Nov 022011

There’s a phone for everyone nowadays. Every day people are buying more smartphones than computers and if you think about it, each of the current smartphones on the market has more computing power in it than the Space Shuttle’s navigational computer, not to mention the Apollo modules. But with the glorious days of the space exploration race long gone, the world has moved from space to micro and nanotechnology worlds where manufacturers engage in patent wars and race to make ever smaller and lighter CPUs for stunningly fast smartphones and tablets. There’s so many different sizes, price ranges, shapes and options regarding cell phones that an average user has a big problem comprehending and finding what they really need.

That’s where IT or mobile technology professionals step into the picture. If you’re one of us, whenever someone asks you for a “good laptop”, a “good tablet”, or a “good cell phone”, you probably already know that you can get yourself in trouble if you don’t ask a number of counter-questions before giving your recommendation. What’s good for one person may be totally wrong for somebody else. Here is one example of decision branching based on my questions in a conversation with a friend who wanted a new cell phone.

She asked whether she should get the iPhone. My first question was which one, because there’s a number of iPhone models available, from 3G, 3GS and 4 through 4S. Depending on your budget any one can be good enough.
She wanted “something that can take good pics and for the internet”. iPhone is a good choice for those features – it takes excellent pictures and Flash incompatibility aside, it has a very good browser, and I could have just said yes and walked away, both of us happy.

But my IT career has tuned and turned my brain into that of a service professional and technology researcher, so I’m acting the same even when talking to a friend, and so I thought of other things she didn’t and made our conversation much longer, but with a purpose of recommending what she really needs.

I guessed correctly that she texts a lot when I thought she may be used to the hardware keyboard on her current phone. Except for the touchscreen wiz kids, keyboard phones usually give you quicker and more accurate typing when texting, (and some great and customizable shortcuts in Android) so if you are the Sir (or Lady) “Textalot”, already used to a hardware QWERTY keyboard, stick to phones with it.

Then I had to ask whether she was still under contract and if she had a certain preferred carrier (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, AT&T, Cricket, Boost Mobile…) She was on Cricket, but prepaid (no contract) so she could go anywhere she wants. (Oh the sweet freedom of no contract, how I crave it!) She didn’t really like the internet browsing experience and the camera on her current phone, so we started looking further for an affordable keyboard phone, with a good camera comparable to the iPhone. I mentioned the Samsung Epic 4G as a beautiful, powerful and fast keyboard equipped smartphone, but that’s last year’s technology, Sprint and 4G, so together with the plan it’s far from being very affordable. MyTouch on T-Mobile also seems to be a great choice with a hardware keyboard and a great camera, but it’s not Boost Mobile or Cricket which turned to be her preferred carriers due to their $50 unlimited everything monthly prepaid plans. We looked into Boost Mobile phones, but their best smartphone seems to be the Samsung Transform Ultra, which didn’t get a good grade for the camera and photo quality in CNET’s comparison of qwerty smartphones, so since this was quite an important feature in our quest, we looked further.

Then we read an Engadget review about the new Samsung Transfix on Cricket and it seems like we’ve found the winner. It doesn’t have a superhigh resolution camera, but not everything is in Megapixels, 3.2 of which should be enough for good quality pictures. My EVO doesn’t make much better daylight pictures than my iPhone 3GS, although it has a much higher resolution, so since I know Samsung does a great job with pictures and cameras on its Galaxy phones, I believe in this new phone as well.

However, except for the Endgadget’s quick features overview and the announcement followup on Android Central we couldn’t find any real reviews, so now we wait for some to appear.

My guess? This phone is running Android 2.3 on an 800 MHz Arm9 Qualcomm CPU. Not the fastest, but fast enough, faster than my wife’s 600 MHz LG Optimus S which is almost as good as the iPhone. Its screen is the same size and resolution as in LG Optimus S (230 x 480 pixels; 3.2″), a bit smaller than the iPhone’s, but this phone also has a real and backlit (wow!) keyboard, a texter’s dream. Smaller screen is the major factor for a better battery life, so it may be better than the iPhone and other high profile smartphones that suck the life out of a battery in a few hours when you use them. It’s equipped with EVDO data and 800/1900/1700/2100 CDMA frequencies, standard GPS, it has 125 MB internal memory (they didn’t go overboard with this one) and accepts up to 32 GB microSD card. It has a camcorder (shoots video as well), Bluetooth, voice recognition and voice turn-by-turn Google navigation. If you’re searching for a good Cricket or Boost Mobile smartphone, this is currently and most likely your best bet (November 2011).

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