This post is about running Debian GNU/Linux on the Mesada/Flexiview FV-1 “AndroidTV” unit. This post has been a bit delayed, I got very sidetracked with other things this month!

By following these steps, you should be able to use the FV-1 a bit like a normal desktop Linux computer. However, it’s still a long way from my dream goal of running XBMC for Linux.

Android TV front

Continue reading

I’m calling this a “technical review” because I’m not going to spend much time talking about using Android on this device. The reason for that will become apparent.

I recently purchased two “Android TV” boxes from aliexpress, for investigation and general hackery.

Android TV front
Android TV back
Android TV remote

You can buy these from various online vendors (dealextreme, aliexpress, etc.) Also under other names – for instance it’s sold here in Australia as the Kogan Agora TV.

The “original” product is the Flexiview FV-1, made by Mesada Technology, Shenzhen.

Continue reading

Last Monday I walked into a Big W store here in Canberra and paid $188AU ($196US) for an Android smartphone, no network lock and no contract. I’ve had it for nearly a week now. What do I think? I think, with minor qualifications, that it’s almost unbelievably good.

Packaging

The Sonic comes in a fairly standard box. It contains the phone, battery, USB charger, USB to MicroUSB charge/sync cable, and a handsfree kit. There is a 2Gb MicroSD card already inserted in the SD slot.

The handsfree uses the common extended-3.5mm-stereo-plug pinout, same as the iPhone, which is convenient given the range of existing accessories (maybe this is a defacto standard now?)

Build Quality

The phone is a plastic “candybar”, and it feels very sturdy. I was pleasantly surprised after playing with the $99 Eken M001 and $149 M003 tablets last year, which each felt like flimsy rubbish.

The only remaining question is how the Sonic will age. The touchscreen doesn’t seem more susceptible to scratches than any other phone, but time will tell for sure. I anticipate it will hold up well, though.

Performance

The Sonic has a 600Mhz ARM11 processor (the Qualcomm MSM7227), and 256Mb of RAM.

Compared to the current crop of dual-core 1Gb superphones, you can almost hear the gadget fanbois scoffing and calling the Sonic underpowered and therefore useless. Still, the real proof is in how the phone runs.

The Sonic runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread extremely well – performance is snappy, apps open quickly. I haven’t tried enabling bells and whistles like live background animations on the home screen, but in out-of-the-box use the HTC Sonic runs perfectly without compromise.

Before using it, I felt dubious about the Sonic’s 256Mb of RAM. More or less every Android phone since 2010 has at least 512Mb, and Android is known to be a bit of a RAM-hog. For the most part though, I’ve found the Sonic’s low RAM1 to not be a serious factor. The built-in memory management in 2.3 seems to be good at keeping RAM free for use, while allowing apps to run in the background where possible. I installed “Advanced Task Killer”, but I haven’t needed to use it yet.

There’s a slight delay when re-launching something that’s been closed while in the background, but for the most part it’s pretty seamless. I was able to keep several web pages open at once in the browser without a hint of page reloads or slowdowns, while other apps kept running in the background.

Screen

The Sonic has a 3.5″ HVGA (320×480) 262-thousand-colour capacitive touchscreen. Again, although it isn’t on par with the amazing “super-ultra-OANULTIMOLED” screens in the Desire HD or the Galaxy S2, it is still a competent screen. On paper it’s comparable to phones like the HTC Magic, or pre-iPhone 4 iPhones.

The screen surface is very shiny, which made it a bit of a pain to read in bright sunlight (not unreadable.) Otherwise I find it very readable.

However, using Android 2.3 on the Sonic I did get the impression that 320×480 is now the minimum resolution that the Android designers are working with. In some situations there isn’t enough screen space for the keyboard, the status indicators, and context for whatever is going on. Although this can be a bit fiddly, it’s only in a few places and never totally unusable.

