Smartphone other than iPhone

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by martychang, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. martychang macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2007
    I'm one of the one's who can't deal with the current closed nature of the iPhone platform, but I'm looking for a smartphone. I don't really want to deal with Windows Mobile either, so that leaves 3 things as far as I can tell, Symbian/S60, PalmOS, and Blackberry, and Blackberry seems to be really light on the stuff I'd want to do.

    PalmOS is obviously dated and starving for developer attention, but it has lots of apps already, surely enough to satisfy me, not to mention it's snappy on modern devices. I have no experience with S60, but it's apparently at least as modern as the iPhone under the hood, and it seems to have a good application base too, though I'm having trouble finding freeware for everything I'd want.

    Is it worth getting a Centro or a Palm-based Treo, or should I look into S60? Anyone used both and have experiences to share? And as an aside what draws people to Blackberry?

    Thanks in advance..
  2. Hatchet macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2007
    Baton Rouge
    Blackberry is the best business savvy phone on the market. I don't know anything about Treo's.

    What carrier do you use?
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I'm kind of hoping that Google's Android will turn into an iPhone and App Store equivalent. The first Android phone is coming like....right now, so we'll get a chance to see it in stores very soon.

    I really like the iPhone, but I don't think I care whether my mobile is an iPHone or not, so I'll probably look into an Android phone as my next mobile.
  4. davidg4781 macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    What carrier are you on and when do you need this phone?

    I used a Palm Treo 650/700p for 2 years and loved it. It synced great with OS X using Missing Sync (pay app). My only problem was I had a nagging upgrade, an itch for something new to play with, and nothing really new from Palm. On the Palm OS, I think the 755p is the latest one, which is the same OS as the 650 (basically) with a slimmer form factor. I didn't want to wait until sometime late 08 or early 09 for Palm OS II, so I went to BlackBerry.

    I got a Curve, and, while it does what it's supposed to do, I never was really excited by it. My mom got an Instinct, and that looks like something more fun to play with. The Curve gets by, there are apps for it, but I've never been interested enough to buy any, and the browser's pretty good.

    Ultimately, I'd love to have an iPhone, but I'm stuck with Sprint until I get a new job (25% off is hard to beat). I might get the new Palm OS II device, if it ever comes out, but for now, if I need a smartphone, I think I'll stick with BlackBerry.

    If you have any specific questions to either, feel free to ask and I'll try my best to answer them.
  5. Padraig macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2005
    I can't recommend the Nokia e71 highly enough.
  6. martychang thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2007
    A bit late but here.. I'm going to start with some background that probably should've been in the OP.

    I'm currently on T-Mobile and will basically have no choice but to leave it for a smartphone, something I don't feel too badly about.

    I basically want a phone with not just lots of 3rd party apps, but a diverse selection of software types, something Apple's ecosystem doesn't seem to be fostering. I've done some research on my own and found that Blackberry is pretty much the polar opposite of what I want, which was kinda my hunch.

    The purpose of the phone will basically be convergence, I need a phone to talk(I have no landline phone), and I want a PDA/pocket computer, so I'd rather carry one device. Likewise, the phone should be capable of most of the things I'd want to do on my computer, just on a smaller scale.

    I'd obviously do the basics like keep to-dos and calendars and contact info, and write stickies to myself, but beyond that I'd like primarily games and tech oriented tools. For example, I'd like to be able to remote into desktops/servers using either a terminal or a VNC interface, and I'd like to be able to emulate some (much)older game systems. Original games for the platform in question could be a substitute as long as they're not of a "basic" nature (i.e. Tetris, arcadey stuff, get the highest score!!111, etc.). Back in productivity land, being able to edit common document formats without having to convert them would be swell.

    Perhaps my strangest request of a phone would be that I want to be able to get stuff between it and my computers myself, without a syncing process. My brief experience with my Dad's Palm TX PDA indicates that Palm OS lets me do this, simply by using an SD Card. While data transfer of this sort should be possible on any device with the slot for an SD Card, I can actually install applications onto a Palm device this way, without having to use official syncing/app install methods or installing companion software onto my desktop computer: simply move the file to the appropriate location, much like installing a Mac app. I'm not sure if other cell platforms are this flexible, and I'm skeptical of syncing processes doing such trivial tasks for me, being that they seem to screw it up so much.

