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Smartphones and the purchase thereof

bowenbowen Registered User regular
edited April 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
So my s/o and I are looking at getting some smartphones in the near future because I need one for my job, kinda, and well she would like to buy one too.

I'm aware of needing a data plan and all that jazz, so, I don't need to be lectured on that.

However, I would like some buying advice because this is our first venture into smartphone territory.

I am getting an iPhone, so, I'm out of the way. She is interesting in droids, but I'm a little fuzzy on that whole market. Most reviews I'm getting of any of the droid phones through the Verizon page is "it sucks, freezes up on me more than my blackberry did" so they're not exactly helpful. And the positive reviews don't really help either.

We have Verizon Wireless for our service provider. Should she be sticking to the droid2, droid pro, motorola citrus? So many choices and I have no idea where I should direct her.

bowen on
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Posts

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I have a Motorola Droid. The battery lasts days on standby, and the touch screen is responsive. I'm quite happy with it, besides the build quality of the keyboard.. which I believe the Droid 2 improves on.

    Having said that, I can't wait to get off Android and onto an iPhone at the first available opportunity.

    etxvv5.jpg
  • BobbleBobble Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I've found Cnet's reviews on other products to at least be a nice starting point for research.

    http://reviews.cnet.com/cell-phone-reviews/?filter=502975_121264_&tag=mncol

    Also blue dotting because I'm on a similar hunt in the near future.

  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I played with a friend's droid for a few minutes and that was long enough to figure out that I didn't like the keyboard.

    Read reviews of phones online, but don't base your choice entirely on them. Use the reviews to narrow your selection down to a top 5 or so and then go to a store where you can hold the display models to see which one feels the best.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Just got a HTC Thunderbolt from work last week. So far I'm loving it. That said I actually get 4g since I'm in Chicago(although Verizon seems to have a pretty aggressive expansion plan for their 4g). Also You may want to hold off on your iphone, 5 is a strong maybe for June, and at the very least that will drive down the price on 4.

    Does she want a slide out keyboard or not? the Droid/Droid 2 have full sliding keyboards(but smaller screens). Most the other ones are touch screens. The Galaxy S series from Samsung are suppose to be pretty solid all around phones, not sure what the Verizon one is called (captivate/mesmerize/fascinate something like that).

  • rizriz Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Just got a HTC Thunderbolt from work last week. So far I'm loving it.

    How is the battery holding up? I love the look of the Thunderbolt but almost every review I read said that it lasts half a day even with apps set to not constantly check for updates or whatever. My phone right now is useless and I don't expect a fancy phone to hold a charge as long as this one, but it should at least go a whole work day and then some...

    Then there is talk of the Bionic... argh I hate technology, get off my lawn, etc.

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  • TejsTejs Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I have an HTC Evo 4G, and it is quite wonderful. I think you do yourself a disservice if you instinctually go for the iPhone.

    HTC Evo 4g VS iPhone 4

    Funny videos aside, the Evo is blazing fast, has 4G, and android is easy to use. In fact, I don't think I've ever paid for a single app on my Evo, since there is always an app that is free to use for something you need (it may have google ads in it though, small price for free).

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/06/iphone-4-vs-htc-evo-4g/

    Google doesnt care if you jailbreak your phone either (only your carrier might), so it's more malleable as well. The HTC Evo also has better hardware and a larger screen. I can't stand looking at the tiny screens; 4.3" for life. My evo, even with the required 4g data plan, costs me $70 / month with Sprint. And I get unlimited data.

    Downsides: my Evo on screen keyboard can be kind of a pain. The battery life will be less than other phones, but still more than enough (idling, I get days of battery life). The android OS can sometimes be a little glitchy.

  • billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Tejs wrote: »
    I have an HTC Evo 4G, and it is quite wonderful. I think you do yourself a disservice if you instinctually go for the iPhone.

    HTC Evo 4g VS iPhone 4

    Funny videos aside, the Evo is blazing fast, has 4G, and android is easy to use. In fact, I don't think I've ever paid for a single app on my Evo, since there is always an app that is free to use for something you need (it may have google ads in it though, small price for free).

