New Phone

On a couple occasions (too lazy to find the post), I’ve written about cell phones, and what I’d want to see in my next phone. Well, I more or less decided to throw all that away, or, rather, to just concentrate on a few key features, and let the rest of the phone sort itself out.

Seb arrived last week from China, and he needed a new cell phone. I found Let’s Talk, which cells carrier-branded phones and service contracts, but somehow manages to give ridiculous deals on phones such that you can often make money by buying a phone. This was too good to pass up, so I figured I might as well order a new phone (a Samsung T619) and new service (T-Mobile) myself.

I ordered the phone Thursday night, and it arrived on Tuesday, with free 2nd-day shipping. Not too shabby. I love the new phone, though it’s not perfect. It’s quite a bit thinner than my old phone, which is great, since I keep my phone in my side pocket. It has a 1.3 megapixel camera, which isn’t particularly exciting or wonderful, but it’s decent for taking quick shots of things where the quality doesn’t matter and I don’t have my real camera. I also realised that I like that the phone just has a camera, period, so I can take pictures of my friends to use as caller ID photos. Call quality is very clear, and it’s able to make calls even when I have only one bar (my old phone had trouble with that, though that may not be an apples-to-apples comparison). It’s a quad-mode phone, so I should be able to use it anywhere in the world (though I’d want to find an unlock code so I can buy regional SIM cards since T-Mobile’s international roaming charges are pretty high, or so I hear). The UI is clean and the default setup is very pleasing, with light text on a black background. It has Bluetooth, and I’ve already successfully done file transfers with it (even using Linux on my PowerBook).

The downsides are few, but notable. The external screen turns off after a few seconds to conserve power. This means if I want to pull it out of my pocket to check the time, I have to hold down the volume up button for a couple seconds to make it turn on. It’s a minor annoyance, I suppose, especially considering I’ve started wearing a watch again.

The earpiece volume is a little lower than what I’m used to, which could be a problem, but I’ve been ok so far.

Likely due to commercial interests, the phone is retarded when dealing with ringtones. If I transfer an MP3 to the phone over Bluetooth, it won’t let me assign it as a ringtone. Apparently there’s some trick you can do where you reencode the MP3 using AAC in a .mp4 container, and then rename the file to have a .3gp extension. This somehow “fools” the phone into letting you play it as a ringtone. I tried it, and it appeared to work, though the volume was too low (fixable, probably), and the first quarter- to half-second of the clip got cut off (probably fixable by prepending some silence to the file).

It uses a proprietary connector for the headset, which is super lame. Fortunately, it came with a (cheap) earbud headset, and I have a Motorola Bluetooth headset somewhere in one of my packed boxes.

One final thing it doesn’t have (or at least I haven’t found it yet) is the ability to vibrate and ring simultaneously. The vibrate function also feels a little weak, but it’s not bad.

Overall, I think I’m pretty happy with the new phone, and with the service, at least so far.