I have been a customer of Three mobile for many years. I have always had a very basic phone as my two primary uses are text messaging and phone calls. I had a $10 a month plan for text and talk and rarely exceeded this month. My phone was a Nokia 6280 sliding phone and was compact and did the job.
Vodafone acquired Three and I was regularly tempted with offers to upgrade my phone and move to Vodafone. “Call in at a store and see what is on offer” was the message on my monthly invoices delivered regulary to my email inbox.
Every day on the train I would see iPhones, Blackberries and other smart phones being used for all sorts of purposes. Most of my colleagues had iPhones. I was afraid to bring out my very basic old phone for fear of being laughed it.
I wasn’t sure how much I would use a smart phone. I was well aware of addiction to Blackberries which were often referred to as a Crackberry because of their addictive nature. Checking email could be handy and a better quality camera would be useful. These were the main uses that came to mind, but I couldn’t justify the cost.
I knew I didn’t want a Blackberry as I hated the tiny keypad and it looked too corporate and boring. iPhone or Android? A colleague used to have an iPhone but upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy. He thought iPhones are more a fashion statement whereas an Android is perfect for geeks (that’s me!) who want to be in control of their smart phone.
I visited a Three/Vodafone sales kiosk in Hornsby shopping centre, and discussed my needs with the salesman. He offered an HTC Salsa phone (Android) at no cost with a monthly commitment for around $20 a month. I decided to accept the offer since it wouldn’t cost much more than the old plan. My only concern was the quality of the Vodafone network as I have read that Vodafone is the most complained about carrier. So far, I don’t have any complaints about the network service.
So how does the HTC Salsa compare to an iPhone? It is smaller and thinner than an iPhone with the same functionality. It is easy to manage applications and I don’t need iTunes to manage the contents. The phone can be mounted as a USB file and photos, MP3s and text files copied easily between the devices. What do I think of my ‘droid? I love it! The phone is a pocket computer with 3G and wireless internet connectivity (perfect for home!), camera (still and video), GPS, and a bright clear screen. These are my favourite applications:
Contacts – phone and email details accessible in one place.
Text Message – I love the linked conversation speech bubbles. All conversations with each person are linked in a long chain. I know that iPhone has this and my phone has some very strange auto-correction quirks just like iPhone.
Gmail – I can send and receive email from my Gmail account. Usually I process email on my desktop computer but I can synchronize my mail at home then read on the train.
Google Calendar – Now I don’t need a paper diary. My calendar is accessible on the phone as well as the computer.
Camera – the phone has a good quality camera for still and video recordings. After taking a photo I can upload to Facebook, send by email or transfer to my computer. The camera can also be used as a photo album, and I plan to create some albums of my favourite photos especially of my family.
Color Note – this free application replaces notes on Post-it pads and is perfect for noting details of books to borrow at the library or things to do during the day.
Tap Log – captures date and time of pre-defined activities as well as amounts and a rating. I will write more about this app, but I use it to track my sleep times, piano practice, hours spent at the office, expenses, ideas, and random thoughts. View the Tap Log website.
Web browser – now I can access Wikipedia, Google Search and many more favourite sites.
Trip View – this app cost about $3 and gives me access to the timetable information for Sydney trains, ferries and buses. I save my usual routes and a quick tap of a button tells me when the train is due. I can browse timetables and find out arrival times. The more I use this app the more I love it.
Adobe Reader – this progam is very basic and allows me to read PDF files. I can’t access the table of contents or navigate but at least I can put reference documents on my phone.
Calculator – the phone is a computer, and I have installed several calculators including RPNCalc which is similar to a Hewlett Packard HP-25C calculator I used to own, and Andro12c (emulating a Hewlett Packard 12C Financial calculator).
Google Maps – a street directory and atlas in my pocket. GPS allows me to find my location on the map. The Navigation app turns the phone into a GPS device.
Weather – forecast for today’s weather and the next four days.
Sundroid – sunrise, sunset, total days of sunlight moonrise, moonset and phase of the moon.
Clock – World time, stopwatch, countdown timer, alarm clock.
Units Calculator – converts just about any measurement – volume, weight, mass, time, etc.
I have many more apps which I don’t use so frequently but will write more about these in the near future. Look forward to reading about Journey Tracker to log my walks, Music Apps (metronome, piano, tuner and chord dictionary), Smart Ruler and Smart Protractor.
You probably notice I did not write about games, Facebook, Angry Birds, Music or Video players! This will be the topic of a future article.