What Phones Are We Carrying and Why?
Two questions we get asked all the time: 1) What's the best phone? and 2) What phone do YOU use?
The answers we usually give? 1) Depends on what you want to do with it, and 2) We test so many phones, it changes all of the time.
Now we can't really give you a better answer to #1, though we can help you sort out which phones might best serve your needs, wants, and budget. We can, however, do a little with #2. While all of us here at PhoneDog are constantly testing and reviewing new phones, we of course also have our personal devices and personal favorites. Since most of the review phones are loaners we have to send back after a few weeks, we'll sometimes wind up carrying devices around as our "personal phones" only to have to move on when the PR company wants 'em back.
So here's our current list of What Phones We're Carrying and Why, as of Thanksgiving Day 2009.
Current Device: HTC Droid Eris and Samsung Rogue (Verizon)
I'm picking two phones because not everyone will want to pay the extra money for a smartphone and the monthly data plan it would require. If you don't mind the bills, I pick the HTC Droid Eris for my overall favorite. I love HTC's Sense UI. It's the most accommodating UI I've used and it makes everything so easy and fun. Whether you're checking the weather, checking e-mails, sending a text, or setting up a meeting, Sense pretty much organizes everything for you. There are so many little features that you wouldn't even think of to add or notice at first, but once you really get to the guts of the phone, you'll be blown away. Not only that but the screen is capacitive, it has one of the best virtual QWERTY keyboards available, and it's on a great network (Verizon). For budget users I'll pick the Samsung Rogue. Samsung's TouchWiz user interface is so fun and smartphone-esque that you almost forget it's not one. Also, since this phone is also on Verizon, VCast has several services similar to those that come with a smartphone, so you won't feel left out. A responsive touchscreen, an awesome slide out QWERTY keyboard, and a very nice outer design make it a winner for me.
Second Choices: BlackBerry Bold 9700 (You can't really go wrong with a BlackBerry), Palm Pre, LG Chocolate Touch
Current Device: Palm Pre (Sprint)
I used to be one of "those" people who always told everyone "Oh I don't need anything more then this basic flip phone. All I do is text and make calls. I would never use my phone for anything else." Boy was I wrong! When I became a smartphone owner for the first time this summer (on June 6th, to be exact) I realized what I had been missing. With the Palm Pre's WebOS, I am constantly amazed at how much power I have in my hands. I have synced my work and personal accounts - including e-mail, twitter, facebook, and google calendar - so I can stay on top of things wherever I am. The major staying point for me is the easy to use QWERTY keyboard, and multitouch screen (pinch to zoom as I like to call it). So I have a feeling me and my Pre will continue to be great friends for a long while to come.
Second Choices: I wanted to like the Samsung Moment, but it was too big for me and there's no pinch-to-zoom on the touchscreen.
Can't Wait For: The next full QWERTY multitouch device
Current Device: BlackBerry Bold 9700 - T-Mobile
Prior to the Bold 9700, everything I've appreciated about BlackBerry devices was scattered across various units. I preferred the battery life from the Curve 8900, the keyboard and screen from the Bold 9000, the trackpad from the Curve 8520, and the general appearance of the Tour 9630. The Bold 9700, available as of last week on T-Mobile and this week on AT&T, takes all of the features I desired and places them into the perfect BlackBerry form factor. With a gorgeous screen, OS 5.0, Wi-Fi (with UMA on the T-Mobile version), 3.2-megapixel camera, roomy keyboard, and trackpad in place of the trackball, I'm not sure how RIM will one-up this device when the time comes (unless the revision has a better web browser). It's worth noting that this is what I'm carrying today - ask me again next week, as I'm sure it will have changed a few times.
Can't Wait For: Nokia N900, BlackBerry Pearl "Stratus" 9100
Current Device: Motorola Cliq (T-Mobile)
The phone I am carrying as my daily driver may surprise you. My latest personal phone purchase was a Motorola Cliq. Catherine Zeta-Jones is a very persuasive salesperson and I did save some pennies opting out of my contract for the new Even More Plus unlimited plan. However, the main reason for purchasing the Motorola Cliq was simply that it is an Android phone from Motorola. I love Android, but the keyword is Motorola. The Motorola that has their global headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois, developed communications for the Apollo Space Program, and has a mobility and networking facility right down the street from me. Admittedly, I had challenges with the Cliq when I first got it. I soon figured out that the Happenings widget is responsible for the inadequate battery life and the in-your-face assault from social media. A simple long press and drop in the trash solved my two biggest frustrations with the phone, allowing me to enjoy and appreciate the better aspects of the MotoBlur UI. When all is said and done, I supported my neighbors and acquired a solid smartphone.
Note: If my European Hero (HTC G2) had 3G compatibility in the U.S., there would be some serious sibling rivalry in the house.
