What phone should I get?

Someone recently asked me:

A good pal in the pub asked what was the best phone apart from the iPhone. What do you think? James Whatley you know about these matters. What’s the best out there on balance?

My response?
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If you’re not looking for an iPhone. Then your choice is Windows Phone or Android. If you want amazing photos, look at the Lumia 925 or the Lumia 1020 (see yesterday’s post for more on that one). The latter outperforms the former in the photography stakes, however the 925 has a more aesthetically pleasing industrial design. 

If photography isn’t your number one reason for having a phone (oh and if, like me, you can’t get on with the Windows Phone 8 OS) then it’s a tie between the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One – I own and adore the latter.

Finally, if budget is an issue, I’d look at the Google Nexus 4. It is, at the time of writing, Google’s flagship device and is merely an astonishing £159 SIM free on Google Play.

That’s all I got.

Whatley on a phone
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Disagree with this? Let me know.

But while you’re at it, let me know which phones you recommend when people ask you this same question. Those of you that don’t reply with ‘Let me ask Whatley’, that is…

 

Want a Lumia 920 on Vodafone?

UPDATE: AS OF DECEMBER 19th – IT’S COMING

It ain’t gonna happen…

 

Lumia and Vodafone? NO.

The Nokia Lumia 920 is the latest (and greatest?) Nokia flagship phone. It was announced on September 5th, 2012 and sources are placing its release at around the middle of November somewhere.

I like the look of it and, since knowing mobile tech the way I do, I gave it the fairly highly-regarded label of ‘My Next Phone‘.

But there’s a problem. This morning this happened –

Dan Bowsher is one of the super-smart social media chaps at Vodafone and, as managing editor of the Vodafone UK blog, it’s kind of his job to be on the button with stuff like this – so I appreciate the heads up, Dan, thank you.

The ironic thing is, the same episode of The Voicemail that Dan is talking about is also the exact same one where I name-check Vodafone as being one service that I could not live without.

But now, I am in a quandary –

I’ve been a Vodafone customer for nigh on 16yrs. I honestly can’t think what kind of data they have on record or how much customer equity I’ve built up over that time.

And they’re not going to range the one phone that I really, really want.

My options are as follows

  1. Buy the Lumia 920 SIM-free (not ideal).
  2. Leave Vodafone and join a network like EE (who are not only ranging the Lumia 920 but also launching with the first 4G network)?
  3. Ignore the Lumia 920 and perhaps consider a different handset – like the new HTC Windows phones or in fact, an iPhone 5 (which is genuinely a serious option)?

 

Opinions please.

UPDATE: Vodafone have published a blog post confirming the above Windows Phone 8 device strategy 

 

 

 

Google Buzz: where’s the love?

Last night, as I was leaving the office to go play football, word was spilling out onto the interwebs about a brand new Google service.

“Social features!” some said, “Keep your friends updated”, whispered others but, it was only when I saw the sad, inevitable combination of words that make up the phrase “Twitter Killer” did I finally switch my Mac off and head on out. Buffoons.

90mins later, post footy, I left the pitch and decided to upgrade my Google Maps and – to my surprise – buzz was there, but at the same time – not there.

Continue reading “Google Buzz: where’s the love?”

My Phone of the Year

Now that’s a fair amount of linkbait right there, but before I reveal which handset I’m going to bestow such a high prize upon (chortle), let’s first cover off those who definitely haven’t won my phone of the year.

Loser
Loser

The first phone it’s definitely not, is the iPhone.

Before you all launch into the whole ‘iPhone is the best thing in the world’ spiel and flame me from here well into 2012, just stop and think. The iPhone was – and arguably still very much is in its 3GS form – a luxury device.

Costing at the absolute minimum £300 – £400 either on PAYG or on contract, the iPhone has priced itself out of the competition by attempting to manufacture an allure of exclusivity. Yes, the iPhone is a great handset, but phone of the year it is not.

Nor for that matter, is the HTC Hero.

An Android device heralded by some as the best yet, after having a hands-on, I must say that I still prefer the HTC Magic. Either way, the still ‘in beta’ Android OS is yet to break into the hearts and minds of the mass-market. Though I have a very strong suspicion that – what with the upcoming Nexus launch next month and the apparently awesome work that the Motorola Droid is doing stateside – Android will truly arrive in 2010.

What about the Palm Pre? Er…Not a chance.

Which of course, leaves us with Nokia.

Is it the N97?
No. The early firmware troubles playing a key factor here, leaving the mobile users of the world divided. The mini may yet turn things around, but has arrived too late for this party.