However, I wouldn’t want to use 2.3 on a lower-resolution phone, and I suspect future Android versions may not fit comfortably on the Sonic’s screen.

Similarly, even though a 3.5 inch screen is realistically quite big, the default Android keyboard can be a bit small and fiddly when typing. I installed the free Swype keyboard beta and although I’m still getting the hang of it, it seems more forgiving.

As a Phone

The Sonic has a good loud speaker, good earpiece audio quality and volume. It does the “basic phone thing”2 very well.

Vendor Customisations

Huawei, thankfully, has resisted the urge to heavily customise the Sonic. The phone ships with the default Android launcher running a custom colour theme, plus a somewhat neat “cube” effect when switching launcher screens and an Expose-like “quick home screens view” that you can pull up by pressing Back on the home screen. The latter effects are particularly nifty.

The crummiest bit of “vendorware” is “Hi Space”, which as best as I can tell is Huawei’s “me too” App Store with some bonus features, but without any apps I actually wanted to install.

This is placed front-and-centre on the default home screen, and when I first used it my heart sank. Thankfully, though, Google’s Android Market is also installed (although not on any launcher home screen), and works fine.

I think Huawei really made a big mistake featuring Hi Space over the Android Market. Novice users are going to fire it up and look for things like “twitter” & “facebook”, and they won’t find them. If they don’t know they can dig around for the Market, this has the potential to cripple their use of the phone. It’s pretty much textbook “bad user experience”, and for what? So Huawei can pretend to be Apple?

Music Player

Huawei have also put in their own customised “Huawei Music” player. It is um, heavily, um, cough inspired by the iOS music player.

Even down to a very familiar “cover flow” type view if you turn the phone sideways:

Where did they get that 'unknown album' icon from, anyhow?

… however, amusing “inspirations” aside, the Huawei Music Player app actually seems pretty good.

EDIT: The next time I used this player I noticed a pretty major bug – all albums are played in alphabetical order by song name, even when the songs have track number tags & track numbers in the file names. Annoying. Have installed the PowerAMP trial.

What lets the Sonic down as a music player, unfortunately, is the sound quality. There is a significant background hiss any time the internal amplifier is on, loud enough in headphones that it eclipses even moderately quiet details in music. I’m not a card-carrying audiophile, and I’d expect some hiss in any consumer music player, but the Sonic is loud enough to ruin the experience for me. It was audible through the cheap-and-chearful earbuds that came with the Sonic, downright grating with my Sennheiser MM50 in-ear headphones.

Given that music was one of the reasons I went back to a smartphone, it’s safe to say that if I ditch the Sonic for any reason, it will probably be audio quality.

Battery Life

On my first full charge I got 2d 11h 27m before battery dropped below 3% and I decided it was time to charge.

That was with Wifi on about 35% of the time, GPS and mobile data on approximately 10% of the time, and only used lightly. Email, facebook, twitter were all checking for updates in the background.

Writing this now, the phone has been on battery for 50 hours with plenty of use and although the lock screen advises to “connect your charger”, I still have plenty of juice.

So I’m pretty happy with that. I think if you turned absolutely everything off and didn’t use the phone then you’d have a shot at the 72 hours that Huawei claims it will stay on standby for.

Camera

Unsurprisingly, the 3.2MP camera in the Sonic is pretty “camera phone like”. It’s good enough that in good light you can use it as a “visual notetaker”. You won’t want to hang the pictures on your wall, though.

For the pixel peepers, here are 3 quick unretouched sample snapshots from the Sonic. One taken at dusk, one on an overcast afternoon, and one indoors at night (poorly lit room.)

NFC

The Sonic also features NFC (Near Field Communication), which from what I can tell seems like a more complex version of RFID. The promise is that you’ll be able to do things like banking transfers by waving your phone near a reader. If you live in Europe or Japan then I expect this is very exciting, but I’m not holding my breath for the banks in Australia to roll it out.

