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So, my cell phone sucks. I got a minimal feature phone when I signed up a couple years ago, and it is in need to replacing. If I get another minimal phone, and sign up for another contract, I could probably get the phone for free.

However... gadget lust rears its ugly head. I am pondering getting a fancy phone. Maybe something with a camera in it. Or one of those phones that is also a palm pilot, since I do not have a PDA. I'm not too worried about the initial cost of the phone, but I'm concerned about how much the extra features I wuold need to support a fancy phone would cost.

So, I ask you, LazyWeb, for reccomendations for fancy phones that will work in Canada. I know nothing of these phones beyond what I have said above. What should I be looking for? Is there a significant difference between phone companies for these things?

I might still go for something boring. But I at least wanna go drool over the shinies.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2005 05:43 am (UTC)
Looks like you can get an Audiovox SMT5600 through Rogers? I really have no clue about Canadian cell providers, but you might do that.

I *love* mine. I've had it for a little over a month now, and I have it checking my gmail account, I can surf the web when I'm bored (on the bus, bored in a meeting, etc.). I've been writing PROGRAMS for it, which is ridiculously awesome. It's got an Outlook-style calendar that will remind you of appointments. Basically if you can use windows, you'll get the hang of it in no time. It's like a super-tiny PDA phone.

Me and Monk have a "family plan" through Cingular and pay $60ish/mo for two of these phones + unlimited data usage so you can check email, browse the web, send text messages, download things, etc. It would be kinda lame without unlimited data, or maybe not, if you don't think you'd use the internet and check your mail with it. I like being able to google things in the middle of nowhere. From your phone.
Jul. 30th, 2005 06:04 am (UTC)
My phone has minimal gadgetry (Samsung VGA 1000): yes it has a camera, but the only thing I really use that for is caller ID pictures, which can be neat but overall it's not really useful. The gadgets I use all-the-time: Scheduler, Memopad, and Alarm. I would not be able to survive without these, I think, and most of the phones I've seen have these functions, regardless of gadgetryness.

The extraneous features of a fancy phone (intarweb connectivity, downloaded games and ringtones, text/SMS messages etc) are charged on a per-use basis or as a package - they aren't a necessity for fancy phonage.

The singularly most amusing feature on my phone, though: it's a flip-phone, and makes noises when it's opened and closed. That's amused most of my friends and myself endlessly.
Jul. 30th, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
I have the Treo 600. If you need a phone and a PDA I recommend it. It does have email & Web browsing, but you don't need to use it. If you don't get the data package, it doesn't cost more than regular phone service.

It syncs nicely with Outlook's Calendar and notes. If you use the camera, the photos sync over to your computer, so you can email them from there. The 650 (the newest model) has a much better camera and display than the 600.

You can also use it for music, if you are into that. And it is good for simple games, too. (I tend to play scrabble on mine.)

Jul. 30th, 2005 11:39 am (UTC)
I also have a Treo 600. The benefits: it's a PalmOS PDA, and it's great to be able to surf the web (e.g. post on LJ) from virtually anywhere. (It also has a camera and an SD slot, and I've used it to play music for a party using a cable and a set of computer speakers.) The downside: it doesn't deal with low signal-strength areas very well. Overall, it's a great choice for me, and the data isn't too much of an added expense.
Jul. 30th, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC)
Ponder on features first (plus, I love my taco)
I'd suggest figuring out what features you want to have in a phone, then start looking at phones after that. It's a good way to narrow the field somewhat. So:

SMS, email and IM:
SMS is going to be a default on just about any phone anymore; personally I find it a pretty handy way to stay in touch. You can use most phones to check your email, but if you want to send stuff regularly or use IM (which should be available on any Java capable phone or any PDA type) then you'll want something with a full keyboard unless you can master the predictive text thing (this isn't impossible by any means; I know a guy who lives on his phone and has his IM running almost all the time).

Cameras & video:
With few exceptions, cameras on phones are of middling quality and not good for much more than casual fun shots; video can make for some fun little clips, but again quality will generally be kinda low. If you plan on taking pictures with your phone regularly, make sure there's way to get the pictures off the phone easily (like removable media or a USB connection) or you'll be paying $0.25 per picture for the privilige; more for video.

