… Hands. And actually I'm still using my iPhone 3GS. Just that it's temporarily shelved aside while I explore my lovely new phone. First things first, about my 3GS and its not-quite-demise.
What Ails You
It (as with other 3GSes, it seems) started becoming rather laggy many months ago. But it's not like I couldn't live with it, having lived with old PCs and stuff. Then iOS 5 came, and my it breathed a new life into my withering 3GS. Not sure if I could've achieved the same effect by restoring my phone/re-installing the OS, but too late to find out I guess. So yeah, it breathed new life, but it also inflicted the curse of -40% battery life (disclaimer: figure is arbitrary). Often it would also shut itself down at ~18%. It improved somewhat after I tried the steps recommended on various sites, but the curse proved too strong to lift completely.
iOS 5.0.1 rolled along somewhat later, but it didn't seem to solve the problem (beyond the aforementioned improvements). It started dying at ~2-5% as usual, although once in a while it would still die at ~18%. Fast forward to present day, or rather, a few days ago, my 3GS started to die at around 25-30%. 2 days later it died at 50%. All of these happened when I was running an app (with the exception of WhatsApp and regular messaging etc.). It's not like I was running Infinity Blade either, it was just a transport/bus guide. That's when I decided I would definitely need a new phone. Although iOS 5.1 will supposedly fix the premature death issue, I have no idea when it'll be out, and this is a good excuse so I have no choice but to get a new phone after all.
A New Love
As mentioned in my Christmas wishlist, I was pretty interested in Lumia 800 and WP7. Sometime later that I tried it out for the first time as I passed by a Nokia shop, and fell in love with it straightaway (more towards WP7′s interface, but I liked the phone's design too). But then I came across talk of Lumia 900, which is basically the 800 with a bigger screen (3.7″ -> 4.3″), a front-facing camera, I think an improved battery and pretty much it. The clincher is that it'll be $99 in the US with a 2-year AT&T contract, and that it has 4G LTE support. That's good and all, but there's just a few problems for me:
- I don't live in the US, so who knows when it'll be released locally, if ever?
- 4G is still a new business here. In fact I only just read about its launch last December. Right now there's only one telco offering it, and it's not the one I'm subscribing too. If it'll be a carrier-exclusive phone here too then it would be rather troublesome having to switch (or rather, I probably wouldn't be switching anyway). In any case I don't think the market here (or rather the WP7 audience) is big enough to warrant carrier exclusivity.
- There's no guarantee the price would be as cheap over here, but that's not much of a problem because either way it should still be cheaper than a Lumia 800, unless it's just being released as a "normal" phone.
Fate prevented our meeting... Or maybe just my impatience and dying phone. (Image: zdnet.com)
As such I came up with a few choices:
- iPhone 4S: I actually thought of getting a iPhone 4 instead due to the possible weaker battery life from a 4S, but apparently they only have 8GB (or was it 16GB?) iPhone 4s (4s as in plural), and it'll cost about the same as a 4S anyway. Seeing as how I ran out of space on my 16GB 3GS, I thought of getting a 32GB model.
- Get a Lumia and an iPod Touch: this would be only about $100 more expensive than if I got a 4S, or slightly cheaper if I traded in/sold my 3GS. The reason for having an Apple device is for the apps. Once you have 1000 apps (my actual count is around 1500), you can't quit on Apple.
- Get a Lumia and an iPad 2: however you cut it this would be much more expensive but I've always wanted an iPad anyway. Great for playing games and stuff, but also for watching videos, reading books and surfing the net in general while lying on the bed (I'm a lazy person and using the laptop isn't as comfortable, especially when mine has heat problems). But there's the problem of deciding between price, capacity and 3G or not. I suppose 32GB would be good too. I considered 64GB for storing videos but a PC streaming app would kind of negate that. And I usually surf on WiFi so 3G isn't that important, but I like to keep my options open. That and Lumia/WP7 has yet to offer tethering.
In the end I decided to just get a Lumia 800 first, iPod Touch or iPad later. I figured I didn't really need a larger screen (although I realize now that one would be nice) or front-facing camera, and by the time it's released here it might already be June or later (which is the case for UK). Technically I could use a spare phone first and get an iPod Touch or iPad at the same time, then I also decided that I didn't want to wait (mostly that).
Life with the New Wife
Well, after using it for a few days I'm still getting used to it. There are some functions and features that I miss on the iPhone:
- Keyboard feels different, even though it's a QWERTY keyboard (pretty much the norm anyway) I make more mistakes than usual. Partly also because the autocorrect isn't as sensitive (and generally not as good I would say). For example I often end up typing 'yo' instead of 'to', but it's not corrected. If I'm not mistaken it doesn't pick up non-spaced words either, e.g. 'haveyou'.