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/06/iphone-4-vs-htc-evo-4g/

    Google doesnt care if you jailbreak your phone either (only your carrier might), so it's more malleable as well. The HTC Evo also has better hardware and a larger screen. I can't stand looking at the tiny screens; 4.3" for life. My evo, even with the required 4g data plan, costs me $70 / month with Sprint. And I get unlimited data.

    Downsides: my Evo on screen keyboard can be kind of a pain. The battery life will be less than other phones, but still more than enough (idling, I get days of battery life). The android OS can sometimes be a little glitchy.

    Eh, I have the HTC Evo 4G and I have to disagree. The hardware is terrible compared to the iPhone. I mean, the latter feels expensive... the former doesn't feel cheap, per se, but the abundance of plastic is pretty lame.

    The real reason I can't recommend it, though, is the battery life. It is absolutely abysmal. I take it off the charger at 11:30am, and by 6pm it is down to yellow (10 to 20 percent battery). In the course of the day I spend maybe ten minutes on calls, an hour or so on the web, and... that's it. It's pretty bad.

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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    riz wrote: »
    Just got a HTC Thunderbolt from work last week. So far I'm loving it.

    How is the battery holding up? I love the look of the Thunderbolt but almost every review I read said that it lasts half a day even with apps set to not constantly check for updates or whatever. My phone right now is useless and I don't expect a fancy phone to hold a charge as long as this one, but it should at least go a whole work day and then some...

    Then there is talk of the Bionic... argh I hate technology, get off my lawn, etc.

    TBH, I haven't tried to stress it, since I've been fiddling with my synching so much I've been leaving it charged. But I'll try it tomorrow for science.

  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I think the big three you want to be looking at from Verizon are the Droid 2, the Droid X, and the Droid Incredible.

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  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I had a G1 with Tmobile and recently (2 weeks ago) got an Optimus V from Virgin Mobile.

    It is amazing. It is fast and snappy and has so much more room to install apps. Plus the plan (voice+data) is only $25 a month total. It is definitely worth looking into, I haven't been able to drain the battery in one day either and I listen to several hours of podcasts in addition to using timers and such on a regular basis throughout the day. I wasn't sure if I would like a phone without a physical keyboard, but the screen is more responsive than my G1's so typing on the screen is actually really easy and accurate.

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    admanb wrote: »
    I think the big three you want to be looking at from Verizon are the Droid 2, the Droid X, and the Droid Incredible.

    Incredible is excellent, as is the Thunderbolt. We've been pleased with both of them.

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  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    spool32 wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    I think the big three you want to be looking at from Verizon are the Droid 2, the Droid X, and the Droid Incredible.

    Incredible is excellent, as is the Thunderbolt. We've been pleased with both of them.

    It's not official but the Incredible 2 is rumored to hit soon, end of March beginning of April. I do love my Incredible but my battery life is sad, like half a day sad. I use it as a laptop replacement at school during the day though so that figure is based on pretty aggressive usage. There are extended batteries you can get to help but I never got around to it and my phone also isn't rooted.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Yeah I know she's looking for something with a physical keyboard. I would've figured she would want the iPhone, but I guess not.

    Maybe I can sell her on it once we get to the verizon store, we're going tomorrow before the NYC trip mainly because having a smartphone would be hella handy there.

  • illigillig Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm a biased android fanboy here so I'll try to stay on message. The 3G android devices you've listed above are all mature at this point. The software is fast and reliable, and the hardware is solid, including the battery life. The 4G devices are bleeding edge right now. The only 4G phone right now on Verizon is the HTC thunderbolt, and its a beast. It gives you truly amazing mobile data speed (I average 15mbps in NYC, browsing or via the built in hotspot. That's faster on average than my cable internet) and the price is the same as the comparatively slow 3G. You pay for that speed with battery life and physical size of the phone. To me that's an acceptable tradeoff, to others not so much.

    Also a note on the physical keyboards. I haven't found a good one on any android phone outside of the Droid Pro, and that phone has a pathetic screen. IMHO if you have a large enough touch screen, the physical keyboard becomes redundant - and this is coming from someone who used to exclusively use blackberries due to their amazing keyboards.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Hmm, we'll probably look at phones at the store then. Maybe I can convince her to get an iPhone as it's the same price.

