Monday, March 7, 2011

Some advice on acquiring a new mobile device

Last Wednesday was spent with a group of friends. Mobile phones seem to be all the rage these days, and talk revolved partly on smartphones. A friend of mine think about upgrading his old S60 Nokia, asking for advice from those who already had upgraded their phones. A friend of mine commented, that she loved her iPhone 4, bit after awhile it really was not better than her previous phone, since she really just uses it for calls and text. A smartphone is really only good as the service connected to it.

Apple iPhone 4

All-in-one. One solution is an all-in-one solution. A high end smartphone on a unlimited data plan. This is my favorite, solution as it gives me access to all smartphone services in one device. I have to admit that, in the Philippine's anyway, it is probably the least cost efficient solution since unlimited data costs me roughly 60% of the Php2,000 I pay monthly on my Smart Gold Unlimited Data Plan 2000. Globe Telecom also charges Php1,200 for their unlimited data SIMS which are bundled with call and text servcies.

Still, I like this solution best since it allows me to carry a single device to take care of all my needs.

Samsung Galaxy Tab


Two-for-one. My wife uses a old Nokia E75 (which is probably due for replacement) for calls, texts and as a planner, and Samsung Galaxy Tablet for everything else. Another in the party uses an Nokia E71 and Apple iPad 3G  combo, pretty much the same way. Instead of replacing your current smartphone, one viable solution is to buy a tablet instead. With the WiFi only Apple iPad now down Php19,900, this becomes an even more interesting solution.

The advantage of this two-for-one solution is that, if you get a data-only SIM, meaning no calls unlimited data only costs Php999 per month, instead of the Php1,200 for a unlimited data SIM with the ability to make phone calls. This true whether you get your plan from either Smart Communications or Globe Telecoms. Sun Cellular does offer a unlimited data SIM with call and text capability for just Php749.

Nokia E5

Three-for-one. Another in our party, has an interesting solution. A few weeks ago she acquired a Nokia E5 QWERTY messenger, which she uses for calls and text, but the Nokia choice was mainly driven by OVI maps and free lifetime GPS navigation. Nokia still offers the best navigation solution in the Philippines, with functioning voice assisted turn-by-turn navigation (using this incurs data charges though). She does not avail of mobile browsing much, so when she needs to access the web she does so on Smart Communications Php10 fee for 30-minutes of mobile browsing. When she does access the net from the field, she uses a Apple iPad Touch, which does the job of handheld web browser, media player and occasionally is used for some gaming. For reading eBooks, she uses a Kindle. 

Using the Kindle has a lot of advantages over smartphones and tablets as eBook readers. The no-glare screen is like reading paper, the battery last a month and the Kindle is very light, just about the weight of a pocketbook. 

The cost of acquiring three devices is just a little more than the cost of buying a high end smartphone or tablet. The main weakness of this combo, is that it is not a very efficient bunch when away from a WiFi Hotspot, well unless you are using Navigation, is which case a Nokia with GPS is still the best choice in the Philippines.

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

BlackBerry Social. While unlimited browsing is cool, not everybody needs access to the entire Web all the time. For many, a BlackBerry is still a very good choice. While BlackBerry is better known for its push-email feature, push email is not all the important in the Philippines, with people relying mainly on SMS. Push email is more of a standard in organizations where everyone is equipped with a BlackBerry.

A couple in our group uses a pair of BlackBerry's with Globe's BlackBerry Social service. For Php300 a month, they get 24/7 unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and can avail of  instant messaging to Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Google Talk networks. Since BlackBerry Social also comes with BlackBerry Messenger (better know as BBM), the Php300 month fee also covers basically includes unlimited "text" to each other.

I realized that for a barakda, having everyone use BlackBerry's with the BlackBerry Social service would be cool. Messaging, chatting and keeping in touch with the group via Facebook and Twitter could all be had for Php300 a month. If there are both Globe Telecom and Smart Communications users in the group, that would be no problem, as Smart provides the same service for Php299.

While BlackBerry's phones are starting to look a little bit dated, a smartphone is really only good as the service connected to it. The Php299/300 BlackBarry Social, makes the BlackBerry a good choice as a mobile platform.  Given that a BlackBerry Curve 9300 cost less than Php15K, it is also a cost efficient solution, hardware wise. 

Netbooks: None in site. The interesting thing, is everyone in this group owns a netbook or laptop, but it has been some time that I have seen someone bring one to a social gathering. Yes, we still lug them around with us for work, but now when we want to share pictures or show someone something on the web, everyone seems to be doing that with one form or mobile device or other. Passing a tablet around a table, is a lot easier than passing around a netbook. A year ago, you would see two or three netbooks or laptops in these gatherings. 

These days there are so many options, deciding what device to invest in is difficult. I hope the different choices some in our group have made, helps you in deciding on what mobile platforms and services to invest in. Think of the device, what you want to do with it, and what service you plan to couple with it.

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