Thursday, October 13, 2005

High End Phones - Where Cell Phones Stop Being a Phone

A lot of people are getting on the "cute" phone bandwagon with the Razor phone this year, and once again I am amazed how people tend to think that these phones will work the same as their old ones. For years, these manufacturers came to me with phones with cameras, MP3 players, video players and each and every time I told them the same thing: if the phone performance goes down, I don't want to even see it.

The problem is that the form factor for these things has reduced so much over time, both in area for circuit boards, battery compartments and antennas that there isn't room anymore for the radio. Without the radio, you are better off buying the iPod over the Rokr, a nice Canon over the camera phone and just get a nice old clunker phone that actually can make calls.

First it was when they removed antennas from the phone. Amazingly, someone in marketing actually got that past hoards of engineers. Phones needs external antennas...PERIOD!!!! Yes, there is an antenna inside the phone, hidden by the housing. The problem though is that this is now a directional antenna instead of the nice omni-directional whip it replaced. Turn your head, poof!!!! Calls magically disappear.

Then it was size. The first phone I remember seeing that was small, outside the Star Tac (TDMA/AMPS model) was the Z Phone from Sony. The thing was small, cute and all the buzz. But it was a pile of crap. The design was all wrong, the antenna had loss out the wazoo because of testing requirements versus form factor. Crap, I say, Crap!!!!!

Now it is the effort of putting a laptop in a phone. Nokia is bringing is 9500 series boat anchor to the states, which has a full QWERTY keyboard inside, hoping to compete with Blackberry's hold on the business market. This phone doubles as a self defense weapon and at $730 should come with a Tazer, like that wonderful TV add a few years back. The thing weighs in at nearly half a pound; great if it was a burger, bad for a phone. The OS is not something to scream home about as it isn't Palm's disappering nor Windows.

Look, if you want a good phone, get a phone that is a phone. I promise you, the uglier the phone is, the better it will work for you. If you go to Qualcomm's HQ, nearly all the techies still carry the QCP-800/1900, their first handset ever. Why? The thing is feature poor, not too small, battery life horrible and some silly sliding ear piece that hung up the phone on every major bump in the road. The reason is that it works: Period!!!! Just like the rabid blackberry users who say you will have to pry the phone from their dead hands, you couldn't pay these people to get a new phone. I have even seen old Motorola brick and half brick phones in use (back when Moto made good phones). If you want something cute, just don't complain about poor performance.

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