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Can't decide if I want to make the leap up. Currently using a Samsung A920 clamshell, with MP3 capability via MicroSD. It also has rudimentary "internet" capabilities, but it's more like simply choosing through the options that some Sprint service gives you and not actual browsing. Great for weather and scores, but that's about it. But it's a good phone and I'm happy with my Sprint service in this part of the country. One idea is to get myself some sort fo smart phone and have my wife inherit my A920 so she can have MP3 and just an overall better phone than what she uses now.

So I come to you, my tech-savvy brethren and sisteren, to inundate you with questions about these things. Lucky you.

Here's my situation. I work for myself from home, travel a bit (but that's dropped off a lot this past year, go figure). I usually drive everywhere so in-flight and layover entertainment isn't a concern. I don't get a huge volume of e-mail though it would be nice to be able to receive them while I'm at a customer location or away from my laptop connection. Customer contact data is important since I sometimes need to make calls or arrange for visits while I'm in any particular area. When working at what I do, I tend to listen to a lot of music. Texting is not important whatsoever.

Here's what I think I want:

- good call quality, and good reception range. After all, it IS a phone, and that's how I'd use it most. I'm in the boonies a good bit so range is important. I also work in noisy environments so mic and earphone quality need to be good. My Samsung is decent at all of those and I'd rather not take a step backward.
- music capability, especially MP3 since we've ripped all of our music; TV / video isn't a concern, for now, though it looks like many of Sprint phones offer it. Some of the phones offer access to Pandora and IHeartRadio and that seems like a decent thing to have.
- e-mail. IMAP-capable would be best.
- browsing so I can look up parts and technical info on-the-fly at customer locations. Also needs to be able to download files like PDFs. Not necessarily be able to read them, but I least need the capability to get them and subsequently transfer them to my laptop.
- GPS isn't a must-have but it would be handy, especially if it offers turn-by-turn directions instead of just a list of directions. I can do lists myself now, with MS Streets, paper, and a pen.
- robust contacts info, as well as the ability to import that data via Excel, Outlook, etc. Excel is preferred but I can make Outlook work, too.
- Scheduler or calendar. Looks all of them have this basic function.
- Office apps, like Excel and Word, or at least equivalents that save to the same file format. I have templates for a lot of my stuff so it would be handy to handle this stuff with the phone instead of firing up the laptop every time.
- "hard drive" capability, so you can plug it in via USB and treat it as a drive in Explorer, similar to plugging in a thumb drive. Alternatively, be able to read more than just media files from a MicroSD card; this would work, also, since the laptop has an SD reader.
- Camera is optional. I carry a p&s already.
- I think I'd rather have keys over a touchscreen, though if it has both, that'd be great.
- Built-in social networking is not a concern whatsoever. Kind of a waste of ROM and screen space.

So my questions start:

- Any particular OS better than the others for actual business use with a little entertainment on the side? Maybe it's better to ask: what are the pros and cons of your favorite smart phone OS?
- How much do you actually use those capabilities that are beyond the scope of a regular phone?
- Are they actually handy at surfing and e-mail on-the-fly?
- Are they usable for Word, Excel, etc, or is it such a PITA as to make it virtually pointless?
- For those of you using the smart phone for business, does it actually let you accomplish things in a manner that makes it easier than pulling out the laptop for something relatively quick and easy?
- Is it actually worth the extra cost, considering one normally needs to get an extra data plan? For instance, a Blackberry will run me an extra $20 per month, plus taxes and fees (I already have a $10 unlimited plan that I never use).
- Does the GPS work well, and how easy it it to use? Does it integrate with Contacts?
- Is there any platform that is particularly app-friendly? Note that I will not be going with an iPhone - AT&T service around here is very sparse. Any favorite apps or uses that you think are really worth the move? How about the price of add-on apps?
- Last (for now), any pitfalls, hidden costs, things to look for / ask about?

I tried a Treo, umm, 650? a few years back and it wasn't particularly user-friendly at the time, so I've been loathe to make the jump. That, and I'm still happy with a regular old phone. However, it can be a PITA to beg a net connection at a customer site, and get files through their firewalls, etc. I just don't want to spend a lot of money for a more-expensive data plan with a phone I won't get much use out of.

Major thanks to anyone who can shed some light.
 

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2004 Forester 2.5X 5 speed manual
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My $.02.

Get a cell phone that is a cell phone. Have a cheap calling plan for it. Also get a wireless data card with a basic service plan. Then go buy yourself a netbook for approx $300 and use the wireless data card with it. You'll get full computer internet capabilities, plus have the functionality of a small notebook computer. I recently acquired an ASUS EeePC and have found it to be incredibly useful and much more functional than the crackberries that others have, while being no less portable.
 

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If you want a good one, get the new motorola Droid on verizon. AT&T's network kind of sucks, so the iphone ends up being less useful, especially if you rely on the 3g connection for internet. The droid is one of the fastest smartphones (comparable to the iphone 3gs) and I like that it has google voice capability built in (if you havent looked at google voice, its pretty awesome, this phone can use your google voice number natively if you want)

The GPS on the droid is quite good.