Second Choices: White HTC G2 (T-Mobile U.K.), Motorola Droid (Verizon)
Can't Wait For: "Google Phone," Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
Current Device: HTC G1 - (Unlocked running on AT&T)
I have gone from phone to phone, looking for that one right device and platform. I have spent a lot of time with Apple products, in this case the iPhone 3G. My main reasoning for getting an iPhone 3G was for hacking it to make it a more open-source device. Sadly, it can only be hacked to a certain extent, and I needed something more friendly to what I enjoy doing with a mobile device. Already familiar with Linux operating systems on my computers, I bought an Android device - an HTC G1. I have since fallen in love with it (while still keeping a place in my heart for my iPhone, I must mention). My favorite feature (besides Android) on the G1 is its use of MicroSD cards. This comes in handy when putting multiple files and ROMs on your device but still wanting to stay organized. Which brings me to my second favorite feature - the ability to flash ROMs onto the G1. In my opinion, there is nothing like being able to make a phone exactly what you want it to be, and with my G1, I can do just that. While I can't officially recommend this for legal reasons, it's cool to think that If I am in a Hero mood, I can simply flash a HTC Sense UI ROM onto the device; if I'm in a Cliq mood, I can flash the MotoBlur ROM onto it, etcWith the HTC G1, I can do what I want and be able to do those things without being frowned upon by the makers of the device (*cough* jailbreak *cough*).
(Editor's Note: PhoneDog does not endorse or condone any end user practices that violate software copyright agreements or other laws. Jailbreaking, ROM flashing, and other phone hacking may be a violation of your device's warranty and/or End User License Agreements and, well, could result in a bricked, useless device. That said, I personally support Carlos' DIY spirit, especially since I know he's only flashing ROMs to learn about how such things work. Right, Carlos?)
Second Choice: iPhone 3G (16GB - AT&T)
Can't Wait For: HTC "Dragon" Android Phone
Current Device: HTC Touch HD2 (Unlocked GSM)
The day after I wrote a blurb about why I carry an iPhone 3GS, the powers that be conspired to change my pick to HTC's Touch HD2. First, the FedEx guy delivered an HD2 to me and I got to actually spend some time with the thing (as opposed to the pair of too-quick encounters I'd previously had with it). Second, I injured my foot, which means no running for a few days, which means I can afford to put iPhone and its RunKeeper Pro app on the shelf for a bit. Good thing, too: HD2's hardware is absolutely insane. The front panel of the phone is almost entirely screen, and that screen is huge, gorgeous, and capacitive/multitouch-capable. And the phone is so thin that it's easily stashed in a front jeans pocket despite its enormous footprint. HTC Sense on Windows Mobile 6.5 is really a work of art, though I wish HTC had been able to install a custom Mail app on the device. WinMo Mail is a huge letdown when you pop into it after skimming through Sense's fun, pretty widgets. Am I going to switch to the HD2 full-time? Likely not. Am I going to keep it as my daily device long enough to decide if it's worth getting hyped up about the mythical HTC Dragon (an Android device with HD2-style hardware)? Absolutely. Using Touch HD2 makes me feel like I'm peeking into the near-future where always-connected tablet computers bridge the gap between smartphones and laptops.
Second Choices: Apple iPhone 3GS (AT&T), Palm Pixi (Sprint), HTC Droid Eris (Verizon)
Can't Wait For: HTC Dragon, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
Current Device: Apple iPhone 3GS (AT&T)
Well, it's right there in the job title, so it shouldn't be a shock to anyone that my primary handset is the iPhone 3GS. I'm a sucker for simplicity, and major features like taking vids, autofocusing the camera, correcting text and downloading apps are just beautifully executed. So it may not do everything I want, but it does most of what I need easily and elegantly. (As an amateur nerd, I have a tendency to take things apart to "see what's in there" or rig things around my house, so it's actually nice to have a device that "just works" for a change.) Even if I were shopping around for another handset, many of the apps that have become essential in my life just aren't available for other platforms. Plus, I just can't wait to see what Apple has up their sleeves next. Will it be an iPhone 4G? A mini iPhone? A tablet? The suspense is killing me.
Second Choices: HTC Hero (Unlocked GSM), Palm Pre (Sprint), Nokia Twist (Verizon)
Can't Wait For: HTC Passion, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, Apple Tablet/iPhone 4G
Current Device: HTC Droid Eris (Verizon)
Although I've been spending a lot of time playing with MOTOBLUR and enjoying all of the fun packed into Motorola's Cliq, the Eris has been my daily driver as of late. I was a big fan of the GSM Hero, and really liked the Sprint version - though it wasn't as visually stunning. Eris may be more about subtlety than somewhat gaudy flash, but its lines have bested the European and Sprint Heroes in my mind. It's so small, so slim, that I can hardly feel it in my pocket. It brings Sense and everything I love about it: the widgets, the social network integration, and that lovely, lovely keyboard. What is it missing? Speed. After handling the Droid for a couple of weeks, I'm not so willing to go lenient on the lag seen in all three Heroes. Things have gotten better with updates, but I don't think any of us will know what Sense is truly about until we see it running on a Snapdragon processor. I'm overlooking the phone registration problems I've had with Verizon's network with Eris because It's a free account. If I had to pay for this, I'd likely look elsewhere.
Second Choices: Motorola Cliq (T-Mobile), Motorola Droid (Verizon)
Can't Wait For: HTC Passion, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10