Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I'm a gadget junkie always in search of a new thrill and that I've fallen pretty hard for iPhone since Apple cut the price last Fall and I picked up a 4GB model for $299. I've unlocked it, jailbroken it, and almost bricked it during upgrade several times now and it's still my daily phone, media player, and mobile Email/Web client.
That being said I've been on the lookout for a replacement in earnest for a month or two now. Why? Mainly because I want something new (professional hazard), but also because I'm getting a little tired of iPhone's main shortcoming: EDGE-only cellular data access. It's not so much that EDGE is slow ? it's slow, but generally okay for Email, RSS, and quick Website checks ? but that I've gotten a taste of the fast lane in reviewing HSDPA and EV-DO devices. And you know what happens once you get a taste of something good, right? Hard to shake the feeling.
(Beyond the EDGE-only data, I'm also really missing the autofocus and Xenon flash of my SE K790a's camera. iPhone really needs a better camera with flash and video recording.)
Also, the T-Mobile contract that my wife and I share expires in less than a month, which means we're once again free to shop around for a better deal. T-Mob actually has one of the better deals going for what we use (she's got unlimited messaging, I have T-Zones Internet access) but service is a little spotty where we live. From the research I've done online and by testing phones, it seems like a move to Sprint would get us the best reception. And they do have that snappy EV-DO network. But I've heard so many bad things about their customer service ...
Honestly, though, it all comes back to the phones themselves. Within the past two weeks I've had four friends ask me if they should buy an iPhone or not, and none of them are gadgetheads by any stretch of the imagination. One wants an iPhone because it's cool, one wants a smartphone to manage her new small business, and the other two are drawn to the combination of Web access and music/photo album features. Of the four, though, two explicitly said, "You know, if I didn't have to switch to AT&T I'd probably just buy one right now." Interesting.
The nice thing about covering the cell phone industry for me is that I get to combine work with play. Sad as it might seem to some of you, shopping for a new gadget is totally "play time" for me (don't worry, I also play tennis, play the drums, and will be hitting the gaming tables in Vegas afterhours - it's not ALL screens and buttons for my play time). So I'll be checking out CTIA as both a reporter and shopper. Can I find a phone to take the place of my iPhone, at least for now?
I've already gotten a sneak peek at what a few of the US carriers have up their sleeves for this summer, and there's at least one compelling option. Think "iPhone clone" with more features and a faster network at a lower price. The big question is, will it have enough usability and sex appeal to warrant a switch for me and all the other potential iPhone-buyers out there?
I can't divulge any details just yet, but we'll go hands-on with everything starting Monday. Meantime, here's a short list of phones I'm personally excited about checking out in Vegas (all of which were previously announced or are rumored to be launched at the show):
- Sony Ericsson Xperia X1: Launched at 3GSM in Barcelona. Windows Mobile smartphone with touchscreen, QWERTY board, US-compatible HSDPA, WiFi, 3.2 mp camera, and custom user interface.
- Sony Ericsson P5i: Rumored to be launched at CTIA. UIQ/Symbian smartphone with touchscreen, rocker-key QWERTY pad, and possible 5MP camera.
- Samsung M800: Rumored to be launched on Sprint at CTIA. CDMA variant of Samsung F490 with full touchscreen, custom user interface, 2mp camera, EV-DO data (possibly Rev. A), and access to all of Sprint's multimedia, Web, and navigation options.
- Samsung U940 "Glyde": Rumored to be launched on Verizon at CTIA. CDMA variant of Samsung F700 with full touchscreen and slide-out QWERTY board, 2 mp camera, and EV-DO data.