Friday, March 30, 2012

Is it time to upgrade your two year old phone? A look at the first half of 2010.

Most carriers lock you in for two years, and a smartphone is acknowledge to have a two year life cycle by most people. Lets examine this and see how true this is. If you purchased a top of the line smartphone in Q1 or Q2 of 2010, it was a bit tricky. If you bought a Windows Mobile device or a Nokia or other Symbian phone, the Windows Phone 7 which replaced Windows Mobile and which Nokia adopted as their next generation platform pretty much brought your devices to an early end of life in terms of functionality. 

A Nokia N97 or N900, while still being fairly impressive hardware wise, just do not have the kind of app support that would make a user happy. As impressive as the hardware is on a HTC HD2 or Samsung Omnia i8000, Windows Mobile has been dead in the water for over a year now. 

Apple has done it fine in supporting this phone.
The hardware was just  not cutting edge enough when released.
Some do fare better than others. On the Apple side, getting an iPhone at this time two years ago was probably the worst time to get one. An iPhone 3GS with its mid-resolution 320 x 480 display and nearly useless 2 MP camera was good in 2009 when it was released, the iPhone 4 released in June 2010 with the 640 x 960 display and decent 5 MP camera would have made me want to upgrade ASAP. Still, it will run the latest version of iOS so you cannot blame Apple for lack of support. It was just that in 2010 smartphone hardware would make a dramatic leap forward. If I still have one of these now, I would consider it worth the money, but would really consider an upgrade at this point. 

Still looks current today for a BlackBerry. Still that might tell
you more about how little progress they have made rather than how good the phone is.

If you have happened to get a BlackBerry Bold 9700, newer BlackBerry's have improved, but I would not replace my Bold 9700 with a newer BlackBerry. If you like QWERTY messengers, the newer models really do not look all that compelling. I would either wait till the next generation of BB 10 phones, or if you could give up BlackBerry services and the physical QWERTY keyboard, I would go with a new Android, iOS or Windows Phone device. Still the BlackBerry Bold 9700 was a top of the line phone, which has proven to be worth its hefty asking price.  

Released six months after the Apple iPhone 3GS,
the Nexus One incorporated pretty much all the cutting edge hardware
 available (except for coming with a mediocre camera). This keeps it a viable choice till today.

On the Android side of things you would have the Motorola Milestone, Google Nexus One, HTC Desire or Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. The Nexus One, Desire and Xperia X10 with their 3.7-inch to 4-inch WVGA displays, 1 GHz processors and 512 MB of RAM they actually match the specifications of a mid-level Android phone today. Among these the the Xperia X10 feels the most current with a 4-inch screen and 8MP camera. The Milestone will still do, but the 256MB of RAM will give problems in some games that could otherwise run fine with its processor and display. Still that is only an issue for a few.

While none of these former Android flagships have been upgraded to Android 4.0, they all now run Android 2.3 and can run 99%+ of the Android apps. Only some demanding games which need dual core processors are out of reach. I would probably hold on to these phones a bit longer and jump straight to a quad-core or Qualcomm Krait before upgrading.

Most flagship phones available in the market two years ago, except for those whose operating systems have gone the way of the Dodo, still make reasonable propositions for continued use today.

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