I'm drowning in smartphone options - can you help me pick one??
October 16, 2010 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Please help me pick the right smartphone. I've researched myself into overwhelm and have a tendency towards terrible timing. My requirements aren't that complex, though I AM a gadget fan, and tech savvy.

Hopefully will get more responses than my last question. One answer (that was actually a question)! That may be a Ask MeFi record!

My T-Mobile contract is up and I want to get a smartphone. I'm happy to stay with T-Mobile, though I could switch to AT&T if necessary (would be nice to avoid the hassle, but I'll go wherever I get the best deal). Sprint and Verizon service at my house is marginal at best, and I work at home with no landline. Since I've only had a "dumbphone" (+ iPod Touch) until now, as I've been looking, I simply cannot figure out what's best for me, and have gotten overwhelmed by the info out there.

I need:

-working, reliable GPS function
-working, reliable internet with clean (not cartoony/junky) interface
-good volume (though my hearing is excellent, I've been dealing with a Samsung phone for the past few years that at its highest volume is very very quiet. No more of that.) with speakerphone function
-at least one keyboard (current phone has NONE)
-available apps
-I do NOT want to pay $200, $300, $400+ for something because it came out two seconds ago (therefore, probably not an iPhone) when I know good phones are available for short money
-preferably not a Blackberry

would like:

-ability to integrate iTunes library somehow (not sure if this is possible)
-ability to edit basic documents

do not need:

-phones specifically set up to social network or anything else geared at 15 year olds (like the phone - I can't remember which - that comes pre-loaded with a copy of "Avatar". Um, no), or loaded with bloatware I have to remove right out of the box.

I've been researching for a while but haven't come across anything that seems right, so your help is appreciated!
posted by FlyByDay to Technology (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am 100% happy with my droid with verizon...
posted by HuronBob at 8:43 PM on October 16, 2010

Response by poster: I am 100% happy with my droid with verizon...>>

Like I said, Verizon doesn't really work in my place. Used to have it. For a year after I moved here, every single call was dropped. Verizon had their engineers check and they confirmed that there's no almost no signal in this exact location, and they let me out of my contract. It's too bad.
posted by FlyByDay at 8:45 PM on October 16, 2010

Maybe an entry-level Android phone on T-Mobile? The Motorola Charm looks like it might do the trick.
posted by signalnine at 8:46 PM on October 16, 2010

Best answer: 1. Choose android (there are plenty of workaround for itunes, though you'll have to leave any tracks with drm behind)
2. Find the phone at the best price point (and with a keyboard you like) within that.
3. Ignore the advertised bells and whistles. The avatar thing is just a hook, and probably not very indicative of the phone's function. I'm sure you'd be happy with that phone, though you could probably find one you like for less.
4. Ignore phones with motoblur (like the cliq phones) - that's all the social networking junk you don't want.

I have a g1, which is definitely not the newest thing anymore but serves my needs great. You can pick them up in good condition in the $100 range on craigslist now, contract free.
posted by R a c h e l at 8:50 PM on October 16, 2010

I'm happy with my LG Ally, which should meet all of your needs. I got it for free from Verizon's website.
posted by chicainthecity at 9:17 PM on October 16, 2010

Sorry, just saw that you are in a Verizon no-fly zone. I think the LG Ally is also available from other carriers, though.
posted by chicainthecity at 9:18 PM on October 16, 2010

I have the Samsung Vibrant (the Avatar phone) and I love it. All my iphone 4 friends are jealous of it, and it works flawlessly with the new GPS fix. I deleted Avatar right off the bat. For my money, there ius no better phone out, and certainly no better Android device.

Also maybe look into the new g2. Personally I don't trust the hardware, but you may dig it. Don't worry about things like"bloat" with and Android phone... The great thing about Android is the customizable everything. If you really wanna go the cheap, bare bones route, maybe look at the G1, although mine was so slow it drive me nuts after a while.
posted by broadway bill at 10:02 PM on October 16, 2010

Best answer: Chat up T-Mobile to see if they can give you a deal. Be ready for a somewhat lengthy conversation in which you just aren’t sure you are ready to pay that much, either for the phone or for the monthly charges (or both), and may just get a pay-as-you-go phone. They’ll eventually escalate you to a customer retention representative, who actually has the power to cut you the deal.

