iphone

Virgin Mobile iPhone vs Evo V

Pre-paid phones are a better deal than contract phones any way you look at it. $35 a month vs the $80-100 a month offered by AT&T, Verison, Sprint or T-Mobile should be a no-brainer.

Consider this: At $35 a month for service, that works out to $840 over two years. The cost for a Verizon device for the same period is $2640. So you pay more than three times as much for essentially the same service. With an $1800 savings, you could actually buy two iPhone 4S devices out of pocket, and you’d still save money over the Verizon plan. Sure, Verizon coverage is better than Virgin Mobile’s – but is it really $1800 better?

In the past, the only thing the four big contract carriers ever had going for them were better phones. That’s just not the case anymore.

This month Virgin Mobile annoucned they’d be selling the HTC Evo – the phone that was Sprint’s flagship device a year ago, back when they were dedicated to their whole WiMax solution for 4G.

The news was overshadowed a few days ago, however, by their second announcement, that they would be releasing the iPhone 4S. To be honest, I’d given up hope on a pre-paid iPhone, so this was a real shocker to me. I was already excited about the Evo – now this?

This means I have a tough choice, one probably a few other people have as well. Each device has a number of positives and negatives, no matter what any of us choose it’s going to cost a pretty penny, and we’ll be stuck with our decission for a while.

So I’m just going to go through my pros and cons here, and help everyone else out if I can.

EVO V 4G

PROS

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) – This is the newest version of Android available

1.2 Ghz processor – Faster than what’s available on most of VMA’s other smart phones.

4G speed – Well, sort of. More on this in the “cons” section…

Up-gradable internal storage to 32GB – This is good if you’re looking to just have a single device for photos, music and phone. Right now I have a phone AND an iPod, and 32GB would be just enough storage to hold everything.

CONS

WiMax 4G – This will use Sprint’s WiMax network for 4G, a solution they’re retiring in favor of their own LTE network – the standard AT&T and Verizon already use. They won’t be doing any further investment in WiMax, so if this isn’t available where you are, it never will be. Here in Phoenix, I understand there’s one intersection in town where you can get 4G speeds – hardly enough for me to jump up and down with joy at how fast the Internet will run on this thing.

$299 price tag – This isn’t a cheap phone, and without a contract there’s no help in paying for it. You’ll saddle the cost of the device on your own.

Bloatware – The phone hasn’t come out yet, so there’s no way to gauge how much of a problem this will be. But Virgin Mobile is known for installing too many apps you can’t remove, which eats up memory and slows the device down. It’s also an HTC phone, so they have their own garbage eating away at the memory. Unless both companies have come to their senses and either removed this or make it possible for owners to, this could be a big problem.

Android 5.0 Jellybean coming soon – Having a phone with Ice Cream Sandwich is nice, but it will be outdated in a few months. $299 is probably a lot of money to pay for something that is yesterday’s news. (The Evo’s already a dated handset.) That just gets worse when we look at the iPhone 4S.

IPhone 4S

Virgin Mobile will be selling the iPhone 4 ($550) and 4S ($650). I have no idea why – I will only say that the iPhone 4’s antenna problems are a definite con. I’m not going to consider it, and neither should you, honestly. If you are dead set on getting a Virgin Mobile iPhone, eat the extra $100 to keep it from cutting out.

So on to everything else…

PROS

It’s an iPhone – As much as Apple Neophytes annoy the hell out of me, Apple makes a damn good phone. It doesn’t need to be restarted with an occasional battery pull, (like an Andoid or Blackberry does,) and even if it does fail their support is phenomenal.

Updates – Apple is very good about making updates to iOS available on all devices. Manufacturers that use Android almost never update the OS. Why would they give you a new phone experience when they could just get more of your money next year to get the next Android operating system? They are, after all, evil.

App Development – Android’s no longer a slouch at developing apps, but they also don’t have any oversight. You could very easily give bad people access to your phone information just because you downloaded a Chinese version of Sudoku to your phone. On the other hand iTunes is very strict about what they’ll allow in their app store.

Despite this, they also have more apps to choose from.

CONS

IPhone 4S is on it’s way out – Even though this is the latest iPhone, in six months it will be old news. IPhone 5 is very likely to be a 4G device, and who-knows how many other improvents.

No 4G – Like I said, the Evo V doesn’t have great 4G availability, but the 4S will have none. Frankly, if my city had widespread WiMax coverage, that would be enough for me to go with the Evo instead of the iPhone.

If you thought $299 for an Evo was a lot… – The 4S will be $650, and that will all be on you to pay for. That’s a lot of money for a phone, but that’s REALLY a lot of money for something that will be outdated soon.

Conclusion

As much as I’ve hoped Virgin Mobile would eventually get an iPhone, I’m going with the HTC Evo V. Both phones are, frankly, halfway towards being outdated. As such, I’d rather pay $299 for outdated than $650 for it.

Also, with the most available storage space for the Virgin Mobile iPhone at 16GB, that will get used up fairly quickly. Since I already have an iPod Touch, I can run all the Apple apps I need to on that.

Either way, I still believe a pre-paid phone is the best solution for a smart phone, even if the devices aren’t top of the line.

Stop buying electronics

The CES is this week – the toy fair for middle-aged men-children who want to find out what to ask Santa for next Christmas. Now, I’m not the kind to tell people they need to stop buying electronic baubles because of the sweat shops they come from. I also won’t bust on people for spending beyond their means during a recession. I don’t really think I should have to.

