As many of you know, we don’t just love Macs around here; gadgets also make our hearts pump faster. And that means, of course, mobile phones. We thought we’d bring you up to date on the latest and greatest.
As usual, we’ll start with Apple. The iPhone 3G is still a hot seller and still a great device. It hasn’t really changed much since it was released last year, but continues to be a source of excitement because of the tremendous variety of inexpensive applications, more every day, which teach iPhones new tricks. I would not be surprised if Apple releases a new iPhone model in six months. Until then, ignore any rumors you hear.
Next up is Research in Motion, who make the BlackBerry. The BlackBerry Curve, which I used, was the perfect keyboard phone in my opinion — until I got the Curve 8900, just released by T-Mobile, which enhances the very popular device with a remarkable high-resolution screen, 3.2 megapixel camera, more attractive user interface, and updated design. It still doesn’t scream “fun,” but it does approach the iPhone’s “elegant” feel. The Bold (AT&T) has all that plus 3G data speeds, but is a bit larger and I don’t like its keyboard as much. The Storm (Verizon) is BlackBerry’s first stab at an iPhone competitor, and while awful when released, it is now apparently usable, though I have yet to hear someone say they love theirs. The Pearl is slightly smaller than the Curve but its “two-keys per button” keyboard is inferior; and the Flip is basically a folding Pearl, and I don’t think anyone cares.
BlackBerry is also starting up their version of Apple’s App Store, and they’re calling it BlackBerry App World. Some apps will be free, while the paid apps will be priced at $2.99 and up. Which is significantly higher than Apple’s $0.99 minimum.
Remember Palm? The innovative company who made the PDA popular? And then had a great second act with the Treo, which seamlessly married that PDA to a full-keyboard phone? And then completely failed to advance their platform for years, while their users graduated to iPhones and BlackBerries? Well, Palm’s back, with an all-new phone called the Pre, which offers the giant screen of the iPhone and Storm with the full keyboard of a Curve (it slides out). The web demo suggests a sophisticated user interface, with visual refinement to rival the iPhone. Unfortunately, the Pre is not out yet, and it will only be available for Sprint — probably not ideal for Palm, given the faded lustre of both brands. Also, the design of the device itself looks a bit pedestrian to my eyes. All the same, I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
And then there’s…Google? That’s right. Google is not releasing their own phone, but instead has developed software which phone manufacturers can use to run their phones. These are commonly called “Android phones,” after the name of Google’s software. There’s only one model, the T-Mobile G1, that’s been in wide release, and to lukewarm reaction, but there will be many more, in part due to Google’s extremely flexible licensing and application development policies (a striking contrast to Apple’s).
There are still a bunch of Windows Mobile devices on the market, but I tell you this: Windows Mobile, at least for phones, is dead. They had their shot. I was a fan; I would argue that Windows Mobile was the first platform to put a powerful, modern computer in the palm of your hand. However, by trying to shoehorn a mediocre Windows computer desktop experience onto a small device, all they ever got was a phone that was capable but clumsy to use. Ten years later, Apple and BlackBerry have eaten their lunch.
What’s left? The usual plethora of “standard” phones, with varying degrees of features and cuteness. However, I left these long ago — why carry a phone, when you can have a computer and portable entertainment system too?