    I know my criteria is a bit steep, and the more I read the more I feel like I'm sliiiiightly ahead of the current technology. But with that out of the way, my questions:

    1. How did you like the Treo's web browsing? It's obviously nothing like the iPhone, but did you find it tolerable?

    2. How much did you use in terms of 3rd Party software for the Treo? What kinds of software? And about how much of it did you have to pay for vs. freeware?

    3. Not to you, but does anyone out there have hands on experience with S60? And heck, now that I've put in my 2c on what I want in a phone, any iPhone or Windows Mobile users care to weigh in on how the available software might work for my purposes?
  7. pol0001 macrumors 6502


    Apr 15, 2008

    I have used a Nokia E61i with S60 3rd Edition for quite some time. The current model is the E71. Here's my experience with the E61i:

    1. Symbian is an open plattform and there is a variety of software for S60s available. (Google Maps, Yahoo, Opera Mini, Office Apps, Music/Podcasts etc.)

    2. You can sync Nokia's S60s effortless with PCs and Macs. Nokia even offers iTunes, iSync and iPhoto plugins for Macs.

    3. It comes with a variety of software for free.

    4. E Series are no gaming devices. There are some games out there, but the E Series war clearly designed for business purposes.

    5. The phone can install apps by itself. Just put the file onto the SD card and then run the installer on the phone.

    6. You can transfer data either directly to the SD card if you plug it into your computer. Or you can use either the Nokia device browser or the Apple bluetooth browser.
  8. davidg4781 macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    I don't think you can load an application onto an SD card and then install it onto a Palm device, at least I don't think I could with the Treo.

    Just curious, why are you not wanting to sync it? I've never really had any problems syncing, especially on a Mac. It could be that Missing Sync works a lot better than the software that comes with the device, or maybe just the way Macs work, but it's usually quick and painless. I've had problems with my BlackBerry, but I'm thinking it's more because it was an updated OS and MS hasn't updated their stuff yet.

    As for web browsing, it was bearable. I downloaded Opera Mobile and that helped a lot when I had a 650 (slower data), but I never really cared for it on the 700p.

    And for apps, I paid for a few of them, mostly games or apps that added features, like alarms, skins, backup utilities, etc. I tried finding free stuff, or deciding if I really needed it before paying for it, mainly because I'm cheap.

    I know you said you don't want an iPhone, but is it just because of the apps? I haven't used one, and probably won't be able to get one anytime soon, but the web's supposed to be great on it, you can sync it over the air (with MobileMe), and there are new apps coming every day. I think you can edit documents on it also, if I'm not mistaken. If I was on AT&T, or it came to Sprint, I'd pick it up in a heartbeat.
  9. Ntombi macrumors 68040


    Jul 1, 2008
    Bostonian exiled in SoCal
    I'm also coming from a Palm OS on several Treos.

    Yes, it's possible to install an application via an SD card; I've done it, but I've only done it from other Treos or after downloading a Treo app onto a friend's computer, and then transferring it. Of course, the Bluetooth stack is freely available, so I've done some transferring that way too. Oh, I've also bought a couple of apps that came on SD cards.

    The MP3 player was crap, but I used my iPod anyway.

    The browser is crap once I got an iPhone, but it was amazing for the first few years. ;)

    e-mail is good, with many more options than the iPhone, same as the SMS/MMS interface.

    There was never an app I wanted that I couldn't find (either as freeware, shareware, or for a fee). That's one of the advantages of the Palm OS being so old. :p I've paid anywhere up to $35 for an app, but there are some that are a lot more.

    I have no idea about gaining remote access into a different computer; never tried.

    I had a ton of third party apps (I had a Palm PDA and then different Treos, so I used the Palm OS for close to eleven years), some of which were outstanding, and some of which were buggy as hell. There was no rhyme or reason to them, either, so some freeware was better than some of the $20 applications I paid for. :rollleyes:

    I always synced via Bluetooth or the cable, and had no problems. Because some of the apps are so buggy, and just because of the nature of the Treo, I had to perform hard resets fairly often (at least every couple of months, with soft resets probably weekly). That meant that all my data was wiped off the phone, so I had to resync to get it all back. That would have been a much bigger deal if I didn't sync my phone at least every other day. Be warned. Everyone I know with a Treo has this issue.

