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What's the best phone OS for me?
July 5, 2008 11:37 PM   Subscribe

Which mobile phone OS will work the best for my needs and can be easily expanded with free software?

I'm looking at a new smartphone purchase and want to choose the phone that has the best OS for my needs. I want to run Skype on the phone for the occasional cheap voice call through SkypeOut and I want to be able to continue loading my phone with free software and features.

Of the OSes I know of, including Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile 6, and Palm, which support the most and best free software and applications? Which has the most active community? There's a lot out there for Palm, but is that community dying off? What are some examples of apps you use on those OSes?

I know that similar questions may have been asked in the past, but this is a case where I think the answer could have changed quite a bit over time.
posted by abkadefgee to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
HowardForums are a good resource in case you want to gauge the community.
posted by sharkfu at 11:42 PM on July 5, 2008


-Windows Mobile has better 3rd-party support than BlackBerry, although I'm not sure about free apps specifically.
-I haven't found a huge amount of quality free software for Palm. In fact, I have been quite disappointed with the OS overall. Besides, I don't think Skype has any plans to implement Skype (with VoIP features) for Palm.
-Have you considered the iPhone? That can run Skype and I know there's a very active developer community.
-If you're willing to wait till 2009 (or late this year), Google's Android has the potential to be your dream come true.

Disclosure: just ditched my Treo 650 for a Windows Mobile 6 phone.
posted by lunchbox at 12:16 AM on July 6, 2008


Symbian. It has a HUGE community around it.
posted by Memo at 12:35 AM on July 6, 2008


Version 2 of Sony's $300 Mylo is out. It isn't a phone, but it lets you make Skype calls, IM on AIM, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger, and browse the web via WiFi.
posted by skywhite at 7:07 AM on July 6, 2008


Stay away from Palm, it's a dinosaur. I think I'd agree with Memo that Symbian is your mobile OS of best fit for now, though you should definitely look into Android again after it comes out and has some soak time with the development community.
posted by saraswati at 9:03 AM on July 6, 2008


I used a Windows Mobile 5 phone for about six months, and as much as I hated it, it's probably your best choice for third-party software overall. I also hear that Windows Mobile 6 is better, but I can't really say from personal experience.
posted by joshrholloway at 11:07 AM on July 6, 2008


You may also want to check out getting a regular phone and pairing it with a device like Nokia's n810 which is an iPhone sized Linux computer. It runs Skype, plus most of the expected Linux tools, including Python, etc...

I have a n810 paired via bluetooth to my Palm Centro. I like the real slideout keyboard on the n810, it doesn't get in the way of what I am typing into unlike the iPhone.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:16 AM on July 6, 2008


First, I should mention that I'm using a SERO plan with Sprint that has unlimited text and data for cheap, that I don't think I can find on another provider. I'm a young political organizer with an income on the lower side, so I can't afford some of the pricier phones or plans, and so the iPhone is right out. And even though the upfront cost of the iPhone has gone down, the long range cost has gone up.

Second, I saw something about using iSkoot for making VOIP calls through Skype on the Palm, but I heard that might also require use of airtime minutes.

Third, I would just keep using my old phone and wait to get a new one, even though the battery wants to keep falling out, but I just moved to an area where I'd be roaming with US Cellular and it costs me .59/min to make calls. Trust me, I'd LOVE to wait for Android, but that's not an option right now.

Fourth, the Mylo would be great except that I'll be away from WiFi a great deal of the time and $300 over 24 months would bump me up to a price point where I could just get more minutes anyway.

Most likely, I'm going to be getting a Treo with Windows Mobile 6 or a Palm Centro, unless it's worth jumping up to the HTC Mogul or something.
posted by abkadefgee at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2008


I'm in the same boat as you. I'm waiting for Google Android.
posted by zippy at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2008


Bummer. I think I just concluded that all the solutions for using Skype on the Palm OS require you to receive incoming calls to make SkypeOut calls. That accomplishes nothing for me. Looks like Windows Mobile may be the way to go.
posted by abkadefgee at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2008


The Neo freerunner was recently released for public purchase. If you're looking for a completely open phone that lets you do whatever you want on it, it doesn't get better than this. Closed applications like Skype may be a problem though.
Links:
Openmoko product page
FAQ
posted by arungoodboy at 12:39 AM on July 7, 2008


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