up to you to provide copies of web pages or other documents showing you signed up under a special “no term” promotion or arrangement. If no such documents can be provided, it will be assumed that the 2 year Initial Term will apply to your account(s). This Agreement will continue on a month-to-month basis after the Initial Term is completed, if applicable. You agree to PAY US $175 PER WIRELESS NUMBER OR OTHER ACCOUNT AS AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE IF YOU CHOOSE TO END YOUR SERVICE BEFORE COMPLETING YOUR INITIAL TERM, OR IF WE CHOOSE TO TERMINATE YOUR SERVICE EARLY FOR GOOD CAUSE.
It's strange to me that everyone has become HYPER aware of these standard industry terms with the iPhone, to the degree that they completely forget that everyone else has them too...
No comparisons are fair because they are 2 very different devices.
That makes no sense to me. They're phones. Everyone comparing the iPhone to other phones has compared it to devices EXACTLY like the Helio. Recently someone had an entire thread saying how his Chocolate phone was leagues better than the iPhone he returned. I think its a fair argument to make, whether it holds up under scrutiny or not.

~ CB
 

elppa

macrumors 68040
Nov 26, 2003
3,230
108
lol, this chart isn't much more fair than Helio's chart

You should at least list the detail of the size rather than only thickness.
You should at least list the network they are running on, rather than ignore it
You should at least find some source of battery information rather than say nothing, and make sure people understand which phone's battery is user replaceable
You should at least indicate the resolution of the screen

I mean, be a little bit fair is all this post about.

For Helio, It has no Wi-Fi. I haven't got information about what engine its browser is using.
You've missed the point of my post which states that any manufacturer can use a chart to show their product in a favourable light:

Every(one) can produce tables which makes their product looks better than the competition
 

LillieDesigns

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2005
323
56
Los Angeles
I've been torn between the Ocean and the iPhone for awhile, but I have to say, Helio is a lot cheaper. There are promo codes all over the internet that give you $75 off the Ocean, $25 off the first 4 months of the bill, free memory etc. Also, MySpace is running a promo that waives an early cancellation with the Helio service.

Anyway, I've held from both for now because I am stuck. I was in the market for a new computer last year and was stuck between a pimped out Windows machine or an iMac. I decided to go with the iMac and am 100% satisfied with the endless creativity it's allowed me enjoy (iMovie, iDVD, Garageband, etc.). I am looking at the phones this way (as in "why settle"), BUT I don't know if the iPhone is going to allow me to do so.

My main gripe is that the iPhone, save the touch screen, beautiful UI, and iPod/Safari, is a lot of cash (ATT :mad:) for something that may not allow me be free with the machine. I can probably not worry about the Ocean falling off my bed, throwing it in my bag, or losing it as much as an iPhone.

In the end it's a tough choice so I think I'm going to wait - the iPhone is wantable though and I don't want to crave the iPhone if I go with the Ocean.

Bottom line: I think the iPhone is just a superior product and technology wise a revolutionary device; it just needs some fine-tuning.

Edit: I realized I typed a lot and said pretty much nothing so I wanted to throw in the choice has to be made on money and benefits. A mac has creative benefits out of the box that no Windows computers do, however, at this point in time it's hard to justify the iPhone due to it's lack of apps in its early stages.
 

defeated

macrumors regular
Feb 22, 2007
188
0