Journey to my next Smart Phone

smart phone, palm pre, google android, blackberry, crowdsource, wisdom of the crowd

I need to replace my Blackberry Curve (8810).  I'm going to do it in January.  So my journey to the my next smart phone begins with the post.

My two year AT&T contract ends in January so I'll have the opportunity to buy a new phone for a discounted price with yet another 2 year contract.  The real driving reason is that my current Blackberry has been dropped too many times.  The latex protective skin not only protects it from future damage, it also literally keeps the thing together.  The end result is that it reminds me of Arnold Schwaznegger in the original terminator when his face was half-off and exposing the machinery and circuitry that is underneath the surface.  Otherwise, my Blackberry has served me well over the last 20 months.

The Choices
I categorize my options like this (no particular order):
1. new model Blackberry
2. Palm Pre
3. iPhone
4. Other (e.g. Google Android, a high-end Nokia phone, or a Windows Mobile-based phone, or something else).

The Requirements
My requirements fall into three major categories:
1. Functionality
    - Must be able to access the Web at 3G speeds or greater
    - Must support all traditional Personal Information Management (PIM) functionality like:

  • Calendar
  • Addressbook
  • Tasks
  • Notes

    - Must support Multimedia:

  • 2.0mpx camera or better WITH a FLASH!
  • ability to play video files and videos from YouTube (or other online video streams)
  • MP3 player
  • Voice Recording

    - Must enable expansion of memory through a memory card (big deal because I take a lot of phone pictures and store a lot of music on my phone)

    - Security:

  • must be able to quickly lock the phone
  • must support use of a password to access phone
  • must be able to encrypt the media card that is placed in it

    - Must have choices of practical software applications

    - Since I am a Developer at heart and could write my own applications, it would be great if the application platform was easy to get applications on to the device and the necessary tools were not expensive

2. Usability
          - must function as a phone very well:

  • call clarity for both sides of the conversation
  • good connectivity
  • good speakerphone
- must be able to type SMS text messages and email very efficiently (my Blackberry keyboard is very good)
- must have an intuitive user interface with easy to navigate controls
- must perform well
  • boot up fast in order to make a phone call
  • very little lag between opening applications

3. Contractual/Other

- Price must be competitive (I struggle with paying more than $150 for electronics that I will surely replace in 2 years or less)
- I understand the necessary evil of a 2 year contract so I'll settle with that in order to not spend $400 for a phone (though I am very intrigued by the high-end Nokia phones)
- It would be nice if the phone was offered on multiple carriers so that the phone itself gains market share.  I will likely not switch my current carrier just for a phone.

I'm sure I missed something.  I'm sure you can fill me in!  What do you want/need out of a smart phone?

My Early Impressions

I think the iPhone is slick, but I wish it had a physical keyboard.  The camera is poor and lacks a flash. 

My Blackberry suits all my needs, though it has been acting slugish lately (it wasn't always that way though).  I could use a little more screen real estate, but that hasn't been a problem.

The Palm Pre looks great!  It has a touch screen and keyboard.  I think it out does my Blackberry in every category.  The only problem is that it is not available on AT&T (my current provider of 4 cell phone lines)

Google Android is very intriguing.  If you haven't figured it out yet, I am generally a Google fan.

Nokia's high end phones area very slick, but very expensive.

The approach

My next step is to Crowdsource and Leverage Wisdom of the Crowd to help me get to a solid choice.  So you all have a little over three months to share your perspective and help me make an informed choice!

Thanks in advance!

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