Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Late Comer to Smartphones

I can still remember quite clearly being rather jealous of my manager when he first got his nokia 6100. It was 2002 and I had been given a nokia 5110 to be in contact. The difference between the two phones was remarkable, it really was a huge leap in terms of size, weight and features.


Around the same time I was tasked with a project looking into PDAs such as the iPaq. And to recommend if the University where I worked should look towards these style of devices. Long story short, we knew smartphones were on the horizon - though back then we used the words "convergence device" - and figured it was silly to have staff carrying around both a mobile phone and a PDA.

So at one point in my life I was really eager for smartphones.

When the iPhone came out I wasn't interested in having one. I thought the hardware was amazing, but there was no way I would ever infect a PC of mine with itunes and I had no interest in becoming locked into an Apple walled garden. The Android devices did excite me, but when I stopped and thought about it, I couldn't see any reason I needed a smartphone.

I'm a geek who is generally at a keyboard for around 12 hours a day. When I'm away from a computer I'm generally pretty happy about it. By this stage I actually had a nokia 6100 of my own, as it was and still is the smallest and lightest phone nokia has released. The battery lasted for around two weeks and it could make and receive phone calls and text messages as well as had WAP support which I made use of every now and then for geeky things I'd set up like rebooting servers.

I have a tiny mp3 player (a Sansa Clip) which I use to listen to music and audiobooks, which also has a battery life of around two weeks. The other upside is that I just clip it onto my collar and only require a short cable on my headphones.

One large reason why I'd held out from getting a smartphone was that I know I'm a tinkerer. I'd seen my friends spend hours getting their phones set up just right. From jail breaking iphones to creating personal android apps, I could foresee myself losing whole chunks of my life doing things which I quite rationally decided I didn't actually need.

Also, back home in Australia smartphones aren't cheap. I was happily getting by on a pay as you go contract which normally cost me around $15 a month. I was quite happy spending the $60-$70 I was saving each month on important things like beer.

Maps was one feature which I could imagine I could make use of, but even though I was now working as a travelling geek and driving all over the city to client locations I got by using the old fashioned idea of preparation and a memory.

Among my circle of friends I've become well known for my love of my old phone and my reluctance to get a smartphone.

Now I've taken a job where the company provides a phone. They want me to be contactable via email and generally be a modern geek and actually have a smartphone.

So I've just spent about 5 hours over the last two days tinkering with the HTC Incredible which I'm using temporarily until the Samsung Galaxy S4 is released later this month. It took me about another hour of research to decide to go with the S4 over the soon to be released HTC One.

As expected I do really like having a little computer in my pocket. I've already fallen in love with flipboard, google music, instagram and evernote. However, I'm still using my mp3 player to listen to audio books on the light rail on my commute to and from work.... its just easier.