Of course, I guess NFC support does mean I could get an RFID tag embedded in my arm and use it instead of an unlock code! :P

“Rooting” & “Custom ROMs”

When I first bought this phone, I expected it’d take some “customisation” before it was really any good to use. I figured at the time it was a compromise, the low cost in dollars means a cost in time spent tinkering. I like tinkering, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Imagine my surprise when the phone is very good out of the box. I don’t really feel like I will want to load a “Custom ROM”, except maybe just to experiment.

That said, at this stage my simple investigations into serious customising haven’t gone well. “z4root”, apparently the easiest way to unlock root access on Android 2.3, doesn’t seem to work (exits suddenly but cleanly after the status message “obtaining root shell”, seemingly without having actually done so.) I haven’t done any more investigating yet.

The Sonic is a newly released phone though, so I expect more information and tools will appear in time.

Open Source Situation

Huawei themselves make Linux kernel source available for their devices, and the releases seem timely and are (apparently) complete. This makes me happy, and bodes well for community developments in the future.

Compared to the Huawei Ideos U8150

I came to the Sonic U8650 after looking at the Ideos U8150, which is now available for less than $100AU through some carriers. The Sonic is very similar to the Ideos, although there are some noteworthy differences:

The Ideos’ screen is smaller at 2.8″, and half the resolution at 320×240. I haven’t used the Ideos, but considering that the Sonic’s screen feels somewhat cramped I think this is the number one reason to choose the Sonic.

The Ideos’ chipset is MSM7225, very similar to the Sonic’s MSM7227 although slightly slower (528Mhz vs. 600Mhz.) Also the MSM7227 has a 256kb L2 cache, which the older sibling apparently lacks. All told, performance should be marginally better on the Sonic.

The Ideos ships with Android 2.2, although there is a “Custom ROM” with 2.3. 2.3 in the Sonic works very well out of the box, and this probably makes it a better option for most people. However, the availability of custom ROMS can be seen as something of a positive for the Ideos, because there are people actively working on source-based Android builds and kernel versions. I’m hoping that in time the Sonic will prove similarly popular with tinkerers, given its good ratio of cost to functionality.

Other Alternatives

What other budget Android options are out there? From what I’ve seen, in the same price bracket there are some similar phone models from major manufacturers. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Mini or the HTC Wildfire. But they mostly have lower-resolution 320×240 graphics, and many (like the Wildfire) don’t officially support Android 2.3 yet.

Telstra sell the ZTE Racer as the Smarttouch for $99 but it’s both a small screen, resistive touchscreen (eck) and comes locked to Telstra. The ZTE Blade is apparently a good option (more RAM than the Sonic and a higher res screen) but it’s not available in Australia yet, you’d have to import it yourself.

Finally, there are secondhand smartphones. The HTC Desire & Samsung Galaxy S both seem to sell used on ebay for only marginally more than the Sonic costs new, so that could be a good alternative.

Bottom Line

Four years ago a 4Gb iPhone cost $499US, a year later the HTC Dream (Google G1) with Android cost $399US. The Huawei Sonic is several times more useful and usable than either of those phones, and costs less than half as much. I can see it being huge in markets like China and Indonesia, where many people want smartphones but most do not have the buying power.

I guess the Sonic’s affordability isn’t surprising given the unending march of technology towards lower costs with more features. However, it still daunts me that four years ago smartphones were boutique nerd curiosities, and now they are practically commodities, with no tradeoff in quality.

In other words, I’m amazed at how happy I am with this phone. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it works well and does everything I would want from a smartphone.

Apart from headphone audio quality, the dislikes I do have are all niggles with Android rather than problems with the Sonic itself. And I suspect a lot of them are just the experience of a former iPhone user getting used to “the Android way”. Not the fault of the Sonic.

And did I mention that the Sonic costs $188AU?! Bought from a bricks-and-mortar store with a “change of mind” returns policy, and a walk-in return to claim the one year warranty. Without any network lockin or contract. That blows me away.