Could it be the N86 8MP?
Close, very close in fact. For me, the N86 would have snagged it, but you simply don’t see it anywhere. I know that I personally have been responsible for at least ten sales of the N86 from an extended network of friends reading the N86 review I wrote earlier this year. However, the networks didn’t buy into it and – as we all know – without operator backing, nothing sells.

So what does that leave us with?

Of course, the N900 – right? Wrong. The N900 has only just been released! So how on earth could it even be a contender? Even though Dan loves his and I love mine, here – the N900 does not win. Not this year anyway.

No, the handset that I’ve chosen as my phone of the year is…

The Nokia 5800

TA-DA!

This phone, launched in January 2009, brought touchscreen smartphones to the masses in a way that no other handset has yet to reproduce. Two years ago, such an accolade would have gone to the Nokia N95; ubiquitous, funtional and a big step towards change in the mobile computing world. You couldn’t move for N95s when you asked anyone what phone they had.

For me, this year (and based on entirely the same science), the 5800 snags it.

I’ve had one in my possession since around March or April, and I am STILL using it. Be it as a secondary device or as an email device, this small yet functional phone is the 2009 equivalent of the N95, no scratch that – the N73. Not the best in class by any stretch, but pitched at exactly the right price, at exactly the right market, this handset has sold by the bucket load. The 5800 has repeated that success. On the tube, on the bus, in the pub and on the street, I see the 5800 everywhere.

Available for less than £200 SIM free, the 5800 is a fantastic entry level device for all ages. Featuring a surprisingly capable 3.2mp camera, Nokia’s first touch screen (and forerunner to the Xseries range), is still to this day a regular in my pocket. Its design is simple yet durable and  is perfect for the days when you just need something to last all day, without fear of crashing halfway through an important call/email.

It’s light, cheap and it just works.

For me, the 5800 is my 2009 Phone of the Year.

What’s yours?

Canabalt

Watch the video first, context to follow…

Canabalt is, would you believe, an iPhone game. One that, a few weeks ago now, my good friend Utku introduced me too.

I remember it quite clearly, he turned to me and muttered the now immortal words:
“This, is the new Flight Control.”

The premise is simple: your character runs and, when a gap or an object is coming towards you, you tap the screen to jump.

Oh so simple, yet oh so addictive.

If you have an iPhone, get this game. If you don’t like it, find me. I’ll play it for you.

Joking aside, Utku, after he told me about said game, went on to write a rather awesome blog post about how much he enjoys playing it. Said post is indeed, a great read.

However, it is in the comments that things get really interesting (and please, go read the post before you carry on).

And I quote:

I think the reason I prefer Canabalt over the bigger budget games is not the retro feel (although that plays a part), but rather the lack of story that you mention above.

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Most big budget games have large story arcs to take you from one piece of game play to the next and on the whole I find them disappointing. Even when the voice talent is top notch, the dialogue tends to be turgid. As the graphic engines moved forward I found myself becoming that horror of horrors – a casual gamer.

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One slight disagreement. I think in Canabalt there is more than a hint at the reason why you’re running. In the background loom the silhouettes of what appear to be tripod like machines laying waste to your city. Man-made? Alien? No idea.

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I love that you probably know as much about what’s going on as your hero. Things are falling apart – run like hell. We don’t find out he’s some super soldier or why exactly he’s so adapt at leaping or what he risks to lose if he doesn’t escape. I love that. Allows you to project what you like on the little guy rather than try and ignore the rubbish some hack has written for you.

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But with a little branding in place this could be easily ported as a BOND or BOURNE tie in. They won’t do that though. They’ll spend a lot of money on an iPhone app that concentrates on selling the franchise and results in muddy game play. Like most of the movie-tie-in apps available so far.

Those middle three paragraphs are what do it for me.

With just a few short sentences you get such an insight into a) the idealism behind the game in question and b) the machinations that exist between the ears of Mike Atherton…  And that, my friends, is what makes him such a good writer.

From a single, and yet dare I say it, casual gamer-aimed, 2D platformer, @sizemore (as he is more commonly known) has already established in your mind some ideas as to why this man is running for his life…

And yet, at the same time..

You really have no clue at all.

Whatley talks Apps on the Beeb

Our own James Whatley talks application stores with Rory Cellan-Jones in a feature that originally broadcast on the BBC’s 6pm evening news.  Rory also posted a follow-up to the dot.life blog including an extended interview with Malcolm Barclay the iPhone developer featured.