    As a phone, it's fine. The only thing I would warn you about is that there are a few Bluetooth headsets that have connection issues. Other than that, it's up to your carrier. I had Verizon, and had no issues whatsoever. My best friend has had the exact same phones (actually we had three of the same Treos) but with Sprint, and she was dropping calls and having connection issues.

    It's easy to learn, and fairly cheap to get used, if you want to go that route.
  10. ArtursBoy macrumors member

    May 7, 2008
    I dont know if you already mentioned this, but have you actually tried using the iPhone? I'm asking because to me it sounds like most of what you're looking for, the iPhone does it. Apple does control the applications pretty tightly, but at the same time they do have a pretty big variety of different types of applications. For example, as far as gaming goes, I gotta say some of the games are pretty impressive, the graphics are awesome. You mentioned wanting to be able to remote into the desktops, they got more than a couple programs just for that. I might be biased because I do own an iPhone, but i've also owned Windows Mobile devices, a Treo, a Nokia Symbian phone and a Blackberry, and I've come to the conclusion that no phone is perfect, but so far, I'm liking the iPhone the best... we'll wait and see what Android offers, maybe this will finally push Apple to allow the iPhone to truly multitask and give us the push notification everyone's waiting for... well at least I am.
  11. martychang thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2007
    Yeah, Palm OS seems like it needs some help, certainly lacking on some standard features in the stability arena(protected memory, ability to unfragment memory, etc.) but it is superbly easy to use, and the apps are already there, even if few people are still developing for the platform. Heck there are even apps which alleviate the Palm OS's apathy toward memory management. Not to mention it has overclocking apps, which seem like they have potential for UNDERclocking actually, people are reporting pretty hefty battery life gains with modest UCs. I also may be the only person who likes the fact that Palm OS is single-task: saves battery life. Sure you could just close things your not using, but I'm the type to forget. :eek: Palm was the definite frontrunner on my list until today, now I'm unsure.

    Well, it's that the iPhone isn't OPEN. I want to load apps myself, and choose suitable apps for myself without Apple nannying me and bullying developers. I'm perfectly capable of sorting through trash apps, and Apple's system just seems to prevent nifty apps from seeing the light of day. The ban on functionality redundant with Apple's own apps is extremely troubling, maybe I like the way someone else does it better, maybe they do it more efficiently than Apple did?

    The other thing I dislike about the iPhone is it's security model, if you can call it that. Everything runs as root on the iPhone. You may or may not understand what that means, but a way to put that into perspective is this: every time someone jailbreaks or unlocks their iPhone they do it using an exploit in the iPhone's software, one that while innocuous in our example, could just as easily be used to steal your info, brick your phone, or anything, because whatever task gets hijacked is acting as root; it knows no limts. These exploits wouldn't be nearly as dangerous if Apple followed the principle of least priviledge in their security model for the iPhone.

    But today I got thrown a curveball. I wasn't expecting Android to be ready so soon, let alone in such an attractive form factor, and on my current smartphone-starved carrier! I also wasn't expecting the web browser to be so close to the iPhone's bar, and it appears to be so based on the demonstration videos. It does a lot of things I dislike, such as having all the PIM Apps go to Google's Web/Cloud services(blasphemy IMO), but that's the kicker: Android is totally open and Google has stated that users & developers can replace or rework the apps that ship with the device. I doubt it'd be too long before I could get PIM apps that store data locally. The main issue with Android would be waiting for the devs to get the apps I want out, which could take time. As it gets closer to purchase time I guess it'll be more clear and I'll decide between Palm & Android then.

    I have mucked around with the iPhone at Apple Stores, no denying that it's Youtube and web browser apps are top of class, and the new bar. But the security design is negligent and dangerous, and the handling of 3rd party apps is childish. If I were to get one it would've been since the technology is undeniably more modern than the competition, and that's a null point with the Linux-based Android around the corner, it can't even claim UNIX over Android, especially with the Windows-esque security model.

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