If you want a competent Android smartphone on a budget, and you’re not interested in “alpha geek” pissing contents over features and specs, then I totally recommend the Huawei Sonic.

EDIT: I’ve written a follow-up post about the Huawei Sonic, 10 months on.



  1. Being an embedded systems programmer during the day, I honestly find the very notion that 256Mb RAM is considered “low” to be cringeworthy. That’s Android for you, I suppose. []
  2. I know, people still make phone calls. WTF! []

When I ditched my iPhone 11 months ago, I promised a follow-up post about the experience. So here it is.

Quitting

Only one thing really surprised me about going back to a “dumbphone.” The idle moments. The habit of pulling out my phone to fill them was deeply ingrained, even more than I’d realised. Every time my brain hit a pause, there would be a moment of agitation: “I’m here and I have nothing to do for a few moments, what do I think about? Where’d my phone go? What else can I do with my hands?” That feeling (“disconnect anxiety”? withdrawal symptom?) lasted for a couple of weeks.

The other interesting thing was how many people sympathised with me (either here on the blog, or in person.) A few people openly told me I was crazy or self-obsessed (both legitimate charges, in all honesty), but a lot of people also really seemed to relate. Most of them had iPhones or other smartphones that they didn’t intend to give up, but they seemed to relate to me wanting to. That phenomenon interests me a lot.

Relapse

<

p>So why did I decide to get back on the smartphone wagon, after all my self-righteous abandonment last year? There are a few reasons:

Hypocrisy. Honestly, on the few occasions when I’m out and I really want to google something or look an address up on a map, I just rely on Jess having an iPhone. Smartphone cheating. Similarly, when I’m at home I’ll just pull my laptop out. Less convenient than a phone, but the same end result.

LastPass. I’ve started using the LastPass password manager, which basically means that without my own computer or phone at hand I’m locked out of nearly all my online services. I can’t just go to an internet kiosk and check my email when I’m in a foreign city or an airport, any more.

IOIO. Android has some really cool new stuff in it for tinkerers. Can’t wait to have a play.

Hackerspace tunes. Sounds stupid, but I want an mp3 player to plug in at the Hackerspace. Pretty much all non-iPod MP3 players seem kinda sucky or ridiculously expensive. Everyone else just uses their phone, so I figured I should too!

Price. I’ve gone with a $180 Huawei Android phone (will write a review.) This both appeals to my inner skeapskate, and the idea of cheap/commoditised smartphones really interests me (boutique to commodity tech in 4 years!?!)

As for the other behaviours I disliked myself for in the past, I’m hoping I can rely on self-control. Time will tell.

This letter is my plea and suggestion to Wondermedia, although the theme applies to similar tech companies as well.

(If any fluent speaker can translate this into Chinese for me, I’d very much appreciate it!)

Dear Wondermedia Technologies,

Congratulations on your WM8505 system-on-a-chip. In 2005, a “$100 laptop” was a visionary idea, a dream. Now, thanks to your technology, I can buy a netbook for $85, including shipping to my house in Australia. If I was in Shenzhen, who knows how cheap it would be?

That netbook has more power than the $3000 desktop computer that I owned 12 years ago.

However, it’s not all good. Ars Technica recently labelled the $99 Maylong M-150 tablet the “worst gadget ever”. That tablet is built around your WM8505. Noone who reads that review will buy the product. No importer will read that review and decide to wholesale order any WM8505 product. No hardware engineer would choose WM8505 on the basis of that review, either.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Vendors can ship better tablets and netbooks, that get better reviews, at no cost to you. You can sell more units, at no cost to you.

Take a look at the custom firmware on Slatedroid.com. Every one of those people has modded the same proprietary WM8505 build of Android 1.6 to try and make it better. It runs faster and smoother and has more features. They have spent hours of their time trying to make your products better.