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I have never actually used the keyboard on my Droid. The only thing the slider keyboard is good for is to force the screen into landscape mode in some applications.

    etxvv5.jpg
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    Hmm, we'll probably look at phones at the store then. Maybe I can convince her to get an iPhone as it's the same price.

    What the hell incites you about the iPhone 4, if you don't ming me asking?

  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Definitely get her to try some touchscreen keyboards before she sets herself on a physical keyboard. I know there are people who truly cannot stand them, but there are many others who are unfairly biased against them.
    bowen wrote: »
    Hmm, we'll probably look at phones at the store then. Maybe I can convince her to get an iPhone as it's the same price.

    What the hell incites you about the iPhone 4, if you don't ming me asking?

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    Hmm, we'll probably look at phones at the store then. Maybe I can convince her to get an iPhone as it's the same price.

    What the hell incites you about the iPhone 4, if you don't ming me asking?

    The job that pays me money to buy things and food to feed myself with.

    It is not up for discussion, at least for my phone.

  • rizriz Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    illig wrote: »
    The 4G devices are bleeding edge right now. The only 4G phone right now on Verizon is the HTC thunderbolt, and its a beast. It gives you truly amazing mobile data speed (I average 15mbps in NYC, browsing or via the built in hotspot. That's faster on average than my cable internet)

    Pardon the possibly dumb question, but could someone then theoretically just not pay for cable internet at all and use the phone's connection if they're comparable speeds?

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  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    riz wrote: »
    illig wrote: »
    The 4G devices are bleeding edge right now. The only 4G phone right now on Verizon is the HTC thunderbolt, and its a beast. It gives you truly amazing mobile data speed (I average 15mbps in NYC, browsing or via the built in hotspot. That's faster on average than my cable internet)

    Pardon the possibly dumb question, but could someone then theoretically just not pay for cable internet at all and use the phone's connection if they're comparable speeds?

    Theoretically. But you'd have to deal with bandwidth caps and maybe latency issues.

  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Plus having all of your Internet access rely on having your phone at home and draining battery like crazy would be annoying in a variety of ways.

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  • godmodegodmode Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I bought the Droid 2 when it premiered back in August, and I really like it. I came off a Blackberry Storm, and immediately was impressed by the quality of the Droid 2 keyboard. Even the touch screen works better than I expected, so I use them interchangeably. Battery life is decent - lasts me all day with moderate use (Checking e-mails when they come in throughout the day, sending and receiving texts, reading things like Kindle books ans RSS feeds in downtime and whatnot), and I charge it every night. Android App market is great - I've never searched for something I couldn't find a version of (You can even get ad-free Angry Birds now through amazon!), and it's just an all-around great phone. In my 8 months of ownership, I only had one major problem (It would restart at random intervals), and it was fixed in two days when they sent a new phone on warranty. My new phone has not had any problems since.

    Overall rating: 9/10. Would be a 9.5/10 if I didn't have the original restarting problems in the first place, and I advise you to be wary of the impending LIMITED DATA PLANS premiering on Verizon this summer. Also, she may experience some freezing problems if she tries to open too many CPU-reliant programs at once, but that's any device.

  • rizriz Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    admanb wrote: »
    Plus having all of your Internet access rely on having your phone at home and draining battery like crazy would be annoying in a variety of ways.

    Yeah the only-one-option part would suck. But I've seen people mention having unlimited data plans (FOR NOW, anyway) and battery wouldn't matter if it was just plugged in all the time, right. It'd be interesting.

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  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    riz wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    Plus having all of your Internet access rely on having your phone at home and draining battery like crazy would be annoying in a variety of ways.

    Yeah the only-one-option part would suck. But I've seen people mention having unlimited data plans (FOR NOW, anyway) and battery wouldn't matter if it was just plugged in all the time, right. It'd be interesting.

    If you read the fine print on your service contract, "Unlimited" rarely means that literally. If I recall, "unlimited" data plans usually only actually give 2.5-5gigs a month before cell providers decide you're being unreasonable. If you're just using your phone as a phone, you may never hit those numbers. But if you're tethering it to your computer as your primary internet connection, you could probably hit that in a few minutes.

  • CimmeriiCimmerii SpaceOperaGhost Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I would take some time at the store to play with the phones on display.

