2008/07/30

Update on Samsung i760

This is an update on my new Verizon Samsung i760 cell phone/PDA, summarizing my experience after using it for ten days.

I haven't made a final decision about whether to keep this phone or return it and get a less expensive non-PDA phone, but odds are I will keep it. There are phone features which are either annoying or lacking, but I want a converged device, and I've decided to stay with Verizon for now. For those two conditions the i760 appears to be the best choice.

General comments about the phone:
  1. I'd Much Much rather have a web-browsing experience similar to the iPhone.
  2. Calling someone using the contact list was easier on my old cell phone.
  3. Battery life seems to be pretty good so far, but that's only ten days of use...
  4. I've become spoiled by having two batteries come standard with the phone, although they should have both been the long-life battery.
  5. Using the PDA functions of the phone has pretty much convinced me that the painful web experience is a necessary evil until something better comes along.
  6. The usable, though not fun, capabilities Gmail, Gcalendar, and Skype give me on wifi are enough to make me sure I'll use the wifi web feature of the i760.
  7. The overall painfulness of the web on the i760 has confirmed my decision to not use cell access to the web (Verizon BroadbandAccess) for now.
  8. I'd like to have a case that minimizes damage when I drop the phone but doesn't make using the phone annoying.
  9. Using handwriting recognition on the phone seems acceptable, but more difficult than on my iPAQ.
Mobile web has not yet been optimized. Making the web fun and useful for the general public will require a critical mass of web-enabled mobile devices with reasonable size screens or an inspired person's brilliant breakthrough concept which changes the way the world uses the mobile visual web. For now, the iPhone easily wins the 'fun mobile web' title. If consumers and geeks are lucky, other cell phone providers will emulate and improve on the iPhone. To improvements for my situation would be a larger Samsung i760 screen and Microsoft Windows Mobile with a multi-touch interface that equals or exceeds the usability of the iPhone.

Mozilla, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer all need to vastly improve their mobile web browsers. Some more vastly than others. I haven't yet figured out whether I can install Opera mobile on the i760 and need to pursue that. Thus far the IE experience in Windows Mobile on this phone is not a pleasant experience.

Adding features understandably makes a cell phone more complicated to use. But there should be some basic features that are just as easy to use on a smartphone as they are on a basic cell phone. An example of this is calling someone using my contact list in the phone. On my previous phone, I clicked the right soft key to select contacts, then I clicked the dial pad button with the first letter of the contact's first name. Clicking the 5 button would take me to the Js, clicking it once more took me to the Ks and once more brought up Ls. Pressing the 'Down' part of the navigation pad scrolled through the contacts in a particular letter category, or all the way through the contact list if I wanted to go one by one. With my previous phone, calling my sister took four clicks -- the soft right key, the '5' button twice, then the 'Call' button. With the i760 in the standard phone position (slider closed) it's not possible to call my sister using only button clicks unless I program her into speed dial. Speed dial works for a limited number of contacts, but I have yet to figure out a way to call people on my contact list that's as convenient on the i760 as it was on my old Nokia or Motorola basic cell phones.

Having two batteries is definitely the way to go for me for mobile electronics. When one battery dies, you can just swap in the other one and keep on going. For the i760, I would have preferred to get two long-life batteries. The thickness, weight and cost difference between the 'slim' battery and the long-life is minuscule compared to the value of the longer battery life with the extended battery. Penny wise but pound foolish. This is the first mobile device for which I've had two batteries. Based on this experience, I think every future mobile device purchase I make will include a second battery. If you're going to use a mobile electronic device, it ought to be truly 'mobile' -- meaning you don't have to scramble to find an outlet quickly when your battery runs out of power. With the spare battery, you simply power down, pop in the spare battery, then continue doing what you had been doing. (Try that with a standard iPhone...)

Cell phones and other truly mobile devices are dropped. No practical way to avoid that. This gives you several choices regarding drop damage to mobile electronic devices.
  1. Replace the devices somewhat frequently (generally expensive!).
  2. Buy devices that come standard with effective drop damage prevention features.
  3. Buy a case for the device that minimizes drop damage while not being too annoying when you use the device.
I've already dropped the i760 several times. It will be dropped again in the future. Frequent purchases of new phones is not an option. The i760 doesn't have much in the way of designed-in damage prevention. I purchased the $5/monthly insurance which covers some damage, but that's not a total solution. This leaves me with the alternative of using a case to minimize drop damage.

The primary challenge to finding a suitable i760 case is the slider format. It's extremely difficult to design a reasonable cost case that provides drop damage protection and is 'usable' with a slider phone. Especially a side-slider as opposed to a bottom slider. And doubly difficult if you frequently use the device in the slider-open position. I guess an i760 case is one example of why we have the word 'dilemma.'

In order to decide whether to keep the i760 and to significantly increase its usefulness to me, I need to focus on the following points over the next two weeks:
  1. Upgrade to WinMobile 6.1
  2. Get Google Maps working, if possible
  3. Get proficient with the camera, both still and video
  4. Buy and get proficient with a Bluetooth headset (possibly the Scala 700 found by Andy M)
  5. Import my Outlook contacts and sync my Gcal with Outlook
  6. Set up ten more contacts on speed dial
  7. Use IE on more websites and evaluate other browsers on the i760

*****

2 Comments:

Blogger Tim Bertram said...

First off i have the Sprint Mogul it is the sprint version of the VX6800. I have done some customizations that make windows mobile a little easier to use. If you are at all interested I will have it at the next FDLLUG meeting.

Second I see your phone has the Samsung 2442 processor, doing a little bit of searching it looks like the HTC hermes phone has the same processor. It appears that there are some efforts to get android running on the hermes, that work might help the i760 effort.

I have ran a test build of android on my mogul already, and from the little i've used it and the browser seems much more useable than IE.

On WM, I also have Opera Mobile on the phone and it works better than IE for the most part.

5:53 PM  
Blogger myDigitechnician said...

Thanks for the feedback, Tim! It would be great if you could bring your phone to the next FDLLUG meeting (http://www.fdllug.org) and show me how you modified it. Next meeting is August 13, right?

Bob

5:58 PM  

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