So many droids, which to choose?
July 19, 2011 6:21 AM   Subscribe

My husband is very interested in getting an Android phone that can do the Swype texting (I think that's any Android, actually, but I could be wrong). What is the best option for him?

I've only ever used a BlackBerry/iPhone, so the foray into Android is completely foreign to me. There are so many options, and I don't want him stuck with a phone that turns out to be not so great.

He's on T-Mobile now, and just to give you an idea of what kind of phone user he is now, he's had the same cheapo Nokia flip phone for over three years now. He rarely actually uses the minutes on his plan (he might go through 100-150/month at most), but he is interested in having an easier time of texting. I've considered talking to him about get a pay-as-you-go phone, but are there any options out there that fit what he's looking for on a provider that has good coverage in metro Atlanta/Northeast GA?

Otherwise, if the best option is a Droid on a regular contract plan on one of the big networks, which device should he go for? Something free or under $100 would be perfect. If the phone is really amazing and costs a bit more, I might be able to talk him into going for it, but I'd also like to steer clear of phones that require outlandishly expensive voice and data plans (more than $50 or $60 is too much).
posted by litnerd to Technology (13 answers total)
Response by poster: Duh, one more thing: looking through the T-Mobile options, I'm seeing that the Samsung Dart and Samsung Exhibit might be good options. Any thoughts on or experience with those devices in particular?
posted by litnerd at 6:22 AM on July 19, 2011

I know two people who have the newest HTC Sensation, which supports Swype texting. They both have tons of positive things to say about it. I've played with the phone a bit, and the display looks really good, and it seems easy to use. However, it might be outside your price range (T-Mobile's web site says $199.99).
posted by neushoorn at 6:29 AM on July 19, 2011

Android (the platform) is not the same as Droid (a motorola line of android phones).

Most smartphones come with data plan requirements, but if you can stay grandfathered in on your T-Mo plan you might be able to avoid that.

For swype (which I use) I would strongly recommend something better than a low-end phone. I tried using it on an Aria (3.2" screen) and it was very unsatifactory. The small screen and slow cpu made it very error-prone. I now swype on a google nexus 1 (3.7" screen) and can "type" much faster, and with far fewer errors.

It's old, but the nexus one is a hard phone to beat. Pick one up on ebay (be sure to get the t-mobile 3G version, not the at&t 3g), and while you'll go over your $100 budget you won't be locked into another two year contract or data plan.

The Nexus One is the perfect phone to run cyanogenmod, which makes certain things easier due to extra os flexibility - specifically for you I'm thinking about the power-strip in the notification shade to to quicklydisable the cell data plan (so if you have a pure "pay as you go" you won't be nibbling away at your per-kb rate with background email checks and such).
posted by devbrain at 6:33 AM on July 19, 2011

My LG Optimus S comes w/ Swype preinstalled and I have no problems with it -- the Optimus T is the T-Mobile version. It's a low/mid-range phone so should be pretty cheap these days.

Honestly though for an easier time texting, he may find a phone with a slide-out physical keyboard easier. Swype's good for typing in long words, but for stuff that's not in the dictionary, doesn't work great.
posted by reptile at 6:42 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd like to recommend the Optimus V with Virgin (using the Sprint network), but the version of Swype that's baked into the install has a few bugs that probably won't be resolved until LG pushes out the long-awaited Android 2.3 update for the Optimus line. (You can fix them yourself, but it requires rooting the phone.) $150, but no contract, and a basic $25 plan provides unlimited data and SMS.

Sticking with T-Mob, I'd agree with devbrain: a gently-used Nexus One might be worth it.
posted by holgate at 6:54 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Swype worked great on my refurbished T-Mobile Optimus T on a prepaid plan. I swapped my SIM card from that phone into a different phone with a custom Android/HTC Sense operating system, which did not come with Swype (oh no!). Luckily, all I had to do was sign up for the Swype Beta, and even though the operating system isn't standard, Swype still works great (yay!). I gave my Optimus T to my SO, who, until then, had a flip phone & he loves it. It's really a great entry level smartphone.
posted by eunoia at 8:01 AM on July 19, 2011

Also FYI, the T-Mobile prepaid plan I linked to doesn't include data. Data is $1.49 for 24 hours of unlimited data (the first 30MB at up to 4G speeds and then unlimited 2G) so you only buy it when you need it. Text/SMS messages are obviously separate from this and are always available.
posted by eunoia at 8:08 AM on July 19, 2011

Swype works great on my LG Optimus V (the virgin mobile-branded Optimus, I believe the T-mobile is the Optimus T). It's one of the cheaper android phones out there as well.
posted by zug at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2011

Oh, also, virgin mobile has a $25 plan with 300 minutes, unlimited text/data, or a $40 plan with 1200 minutes, unlimited text/data.
posted by zug at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2011

I have a Samsung Galaxy S with it. It cost a dollar when we signed up for Verizon. I have no idea whether it would be compatible with t-mobile (which is in the process of being purchased by AT& T.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2011

Response by poster: zug, I did check out the Optimus V, and Virgin Mobile's prepaid plan is pretty darn awesome, but it looks like the coverage in my part of Atlanta is not so great. It seems like the Optimus T on T-Mobile's network is a solid option though.
posted by litnerd at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2011

Android allows you to install and choose from many different keyboards available for free or purchase from the Android Market (and other sources).

Piggybacking for a second: how much credence should be given to the security warning that comes when you switch keyboards -- for instance, replacing the standard Froyo keyboard with Keyboard From Android 2.3? Have there been any examples of Market keyboard/data entry apps that intercepted input?
posted by holgate at 10:55 PM on July 19, 2011

I have not seen any stories about intercepted data, and I would probably trust swype and swiftkey as they are big and mainstream - but do grab the install from an official market, so you know that the .apk hasn't been monkeyed with.
posted by defcom1 at 5:42 PM on July 20, 2011

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