Samsung Moment: Meh.

I’m 5 days into the Moment, and I’m underwhelmed, such that I’m already considering going to its cousin, the Hero.  Here’s why:

It’s tinny.  The sound that is.  Most reviews mention it, and they are completely correct.  It almost sounds good, but there is distortion that won’t go away.

The capacitive buttons are neat, but maybe 25% of my button presses are quickly followed by another button press because there is no indication that anything happened.  In some application, for example, the menu button doesn’t do anything, and the only way to know that is that nothing happens when you hit the menu button.

Slider quality: it’s been less than a week and it’s ready starting to wobble.  It’s not that bad right now, but I can see where it’s going.

Speaking of slider, the keyboard… I’m kinda-sorta getting used to the layout, but I’m hitting B rather than Space far too often.  And the biggie here: there is sometimes a HUGE lag between a keyboard press and the character on the screen… the entire point of the hardware keyboard is that you are slower than the OS.  This is really disappointing.

Speaking of input devices, I think I’ve decided that I don’t like the optical mouse.  It’s calibrated differently in different applications; some places a gently scroll goes 3 lines, in other places, 3 pages.  Also, the mouse has the same lag as the keyboard, which makes typo correction a real pain in the butt.

And finally, as of this posting, HTC has annouced that they will eventually release an update to 2.0.  Samsung has not done the same.

Am I going to switch devices?  Right now I’m around 50-50.  HTC just yesterday released a patch that fixes some of they more showstopping bugs, so I’ll see how that pans out.

For those of you using a Moment, how do you think it measures up?

Hero or Moment: Lesser of Two Evils?

As you probably know, I have been lusting over Sprint Android phones for about four months now.  So why haven’t I gotten one yet?  After all, the Hero’s been out since mid October, and the Moment’s been out for nearly two weeks now.

If you read my previous post, you know that there are pros and cons to each phone.  However, according to various forums, including SprintUsers.com and Sprint’s own Buzz About Wireless, it looks like both devices were rushed to market, probably to compete with Verizon’s Droid.  Here are some of the problems that have been discussed ad nauseum:

Hero:

Moment:

According to Sprint, a patch for the Hero is in the works, and for the Moment in talks, so we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.

An interesting post-script: because I’ve been wanting to get an Android phone, I put up a poll on SprintUsers (http://www.sprintusers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=197951).  Of the people who responded (duh), more than twice got the Hero as the Moment, but about 10% of Hero users are dissatisfied, compared to less than 1% of Moment users.  The sample size is 61 as of this posting, so make of it what you will.

HTC Hero vs. Samsung Moment: initial thoughts

I just had a chance to play with both phones side-by-side, and here’s my take:

I was dead set on buying the Moment because of the faster processor, hardware keyboard, and AMOLED screen. I’m not so certain anymore.

The keyboard was nice, but not fantastic. Coming from a Q9h, the layout is slightly different. Dedicated function key for smilies? Really? The slide mechanism seemed decent, but already a bit loose. Having used a Samsung slider before, I’m baised against them.

The error correction on the Hero seems much better than vanilla Android, at least on a “quick brown fox” test.

I was expecting the screen to blow me away, and it really didn’t. I played a couple videos on both phones and honestly much of the time I preferred the Hero. The colors seemed more vivid.

Processing power: 800MHz… that’s 2 times the power of the first computer that I had. And the phone still lagged. What?!

Call quality: I called home and my dad said both were equally ok. The earpiece on the Moment is signifincantly louder.

LED alerts… I can’t believe the Moment doesn’t have them! What good is a battery-saving screen if I have to turn the phone on whenever I am away.

Those of you who have used both phones or are trying to decide between the two – post your opinions!

I am The Phone Critic!

This is for all two of my loyal readers. I’m moving phwnageblog to www.thephonecritic.com. A bit easier to say, and I don’t have to spell it out for people.

