A phone upgrade

1 December 2010, 23:27

I have spent the last couple of weeks immersed in a new operating system – Android OS. After years of reasoning to myself that “my phone works fine, it doesn’t need an upgrade”, I started reasoning to myself that “I work in IT and revealing this phone is bordering on laughable, Android is a significant development platform and it’s open source”. The Nokia 3315 and its sibling the 3310 are not so much last year’s model as last decade’s model – the Nokia 3310 was first released in 2000! (I don’t think my particular phone is that old, but I do think it is only the second mobile I’ve ever owned.)

Phone upgrade

So now I have a Samsung Galaxy S. I don’t know if there are official “generations” of mobile phones, but I’m going to guess this might be like jumping from the Middle Ages to modern day.

Comparing the functionality was very interesting. Would you believe there are some functions my Nokia 3315 had that my new phone does not have? First among them is the fact that if you set an alarm and turn it off, it doesn’t wake up again. Phones since, well, the Middle Ages, have managed to do that. It occurs to me now that there is probably an “enhanced alarm clock” app somewhere I should be using instead.

Another thing is that the 3315 has a physical light. But hey, there’s an app for that. And the new phone holds up OK:

Light-off

As for the core functionality of making and receiving phone calls, I’m still getting used to new the phone, but the physical design of the old one is certainly better. I recently read The Design of Everyday Things and I guess those ideas about form have been in the back of my head as I get used to the new phone.

Worse:

  • Battery life.
  • The new phone’s sound seems worse (I also switched from Telstra to Optus, which might be a factor).
  • The new phone gets uncomfortably warm after a short conversation (somewhat mitigated by a protective case, although the old phone needed no such thing).
  • The new phone is more uncomfortable to press against one’s ear, due to the size of it.
  • The numpad never disappeared in the middle of a call with the old phone. :)
  • My old phone never had mute, and so there was no danger of me accidentally enabling it with my ear in the middle of a call.

Better:

  • Speaker phone!!
  • I have the option of calling people with Skype (haven’t actually tried this yet).
  • Caller history, favourites, contacts automagically imported from le Googs and le ‘Book. (My “living in the future” moment was when I saw the calendar app had imported everyone’s birthdays from Facebook. Truly useful.)

The only other function my old phone really had was SMS messaging.
Worse:

  • It annoys me a little that I only see the character count when I get near the limit, but it’s not the end of the world.

Better:

  • Picture messaging. ><
  • Faster to type, I think. Even though it’s an on-screen keyboard, Swype seems pretty impressive. I don’t see any entries on damnyouautocorrect.com from Swype-enabled phones.1)
  • The “conversation/history” view! Really a nice improvement.

Basically phone calls and battery life are worse, and everything else is significantly improved. It’s kinda interesting that what was nominally the core function of a mobile phone, to conduct phone calls, is so side-lined now. Of course, for people who still value that, there’s always John’s Phone.


1 damnyouautocorrect.com is hilarious, but also a fascinating look at the variety of spellings and words that text prediction systems need to cope with. A lot of the mistakes come from attempts at onomatopoeic spellings, like “whoooooa”, or names or mis-spellings. Still, if you are designing such a system, it seems like it might worth putting in something to stop “a call” auto-correcting to “anal” and, well, anything auto-correcting to penis, vagina or dick. Because, AWKWARD.

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  1. PS: with my desire if you have the hands free plugged in don’t expect to hear any alarms…

    — Brendan · Dec 2, 12:00 am · #

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