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Nov 2009 07

Xperia X10: My next phone?

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SE Xperia X10
SE Xperia X10

On June 27th, 2007 (shortly after I got married) the iPhone came out.. I sort of waffled back and forth as to whether or not to get the iPhone or the N95..  The decision was very much made for me when they announced the SDK for the iPhone back in January of 2008, and I got one a day or two later..  I found out that the iPhone wasn't all hype and that I seriously made the right choice.. The N95 is a good device but now that I have handled both, I can say that the iPhone was superior in the one way that mattered the most;  the interface.

I continue to use just about all of the features of my iPhone on a daily basis and can honestly say it's one of the most useful tools I have ever owned..  I have loved this device.. When the 3G iPhone came out I briefly had some unfaithful thoughts and considered upgrading but to be honest I just didn't feel the improvements were enough to warrant the cost even though it was only $200..  I passed..   Then the 3Gs came out and again, I didn't see the advantage.. Sure a few extra go faster stripes, but just not that big of an improvement..  Pass again..

With each iteration of the OS, they continue to upgrade the first generation device in lock step with the later generations which I felt was a really good thing to do.  I personally believe that you should never, ever cripple your hardware through software.   If a device can do a thing, it should be allowed to do a thing..  And it appeared they weren't crippling their older device just so you would upgrade... Until it became apparent that they were doing just that..

The irony of course is that Apple is sort of known for doing exactly that and yet I still bought in..   The iPhone has been wonderful and will likely continue to be wonderful as a device, but the more I use it and the deeper I get into the user experience as well as the developers experience the more I realize that there are a lot of limitations in place.  Some of those were put there by Apple intentionally to get you to upgrade to the latest revision of the hardware..  And that's shitty..

I recently purchased a very nice bluetooth stereo headset with the intention of using them with my phone..  However Apple has disabled the A2DP bluetooth profile on the first generation iPhone..  Just 'cause..   The phone certainly can do it, it's a software profile not a hardware difference but they decided do turn that feature off.   They also didn't enable MMS for the first generation iPhone even though I'm pretty sure we were promised that along with everyone else.. again that simply sucks..  Don't even get me started on the "new" voice activation shit the new 3Gs can do and that my p910a could do 5 years ago..   I can say that this sort of thing has made me pretty angry at Apple..

I am also somewhat annoyed with AT&T of late as their network is completely and totally hozed.  A buddy of mine that works for AT&T said their network in the Austin area is something like 400% saturated and yet are forced (by the consumer) to continue to add new features like the recently added MMS stuff..  3G is great if the network actually has bandwidth..  When my phone first came out the Edge network (2G) worked fine.. sure it was a tad slow but it worked... NOW it doesn't work at all because they have throttled it down to nothing trying to eek out more 3G bandwidth to support the customer demand..   So while previously my wife with her 3G iPhone would load a webpage in 30 seconds that would take me a minute to load, now her phone can sometimes load it in a minute and mine times out every time.. So effectively my iPhone's network is gone.. (Depends largely on the time of day.. )

I had told my wife that I was going to get the next version of the iPhone.. whatever came after the 3Gs.. I told her that the 3Gs was tempting but wasn't quite better enough to warrant the cost and that I normally hang on to a device for 2 or so years before upgrading anyway..  So whatever Apple came out with next would do me..  I assumed at the time I said this that Apple would continue to actually support my device in the form of upgrades..  Now I'm less sure of this..

In my mind they have intentionally crippled the first generation iPhone such that I can't use stereo bluetooth, MMS or the new Voice activation stuff even though the hardware supports it..   And that's shitty..  And all so I would rush out and purchase the latest hardware..  (Which I couldn't do anyway in the case of the 3G because I was contractually obligated to AT&T..)

So.. Now I'm forced to consider alternatives..  Or rather not forced, but am shopping for alternatives because Apple & AT&T has pissed me off..  Their business tactics smack of greed and I just don't like that..

And while my iPhone still very much works and for the most part still does everything I need, I would like to get a new phone simply for the newer abilities that are out there..   The problem was the iPhone (even the original one) set the bar extremely high..  The interface just wins.. The application store system works very nicely and is a huge win for both developers and customers alike..  The native applications all work extremely well, are user friendly and functional.. etc.. it's gonna be tough finding something that works as well and has the features and functionality of even my crippled phone..

SEXperiaOr so I thought..  I had looked into quite a few different devices, most of them were either the latest Symbian or Android style phones.. None of them really did what I wanted.. the form factor was just all wrong in most cases..  They had unnecessary things like slider keyboards or just uncomfortable shapes, or they weren't enough of a convergence device..

Then a co-worker pointed out the Xperia X10 by Sony Ericsson.   Wow..  It's not out yet, but the specs are available online and I must say I'm impressed..  I have a fairly high opinion of the SE line of devices.. The p910a was a great device for its day.. I really had zero complaints about it and think back on it fondly..

In my opinion, the quality of the iPhone where the physical device is concerned is pretty high.. It doesn't feel flimsy for easily breakable even though the whole front of it is glass.. It has a nice weight to it and it's comfortable to hold..  The only thing I don't like physically about the iPhone is the volume is really low by comparison to some of my other phones (the Nokia Communicator I owned was so loud I had to hold it away from my head..)

I'm seriously hoping that the the Xperia phone matches the iPhone for physical quality..  If it does then it's a shoe in for my next device..  ALL of the spec's for this device beat my first generation iPhone by a landslide..  Plus it appears to have the same touch screen style interface and it's an "Android" with 1ghz processor?!   Christ it's a phone that's more powerful than my first two IBM PCs combined..

The biggest complaint most folks have is that it doesn't have a keyboard..  Are you fucking kidding me?  I just don't understand that..  I used to think a keyboard would be nice until I had a device that had one and never used it..  Once I got used to the iPhone style of on screen keyboard I was done with physical keys..  Touch screen is where it's at folks..  Real keyboards in a device this size are simply not practical nor are they useful...

The real big complaint is that this phone will likely cost around $800... or more...

Either way I think this phone is it.. It's still a ways out yet though.. it's slated to be released in "the first half of 2010" which knowing SE will be the very last day of that time frame or pushed back later.. heh

I'm also not entirely sure about the UI code named "Rachel" by Sony Ericsson..

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Looks good to me!  It's getting bashed by a lot of folks for some reason though.. I think it's very pretty and seems fully functional.. shrug  I dunno why people hate it so much.. I guess change is scary.. They may just want the row after row of icons and nothing else..

The other complaint is that it's being shipped with android 1.6 instead of 2.0 which people can't understand.. I think that decision has a lot to do with the development cycle.. The phone has likely been in development for a while now and its currently written on 1.6.. When does 2.0 come out?   They would have to completely rewrite to get 2.0 crammed in there at the last second before the phone was due to be released..  I think by writing it on 1.6 they get the software down pat and can then release the 2.0 version in a upgrade down the road..   Quality folks.. they want the OS to work the first time around..

I can appreciate that..  I'd take a stable 1.6 over a buggy 2.0 package anyday..

Anyway.. that's it.. This thing looks hot.. Here is another video of the music player and photo viewer.. Looks great..

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I'll keep you posted.

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