No, the reason for the title of this post is simple: By buying more phones, tablets, computers and accessories, you are sending a signal to manufacturers that they don’t need to make anything better in order to get your money.

Think about it: Every year, manufacturers come out with products that are largely the same as the ones they released last year. They push a version of Android that’s supposed to be slightly better than the one they sold you last year, or an iPhone that doesn’t have a broken antenna. And exactly how many versions of the Nintendo Gameboy need to be made until they decide they’ve gotten it right?

If you keep buying something new each year, you send a signal to manufacturers that they just need to put out something – anything – to get you to buy it.

If your phone is good enough, just keep it. Stop replacing the stuff you have if it isn’t broken. If enough people finally let manufacturers know they need to innovate something that is actually new before you give them their money, they won’t keep releasing products that don’t entirely work, need patches, or are just useless collections of molded plastic.

What’s Wrong with Blackberry

Years ago, Cadillac was the premier car on the road. It’s the reason some people still say something unrelated, “is the Cadillac of” whatever they’re talking about.

Then the Lexus and the Infinity started stealing their thunder. Cadillac’s response was to pretend they weren’t losing their dominance as the luxury car to own, and just kept doing what they’d always done: Turned out expensive, roomy cars with poor gas mileage. And of course, they got stomped.

Cadillac only really started to turn things around when they came out with the Esplanade. Gargantuan SUVs were in, and if there’s one thing Caddy knows how to make, it is oversized cars. And by 2005, you just weren’t anyone unless the Cadillac Esplanade is what you drove to the Source Awards.

Now, in the story above:

  • Replace Lexus with iPhone
  • Replace Infinity with Android
  • Replace Cadillac with Blackberry

Blackberry was also the phone of choice for people who wanted to do more than just talk. When you saw someone with that huge keyboard, you knew they either had a lot going on or an employer willing to get them a phone. It got e-mail, which was a magical concept just 5 years ago, and you could actually type out messages without having to press the 7 four times, then the 4 two times, then the 4 again three times, then the 8 once… because QWERTY keyboards were too cool to be believed.

Then the iPhone and Android phones came out, and the market changed completely.

What was the response of Research in Motion, makers of the Blackberry? They continue to turn out various versions of the same phone. The Curve and the Bold and the Torch have different features, but are essentially the same OS with the same keyboard. (Though the Torch has a touch screen that’s larger than the standard Blackberry, in a lackluster attempt to be iPhone-ish.)

If Blackberry wants their Esplanade, what they really need is a real update to their operating system, better support for third party developers, and prices that make sense for what they sell.

As a Blackberry owner, I do like it. The keyboard is still comfortable, and makes texting one-handed simple. The voice commands work brilliantly – far better than anything else on the market. Blackberry Messenger is still a free alternative to texting – if you know someone else who has a Blackberry, of course.

If RIM can’t figure out how to compete, they need to play to these strengths better. If they can’t do that, maybe they just need to get bought by someone who can. Surely Facebook is considering their options for getting into the mobile market. Buying up the once great house of Blackberry would certainly make the creation of an Official Facebook Phone a lot easier for them to do.

Google Voice Apps pulled from the Apple Store

I’m fast becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Google Voice the more I use it. I’ve spoken to friends, and they feel the same way – easy access to a new phone number, and the ability to use services that your carrier would otherwise charge you for, is brilliant.

I myself opted out of getting an SMS package with my phone, since it was just more money for something I could replicate with Gmail – though I would have to teach all my friends how to text to me. Here, I can simply give them a new number and say, “just text THAT.” So that’s money I don’t have to give to T-Mobile!

Of course, that’s just the kind of thing that’s creating the mess going on now with Apple and GV. The Apple Store recently pulled all Google Voice applications from it’s store, including the official Google Voice app itself. Their reasoning was that these apps are duplicated by features found on the iPhone itself. Which seems like a poor reason to me – the iPhone also comes with it’s own calendar, and there is no shortage of calendar apps available at the store as well, aren’t there?

The real reason, of course, is that if you are using GV for texting like I am instead of what AT&T offers, you aren’t paying your money to AT&T. I have no doubt the apps have all been pulled not because iPhone is trying to keep Google off it’s handsets, but because AT&T pointed out some piece of the iPhone contract they have with Apple that says, “no programs that will reduce the amazing iPhone service payday.”

What wonderful irony, that the postal service felt the sting of electronic services being used instead of buying stamps, and now the electronic services are feeling the same sting from other applications. Given that SMS packages are usually around $5-10, I would think the easy solution would simply be to give texting to users as a bonus, and not care that they aren’t paying for it anymore. When you text you are in fact doing the carrier a favor, as it takes so much less bandwidth to send 90 or so characters than it does to call a person directly.

What we have hear is another one of those juicy cee changes, where the old is grumpy about being killed by the new. I have to wonder if all of the carriers will react as negatively as AT&T is. After all, historically, when an old technology is being replaced by a new one, the new one always wins. Being a grouch and trying to keep the service off your phones won’t change things a bit.

After all, if all of the carriers turn away from VoiP applications, how long will it be before someone starts manufacturing a true Google Phone, one that simply connects to a data line and only works calls from your free GV or similar service?

Something like that would be death to the current phone carriers. I would suggest they find a way to get on board with this kind of technology now, rather than waste their time and money on a losing battle to get rid of it.