The Nokia 5800 has been my primary phone for the last three months or so. My earlier phone, the Sony Ericsson T610, was getting old and was in need of a massive update (retirement). Being a Sony Ericsson user, the idea of switching to Nokia seemed pretty unimaginable to me at the time. But try as I might, there wasn't a SE phone that seemed to fit the bill. Having delayed my purchase of a smartphone, my list of requirements seemed to be growing all the time.
When I started looking for a phone in late 2007, my list of requirements was driven by the phones at the time, particularly, the iPhone. On a number of levels, the iPhone was almost a no-no from the beginning. I never saw myself buying an Apple product - I adore them, just don't agree with the approach and philosophy of the company. Anyways, driven partly by the iPhone and the other phones at the time, this was a list of parameters I had come up with for my first smartphone.
- Touch screen: This was a must have for me. The way I saw it, the touch interface was going to be the standard interface philosophy soon, especially in mobile interfaces. Not to say the keyboard would be redundant, but the ability to interact with on-screen elements (for certain activities), without need for surrogates like cursors and element focus seemed to be the natural progression. And I wanted in on that. And for me, the physical keyboard was completely optional. Also, I was not sold on either the capacitive or the resistive touch screens. And so did not have particular loyalties to either camp.
- Other sensors:Proximity, light and orientation sensors was definitely high on the list. I figured, I will have to carry a second device, that was more focused on communication and email - so why not focus on the fun factor with my personal phone. Lack of an orientation sensor was almost a definite deal-breaker. For a fun phone, that definitely had a big cool factor.
- WLAN(WiFi): Was another must have. My plan was to have that as the primary means of getting data in and out of the phone. That would also save me a data-plan with my mobile carrier, which were not cheap to come by.
- 3G: Was optional for me. The way I saw it, the 3G network wasn't ubiquitous enough to base my purchase on being able to use it. Especially given that I would be traveling and therefore not necessarily have 3G coverage all the time. The other side effect of this decision was that I did not have to worry about the NAM and Rest of the world 3G variants before I got my paws on my phone of choice.
- Quad band: That said about 3G, it definitely had to be Quad band phone. Given, the same traveling nature - I did not want to get stuck with a phone that would not work in all my locations. My SE T610 did not do 850 MHz, and I had done my share of blaming the network (ATT) in public, secretly knowing that my phone was really to blame.
- Flexibility and Freedom: This was one of the most important requirements. In two ways - firstly I did not want a branded and locked phone. I wanted the flexibility to be able to change SIM cards across different locations. (See need for traveling above). And secondly, I wanted to be able to install and uninstall applications the any way possible. I did not want either my carrier or my phone manufacturer to determine what I did with my phone. The other piece of freedom - access to the file system of the phone, without the need to install a clunky proprietary program.
- Screen: QVGA (320 x 240) or better. Why? Coz the iPhone did QVGA.
- Battery: At least 1200 mAh. Again, that did not really mean anything without a strong support from the device itself. I hoped for a regular usage of 2 to 3 days, and heavy use of a day before having to recharge.
- Application ecosystem: Given that Apple was the only viable option dictated that this was not a necessity. But, as long as I was able to get a system that was open enough - It was a matter of time before people started trying to replicate the App Store.
- Camera: This surprisingly was not really high on my list. Primarily because, I was yet to see a phone that did a tenth as good a job as my SLR. And there were physical reasons to it - a camera phone had the sensor the size of my pinky toenail. I did not expect to do any serious photography on my phone. On the off chance that I was to witness a UFO landing, I just hoped to have a video mode to create a grainy, shaky, unrecognizable account of the event.
- Other connectivity (Physical & Bluetooth): Bluetooth was an expected minimum. Physical connectivity was not that important, as long as I had my WLAN access.
- Memory: Expected a few gigs, but more importantly hope for one with an external card, which could be upgraded as and when I ran out of space on the phone itself. I have a tendency to run out of space - rather quickly.
The phones I was reviewing, at the time, were a wide variety. But they boiled down the the following:
It was neck and neck between these phones (though the Omnia went to the bottom of the pile pretty early) and it seemed just a matter of which price point I was comfortable with. As time went by, the Diamond seemed to slowly but surely rise to the top. XPeria was priced too high, and the screen of the Diamond beat that of the Touch hands down. Until the Nokia 5800 came along. If you look back at the list of requirements I had, you can see how well the 5800 stacks up. Next post - what I love about my 5800.