Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I have had my N75 for a few weeks now, and thought it was worth mentioning.

My very first mobile phone was from Sprint. I had used AMPS devices; bagphones abounded, and I even have a friend's long-abandoned Moto Dynasty in the museum above my desk. They were horrible. And being the nerd I was, I decided I liked CDMA, so waited for Sprint. I lived in Westport, and the Sprint store was walking distance, so I got one the week before they actually advertised availability: "so, you guys are open now?" "no, not really, but come in anyway." Hence, the 0455 number. Including all test devices and employee phones, I am #455 in the MSA.

Anyway, I have long known I was totally out of the loop on other interfaces. I only recently became aware that even companies like Motorola bend to Sprint's will a little, so even that interface is changing (3rd softkey on a RAZR?) when on Sprint. To get the experience, I need to change. Sprint made it easy, by insisting on signing me up for a THREE year contract when I get converted off the employee plan. So, I rushed out and got something. I settled on the N75 because its S60 (Symbian) but is still basically a phone.

But seriously, the possibility of a true featurephone seems really compelling. I sorta hate PDA-phones (my inherent dislike comes out in my iPhone commentary. My phone has to:

  • Have a good radio. Strong, clear, interference-free. An antenna reasonably free from coupling and reasonably polarity-independent.

  • Have reasonable battery life. Preferably all weekend. Willing to disable features to get this when I need it, but it needs to be possible.

  • Make phone calls at the drop of a hat.

  • Work with gloves, etc. No bare-finger interfaces. Haven't seen a touchscreen I'd want to use to exclusion, but it might happen.

Everything else is a bonus, as long as it doesn't intrude on these basics.

Overall, I think the N75 is about 75% of the way there. Really compelling product, which I am therefore starting to use for all sorts of non-phone enterprises. I read gmail on it all the time. I respond a couple times a week. I am starting to take photos with it, semi-seriously. I use the Opera browser a lot, for info I would previously have had to wait to find when I get home. Actually, I even pull it out and browse when I could go into the next room and get one of the several laptops we always have about.

The customization of apps is unbeatable. The ATTifying of the Nokia browser is lame as hell. Its really only used as a stepstone to download stuff now. The gmail app and some other things are unbeatable. Replacing the calculator is just nuts though. Never thought of a phone like that. Really, its a computer. Even has the ability to switch apps without abandoning. Which is really cool when you get it into your head. Data storage is pretty normal as well. Compare this to getting a KRZR to read ringtones off the SDcard.

If you think I am indeed addicted to my portable computer, note that the N800 sits on its kickstand on a shelf by the TV most of the time, instead.

That said, the N75 does have some downsides:

  • Battery is not as good as it should be. Not great, but it should be better.

  • Memory is too small. I run out. But a lot of this is AT&T's fault for leaving the music store running all the time.

  • Yup, its got the AT&T overlay. Screams and animates at startup and shutdown, insists on saying their name on the greeting, has the stupid music app always open, and some other stuff. I may unlock and run the Nokia updater, which purportedly makes it a straight Nokia phone.

  • No GPS. I go back and forth on this. Sure, I want it, but you could say its a pricey feature. If it wasn't in all sorts of $0 consumer phones purely for e911 purposes. Today, I find it inexcusable that this does not have a GPS. I use maps almost never as a result, and it makes me sad.

  • Widgets are not widgets. They are just apps. The idle screen is too idle. I want the main menu on the idle screen, and I want portlet-like smart widgets. Apps can stay running, so why can't I get a count of new gmails on the idle screen?

More will be said about this, I am sure, in the context of additional thoughts on mobiles in the coming years.

P.S. Alison has the KRZR, so I still know how that works. The PM325 basically died, though. Anyone need one for spares?

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