Not a fan of blackberries in general, too much PDA, not enough cell phone. Also, the browser on the droid or iphone is much better than anything available on a blackberry. Also I would want something with wifi. The blackberries feel like using windows 95, just not very polished and I don't like how they have that tiny screen and tiny keyboard.

Honestly though, I've been living with my basic samsung slider, the only smartphone to come out thats interested me is the Droid (motorola version with keyboard, not the HTC version). However my current plan is around 15$ a month, this would add 30$ every month (I currently have no data plan at all).

I wouldn't bother with the microsoft office apps, none of the mobile versions are especially useful. Blackberry has some ability, but on that tiny screen its useless usually (my 13" laptop screen is small enough for the big excel files I work with).

I would go into a store and hold them both and see how you like them (or find someone who has one that will let you use it for a little while).
 

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I recently made the jump (one month ago) to a smart phone (iphone). I'm glad I did. I was carrying 4 different devices and it was driving me nuts. While the iphone is not quite as good as any of the individal components I had, it's good enough and the improved web browsing and remote email (imap) has more than tipped the balance. Given your needs Droid or Palm may do it for you. I hate those little keyboards, but your fingers may vary. If it's just for the car FLDrummer's idea may really work.
 

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...Get a cell phone that is a cell phone. Have a cheap calling plan for it. Also get a wireless data card with a basic service plan. Then go buy yourself a netbook for approx $300 and use the wireless data card with it...
+100,203

For the purposes you list, this fits really well! Everything else will be major compromises for your purposes.
 

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I have been using smartphones ever since I got my first one, Samsung i-300, back in the late 90's. The ones I can remember using are a Treo 600, HTC 6700, HTC 6800, and my current phone which is an HTC Touch Pro. I LOVE it. However, I am using a custom ROM that rids the phone of all of the bloatware that comes with the phone. This allows for the phone to be much snappier in performance and helps it retain great battery performance Ex. if I use my phone a normal amount, including bluetooth usage I can get through the day on only half a charge. That's almost unheard of on other smartphone.

I have always wanted an iPhone but admittingly only because of the styling. I am already contemplating my next one and have been looking at the Android phones but I don't really like the way they look. My Touch Pro is a great phone. It's very stylish but incredibly functional
 

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This is a very timely post, as I'm mulling over the same questions right now.

I have a basic cell phone, and I have a PDA. The PDA is very old and starting to act flaky, so I suspect it's lifetime is limited.

My wish list is a smartphone that is my two current devices in one -- for cheap !!

I don't want to pay for the unlimited data. I just want a cheap basic cell phone plan, and I want my phone to sync with my computer for Outlook with calendar, contacts, etc. I would also like WiFi so that I could surf the net occasionally when I'm in a hot spot (which is most of the time).

Any ideas ?? So far every smartphone plan I've seen starts out pretty good, but then requires an unlimited data plan for another $30.00/month or so.

A friend told me to get a basic cell phone plan and buy an unlocked smartphone. Then I can put the SIM chip in the smart phone. Will that actually work ??

Thanks for any advice !!
 

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I had always wanted an iphone, but didn't want to be an ******* with an iphone that can't stop talking about how great they are.

Then I started app development for the iphone and figured I might as well get one to test on. Best flippin' device on the planet. I use mine as a PDA/web tool/phone and I couldn't be more happy with it.

I have never had a problem with AT&T's 3G, but I stay well within the city limits.

Interested to check out the Droid...

If you spend 10mins with an iphone you'll be sold.
 

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This is a very timely post, as I'm mulling over the same questions right now.

I have a basic cell phone, and I have a PDA. The PDA is very old and starting to act flaky, so I suspect it's lifetime is limited.

My wish list is a smartphone that is my two current devices in one -- for cheap !!

I don't want to pay for the unlimited data. I just want a cheap basic cell phone plan, and I want my phone to sync with my computer for Outlook with calendar, contacts, etc. I would also like WiFi so that I could surf the net occasionally when I'm in a hot spot (which is most of the time).

Any ideas ?? So far every smartphone plan I've seen starts out pretty good, but then requires an unlimited data plan for another $30.00/month or so.

A friend told me to get a basic cell phone plan and buy an unlocked smartphone. Then I can put the SIM chip in the smart phone. Will that actually work ??

Thanks for any advice !!
If you have Sprint see if you can get on a SERO plan. My plan is $30/month and includes 500 anytime mins, unlimited nights/weekends plus unlimited data. The sero plans might have changed since i got on mine and they're beginning to get harder to get into but still worth a try.
 

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Iphone is not really a toy, it is a toy if you so deem it to be, but these devices have become invaluable at my work. At work we have far more problems with blackberries on our network than the iphones. We also travel frequently and have rare issues with ATT's network.

I almost agree with the netbook, but I like having the convenience of one device.
 

