Dear PhoneDog.com: I'm trying to reduce my costs but I keep looking at and wanting more expensive options. I'm debating on whether I should purchase a gps capable smartphone or purchase a simpler smartphone and purchase a separate gps for my vehicle. (I am directionally challenged - ok - I get lost in my own closet) Here's my situation.
I have difficulty texting my kids because I'm always looking for my glasses so I can see the letters on the number pads. I wold like a smartphone that is easy to read (full front screen and full or qwerty key pad. (touch screen is nice but not necessary). I'm a part time photographer and it would be convenient to have a good quality camera (but not necessary) as I have a good camera. I need to be frugal as my expenses are greater than my income (single mother of two). I don't know what my average minutes are but they seem to fall between 850 to 1050. My business start up has been slow, so I don't yet know future needs. I don't think I will need the option of changing microsoft documents from my phone. Do you have any e-wisdom for me?? Regards, Patty
Thanks for writing. Yours is a good, and often-asked question. The nice thing about choice is that there's an option for (almost) everyone - but there are so many phones on the market right now, it can be hard to know where to look for what you want.
If I read your email correctly, what you really need is a good messaging phone with a big, clear screen and an easy to use keypad. GPS is also a big plus, while a good camera and touchscreen would be but aren't necessities. Cost is also a concern.
As far as a phone with GPS vs. a standalone unit, the standalone units are going to be bigger and easier to use, but cost considerably more - then again many US carriers make you pay a monthly fee for phone-based navigation services. I'd suggest finding a handset that's easy to use for calls and texting first - if it happens to have GPS, great. Many new smartphones do have GPS now, so you may well find one you like.
You didn't mention if you have a carrier contract or preference. so I'll try to list some options for the four major US carriers - if you're on AT&T or T-Mobile you can also look into unlocked handsets:
The BlackBerry Curve is a great smartphone if you like BlackBerry's platform and email service. The newest model includes GPS and a decent 2MP camera, and screen and full QWERTY keyboard are easy to use. You can get one for a good price if you sign a contract and send in the rebate form.
Samsung's Blackjack II is a Windows Mobile smartphone capable of high speed data access for faster email and Web browsing (but that costs extra each month). The screen and keyboard aren't as roomy as those on the Curve, but they're still pretty good.
Apple's iPhone is a beautiful, capable device with a big, bright, sharp touchscreen display. Some people say the touchscreen is terrible for texting, while others say it's just fine. I say try one yourself. At $400-500, it's not at all cheap, though.
BlackBerry's Curve is also available on T-Mobile with the added bonus of built-in WiFi. They also offer the Shadow, a compact slider phone with a unique QWERTY keypad, WiFi, Windows Mobile, and a camera. If Shadow is too small for you, the T-Mobile Dash is also worth a look. T-Mobile's Hot Spot @ Home plans also offer unlimited minutes when your phone is connected to a WiFi network.
T-Mobile's Sidekick family are very popular thanks to their big, comfy QWERTY keypads. The Sidekick ID is the least expensive model.
Even though it looks a little too small, the Palm Centro has been getting lots of great reviews as a fun smartphone in a compact body. Centro has a full QWERTY board and touchscreen, but you'll want to try typing on it to see if it's large enough for you.
Sprint also offers the Palm Treo 700wx, a Windows Mobile smartphone with touchscreen and GPS.
The new LG Rumor is a great low-end messaging phone. It might not be big enough for you - the screen is particularly small - but it's great if you want a simple handset with a QWERTY keyboard at a low, low price.
There's nothing in VZW's smartphone lineup right now that jumps out at me as being for you. The MOTO Q9m was a little disappointing to me, but does have a roomy QWERTY keyboard. The new SMT5800 is a compact but powerful Windows Mobile device, but I think you'd find it too small. Verizon doesn't have the Curve yet, but the BlackBerry 8830 is a solid smartphone.
Verizon does have a few messaging phones worth looking into, however:
The new LG Voyager has everything you mentioned: large touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard, 2 MP camera and GPS. But it's new and not cheap.
The older LG enV is similar to the Voyager, but lacks a touchscreen. It's now being cleared out at a rock-bottom price, and has a full QWERTY board, camera, and GPS. If you like Verizon, you might want to check this one out.
I personally really like the Samsung SCH-U740. It's a very thin flip phone with a full QWERTY board and big internal display. You might find the buttons a little too small and cramped together, but it's a very handy little device.
I hoped I narrowed it down for you at least a little bit. Good luck!
Noah from PhoneDog.com