Take a look at the rough port I did of Android 2.2 this week. It’s very poor quality, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be better, at no cost to you.

Look at the months of hard work by the talented Alexey Charkov to make a WM8505 Linux kernel that is good enough to be in the official kernel tree. Big players like TI, Marvell, NVidia all pay talented developers to make Linux code that is good enough for inclusion in the official kernel. Alexey is doing the same for you, for free. His work is coming along slowly, but it could be coming faster. You can help him to help you, at no cost.

What resources are the community using, at this moment? At the beginning, barely anything at all, just incomplete leaked data sheets. Then you were kind enough to release most of your Linux kernel source, which has helped greatly.

<

p>I’m writing this letter to suggest you release more, for your own benefit. Many big companies provide datasheets, BSPs, SDKs, source code for free. You should do the same with what you already have. With more information and more source code, it would be possible for the community to build many things. If we had the Android 1.6 source code, WMT SDK source code, or current/complete documentation (even in Chinese) then the community would be able to develop Android firmwares with more features and better hardware support, maybe even a 2.2 port that runs well. There is nothing stopping vendors from shipping devices with a community Android build, if it is better. More WM8505 sales, at no cost to you.

More datasheets and documentation will also make Linux kernel development faster and better. How much of your own developers’ time do you save if the mainline Linux kernel has Wondermedia hardware support in it, instead of having to keep patching it in-house? Better quality kernel, less maintenance costs, no cost to you.

The community is indirectly trying to give you a competitive advantage, for free. All you need to do is open up.

Why not open up? One reason, I think, is that you probably charge for this information. Charging for BSPs & SDKs is a revenue stream. I ask you this: How big is that revenue stream? How many more units do you need to sell before it does not matter any more?

Maybe you think that you can’t afford the support costs, or the maintenance overhead. If this is a concern, rest assured that the community does not need much. Even if you just “leak” a torrent file or send the files for someone else to host, the Internet will make sure that they never go away. The community already provides support for each other.

I realise this is not the same as most small hardware companies’ culture. However, there’s no reason why you can’t behave like the big companies on this. This will differentiate you in the marketplace and give you an advantage. The community is standing by, waiting to help make your products great.

These words apply to all similar companies, not just Wondermedia. If someone becomes the first truly open manufacturer of small, affordable, embedded ARM systems then I predict that the developer community will beat a path to their door.

Update 25/11: Now supports M003 as well, and it appears the M002 may be able to boot from the M001 build.

Update 27/11: New build posted, now with better functioning Wifi!

Android 2.2 on dirt cheap WM8505 tablets. I said it may not be possible. Since then, I’ve spent hours and hours trying to reverse-engineer the custom calls that the WM8505 Android port uses to set up the correct graphics modes. I still can’t replicate their process successfully.

However, on Sunday I had what my friend Adam has called “an a-ha moment1. Android’s own porting guide says the graphics mode has to be RGB565 with double-buffering (aka page-flipping), but apparently this is not strictly true.

Within a couple of hours, I had a Froyo home screen up on my M001:

Now, a few busy evenings later, I can offer a hacky alpha for people to check out, and hopefully build upon. However, this is not the same as “the Eken M001 now supports Android 2.2“.

Get to the Android already!

OK, here it is. This build is configured to boot entirely from the SD card, to minimise the chances of bricking a tablet and to make it easy for people to check it out. You should be able to run this without any impact on the OS installed in the tablet.

This image is a dodgy hack, pre-release quality, and totally unsupported, btw. Do not expect very much.

Installing from Linux/OS X

If you have a 2Gb+ SD card, you can download the image (M001 or M003) and use ‘dd’ to copy it over the top of your SD card:

zcat image-m001.gz | dd of=/dev/sdX

(where sdX is your SD card device. You’ll need to unmount the SD card, first.)