30 minutes with the Sprint HTC Hero

Sprint HTC Hero

Sprint HTC Hero

The wonderful people at the Glendale Sprint store had a working demo unit available today, so I got the chance to try it out for about 30 minutes uninterrupted.

Feel

  • The phone had a good, solid feel.  Construction is well-done and there is no appreciable squeaking between the parts of the body.  It took me a couple minute to get used to the 4-button panel on the bottom, but it became easy enough.

Screen

  • The screen is gorgeous, but I suppose that’s expected in a post-iPhone era.  No complaints at all.

Responsiveness

  • Here I was somewhat disappointed.  There was an appreciable lag when performing just about any action that required a tap.  In-and-of-itself that’s ok by me, but the interface was not expecting such a lag.  For example, when tapping to launch an application, the icon would briefly highlight, and some seconds later the app would launch.  I would expect the highlight to remain, or maybe an hourglass or something, to tell me that the phone is processing my command.
  • Scrolling horizontally and vertically is just fine, so it looks like HTC worked that out.

Keyboard

  • The keyboard is actually better than I had expected, but worse than I’d like it to be.  I have relatively, but not overly, large fingers, and I wasn’t making a ton of mistakes.  Much better than iPhone’s first version.  Sadly, there is a split-second delay between the keypress and the letter selection, which makes for difficult long messages.  There is haptic feedback, which I thought was just the right strength.

Web browser

  • When it finished chugging, the display was nice, but it took far too long to process.  Compared to a WinMo phone it was fast and accurate, but compared to current standards, it falls short.  Zooming is also herky-jerky.

Conclusion:  I think I’m going to wait for the Samsung Moment.  Its processor is about 25ish% faster, and it’s a straight Android ROM.  While HTC did a fantastic job with the eye-candy, I really do think the hardware is not up to the task.  Oh yeah, and it’s got a hardware keyboard.

Moto Q9h review

I’ve been using the Q9h for a few weeks now, as a final attempt to use AT&T’s network.  It’s not anything extraordinary: it’s pretty much Moto’s competitor to Samsung’s Blackjack 2 (which I had previously).

Before I start this review: does anyone know where I can get pictures of phones that I can legally put on the blog?  I don’t think I can just start linking to manufacturers’ websites…

Notables:

  • It’s a hefty phone!  Moto lists it at 140g, compared to the Blackjack 2 at 100g, and it’s really noticeable.
  • The keyboard is more like the Blackberry Bold than the Blackjack 2: the keys are big and domed.  The tactile feedback is very nice, and well calibrated.  The physical size of the keyboard is what places the device firmly in the “almost-too-wide” camp.  Any larger and it would be too cumbersome to hold in one hand.  The curves of the backside definitely help alleviate this somewhat.
  • It comes standard with Opera mini.  Interestingly, I actually prefer using the IE that ships on the device rather than Opera, but that’s a whole other post.  I can’t wait for IE 6 on 6 (standard).  I had to… ahem… modify the phone… to get IE back to the hardware key.

Pros:

  • Reception.  As advertised, this phone is the king of RF.  Sadly, this doesn’t translate to clearer calls, just to less calls disconnected.
  • Battery life.  Well, sorta.  The phone is huge in its class, and surprisingly the standard battery is rather small as compared to other similar phones.  It ships with a 1130 mAh battery, compared to the BJ2’s 1400 mAh battery.  The phone actually seems to have great power management, and I have been getting a full 2 days’ use from the standard battery.  Additionally, the Q9h comes with a gigantic (and I mean huge) 1640 mAh extended battery, but you trade talk time for a hump on the back.
  • Lots of nice Moto tweaks.  For example, while on the Blackjack 2, the up/down controls on the side changed the volume of the ringer, on the Q9h, they scroll your selection.  I don’t mute my phone on accident when taking it out of my pocket anymore.  Also, said controls are on the right of the device, rather than the left, which is nice for right-handed people.