- On a related note, there is no custom keyboard shortcut as far as I can tell, which wouldn't be so bad, but the dictionary doesn't seem to pick up words you use like the iPhone does (or maybe because I haven't used it often enough). Words which are obviously wrong can be added to the dictionary, but some words which are not-so-wrong are neglected.
- Multitasking works differently on WP7. To switch apps you have to use the app switcher by holding the Back button, which brings up a list of previous apps. If you start an app elsewhere (home screen/app list) it will reload the app. Also, to make the app multitask you have to quit out using the Start key. Pressing Back will, well, go back to previous menus, but if you press Back at the main menu, it closes the app completely (i.e. it won't appear in the app switcher). The good thing is that OS apps (Messaging, Email, Zune etc.) open pretty much instantly anyway. The bad thing? You'll need to remember to quit WhatsApp using the Start key (btw, opening it from notifications will also require a reload).
- Speaking of which, WhatsApp on iPhone > WhatsApp on WP7. There are a ton of features missing from the iPhone version (and possibly Android too) such has notification settings, viewing of media, user blocking etc. Like the Android version, it's free for a year and requires an annual subscription thereafter.
- Screenshot capture. iPhone has it from the get-go (or at least, since 3GS), something I didn't realize was so rare when I first had it, Android has it with Ice Cream Sandwich, WP7… Might have it soon or not so soon.
That sounded like a lot, but I'm still more than pleased with my Lumia overall. I realize Android offers a lot of customization which can make it look great, but I very much prefer WP7′s UI in general (although Ice Cream Sandwich might raise Android's standing in my books somewhat from the little I've seen). As-is, it looks wonderful without customization, and even better with a little customization (also because that's all you can do, a little), but more on that in another post. The Metro interface is probably a love-it-or-hate-it thing, but besides that the phone's UI elsewhere looks fantastic too.
It could look like this. (Image: Wiztiles)
One of the reasons I wanted a WP7 was because of Xbox Live (achievements on the go!), which serves as a games hub and a XBL companion app. I thought the Marketplace would use Microsoft Points though, but I suppose that wouldn't fit as well with the general public. Unfortunately this also means that depending on your region, you might be paying more. For example, Collapse is on sale now for US$1.99, but over here it's S$2.99. That's a US$1 to S$1.5 conversion rate, but the actual currency rate is US$1 to S$1.26 (even with bank rates and what not it would still be lower than $1.5). The thing with MSP is that you can buy it off retail as well, which would be cheaper than getting it directly from XBL.
And I already knew beforehand, but experiencing it yourself makes it different. WP7 apps are expensive. Mostly due to the conversion issue I guess. If you are in the US apps could cost US$0.99 on the App Store and Marketplace, but if you're living elsewhere you could be paying more, as mentioned. Most of my paid iOS apps are games, so I'll compare that. Angry Birds costs US$0.99 on the App Store, but US$2.99 on the Marketplace. Plants vs. Zombies, US$2.99 vs. US$4.99. Not all apps are like that I guess. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is US$4.99 on both platforms. The thing is, the App Store has sales a lot more often (and for lower prices, i.e. free or US$0.99), whereas the Marketplace pretty much only has Deal of the Weeks for Xbox Live titles (which would only be 33% off, i.e. not US$0.99). It's mostly different for non-XBL titles though, a number of which are at US$0.99 but it's hard to compare since most of the games which can be found on the iPhone as well are XBL titles.
Oh well, as mentioned, I would be depending on an iDevice for my excessive app needs anyway…
Back from the Dead
Strangely enough, when I removed my SIM card from my 3GS, the curse seemed to be removed as well. The night I started using my Lumia, it didn't die at 20%. Surprised, I left the screen on to drain the battery and it died normally. Or at least, I assume it did, I wasn't exactly looking at my phone constantly. The next day I tried to see if the battery would last, and it sure did. I charged it yesterday, and it's at 72% now. Of course, I didn't use it much, just to surf the net a bit here and there, so it was mostly on standby. It only dropped from 77% to 74% during my 7 hours of sleep though, which is a huge improvement from the previous 100% to ~70-80%. Not sure why there's such a huge jump since I almost never turn 3G on, and I wouldn't expect it to improve by that much when it's off the regular network. Oh well.
It is not your turn to die... Yet.
So far the battery seems to drain normally and die normally as well, although it also seemed to drain exceptionally fast with wireless syncing. Besides that, since it's working alright I wouldn't need to get an iPod Touch. The iPad though… Or rather, the iPad 3…?