    My husband had an Iphone, but I never really liked it. We both have Incredibles now, and he much prefers Android to Apple.

    I love my phone, but if you are looking for a physical keyboard, you might go for the Droid 2. Also, keep in mind that if you dont like the default onscreen keyboard for android, you can just get a different one from the app store.

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  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    riz wrote: »
    admanb wrote: »
    Plus having all of your Internet access rely on having your phone at home and draining battery like crazy would be annoying in a variety of ways.

    Yeah the only-one-option part would suck. But I've seen people mention having unlimited data plans (FOR NOW, anyway) and battery wouldn't matter if it was just plugged in all the time, right. It'd be interesting.

    If you read the fine print on your service contract, "Unlimited" rarely means that literally. If I recall, "unlimited" data plans usually only actually give 2.5-5gigs a month before cell providers decide you're being unreasonable. If you're just using your phone as a phone, you may never hit those numbers. But if you're tethering it to your computer as your primary internet connection, you could probably hit that in a few minutes.

    I wouldn't recommend tethering as a primary connection if you're used to a certain quality of response out of your home internet. Anyways, out of the big four carriers here's a quick guide to how they handle data caps and tethering:

    Verizon: "Unlimited", with data throttling instituted at ~5GB usage. Right-to-tether is something they think you should pay $20 a month for, but if you don't chances are nothing bad will happen.
    AT&T: 2GB cap. If you pay an extra $20/month for right-to-tether, your cap goes up to 4GB. So far, this is the only network that has taken any effort at all to call people out who are tethering without paying for it.
    T-Mobile: "Unlimited", with data throttling at 5GB. T-Mo used to tacitly approve of tethering without paying extra; now things are a little more complex.
    Sprint: "Unlimited" 3G, with data throttling at some undefined point (5GB is probably a reasonable assumption). However, if you are connected via WIMAX/4G, there is no cap. At all. They seem to be okay with tethering without paying extra (on the Evo 4G tether-via-USB is a default supported operation on the phone), but they do have fees associated with using your phone as a mobile hotspot. If you don't pay them, chances are nothing bad will happen.


    For the times I've had to tether due to a downed connection at home, I'd say the overall experience is pretty similar to having a rather shitty DSL line. YMMV heavily based on coverage around where you live. If you do much that necessitates having a fast ping; online gaming especially; steer clear.

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  • ParagonParagon Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Here's an interesting smartphone comparison chart.

    I can't really add much since I personally don't own a smarthphone. I just found that chart and saved it (I'm like some kind of jpeg hoarder). Hopefully it'll be helpful to someone in here. :)

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  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    The other advantage of both having iPhones is that if have the same iTunes account for purchasing on the two phones you only need to buy the app once.

  • PeccaviPeccavi oh... oh my!Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I've been using the Incredible since December, and can't go back to living without it. Heavy internet usage and gaming means 2 charges per day, but just using it as a phone can get me 2+ days (normal usage for me just requires charging every night). Typing can take some getting used to, but I use it to post so I've gotten pretty good at it.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    She went with the Droid X and I, of course, went with the iPhone. Thank you all for your help.

  • illigillig Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    She went with the Droid X and I, of course, went with the iPhone. Thank you all for your help.

    She purchased a new Droid X from Verizon? - if so, i hope she didn't pay the full $149 retail?

    If she did, and you're interested in saving a little money on your plan, consider the following:

    A Droid X is essentially old technology right now - as such it demands very little premium on sites like Ebay and at other wireless provider intermediaries. You can get a New Droid X for free on contract, or for ~$100 used on ebay (without contract).

    If you choose to go with the used ebay droid - you can purchase a brand new 4G phone from Verizon at the huge discount - A Thunderbolt can be had for ~$180 with a 2-yr contract for example.

    You can turn around, and sell that Thunderbolt on ebay for ~$500... so in the end you can get your chosen Droid X with a 2 year Verizon Plan, and instead of paying $150, you get $220 back - which should cover about 2 months of plan payments!

    Just a thought. I know it's not for everyone, but if you're willing to spend a little time, you can save considerably on the phone.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    No we didn't pay the full retail on it. Since she was the second line it was only about $50.

