The Mobile Project
SEARCH FOR ULTIMATE TOUCH PHONE
by Dalibor Lanik
Looking for a new toy, decided to look for a mobile phone. Not that I needed one, my good old K750i still works just fine after 5 years! And the battery still holds for 4-5 days without any problems. I am so satisfied with this phone, no need to change it. I would still use it as an mp3 player if I didn't receive an iPod as a gift. But since my interest in GPS project dropped (I installed pretty all GPS programs that exist and made unlock that I'm completely satisfied with) I needed a new toy. I thought about this for a long time and came to the conclusion there's no point in buying another phone that is similar to my K750 (candybar phone) - since K750 worked so well. It might have better cam, slightly bigger display, but in essence it would be exactly the same. So after examining all options, I came to the conclusion that a phone with no keyboard at all is best and way the future goes. Now only to select the make and model....
There are several choices as far as OS is concerned. iPhone, Symbian, Android or WinMobile. Symbian I don't like. It has some apps, but not nearly as much as needed. And it seems this platform is slowly dying. Android seems cool, but I hate that scroll-ball. It is impractical and ugly. It is the sign of wrong concept from the start. If it has touch-screen, why the fuck do I need scroll-ball? Not to mention how ugly they are. iPhone seems like obvious choice, except every moron has one and thinks how cool and unique he is (yea, with millions of other morons) and this aside, I already have an iPod and if I know one thing - that is that I don't want to have anything with iTunes anymore. What a stupid concept! All in the service to prevent people from copying music! I really can't understand how this flawed concept doesn't bother people. Synchronizing music! Synchronizing! I don't want to sync anything, morons, I want to copy music onto it. From wherever I want. And I don't want to have to install stupid iTunes. What's wrong with Total Commander? Anyway, this kept me away from iPhone. Not to mention iTunes store. I do not want to purchase every bit of software for my phone. OK, I'll buy a nav program or such, but the best programs come from the enthusiasts and are all freeware. No freeware for iPhone. The whole policy of Apple is what we were afraid Microsoft would become in the 1990's. Monolithic company that controls every aspect of how you use your device. No thanx, Apple. I'm not your regular consumer. That leaves us with only one platform that is open, has a huge software base, and most important has huge freeware application base.
Now the question was only which brand and model. As I saw my friends X1 Experia I was very dissapointed. A 500 Euro phone that has such bad interface and is so slow was simply unacceptable. So cross out SE for windows mobile phone. Nokia doesn't have any. The only logical choice is HTC. But same as X1, it seemed to me HTC's phones don't offer clean, streamlined interface and that after going 2 levels deep in the system menues, you always bump into that awfull windows mobile interface. Yes, the dialer and main menues have all been redesigned, but am I willing to pay +500 Euro for such a half-baked system?
You see the dillema? Apple has the interface, to the smallest detail, but it is closed platform ruled by a whip by Apple. And then those awfull iTunes.... HTC has the hardware and runs on open (windows mobile) platform, but is way too expensive for something only half-done.
Somehow by a chance, I met with a friend who mentioned something about iPhone clones from China that are dirt cheap and even have a TV tuner built in. I heard this and forgot, and it was some days later that I again bumped on the topic of iPhone "clones" on the web. I started reading and looking for sites that sell those, just out of curiosity. On the web, they all looked nice, had everything but in practice they were of doubtful quality and who knew what is inside and how they work. I started collecting info on the "clones" and came to the conclusion that the best one is ciphone. All other brands had drawbacks or were or lower quality, or running MTK (a modified version of the Nucleus OS), but ciphone had Windows Mobile and people were telling it is of good quality. Ofcourse, it was more expensive too. A classic clone, you can get for as low as 79 USD. It is a phone running on MTK and according to pictures it had menues like iPhone, plus most of them had built-in TV tuner. But that was it. More expensive models (100-120 USD) had compass or were running windows mobile. Only ciphone came with several models, with 4, 8, and 16 GB RAM, with or without Wi-Fi and GPS, with 3.2 or 3.5 inch screen, so the price varied. Still, with Win Mobile 6.1, WiFi, GPS, G-Sensor and shipping charges to Europe, it was still reasonably priced.
I had doubts whether to go for the 3.2 (C5) or 3.5 inch screen model (C6). In the end I decided on smaller screen because of the compatibility with softwrare. The 3.2 inch screen model had QVGA (240x320) screen, while 3.5 inch model has HVGA (320x480) which is relatively new standard and it was questionable how many apps support this resolution.
It turned out that I was right, since in a month, I got myself a C6 for my wife and everything I suspected was true. A lot of applications really didn't work on C6's HVGA screen (including irreplaceable iGo)! Ofcourse, the stuation might (and will) improve in time. But I didn't want to wait and in a year (when situation improves) I'll probably have a different phone alltogether.
But let's get back in time, in order to see the purchasing process. I spend considerable amount of time evaluating chinese (and EU) sellers. In the end I decided on Fastcardtech which was also recomended by a lot of people. They offer the widest possible choice of phones. For other electronics (i.e. GPS) I'd go elsewhere. but for phones, they had the biggest choice.
Purchasing process is fairly straightforward. You select what you want to buy as in any e-shop, and the goods is reserved for you until you pay. The only difference is that you can not pay with credit card directly but must use either bank transfer or pay by PayPal. Since I already made PayPal account for the purposes of donations to my GPS shell program, the choice was obvious. I already had some donations on PayPal, so I just added the amount from my bank card. The amount was transfered, and was returned immediately because my PayPal account wasn't verified! It is a simple process that verifies your PayPal account with your credit card and it takes 1-2 days. After my account was verified, the payment was accepted, and all I could do is wait.
There is the tracking site for EMS shipments, and you can see where exactly your goods are. It arrived in 8-9 days and was delivered to my door. The postman called me on my mobile phone to see when I will be home and delivered as agreed. No taxes. The invoice on the package said "MP3 player for kids, 65$", and in the EU you don't pay customs for goods cheaper than 100 EUR. So far so good.
The package was much smaller than I expected. And very hard to open ;-) It is wrapped in selfadhesive plastic so it is waterproof, and you will need a knife or something sharp to cut the plastic. The nice, black iPhone box contained the telephone, USB cable, mains USB adapter, cleaning cloth, a stylus, a tool to open sim-card cover (even though this can be opened with a needle or a pin), instruction manual for iPhone (which is of no use at all) and to my surprise, an aditional external battery. But the most important thing is if the damn thing works at all or if it breaks within a week ;-)