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Thwarted Techno Lust

Well, I had been intending to talk Vodafone UK into upgrading me from my beloved-but-battered Nokia N95 8GB to the long-coveted Nokia N97. But I’ve just read a bunch of reviews, including one by the sainted Stephen Fry, and they’re all awful. It’s a resistive touchscreen that comes with a stylus? If I want one of those I can necromantise the old Handspring Visor with phone module that I have mouldering in a drawer somewhere. And that hideous, unfunctional-looking keyboard? I am very disappointed.

The iPhone 3GS is of no real use to me: I’m neither an Apple user nor an iTunes user. I’ve fiddled with a G1, and the build quality felt a bit flimsy to me (I’m used to Nokias, remember, which are sawn out of Finnish girders). The Pre isn’t going to get her fore some while, and, as an ill-used old Treo user, I’m kind of cautious about any new Palm phone anyway.

Any recommendations for a clever new phone?

Published in brainjuice


  1. Sony Eriksons are the most reliable and intuitive phones I’ve ever had. However, the last two I’ve had have been something else and as such have been shite.

  2. Teataine Teataine

    Well, I haven’t read any serious reviews and it’s not a Nokia, but this gizmo has been getting some hype lately:
    On paper, the specs look impressive, no idea about the actual performance.

  3. Anonymous Anonymous

    Blackberry, perhaps. But not the touch-screen one, I heard that one’s clunky and slow.

  4. The G1 is better-built than it seems, you might give it another shot. It’s not as solid as my Nokia E51, but what is? And the software ecosystem has already evolved in better ways than S60.

  5. Since you like Nokia, the E71 seems to be doing rather well in review and does have the advantage of having a full QWERTY keyboard already attached. Personally, I’m looking at a Blackberry Bold for my next upgrade. The reviews are uniformly good and it does everything bar making the tea.

    Have to admit that my old HTC TyTnII (slide out QWERTY) has been a pretty decent phone, although it being dropped a couple of times didn’t really do it much good.

  6. The Nokia 6110. Not new, but very sturdy. Rarrrhrrr.

  7. Depends on what you need really. Personally I feel the iPhone is probably the most robust right now and with OS3.0 ad 3Gs it’s finally seasoned enough. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the Pre, though I think the pros outweigh the cons for most users. The Blackberry Bold or Curve are excellent devices, again, minus some caveats. So’s the G1, agreed on flimsiness. I don’t recommend the N97 either, E71 would be better. Motorola Q is crap, better off with a Samsung Blackjack or UltraSmart. I think that pretty much covers it really.

  8. pmpknface pmpknface

    I have the Palm Centro and want to upgrade to the PRO. It’s got all that handy Treo action, and I don’t know about the PRO but my Centro survived a day out in the rain. :)

  9. I’m a happy iPhone user, so I can’t make much of a recommendation on what to get. However, I can recommend what NOT to get.

    I gave the HTC Touch Pro a shot a few months ago and it was utter rubbish. I was attracted to it by the slide out full qwerty keyboard and touch screen functions. Fucker wouldn’t keep a charge over night. Useless.

  10. blackberry bold

  11. Peter Radcliffe Peter Radcliffe

    The G1 is a nice phone, it’s more sturdy than it seems (I’ve dropped my dev phone 1 a couple of times and it’s survived perfectly well) and the keyboard is damn useful for ssh… but if you don’t like the hardware and you do like Android there will be another dozen or so phones running it out before the end of the year from many manufacturers.


  12. Shame about the N97 – such a good idea, shame it don’t seem to work.
    Sticking with Nokia, I’ve had good results from the N85 (smaller packaging of the N95, slightly better camera, OLED screen, MicroSD can go up to at least 16gig & usually comes with a 8gig stick in the box) and the upgrade to that, the N86, is out about the same time as the 97. Advance word is very good.

  13. HTC generally built them good, in my experience. They’re the makers of the G1, though, and I’m surprised to hear it’s “flimsy”. Vodafone carries the “Magic”, which is basically a smaller G1 without slideout keyboard.

  14. Ross Ross

    I would suggest the G1. I’ve have one for a few weeks and although I was at first concerned with the build quality, it is suprisingly robust. A few friends have had them for a few months and still love them. One friend in particular takes his all over the world, writes chiptunes on it, and generally enjoys much internet lulz. and after about 30,000 miles it’s still as sturdy as it was on the day he bought it.

  15. Love my HTC Touch Diamond, because it’s basically a computer in my pocket with an HSDPA connection, runs WinMobile 6 (after five previous tries they finally made one that works quite well), and when it was released a year ago it did all the things the new iphone does now. And it’s small and pretty and no-one else I know has one, which is trivial, I know, but still important to me. Downsides: needs charging every night, not the biggest touchscreen on the market, qwerty keyboard is only really usable with the stylus unless you have very dainty fingers, 4Gb storage isn’t swapable (though new Diamond 2 solves this and tweaks a few other things), no separate headphone socket. If you type a lot on your phone then it’s not for you, but I’m hapy with mine. Plus it means I can wind up Apple cultists by asking them if they have Latitude yet (which I don’t actually use, but that doesn’t matter).