  • ceresceres Love is in the battlecry Nevada, USASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited April 2011
    Around last Spring I decided that I was tired of my battery on my old phone crapping out after two hours, so I went to get a new phone. I wasn't sure about all this smartphone business, but I really wanted a physical keyboard, and a touch screen almost as much. There was one easily available phone that fit these criteria: the Motorola Flip. I went to the store, played with one for a little bit, couldn't find any really awful reviews, and ended up going home with it. Yay, new phone!

    For about two months. Then it started crashing. I couldn't figure out why, and it was pissing me off because a lot of the time I was in the middle of doing something. After a little trial and error, I discovered that when I used the letter "y" on the physical keyboard, the thing died. You can only type for so long without encountering a "y", so it got maddening quick. Then other letters started joining in the fun. Apparently it was noticed as a problem with these phones shortly after I bought mine. It's to the point where I can no longer expect to use the keyboard at all without my phone crashing, so a major selling point of the phone for me no longer works.

    Of course, that doesn't stop my phone from randomly rebooting while I'm using it anyway; it's not a crash, but a reboot, where all of a sudden the screen goes white and I have to wait for the thing to start up so I can completely redo whatever I was in the middle of. Needless to say, I am unimpressed with this behavior.

    So yeah, don't get a Flip. I also recommend against getting something that's brand-spanking-new on the market. If you can, try for things that have been out for a few months and have solid reviews.

    edit: whoops, I see you already got it. May you have better luck with your phones than I've had with my past few.

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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2011
    Check out WP7.

    I have both an Android phone (for work) and a WP7 phone (for personal). I much prefer WP7. Android really shines for Linux/PC geeks because it's infinitely customizable, but with that comes typical PC like issues. Hardware glitches, app issues across multiple software, OEMs applying their own proprietary skins and the like on top, etc.

    Many apps also require rooting your phone to get them. Angry Birds on Android? Gotta root your phone to get the Amazon App store and then gotta download Angry Birds through that.

    Maybe find out why she doesn't want an iPhone because the Android UI and the iPhone UI are very similar without some customization.

    WP7, otoh, is a completely different experience. I bought the wife an iPhone and then went to get one for myself, tried one of the WP7 demos and basically decided then and there that it was the phone for me. I love it to death, it has really solid app support, theres tons of positive feedback from the dev community, and my Samsung Focus has almost 2x the battery life as my wife's iPhone 4.

    Also take a look at WebOS phones like the HP Pre3 or the Veer, which is insanely small but useable. WebOS, like WP7, is distinctly "different" from how the iPhone and Android OS' display and handle data. They're also very very well made with few issue. Only problem is that it's currently in the minority and doesn't see as much support. iPhone, Android, and soon WP7 will have Angry Birds but no announcement for WebOS, to use an example. If your SO doesn't care too terribly for apps (and I would assume it's not #1 on her list since she's not interested in an iPhone) this may not be an issue. WebOS is the only current portable platform to offer real multitasking.


    The HP Pre 3 and Veer as well as several WP7 phones have physical keyboards. The auto text on WP7 is insanely good. Physical keyboard was high on my list as well but I do not regret getting a WP7 phone without it.


    Stay away from the latest Blackberry phones like the Storm. BB OS 6 is pretty much 5 but hamfisted into a touch screen based environment. Tons of bugs. However, if she's very business oriented then their office software is still ace. However, they've done little to update it to compete with iOS 4.0 and WP7.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    WebOS has had Angry Birds for a long time.

  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Also you don't have to root to get the Amazon App Store.

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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2011
    admanb wrote: »
    Also you don't have to root to get the Amazon App Store.

    I tried to get it yesterday. I downloaded the Amazon Store, searched for Angry Birds, and then was prompted to download another Amazon program. Couldn't and a Google search resulted in me being informed that I needed to root my Hero to run it.

    WebOS has had Angry Birds for a long time.

    Good to know. I've always really liked WebOS but the lack of presence kept me away.

    QlBGc.jpg
  • PeccaviPeccavi oh... oh my!Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Nor do you need the Amazon App Store to get Angry Birds.

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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2011
    That's what the internet at large is saying.

    EDIT

    Maybe that's just AB Rio then.

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