Cell Phone Search

Posted by

I need to find a new cell phone. My one-year contract with ATT Wireless (acquired by Cingular) is about to expire. I signed up for the plan last September to take advantage of the features in the then brand new Audiovox SMT5600. I love many things about the phone, including support for video and audio playback. I can play podcasts, audiobooks and movies on the phone, which makes it a suitable replacement for needing a portable music player and a phone. I already carry around a bunch of junk in my pockets, eliminating an extra piece of hardware is nice. Having access to subscription music services like Yahoo and Napster is great too.
Unfortunately, my SMT5600 suffered a tragic accident and the protective plastic covering the screen cracked several months ago. The navigation button managed to get loose over time, making it harder to browse phone features. The transition to Cingular during the ATT Wireless acquisition amounted to no support for the phone, making it impossible to replace under the plan.
Now I have a dilemma. I like the advantage of having Outlook sync to my current phone. I love carting around music and movies on my phone, although I wish Audiovox had been smart enough to use a standard sized phone jack. So I’m torn in choosing a replacement. I can easily abandon Cingular for Verizon or Sprint; if I can find better hardware somewhere else. I want a new phone with similar features.
I have my eye on two phones with similar possibilities, although neither is currently available from any of the carriers. Nokia’s N91 is certainly a drool-worthy alternative, complete with 4GB hard drive and WiFi, with the smart addition of a 3.5mm headset jack, so you can use Etymotics with the phone. It’s about the same size as my current Audiovox phone, making the N91 an almost perfect substitute. The downside to the phone is price. It’s estimated in the $700-800 range, which means little subsidy from the phone company.
If I hold out until January, the Motorola Q might be a more viable option. It has a thumb keyboard, like the Blackberry, with 320×240 resolution and Windows Mobile v5. A 1.3 megapixel camera for video and stills is standard phone fare these days. The size is a little bigger than I’d want, taking me back to the days of the massive Palm OS powered Kyocera I had a few years ago. My own experiences with Motorola phones in the past is mixed at best.
I might go out on a limb and look at one of the speech-to-text phones from Samsung. They recognition works quite well – I tried it on a trade show floor and it understood me flawlessly. I know Apple is about to announce the iTunes phone next week, but I just don’t care. I don’t need iTunes on a phone to get a great music experience. Apple is hoping to change the handheld world the same way they shook up digital music and I just don’t see it happening. For now, I guess I’ll keep the Audiovox; it’s broke, but still quite functional. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.