That’s what just happened to me, anyway, and my Vibrant shipped out yesterday.

So excited!
posted by SirNovember at 10:35 PM on October 16, 2010

You can get last year's iPhone 3Gs for only $99. It's a perfectly adequate smart phone with good GPS and very good internet. However, due to AT&T's network it isn't at all good at making and receiving phone calls.
posted by monotreme at 10:42 PM on October 16, 2010

Best answer: Almost any smartphone will do what you're asking. If I were you I'd take a day to try out each one. Everyone is always a fan of what they're using. I know 2 people that switched back to iPhones from the Vibrant (the exact opposite of a previous post). When I tried the vibrant if felt cheap to me, plasticky (they say as much in this review), and the screen isn't as sharp as an iPhone. But some people love it, as you see here. Go test them out yourself.

Don't worry about things like"bloat" with and Android phone... The great thing about Android is the customizable everything.

Not true. Apple has control of everything, which may means less customizing (though it's overstated) than android, but also less chance of the carrier pushing crap on your phone. The yen to the yang.

due to AT&T's network it isn't at all good at making and receiving phone calls.

Depends on where you live. Verizon barely works in my neighborhood, ATT works flawlessly. If you live in san fran with ATT you're screwed.
posted by justgary at 10:52 PM on October 16, 2010

Love the Droid. Droid wins in shootouts with iPhone I've read. I have the first generation and the new ones are supposed to be even better. Verizon works great where I am. Just make sure you have the coverage where you are.
posted by wsg at 10:59 PM on October 16, 2010

loaded with bloatware I have to remove right out of the box.

The thing to watch out for isn't just that--as justgary points out--many Android phones are loaded down with apps pre-installed by the carrier that you have to remove, it's that in many cases you can't remove the apps at all. You're stuck with them.

(Someone will point out that iPhones have unremovable apps, too, and I agree that it's annoying. But I also think there's a fundamental difference between Stocks or Weather vs Blockbuster Online or The NASCAR Experience.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:21 PM on October 16, 2010

I just got a refurbished MyTouch Slide for $50 and a 2yr contract (coming from AT&T) from T-Mobile. Call and see if you have to be a new customer in order to get that deal, but I'm quite liking mine so far. There is also a thinner MyTouch without the hardware keyboard. I'm not sure what you mean about "basic documents," so I have no thoughts there.
posted by rhizome at 11:21 PM on October 16, 2010

iPhone 3GS is your best option, in my opinion.
posted by markmillard at 11:43 PM on October 16, 2010

Windows Phone 7 seems to come on TMobile and has document editing capabilities + looks pretty neat. it has zune built in and not iTunes though.
posted by bbyboi at 2:11 AM on October 17, 2010

My vote would be for an iPhone 3GS or a HTC Wildfire.

Both are reasonably priced without a contract and therefore can get a good resale value on eBay should you decide to move on to something else.

Having launched Microsoft mobile phones for many years, I would recommend not touching them until at least 1 more major software revision (possibly 2) as it'll be immature, buggy and incomplete. For starters, cut, copy and paste won't be implemented until Q1 2011 and is unclear whether handset manufacturers will pass on that update to the carriers.
posted by mr_silver at 3:35 AM on October 17, 2010

Best answer: I too am currently doing the Android vs. iPhone research dance. Having not used either, I can't make informed recommendations, but I did recently see an Android app called DoubleTwist, that apparently syncs with iTunes. Sounds like it's a step removed - it has its own desktop application that you sync to, but that application "Imports iTunes music playlists, music ratings & playcounts from your Mac/PC; sync music, play music & video podcasts!" Don't know how well it works but it's something to add to your list.
posted by Askr at 7:06 AM on October 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all. I got the myTouch slide and so far, so good!
posted by FlyByDay at 4:42 PM on October 17, 2010

Nokia N900 or N8. Unfortunately you won't get either subsidized in the US but you can get either unlocked and for way, way less than an unlocked iPhone.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:12 PM on October 17, 2010

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