Installing from Windows

If you’re unfortunate enough to be stuck on Windows, you can download a zip file with the image (M001 or M003). First, unzip the image. Then, the Slatedroid forums have instructions on how to flash the Debian SD card image from Windows. If that doesn’t work, you can try these instructions. The Debian image is the same format as the Froyo image, so the same steps should apply.

Installing the SD Card manually

If you have a smaller SD card, or you just want to make your own, then I also uploaded tarballs containing the FAT and ext2 partitions for each tablet. You can unpack these onto any SD card, with the following partition & formatting scheme:

  1. FAT16 (for script/ directory)
  2. linux-swap (optional)
  3. ext2 (for root filesystem)

(NB: The partitioning scheme has changed since the first set of posted images.)

First boot

The first boot from the SD card will take a few minutes longer than usual, because the Dalvik VM is generating its cache. I think mine takes around 5 minutes the first time.

Status

The following things work:

  • Basic Android UI
  • Touchscreen
  • Blanking the screen when idle
  • Swap partition on SD card

The following things should work, please test:

  • Wifi
  • SetCPU & other CPU scaling (will need to “root” first)

The following things are untested and probably don’t work:

  • Audio
  • Video playback (probably will be choppy)
  • Battery level tracking
  • Automatic screen rotation (I hope you like landscape)

However I expect all those things should be fairly easy to implement, except for smooth video playback.

The following things definitely don’t work:

  • Graphics acceleration, there isn’t even page flipping/double buffering at the moment, let alone OpenGL ES (which there will never be.) It isn’t as painfully slow as I thought it might be, but it definitely isn’t fast. There are also a few artifacts, like lock screen redraw when turning back on. Also, some apps may not work as expected due to the odd graphics mode.
  • Touchscreen calibration. The device ships with my Eken M001 calibration on it. If mine is no good then you can copy your /data/wmt/touchcal to /etc/touchcal on the SD card to bring it across. But there’s no WM8505 calibration app installed, so someone either needs to port Wondermedia’s or write a new one from scratch.
  • Suspend/Resume (was broken in 1.6, still broken in 2.2 as it’s a kernel deficiency.)

Installing to the flash in the tablet

At the moment, this only supports booting from SD card. However, there’s no reason why someone clever couldn’t build an alternate version that installs to the tablet’s internal flash – all the required pieces exist AFAIK.

Building On This

All the scripts & patches I used are available on github. There should be enough there for a savvy person to fairly easily build this again from an AOSP release.

The kernel used is “my” copy of Wondermedia’s kernel source release. Hopefully as Alexey’s from-scratch kernel adds more features, it will eventually be able to run Android as well.

If you do build anything using this, please please please share source/instructions for what you improve. Every “secret” someone hoards away is a step away from making these devices properly usable.

This Froyo build comes unsupported (sorry), and I’m not likely to do a whole lot more on it. However, one thing I do intend to do is get it running on my Eken M003 (my M001 has serious hardware problems so I can’t really use it as a tablet any more.)

However, I really hope that others will jump in, build on it, and make something good. Enjoy!



  1. I called it a doh! moment []

This post is about how I became a self-loathing iPhone owner, and decided to switch to a device that noone has ever described as “revolutionary”, “amazing” or “magical”.

Separated at birth? iPhone 3GS & Nokia 2323

I’ve replaced my iPhone 3GS with a Nokia 2323 Classic. A $70AU ($63US) phone based on eight year old technology.

Why?

First, the obvious reasons. I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with Apple’s monoculture. I’ve never liked their closed approach to device ownership. Even though my two iPhones have been jailbroken, I’ve bought apps – contributing money to the App Store economy. I’ve also contributed to Apple’s iPhone bottom line. All rewarding a business model that I don’t agree with at all.