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Sounds like you want a Windows Mobile type phone, though the regular phone + wireless card idea doesn't sound bad (the only problem with this is that you will probably be paying more than just getting a data plan on Sprint, especially now that Everything Data 450 is like $69 [if you have corporate discounts, use it]).

My Sprint HTC Touch Pro does everything you said you want, plus if you want Office on a phone, WinMo phones are practically the only option; HOWEVER, WinMO phones can be extremely frustrating to new users, since it will crash at times, freeze.. pretty much anything a PC will do. Custom ROMs are available though to make the process much more enjoyable and most of them take out the provider junk. If you're an advanced PC user, you probably won't find these things to be abnormal. Always have insurance on PPCs because they WILL break in one way or another and you will need exchange it.

PPCGeeks is a good place to ask anything you need about a variety of Pocket PC phones ("smartphone" only applies to single type of pocket pc: the non-touchscreen type, the media, once again, messed up the dictionary).

You may want to wait until February to change phones because that's usually when all the new Pocket PC phones come out.

SERO is no longer available.

Oh and if you do decide that you want the HTC Touch Pro from Sprint's Pocket PC lineup, you should know that the model is being discontinued and all Touch Pro users are being moved over to the Touch Pro 2 (especially after 3 exchanges), which some of us consider to be an inferior phone, even though it has a bigger screen (less RAM, screen resolution is lower, etc). A memo was issued last month about this internally at Sprint. Failure rate of the HTC Touch Pro is too high.
 

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blackberry user here. I have the 8330 curve on verizon...good call quality and I like the non-touch screen keyboard (good tactile feedback). One of my favorite features is the bb messenger (IM) great if you have friends with bb's. It handles my hotmail email flawlessly which is great. I admit the iphones look really cool, but I am going to need to really test one out and see if I can deal with the touchscreen keyboard.
 

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blackberry user here. I have the 8330 curve on verizon...good call quality and I like the non-touch screen keyboard (good tactile feedback). One of my favorite features is the bb messenger (IM) great if you have friends with bb's. It handles my hotmail email flawlessly which is great. I admit the iphones look really cool, but I am going to need to really test one out and see if I can deal with the touchscreen keyboard.

I like my Touch Pro since I can use the touchscreen for short messages and then it has a slide out keyboard for longer emails. The lack of physical keyboard on the iPhone would be the only thing I wouldn't like. My GF tried her sisters out and said that the keyboard didn't have arrows on it. So when she would make a mistake typing an email, it took forever to correct it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
If you spend 10mins with an iphone you'll be sold.
No can do. AT&T coverage around here is as spotty as 101 Dalmatians. To own an iPhone in these parts is the same as owning a PDA: you can do anything except make calls. Either way, the iPhone is not an option until it shows up under Sprint since that's the carrier I'm sticking with until they piss me off. So far they've been a breeze to deal with and the coverage in the Midwest is quite good.

I'll take another look at the droid, Touch Pro 2 (expensive beast but it looks sweet), and a couple Windows Mobile units. I liked the feel of the Blackberry Tour and 8330, and that little trackball is a nice compromise to not having a touchscreen. I'll also look around for something simpler that'll handle e-mail since that's the one thing I REALLY want to be able to do. Well, mp3s also, but that's pretty much standard these days.

A netbook w/ data card is a no-go since I'm not buying a second laptop, and I'm trying to avoid being tethered to a laptop for every data task (e-mail, invoices, expenses, contacts, etc), anyway. I appreciate the idea, though, since it may have me looking into simpler phone options (see above), and in the end, a phone should be good at making voice calls. If PDA capabilities take too much away from the telephone then is it really worth the move?
 

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If I had to have a BB, i'd get the storm.

I actually don't mind the on screen keyboards. Don't have a problem with them at all. Most also 'learn' your style and adapt to how you type (which makes 'trying out' a friend's touch screen useless).
 

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I've had blackberries and palms given to me at my jobs for 10 years. I hate both.

I'm not a phone expert at all (I HATE phones), but from what I've used there is nothing better than the iPhone. I haven't played with the Google phone yet, but I'm not a fan of Google nowadays (even though I use their email).

I tend to be "behind times" and using stable technology. But, the iPhone is awesome, it took smart phones to the next level.

As far as coverage, they all seem to suck in some areas. I used to have Verizon and got horrible coverage, but that was in '01. I've had good luck with AT&T and my work phone is Sprint.

When I can't get something done on the iPhone, I bust out the MacBook Pro with the Verizon wireless card and connect to the interwebz that way. I have been in places quite a few times where there was no reception though.

Stan
 

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Sucky keyboard

I went to verizon and demoed the droid. Its badass, and unlike a netbook, it fits in your pocket!
I totally like the idea of an phone running an open source OS (android 2.0 in this case) However the keyboard on the droid sucks. Maybe I'm spoiled by the real keyboard on my LG envy 2 but I was very underwhelmed by what Motorola put on that droid. No tactile feedback. You don't know when you actually pressed a key.
Also make sure you understand Verizon usage model. Their "unlimited" plan is limited to 5G. Go over and you pay an extra $50.
 
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