  16. I’ve been using the AT&T 8525 for the past couple of years and up to recently I’d swear by it. I have a lot of white screen problems and overheating problems that only go away after a stint in the fridge or freezer. I have written and edited gazillions of words on mobile 6 and I will probably buy the next incarnation as long as the white screen bugs are worked out.

  17. Anonymous Anonymous


    Sturdy, slim, same quality camera as the N95, very wordprocessorcentric.

    My wife bought the E71 when I bought my lamentably deceased N95. No regrets. Great, sturdy build, plays well with bluetooth peripherals, solid OS for your needs, that you’re probably already familiar with.

  18. The Woman The Woman

    The Blackberry Bold will probably be the most useful for you. It has the larger qwerty keyboard good for bigger manly fingers & tends to be sturdy. The only problems I’ve seen on the ones here at work are the tendency for email to hang up. That’s a carrier problem, not a device problem, so it shouldn’t plague you.

  19. Centipede Damascus Centipede Damascus

    I’ve had my G1 since November, and I’ve got to say that it’s tougher than it seems at first. I’ve dropped this thing down stairs onto a concrete floor and it isn’t showing a scratch. Plus, the Android OS has to be the easiest to use, most versatile smartphone OS I’ve used.

  20. I think the Pre keyboard might frustrate you. It’s very tiny and the plastic coating tends to reflect light, obscuring the small letters.

    This might not matter if a webOS update brings Bluetooth keyboard pairing with it — something it currently lacks.

    Palm just did a second Over The Air webOS update today (1.0.3; two days late, as far as I’m concerned; the intent I’m sure was to blunt iPhone OS 3.0) and some users are reporting improved multiasking capabilities (the Card View interface is really, really nice).

    I think September will bring it to your shores. Of course, that doesn’t help you *now*.

  21. LG are bringing out the mobile phone we have all been waiting for – the Dick Tracy style WatchPhone. Yep, it’s a 3G video phone too! Should be out in the UK by Christmas.

    Have a look for it on youtube!

  22. Chris Chris

    I currently have a Sony Ericsson K850i. It’s a good phone so far. No touch screen or qwerty keyboard but it has a 5mp camera and will take up to a 8GB memory card. I mainly got it for the camera and stereo bluetooth. Actually bought a really good set of headphones to use with it and I’m never looking back.

    I’ve been hearing good things about the Sony Ericsson X1. So much so that I’m almost completely sold on spending the coin to get one even tho I am no where near due for an upgrade and as such will have to pay full price for it. The camera isn’t as good as my current phone but it will take up to a 16GB of memory and still has the stereo bluetooth that I love so much.

    Shame to hear about the N97. I was getting pretty excited about it.

  23. I have a t-mobile wing (Manufactured by HTC, I’m not sure what the UK counterpart would be) with Windows Mobile which I loved dearly for about a month. The keyboard is somewhat intuitive and easy to pick up, but the soft rubber casing is very fragile, and the browser is standard mobile fare. It chips easily, and the touchscreen is sensitive.

    It ended up being a little less than I would have wished, but does function better than others.

  24. Dougernaut Dougernaut

    I recently got an HTC Dream G3 phone. Handy dandy – good integration (if you are a medium to heavy gMail user. I’m taking advantage of the Open source and Free apps while it lasts. It came with a 16 Gb card pre-installed – 500 Mb data plan. Big leap from my old Sony Erricson candy bar phone although I do say it has brightened my commute well!

  25. Get an N85, I just replaced my N95 with one. It’s what the N95 should have been (and what the N97 should have become), but smaller, faster and with a slightly less crap button arrangement. If you’re going to miss the N95, the N85 is the way to go.

  26. Jim Jim

    I recently updated from the N95 8GB to a E75, and am pretty happy. (

    It has the standard candybar feel, but then slides out for a really nice sized keyboard.

  27. Nokia E71 or the newer upgrade of it.

    This thing could probably control satellites (I bet someone’s building an app right now) and will likely usher in the age of Skynet and the fall of humanity in general. Its THAT feature packed. Plus it has nice QWERTY keyboard (most of these touchscreen haptic feedback phones are too inaccurate in terms of usability) and good battery life.

  28. Rey Rey

    I also have the Wing, but you don’t want it — far too slow and doesn’t do 3G. I really like it (especially since it’s friendly to southpaws), but I was two generations of phone behind when I got it, so it serves my purposes.

    The form of it is beautiful to hold and behold, though weighty. Love the keyboard, but can tell the buttons may fall off (but replacements are easily gotten). Anyone going for the Wing would have to get it off an auction site, as it has been discontinued. I know someone at T-Mobile corporate who said that the Wing 2 is in the wings.

    It’s great for me, lousy for someone with insatiable techno lust.

  29. LKM LKM

    You don’t have to use Macs to use an iPhone, and you can avoid using iTunes but for syncing the iPhone. As of now, if you can’t get the Pre, the iPhone is clearly the best option. The other option would be to wait for a better Android phone which should appear soon. Several asian manufacturers are working on great-looking devices, Huawei for example has a great Android phone coming.