MP3 player:
MP3 players on phones are generally pretty bare-bones, so you're looking at carrying around some tunes rather than your entire music collection a la an iPod.

PDA type stuff:
Most phones will have a few PDA-like functions, but to actually sync with a computer, load cool stuff and have something to really geek out with you're looking at either Palm OS, Windows SmartPhone, Symbian OS or a Blackberry. They're all a little different, but the Blackbery is pretty limited (though it also does the email thing the best, as that's it's Primary Function and it has probably the best full keyboard). On a PDA phone you might also want Bluetooth, since then you can also get fun peripherals as well (like a bluetooth keyboard, or a headset).

I snagged an original style N-Gage off eBay for $200, though it could possibly be done cheaper with more patience. It's a Nokia 60 series Symbian OS phone, which really makes it an odd little mini-PC. Since Series 60 is a widely supported standard there's a heck of a lot of stuff for it. It has a (very feature-light) built in MP3 player and radio, takes MMC memory cards (not SD cards though, and MMC cards are much less common), has a USB port that lets you access the memory card, has Bluetooth and is also a game platform that has increasingly awesome games released for it.
On the downside, without a headset it's goofy looking to talk on (kinda like you're holding a taco to your head), and you need to power the thing off and remove the backing and battery to replace the memory card. The N-Gage QD fixes these problems (no more side-talkin', and you can hot-swap cards) but they removed the MP3 player and radio. You can use a software MP3 player, but you'll only get mono sound (bleh).

For me, games are important so the N-Gage works well. I also found an excellent IM program for it almost immediately, along with lots of other cool stuff. Overall it's quirky, but fun.

One final note; Canadian carriers are less cool about Data charges. I drooled at the $60/mo family plan w/ unlimited data from Cingular quoted above. I pay $25 for 5MB/month from Fido.

(I might repost this in my LJ; it's been kicking around in my head for months but this is teh first I've had a good excuse to write it all out. Lemme know if you found it useful!)
Jul. 30th, 2005 05:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Ponder on features first (plus, I love my taco)
This was very useful, thanks
Jul. 31st, 2005 01:25 am (UTC)
Whoops; a few more things!
First, a few notes on Canadian cell carriers.

All offer a contract, usually giving you a discount on a phone to get you into one. This is because phones are sold pretty much at a loss, and they need to keep you as a customer for that long to pay off the hardware.

A phone that is "unlocked" can be activated anywhere thee's a network to support it (make sure any eBay puchase from outside Canada is unlocked!).
- Bell and TELUS use CDMA technology. It's mostly used in Asia and the US. I'm pretty sure TELUS will only activate TELUS phones, but I don't know about Bell.
-Rogers and Fido (rapidly becoming one company) use GPRS, which is common all over the world. Both will activate "unlocked" phones (sometimes called "WorldPhones") from anywhere, though your setup process might be tricky.

Also, I forgot 2 very important things:

A cell-phone is only maximally useful if you carry it around with you everywhere you go, and always have it on. You can always set it to be Silent if you don't want to be bothered (some models can do this by pressing & holding a single button), but turning it off (unless you're low on power) is something you'll probably only do at night, and not even that if you're using it as an alarm (I do).

So as one of the few things you'll always be carrying, it should be comfortable and something that suits your sense of style. By comfortable, I mean something that fits nicely in your hand, and easily in the pocket you'll typically carry it. So when you check one out in the store, be thorough. Try the buttons out, hold it to your head & talk in it, just flip it around in your hand for a bit. Try punching numbers, type in a quick SMS message, open a program, take a picture... It should be something you enjoy looking at, and playing with.

One more thing...You said you wanted a "toy", and let's face it, a phone is and should be a toy. The alternative is carrying around a stupid piece of electronics that lets people bother you wherever you are. The difference is almost entirely in your head.
Jul. 31st, 2005 01:26 am (UTC)
Re: Whoops; a few more things!
Whoops, sorry, that was me! That'll learn me not to use my browser...

::sigh:: We need a 2nd box...
Jul. 31st, 2005 01:35 am (UTC)
Re: Ponder on features first (plus, I love my taco)
That is the creepiest icon ever.
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