Phone News ala Frood – Part 1 of 3: Setting The Stage

I’ve been following mobile phone news fairly closely as of late since my tax return will provide me the ability to replace the DROID I’ve been carrying around since 2009. Whether phone manufacturers are getting positioned for their own annual cycle, setting up to make waves during the Summer Olympics, or capitalizing on froods like me who are getting tax money back I’m in a fortunate position of having a drama of new phones leaking information all over the place begging for me to make a choice.

This is the only time I’ll bring up Apple: As long as the venn diagram for a device’s built in compatibility is a circle it doesn’t fit my needs as a user. I like to consider my device as a summary of parts rather than a magic box, let me take out the battery and SD card or install any app I want without going through a proprietary store… it’s my device, let me do what I want. Besides that, Apple made a niche and it sounds like they’re sticking to it taking no risks to rock their iconic status. It isn’t a bad business strategy, it’s just one less reason for me to look their way.

Second thing to get out of the way is that Verizon Wireless is my service provider. I’m grandfathered into the unlimited data plan, a majority of the people I know are “in” which means that talking in the US doesn’t take my minutes, and I have coverage pretty much everywhere in the Portland area while people with other carriers have issues from place to place. No device is going to be appealing enough to get me to switch carriers unless vzw drops the ball and stops selling good smartphones. Luckily the brands and phones are independent of carriers which means that anything I say about one phone at vzw will usually carry over to something with the same brand at competing carriers.

Third thing to get out of the way are a couple of phones outside Verizon that caught my notice: the HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 900.

The HTC One X being released at AT&T in the US has good specs and it sounds like they’ve put forth the best camera/interface combination on any phone in the history of phones… multi-shot, clearer pictures, slow-motion video, etc. It’s camera is only 8MP, which will get surpassed pretty quick, but the interface makes up for it from what I’ve read. It packs a largish battery to power, arguably, the best processor in the smartphone game until the SIII comes along to give it competition. The thing also sports a large-to-most 4.7 inch screen that crams 312 pixels into an inch. Not that many would notice the difference, but that’s a higher pixel density than the rumored specs on the SIII and only gets surpassed by the iPhone 4S and Samsung Nexus. Also the phone is sleek to the point of knocking on the door of Apple’s iPod. The unibody designed handset looks like HTC considered form which is actually appealing when too many Android devices I look and feel like a TV; inconsequential casing that surrounds a screen. The phone looks really sleek and well put together… but I haven’t held it so take that opinion lightly.

The other phone that I would be interested in playing around with but isn’t coming to my carrier is Windows Phone… er, I mean the Nokia Lumia 900. Really that’s all I need to say about it because nothing else appeals to me.  Everything else is on par or worse with Android competitors so I probably wouldn’t buy it even if vzw got it but I’m really curious what Microsoft came up with. The unique thing about Windows phones will be that the interface will stay the same across manufacturers. This differs with Android because manufacturer interfaces get installed on top of the Android software; it’s why going from HTC to Samsung to Motorola will give you a different experience for each one… I don’t like that but it’s too bad that the Galaxy Nexus, the only true Android phone at the moment, comes up short as a holistic phone.  Hopefully Windows Phone standing as Windows Phone will bring integrated interface to a table where it’s normal to see bloated overlays and animations are bogging down fatty hardware specs.  But Microsoft isn’t exactly known for keeping their interfaces light so I’m curious to see if WinP keeps it’s agility through multiple device generations and software updates.

So the buzz is that Samsung, HTC, and Motorola are all lined up to present high-end Android phones to Verizon and my next blog will go into what those phones are and look at the information that has been leaked about them.

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