Cons:

  • Worth mentioning again… this thing is a behemoth.
  • Micro USB charging port is too flimsy in my opinion.  I prefer mini USB or dedicated charging (a la Nokia).
  • I’m not sure how this passed QA: the backspace key is above the keyboard.  What?!
  • Holding the home key doesn’t bring you right to the task manager like other WinMo standard phones.  It brings you to the “power down” menu.
  • Most sadly: it’s tied to AT&T’s network.  I am just about convinced that no phone can fare well there.

One last chance, AT&T… Moto Q9h

So I’ve been with AT&T for about 2 years now, having switched from Sprint for the original iPhone.  I switched knowing that call quality was not going to be as good; that’s just a fact of CDMA vs. GSM.  I took it in stride at first – the choppy sentences, the robotic voices.  But enough is enough: since I’ve been using the Blackjack 2, I’ve gotten more complaints about choppy calls than I remember with any other handset.

So, I’m giving AT&T one last try, with the Motorola Q9h.  Moto is one of the ancient kings of RF, right alongside Nokia and RIM (Blackberry).  If the Q9h can’t consistently deliver quality calls, I won’t have any other options left.

The funny thing is that Sprint’s rumored 4G network will be LTE, which is a GSM-based technology.  But that won’t come for at least 2 more years, and I need to make calls now.

iPhone

Whenever someone takes out an iPhone, it gets me going.  2G slightly more than 3G, but going nonetheless.

I wanted to love the iPhone.  Desperately.  I have never been much of an Apple fan, largely because of their prices, but I caught iPhone fever, followed the Keynote live, and waited with baited breath to get my own.  I owned both the iPhone (2G) and iPhone 3G for three months each, which is a record for me; I really did want to like them.  So what is it about this phone that gets me all riled up?

It’s not a phone.

Not primarily, anyway.  Yes, it makes calls.  On the 2G that was even debatable, just ask David Pogue.  What I think set the iPhone 2G apart from the market two years ago was the capacitive touch screen (you don’t have to apply pressure on the screen), the response time for the main applications, fantastic web browser, and the App Store.  It’s really like having a mini computer in your pocket.  But using the phone, at least up to the 2.0 software, was a chore.

To dial a number from an unlocked state required as many as 3 actions:

  1. Start the Phone application (I ditched the Contacts app even when it became included as it takes up to several seconds to load)
  2. Select the Dialer or Contacts tab
  3. Dial the number or select contact

Comparing to any Windows Mobile Standard phone:

  1. Type the first few letters or numbers, or entire number
  2. Hit Send

In general, it seemed to me that iPhone OS was more app-centric than contact-centric, as I would expect a phone to be.  There was no quick way to start an SMS or email.

The one other item that kicked my butt was the lack of hardware keyboard.  The on-screen keyboard is great for what it is, but since there is no resistance needed, I could not type with two fingers.  It required one finger on the screen at any one time.

Give me Send/End keys, and a hardware keyboard, and I’m sold.  At least until AT&T gets an Andriod phone.

Welcome to phwnage blog.

Phone reviews by a SoCal code monkey.

My name is Rom and I’m a phoneaholic.

I am a geek and I make my living writing Java code down in Southern California.  I’m a code monkey by day, and a phone junkie for the rest of the time.

I got my first cellphone in the summer of 2002.  It wasn’t a brick by any means: it was the Motorola v60 on TMobile: one of the most dependable phones I have had.  Between then and now, I’ve spent at least a year on each of the four major US carriers, and have used phones from Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, Palm, HTC, RIM, Nokia, and Sanyo in nearly every form-factor available.

I buy and sell phones for fun, and they are one of my favorite conversation topics.  I’ve been ranting and raving to my friends for years, and several suggested that I put my thoughts on a blog.  I switch phones about every 2-3 months, and I’m hoping to have a review up at about that frequency.  Currently I’m trying to sell off my Samsung Propel Pro, so I will put up a review of that soon.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed.

Thanks to Jeff and Brian for a great blog name!

– Rom