My Life Is Phones

28 Aug

Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez, Austin American-Statesman

In today’s paper, we ran a roundup of smart phones that I put together. It includes the iPhone 4, the Sprint EVO 4G, the Verizon Droid X, the T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant, the BlackBerry Torch and the Dell Streak (which is either a mini-tablet or a comically large Android-based phone depending on who you ask).

For the last few months, since right before the iPhone 4 came out, I’ve been pretty much flooded with devices. The EVO came first, then two iPhones (Apple wanted reviewers to be able to get wowed by FaceTime), then a burst of smart phones that arrived when I started requesting them for the photo shoot that would yield the image above.

The story was originally supposed to be what we call a “Charticle” (chart + article!), but for space reasons ended up a more traditional introduction + info box.

I’ll tell you that while it’s fun to get to play around with different phones and try them out, it’s not fun to have 6 or 7 phones in the house in addition to the ones we own ourselves. It becomes a constant game of keeping track of chargers, updating software, updating apps and navigating tons of menus. It’s a little stressful, if I’m being honest, and I’m kind of relieved to be sending a bunch of them back this week. (The Torch has already been returned and a batch of phones go back on Monday.) But then two more phones arrived late last week (Sprint Epic 4G and AT&T Captivate) for some follow-up reviewing.

It’s getting harder and harder to do real reviews of smart phones because they’re basically computers now with their own software ecosystem and people want to know not only how the phone performs but what apps are good for it. Reviewing a smart phone now without trying out some of the best apps available for it isn’t really acceptable anymore. (It always amuses me when I see some tech writers post a review of a smart phone the day it debuts when it’s clear they’ve only had an hour or two to play around with it. Way to be unhelpful to any potential buyer who’ll be stuck with it on a two-year contract.)

I also posted a blog entry with my reviews of the some of the phones in the roundup and links to other reviews for the ones I wasn’t able to get to. I had play time with all the phones in the roundup, but some I had a lot more time with than the others. The iPhone and EVO I had about two months to try them out while the BlackBerry had to be sent back within a week after we received it. (Plus, BlackBerry has an operating system that I’ve never been able to get my head around. )

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