  30. Mark Osborne Mark Osborne

    Blackberry Bold. It’s sturdy and does what it needs to.

  31. Starsunwanted Starsunwanted

    Not particularly current, but maybe helpful:
    I’m another HTC TyTNII user (AT&T Tilt, my version). It’s served me well; physically it doesn’t feel as robust as the earlier HTC TyTN (I) model did, but I had some hardware problems with that one so the sense is a little superficial. The (I) model was functionally perfect for around a year and a half. The final issue was a hardware issue; the cable connecting the touch screen to everything else degraded and it white screened. The actual computational part and screen part still worked perfectly, as far as I can tell (uh, I may have taken the phone apart afterward…). I haven’t had any issues with the II, and the screen/hardware connection appears to be different.
    The TyTN II has been dropped a dozen or so times from a good five feet up and still ticks like new. The construction still has a more robust feel than I ever got from the IPhone, which I tried and hated (I must have a good keyboard for my phone; that touchscreen key thing just doesn’t do it for me.) I also didn’t care much for the blackberry, but the one I tried wasn’t touchscreen. I really enjoy the tilt screen. On the other hand, it very unfortunately doesn’t have the kind of app store that other phones have; most added apps I have on it I hunted down online (for free.)
    I really love the HTC phones, but I’m not as much a fan of the G1 design; I had the same sensation of flimsiness when I checked it out; the hardware is probably better than it feels though.
    Anyway, the word processor works great on the TyTNII’s windows mobile 6, the slide out keyboard is very comfortable, if your willing to hunt you can add pretty much any functionality you want, it has a small memory BUT it reads microsd cards, which are now available in 16GBs. One thing that is a must is DLing a different browser immediately; IE Mobile is crap. I use opera for non-video and skyfire for video/flash web-browsing. My primary design critique would be that the primary number pad is touch screen only, and the TyTNII has a tendency of turning on by itself, which I never had with the old model.
    However, its been around for a while and knowing some of the functionality of the N95, it would probably feel like a down-grade to you, and as a US tech user, I’m going to be behind the curve anyway.
    I would definitely look into the HTCs with slide out keyboards though; they are very comfortable to use.

  32. Howard Howard

    I agree with Cat Vincent the N86 (out next month) is an allround upgrade of the N95. Samsung i8910 HD is heavier but has a very nice screen and large capacity battery.

  33. Rablenkov Rablenkov

    Another vote for the G1 here. I’ve had mine since January and it’s faring very well. I was sceptical that the sliding keyboard would hold out after repeated use, but it’s absolutely fine. In any case, since the Cupcake update I use the on-screen keyboard now and it works very well. It’s a tough little phone with some very nice features/applications.

  34. I play with phones for a living, and if you can tolerate windows mobile, then The Palm Treo Pro is the best windows mobile phone on the market. Fast, excellent battery life, decent screen. Wonderful keyboard. Anything from HTC has generally great hardware, awful software.

  35. Ceilidh Ceilidh

    I find the iPhone handy – I wasn’t an Apple or an iTunes user before (not even an iPod – even though I’m a girl only barely out of my teens) but it’s pretty cool.

    The availability of apps, and the ease of getting on the net (for free as part of the contract – unlimitedly) is cool for me.. I just like having a phone/mp3 player/games-software-internetting-device all in one, and easy to use.

    Sorry, I don’t really have any experience with other phones – I just thought I’d recommend it since I was never, ever an Apple/iTunes user til I got this one – so unless you hate them, might be an idea to try one in a shop at least :)

  36. lampcommander lampcommander

    I wouldn’t recommend an Iphone or a G1 – my mother has the Iphone, touch screens are just not intuitive for texting or any kind of long-term typing. As far as the G1 goes, it’s a great little phone but setting up RSS feeds are either a huge pain or impossible and it just doesn’t really work as an all-in-one for things like tumblr, twitter, etc.

  37. My partner and I are quite techy and other than recommending the iPhone which I am really pleased with but am aware you are not looking to get we think the




    Might be good for you! They both run Windows Mobile 6.5 which is quite easy to get your head around and while being a pda should suit your needs as well as the nokias have.

    But once again, The iPhone is really an awesome phone! I’ve found that people who back away from getting one only do it because they have trouble getting their heads round the operating system but if you sit down with any mac user they will be able to show you exactly what is what in a reletively short space of time!

    Much love!


  38. monksp monksp

    I’d recommend a Blackberry Storm. I’ve had mine for quite a while now, and like it quite a bit. I even use the full qwerty keyboard in landscape mode, and manage to not fat-finger it very often. I personally haven’t used it with a keyboard, but I have some friends that do, some with simple off-the-shelf bluetooth keyboards, and they’ve gotten along pretty well.

  39. Well, it really depends on what you are looking for, but if you are cool with something that looks like an iPhone, but isn’t made by Apple, then going for a Nokia 5800 Music Xpress is a pretty good choice. Low point: battery lasts for about 1.5 days under heavy use (GPS, wifi, etc.) or around 3 days with normal calls/SMS/mp3/dicking around and it’s touchscreen-only (if that’s an issue). High points: everything else. Plus it’s made by Nokia.

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