Fast 3G Web Browser In My Pocket?
October 12, 2007 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Is there a 3G web browsing phone out there that doesn't suck?

The iphone has finally made me *really* want a fast web-browsing smartphone.


* Qwerty keyboard
* Full HTML browser (JS a plus)
* IMAP mail client
* Unlimited data plan available

Does it exist? Will it exist?

I'm willing to switch carriers, since my Verizon contract is up next month.
posted by joshwa to Technology (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked into the Sprint Mogul?
posted by DMan at 3:18 PM on October 12, 2007

Well i don't know about the phones but the browser plays a certain role here. The opera mobile browser makes the experience of surfing both fast and tolerable on a tiny screen by formatting the page for your phone at the opera servers before passing it on to you (e.g. shrinking all graphic files, so minimising dowbload times), and by folding down much of the side-column garbage into a single clickable tab-like thingy.
posted by londongeezer at 3:22 PM on October 12, 2007

I think the Helio Ocean might fit your criteria.
posted by streetdreams at 3:36 PM on October 12, 2007

Look at the nokia line. I use the e61 and it does all that you ask. There is also the N series from nokia which is more media focused. I am very, very happy with my e61, it does everything that iphone can do functionally. Plus it can copy and paste.

It seems that browsing is one of the most important things for you, symbian S60 is for you.

It has a built in Symbian browser, which is based on the same code base as Safari - webkit.

You can use Opera mini - which one of the best ways to browse on any mobile device.

And there is also Opera 8 - which does have javascript.
posted by bigmusic at 3:48 PM on October 12, 2007

I can only offer my own personal experience here, and say that I use my Blackberry 8703e for about 95% of my internet browsing and I love it so much, even more than I thought I would. I've had it for about six months now, and I honestly can't think of what I'd change about it. I was just thinking the other week how nice it is to have made a tech purchase I didn't at least minorly regret on some level.

I tried Opera Mini, but ended up abandoning it in favor of the built-in browser. It seemed a bit too kludgey, but keep in mind that I only gave it about a week.

If you end up getting one, I would definitely recommend getting a Bluetooth keyboard. I almost never take my laptop anywhere, now. (Granted, I never took it that many places to begin with.)

Obviously this is just my uninformed opinion...this is the only smartphone I've ever used, so as happy as I am with my Blackberry, it's possible that any of the above recommendations are much better. But I love mine and use it quite literally six to ten hours a day.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:16 PM on October 12, 2007

Have you looked into the Sprint Mogul?

posted by B(oYo)BIES at 5:25 PM on October 12, 2007

Don't forget the new Verizon Phones coming out soon. I was ready to bolt, but I want to see the LG VX10000 (Voyager) in person before I do. (Plus I have a $100 NE2 Credit)
posted by stew560 at 6:54 PM on October 12, 2007

If you want to go the AT&T route, I recommend the HTC TyTN II, or 'ATT Tilt'. It looks to be a fabulous phone, and I will be picking one up myself shortly.
posted by Sugar Induced Coma at 8:55 PM on October 12, 2007

The web browser in the nokia e61 is great - (using it right now) but that's about it. The rest of the phone's UI is ugly, slow and generally braindead.
posted by kamelhoecker at 11:01 PM on October 12, 2007

The short answer is no. They all suck. I've tried loads and loads and loads of different phones (I usually get a new phone every 3-6 months).

The solution to the problem I've eventually settled upon is to find a phone that's good as a phone, has bluetooth, 3G, and is as small as possible. My personal choice is the Sony Ericsson W880i - it's tiny and the battery lasts for ages. Don't know if you can get these in the US yet, but maybe you can find something similar.

Then, pick up an "internet tablet", such as the Nokia N700, connect it over bluetooth, and viola! Okay so you have to carry two devices, but at least then when you're going out in the evening you can leave the large internet thing at home and just stick the small phone in your pocket. Plus, if you get a small enough phone you genuinely won't notice the extra.

The dedicated internet tablet will provide you much better features and customisability than you will find in any phone on the market at the moment.

Until they come out with a 3G iPhone, this seems to be the best solution, IMO.
posted by jon4009 at 3:23 AM on October 13, 2007

Oops, I meant the N800 :)
posted by jon4009 at 3:27 AM on October 13, 2007

I love my Samsung Blackjack (ATT). It is, apparently, HSDPA, though that wasn't a term I was familiar with until just now. It doesn't have the blocky qwerty keyboard (the only thing I still loved, in the end, about my PPC 6700), rather the little Blackberry-like nublets, but it is light and slim and the display is crisp and super-bright on the lowest brightness (something I really disliked about the HTC phones). It tethers well, though seems to need a restart after a couple of sessions, and is easier to talk on than the bricky smartphones.

