The big switch

I’ve had it. You’ve failed me for the last time, Windows Mobile. My Touch Pro is stripped down to just about stock. Nothing more installed on it than GPS Today, WMWiFiRouter and Evernote. And still, it’s slower than my iPod Touch, freezes more than my iPod Touch, and using the touchscreen is less responsive and precise than my iPod Touch. In fact, since getting my iPod Touch, I’ve been consistently amazed at how much I put up with from Windows Mobile, how much I just accepted as “the way things work” because I didn’t know any better.

Well, I’m done. Windows Mobile, even with HTC’s TouchFlo 3D or even the new Spb Mobile Shell 3.0, isn’t good enough compared to the competition. 6.5 won’t be appreciably better, because they didn’t fix the right things (a shinier UI doesn’t mean squat over the same crappy memory management) and Windows Mobile 7, due in late 2010 maybe, brings a whole new set of issues. If I’m going to switch platforms, I may as well do it now.

iPhone 3G 16GB for $150, an offer I can’t refuse?

AT&T has a pretty sweet deal going on right now. I can get a refurbished 16GB iPhone 3G for only $150, delivered 2-day right to my door (which, now that I’m living in a house, I actually have). Order it Monday, and I could be setting it up when I get home from work Wednesday night, give me something to do while I’m installing Windows 7 RC (which comes out on the 5th). That’s really not a bad deal at all, and I still have an iPod Touch I could sell and recoup some of that (or just give it to my 13-year-old niece who has already cracked the screen on the netbook she got for xmas). And word on the street is that you can even get AT&T to credit your account to offset any early termination fee from the carrier you’re leaving. I really can’t see a downside to this. I even like the fact that it’s a refurb, meaning an actual human being has gone over it and said, “Yes, this is okay to sell.”

Waiting for Godot, er, iPhone HD

My original plan, such as it was, was to use the iPod in conjunction with my Touch Pro until June 8th, the first day of WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. This is when they’re expected to officially release iPhone OS 3.0 to the unwashed masses, and everyone expects them to unveil shiny new hardware as well. Both generations of iPhones were released at WWDC and went on sale shortly thereafter, in late June or early July. For a while now, the speculation has been that they were going to release a new, HD-capable and maybe even HD screened iPhone, something to compete more directly with the newer 800×480 HTC devices. But in the last week or so, that rumor has lost steam.

Look, I have no idea what Apple’s going to do. Neither, frankly, does anyone else outside of Cupertino. And maybe Kevin Rose. But anyone else, it’s just educated guesses. Sometimes you can get a long way on educated guesses, but they’re still guesses (see: difficulty in actually making any accurate predictions in climate science). We just don’t know, and basing my purchasing decisions on what I think Apple might do isn’t the best way to go. For what it’s worth, I think we’ll see only minor changes at best to the iPhone 3G, maybe colored backs. The HD stuff will go into a new Apple iPad a little smaller than the Kindle, but all screen. Nice, but not a phone. So for my money, a cheap iPhone 3G is as good now as in July.

Wither Pre?

Of course, the other reason to wait was to see the Palm Pre in person, to ponder it’s pocketable perfection (I’m a sucker for alliteration, sue me). But the more I learn about the Pre, especially in relation to what I’m learning about the iPhone, the less interested I become. For one thing, I have come to loathe and despise sliders. The Pre is a vertical slider, so it’s slightly less onerous than my Touch Pro in that you don’t have to wait for the screen to rotate, but lacking an on-screen keyboard you still have to pop it open even for trivial text entry, like passwords. Ask any G1 owner how long that takes to get old.

The uncertainty about application availability is another sticking point for me. I know what’s available for the iPhone, and have made lots of purchases from the iPhone App Store already (including spending at least $50 already in software I’ve since replaced with alternatives, but that’s all part of exploring a new platform). The webOS App Catalog, however, is still a mystery. We know some of the players that will have apps ready for launch, but a lot of the really important ones for me are still question marks. Will eReader have their reader app ready for launch? How about Evernote? We don’t know.

So between discomfort with the hardware and uncertainty with the software, I’m more and more inclined to give the Pre a pass. And I’m definitely ready to leave Sprint, so that’s another point in the “no Pre for me” column. Which brings me back to getting an iPhone 3G, and the sooner the better.

The Palm Eos, my other smartphone

Of course, we also got some news this week that allows me to hedge my bets. I’m the kind of guy who ran out of fingers holding “undo” places in Choose Your Own Adventure novels back in the 80s. I like to keep my options open, have an escape hatch. And Palm may provide me just that. We got a leaked render of another webOS device this week, what many are calling the Palm Eos. This front facing QWERTY candybar phone is clearly the replacement for the Centro, and should retail at $350 before carrier discounting, putting it somewhere between $100-200 with contract. It’s taller than the Pre but much thinner, very similar in form factor to the iPhone. It kind of looks like a Treo Pro with longer screen (320×400, shorter than the iPhone or Pre, but longer than the Treo). And it’s a GSM device using the AT&T UMTS bands.

So, in theory, I could buy an iPhone 3G now, upgrade it to the 3.0 firmware in June, and then down the line buy an Eos for $350 off contract. Then I could swap my SIM card (it will be nice to be back on a network that uses them again, CDMA ESN swaps just aren’t the same) back and forth between them depending on whether I want the all touch screen experience of the iPhone or the mix of capacitive touch and always available QWERTY of the Eos. Best of both worlds, and on the same account. Both sync with Google, so my data’s the same either way, especially if I have Evernote on both as well.

And I’ll finally be rid of Windows Mobile and all the annoyances it’s brought me. And that’s a good deal no matter which way you slice it.

2 thoughts on “The big switch”

  1. The Guardian did a story on the upcoming iPhone software 3.0. One of the comments nailed why I moved from Windows Mobile.

    “As a former Windows Mobile Smartphone owner and current iPhone owner, can I just say what I appreciate most is having a phone that doesn’t hate me.”

    On a seperate note.
    I have a ton of objections to my my much beloved iPhone: no cut & paste yet, no multitasking, no recording video, and NO EASY WAY TO GET STUFF ONTO THE BLOODY THING!!!!!
    Deep breaths

    Look, what I do most frequently with my phone is read books. And unfortunately I read fast, and a lot. Right now, the best software for that, IMO, is Stanza. It was good before, now with the new update, it even beats out the one invaluable program I missed from WM, uBook. Cripes you can even look up definitions now from within it. As well as control the screen brightness, change font size by pinching. And the beautiful coverflow. Superb app. But how do you import books onto it? By first running Bonjour on a pc, using the Stanza Desktop application, opening the book within it, and grabbing it from within the Stanza iphone app. Now for the next book do it again, and again, and augghh!!! Can you say clusterf**k?

    For years I read on my trusty Treo 650. when I wanted to add more books, I just went to my /Books directory on the computer, and dragged a few hundred over to an SD card. Popped that into my Treo, and done. Now adding books to my iPhone is doable, but definitely a nontrivial effort. I’ve got close to 400 books on my iPhone and everytime I think of all the effort it took to get them there I wince.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone. I used to carry a phone, PDA, camera, and GPS in a gadget bag everywhere I went, now I just carry my iPhone in my shirt pocket. And the app store can’t be beat, it’s just….well it could be so much more.

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