Pushing matters to a head, three months ago I replaced my Macbook Pro with a PC running Ubuntu. I discovered that iPhone ownership is a lot less seamless when you don’t have OS X to coordinate everything.1

Given all this, and my general love of gadgets and technology, you would expect that I would choose an Android phone. One of the more open models. I thought very hard about picking up a Samsung Galaxy S (especially now Cyanogenmod supports it) or even a Nokia N900, the ultimate geek pocket gadget.

That isn’t really it, though…

It’s psychology & culture

I don’t like the person that the iPhone encourages me to be. I don’t like reaching for it over and over, checking Twitter or scanning my email boxes with every idle moment. I don’t like how quiet moments of reflection get replaced with boredom that there’s nothing new on the Real Time Web. I don’t like that most days I spend more than ten hours in front of a computer, but I still feel the need to carry one around in my pocket. I don’t like taking my iPhone out during meetings or conversations. I don’t like “the iphone effect”.

These kind of phenomenons have been written about over, and over, and over. In pieces ironically intended for online consumption, a variation on the standard “moral panic” and “technology shock” opinion genres. Nevertheless, parts of the articles ring very true for me. My personal favourite writing is from the blog Tweetage Wasteland. Go read it (really, do!)

In fact, reading comments about a Tweetage Wasteland post on HN was when this really struck home to me:


HN screenshot... click for the full comment thread

(angusgr is me, BTW.)

The underlying assumption is that idleness is necessarily wasteful, and why would anyone want it? Consequently, consuming information is a more fulfilling form of activity than just being inside your own head. I don’t think I agree.

Since getting an iPhone I don’t read books nearly as often as I used to. I don’t sit and stare into space quietly, thinking about whatever happens to be on my mind. I don’t pay as much attention to the world around me. I miss all those things.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Of course none of this is the iPhone’s fault. Smartphones are just tools, plenty of people don’t have this problem at all. If I had better self control then I’d just curb my use. In my case, I think the problem is smartphone ownership combined with N.A.D.D. (Nerd Attention Deficit Disorder.) An iPhone is like a “New Tab” browser menu, for your life.

Observations on going Classic

Some observations about being back with a Classic Nokia after 2 years in iPhone land:

  • The Nokia is tiny, and light. It doesn’t need its own reserved pocket in my jeans any more.
  • Sound quality and volume are both better, when you’re actually using it as a phone.
  • Standby time up to 17 days. Days. No more having to charge every night.
  • My muscle memory for typing quickly on T9 keypads is gone, but I think it will come back.
  • Syncing calendars and contacts was not overly painful, even from Linux. Being able to automatically sync via Bluetooth is neat.
  • No more need for phone insurance.
  • No more need for a data plan.2

Things I Will Miss

There are some things that I expect to miss about having an iPhone:

  • Never having to look up an address or a map before leaving the house.
  • Always having a camera to substitute for remembering or writing down details.3
  • Instapaper. Although I don’t use it much now that I don’t have a regular commute.
  • The “Notes” application. Will need to make a habit of carrying a notebook more often.

Do I need a mobile (“cell”) phone at all?

I think so. Even though I no longer have a job that requires me to be available on-phone at weird hours (another plus for ditching the iPhone), mobile phones are embedded in my generation. My partner, friends, and colleagues would all be put out if I ditched it entirely. Besides, they’re pretty useful devices to have.

Experiment

I’m terming this an experiment because in a month I might decide that I’m an idiot, and I’ll go buy a Galaxy S. Expect a follow up blog post if that’s the case. My partner certainly looked at me in total disbelief when I told her this plan. “Just get the Android one, you’ll be happier that way.” She may well be right.



  1. Please don’t misread this post as either pro- or anti-Apple. I like Apple’s products, I think the iPhone & OS X both offer a great user experience. I really don’t like the things mentioned above. []
  2. Nokia are marketing the 2323 as “fully connected” and it has the Ovi app store and email and a miniature web browser and blah blah blah, but I don’t want a part of that. []
  3. Although I now have enough room in my pockets to carry my Canon S90 camera more often! []