The only time I notice the speed isn't LAN is when I'm tethered and using Remote Desktop. For everything else the difference is pretty negligible.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:31 AM on October 13, 2007

My comments about the Mogul in the conversation linked to by B(oYo)BIES still stand. Sprint through its "SERO" plan offers a nice 500 minutes+unlimited text, data, off-peak for $30/month. When I was on the move for a couple of months and bereft of DSL/cable, I used it as my sole internet connection. Works great on the phone, works great tethered to the laptop as a modem. Although the Mogul has 802.11g I rarely needed to turn it on because the Sprint/Verizon network is fast. Also, you can run Skype on it, which is great. Also, the touchscreen version of Google Maps rules. If you want the zoomy effects thing for web browsing you can install Opera Mini, but I prefer using RSS on the phone to grab the data I want, and for others used Opera Mobile, which lets you specify your user-agent as either phone or desktop so you can select which server-supplied format works best for you. I was also quite impressed early on with the predictive texting, and it appears to have adapted itself more to my typing as things progress. It now often now suggests entire phrases or *sentences* from a single word or two that are disconcertingly accurate or close to what I want. Realising that much of your communication can be predicted by a handheld is a little humbling.
posted by meehawl at 6:52 PM on October 13, 2007

Seconding the Nokia e61. I completely disagree with the previous comment about it being "slow, ugly and braindead" - I use it daily and absolutely love it and have NO usability issues. The UI is stunningly good - many, many times better than any WM interface I've yet to see (and I've used just about all of them). It's stinking fast and can multitask well - I do streaming internet radio on it all the time. The web browser is unparalleled and the screen is gorgeous (you have to see it in person to believe it). I have the European version (unlocked e61) and there are almost no faults with it. I came from a long line of WM smartphones and PDAs, and I can honestly say I will never, ever, ever go back after having used my e61. It's one of the few gadget purchases that I have absolutely no regrets/resentments about - I love it that much.

However, even though it is 3G, it will NOT work on current US 3G networks. Though it is a GSM phone (AT&T/T-Mobile/etc) it will not work on their HSDPA 3G network. However, the EDGE speed is surprisingly quick, and the mobile browser makes for a pleasant experience. As I said, streaming web radio works wonderfully, and browsing is not exceptionally painful over EDGE. I use it as a bluetooth wireless modem on my laptop when I'm not in a wifi hotspot and it usually connects at upwards of 110kbps (depends heavily on signal strength).
posted by sprocket87 at 12:25 PM on October 16, 2007

also came across this article in the course of my research-- seems to indicate poor latency being the real issue for the mobile browsing experience.

Anyone have thoughts on this?
posted by joshwa at 9:35 AM on October 17, 2007

Oh, latency is certainly a problem for mobile data transmission. That's [one of] the reason[s] that satellite Internet service never really caught on, except in the remotest parts of the country.

Still, there will be a noticeable difference in browsing, and more specifically, downloading speed between "2G" and 3G networks. It's a larger pipe, but it still has to travel just as far to get from point A to B, with a lot of hops in between.

No cell network will offer the high bandwidth and low latency of landline broadband, like even cheap residential cable service. Right now the best they can offer is more bandwidth to ease the frustration. And that certainly is still very beneficial, especially for streaming audio, video, and assorted downloads.

The question is what you're planning to use the mobile web for (mostly): If you're just doing push email, a few website checks a day, some basic IM clients and maybe a lower-bitrate audio stream, then EDGE service is quite sufficient (I know, because that's me in a nutshell, and I use AT&T/EDGE on my Nokia e61). If you're planning to do a lot of mobile media streaming using a service like Orb, Slingbox, or plugins that serve up your home MediaCenter content; do lots of bandwidth-intensive mobile web browsing (note: AskMeFi is just fine on EDGE :)); do mobile RDP/VNC/Citrix connections to a server; do a lot of FTP or BitTorrent or other filesharing (though I've used a S60 bittorrent client on my e61/EDGE with decent success!); etc -- then 3G is the way to go.

If you find the perfect phone on a 3G network at a good price (phone and service), then go for it -- 3G is certainly faster! But depending on what you're using it for, it might not be that big a deal -- and it shouldn't necessarily be a dealbreaker when choosing a phone that doesn't offer 3G but is perfect in any other way. That's a decision I had to make when I got my e61, as it doesn't offer US 3G (only European). I bit the bullet and decided to try it, and I've never regretted it. YMMV.
posted by sprocket87 at 5:39 AM on October 18, 2007

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