My Samsung Intensity has served me very well, but lately it's been doing some funny things. First off, it's keypad lock no longer works. It's constantly making calls and sending text messages while it's in my pocket, which can be irritating. It made over two hours of random calls to nobody one day last week, and has sent about 100 text messages to nobody. The calls don't really matter, because we never come anywhere near our allotted minutes, but the texts take away from my already limited text package. The worst part, however, is that it kills the phone's battery pretty quickly. The other problem seems to be it's reaction times. It's gotten slower and slower at doing the normal things that I do with it. Today I got the "You've Had Too Many Text Messages" alert on it, and it took it over five minutes to purge my messages.
I've really liked the Intensity, and would have gone with a new one of those because they have an Intensity II now, but even the Intensity II requires a $15 data plan now. It seems that almost EVERY phone that is even remotely close to being cool offered by Verizon right now requires at least the $15 data plan. They claim it's to "make up for the low initial purchase prices" of the phones. I think it's because they know they can gouge their customers and there isn't really much that they can do about it.
But anyways, it was time for a new phone. I was planning on waiting for the HTC Trophy to arrive at Verizon with the new Windows 7 Phone operating system. But after reading up on that operating system quite a bit, I'm not really sure if it's for me. It's got lots of cool integration with things like Twitter and FaceBook, both things that I know of and look at but don't really use often enough to have them updated constantly on my phone. It's also supposedly really cool for music, but I have my iPod Touch for music, so that's not really necessary...and I wouldn't use it for music anyways because of the fact that most of the music I own is copy protected because I bought it from iTunes, so it wouldn't work on the Windows device anyways. The things that I found that weren't so great about the Windows Phone?? It doesn't do multitasking well, and I am constantly going from one app to another with my iPod and my tablet, and with those devices being able to multitask it makes it so that switching is easy and quick. Apparently on the Windows Phone it ends up stopping to load all the time when you're doing things like that. The other thing that I wasn't very happy with is something that's kind of petty, but it means a lot to me. The Windows Phone doesn't allow you to have any custom ring tones or add any of your own ring tones. Now, I generally have my ringer turned off, but when I want it on, I want to be able to have whatever I want as a ring tone...so to be honest, that was a really big turn off for the Windows Phone.
Oh yah, the other thing is nobody has any idea when it's going to show up in stores. It was supposed to be out at the beginning of March, then that turned to the end of March, then that turned to end of June, and even that is tentative. So that means that going with that would have meant waiting at least another few months with a phone that has been slowly starting to not work so well.
So I thought a little bit about getting an iPhone 4 from Verizon. That would have given me everything that I love about my iPod and added the phone to it. But I didn't really want to spend the $300 to get the version that would be similar in capacity to my iPod Touch. The other problem with that?? What would I do with my iPod Touch? I suppose I could have sold it, but I've grown pretty attached to it.
I then realized that if I went with an Android phone, I could get ALL of the apps that I'm having trouble getting for my tablet. See, the Archos Tablet that I have isn't part of the Android Marketplace Consortium...what that means is that it can't easily download apps from the Android Market. I have it hacked so that it works, but it still doesn't find every app very easily. Google recently put the Android Market online, so you can just go there from any internet connected device and download apps, and that seemed to fix the issue with the Market on the tablet temporarily, but it soon seemed to stop working and I was again stuck with using the hack for the Market to get apps on the tablet.
This would all be fixed if I had an Android phone. See, the Android Market online will let you download anything you want...as long as there is a recognized device attached to the account. So if I had an Android phone, I could download anything to the phone OR the tablet because the account would have a recognized device attached to it. So that would make the tablet SOOO much easier to get apps onto. It's also cool because any app you purchase for the Android phone can be installed on the tablet without purchasing it again.
So, even though I had originally set out with the Android as my third option for an operating system for a phone, it had slowly but surely moved up to the top spot. So I started looking at Android phones.
My criteria were pretty simple. I wanted an Android powered Verizon phone that was cool and would cost me less than $100 out of pocket. An added bonus would be a phone that had a slide out keyboard. I really like having the physical keyboard when it comes to typing on a small device. The on screen ones are cool, but they just don't seem to work as quickly for sending messages and typing things.
I found the answer very quickly after looking at Verizon's site.
My new phone:
It's a Motorola Droid R2D2. And yes, it looks just like that.
Now, let me get this out there right off the bat. I'm not a huge "Star Wars" fan at all. I like the original films, but I would definitely not count them among my favorite films. I do NOT like the newer films, and in fact have never seen the third one. However, that doesn't change the fact that this R2D2 phone just has a coolness factor to it that is pretty hard to match.
It's basically just a Droid 2 with a fancy paint scheme and a few extra bells and whistles on the software side. It's got a 1.2 ghz Snapdragon processor, 512mb of RAM, and a 3.7 inch screen. It also has a slide out keyboard, so that's cool. The Droid 2 got great reviews, and the R2D2 version of it got slightly lower reviews, but that was mainly due to cost. This phone was $249.99 out of pocket just a few weeks ago, but it's been lowered to $99.99 right now.
So basically, it fit all of my criteria for a phone...it looks cool, came in under $100, runs Android, and has a slide out keyboard.
What's a really cool bonus, about it though, is that it also comes with an Android Dock for no extra charge, which normally costs about $60 for a person to purchase. It's a special edition dock with R2D2 and the "Star Wars" logo on it.
The dock basically charges the device, but also makes it do some other interesting things. It's almost like turning it into a really cool internet connected clock that tells you the weather and other news feeds and such.
The device also comes in Limited Edition packaging that makes it look like the carbonite that Han Solo was encased in after being captured by Boba Fett. So basically, it's got all kinds of geekishly cool things going on.
Did I mention that it's got custom ringtones and alerts that sound like R2D2?? Yup, you can have the charming whistles and beeps as your text message alerts, alarms, whatever you want.
It should be here in a couple of days...I'm guessing Wednesday. I'm excited to get it and start playing around with it.
Now, all of this does come at a bit of a cost. I had to go with the higher priced data plan to get the phone...but I did some jockeying with my other services and the overall cost will only be about $20 more per month than I'm paying now. I'm working on something that might get it down to only $15 more. Basically, I dropped my $10 text package back down to the $5 package, and my government discount gets me the $30 data plan for only $25 to begin with. So the $5 savings on my text package drops me to only $20 more per month. What I'm working on is finding an app that will accept text messages for free, which would mean I could drop my text package all together.
Overall, I think I'll be happy with the phone. It's got the Verizon tethering on it, too, so that means that when I'm not at home I can hook the phone up to the 3G internet and then connect my laptop or my tablet to it in order to get on the internet. That will work really well for traveling. It also should work great as a GPS device, and Cathy and I need a new one of those, so that's a plus.
I'll post some pictures of it when it arrives later this week.