Lets talk about phones baby! …

Lets talk about you and me! Got your attention you Salt and Pepa loving peeps?O.k. Its been awhile since I mused on mobiles, but this is as good a time as any to get back to my ‘wag of the finger’ ‘tip of the hat’ thing…Indulge me.

First, I have been accused of hating on the Iphone a bit too much and being a Nokia fan girl. Those accusing me of this may be on to something. Here is why. I have previously wagged my finger at Apple for tying their beautiful device to a crappy provider like AT&T and ranted about my misgivings with the 1st gen Iphone.You see, i have had first hand experience with this monstrosity of a telco named AT&T. When I became blinded by the 3G speeds and the GPS on the new Iphone, i succumbed to the hype, the hipster call of duty and got the 16GB model of Iphone. First, the process of activating the phone at the Apple store did not go well, plus the ‘genius’ who was assigned to me was saying rather daft things like ‘i am required by Apple and AT & T to ask you whether you will be traveling out of the continental US’ and some other drivel all culminating in her telling me that I would have to get my phone activated by AT&T. After this that and the other, i finally got the phone activated and after even more drama that i shall save you the pain of reading and weeping, i was able to port my old phone number from T-Mobile. Let me just warn anyone reading this. Learn from my ginormous error people, do NOT for a moment think of switching from T-mobile to AT&T not even for the Jesus phone, Buddha phone or ‘There-is-no-deity’ phone. T-mobile is a far better company to deal with than AT&T, so save yourself the headache. I am glad to be back in the T-mobile fold thank you very much. Lets not even talk about unlocking your phone so you can use it when you travel, that would just be rehashing my old rant on this very point. Again, i learned first hand why I have unkind words for AT&T. In order for you to get decent rates when roaming, you have to sign up for a monthly roaming service where you pay an addition $5.99 so you can save a few cents on a pre-existing exorbitant roaming charge. So if you were to receive calls in say…Finland, if you had the roaming service it would cost you $1.19 per minute, if not, it would be $1.99 per minute or something close to that. Same applies if someone leaves you voicemail. You would still get charged at the roaming rate. T-mobile does not charge you a ‘roaming service’ fee. Data roaming is also very expensive. Do not dare get lost and use your Iphone maps for directions. You will flail, cry and quite likely faint when you receive your bill.

This pairing of a beautiful device with a crap company had me all worried when Apple announced that they would be making inroads into various parts of the world including Kenya. In the case of Kenya, Orange Telcom is the carrier of choice. Rebecca wrote about this in Network world August’08. Please be warned the following quote is plain and simple self promotion…But do I say?

Telkom Kenya will start selling the iPhone in Kenya next month after launching the Orange mobile phone service.
Orange entered into a contract with Apple that gave it the right to sell the iPhone in Kenya and the sale will commence once the service rolls out, said Njeri Rionge, chief commercial and marketing officer at Telkom.”My concern with the iPhone is the return to the old telecom hegemony where you are tied to one carrier because of a contract (since the telecom subsidizes the hardware), this system can be very annoying especially with the freedom that Kenyans have enjoyed in terms of their ability to switch carriers easily,” said Juliana Rotich, a Kenyan technologist.

Did you buy an Iphone in Kenya? What was your experience with Telkom like? Inquiring minds would like to know.
Ahem. moving along..

Second, the authoritarianism of the walled garden approach taken by Apple, particularly with DRMed songs on Itunes irks me to no end. I try to buy songs from Amazon MP3 store and would encourage all who believe in freedom, truth and chocolate to do the same. Yes hyperbolical of me, but dude, i wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when you use up your ‘authorizations’ from Apple because you switched between one too many computers/iphones. Lets not even talk about Apple yanking useful apps like Tether that would help you make the most out of that 3G data speed you are paying an arm, leg and pancreas on your Iphone data plan. Yes you can jailbreak it using Pawnage and get apps on cydia, but I digress.

All this brings me to my new device of choice.The Nokia E71, and my new device of drool and gadget lust, the N97


*cc licensed pic by JKE on flickr

Just so you know I am seriously getting rid of my Iphone. Yes, i will miss the nice lines and one touch ease of interfacing with the web, the sleek simplicity of apps like Twinkle, Brightkite and even FB for Iphone. I will be content with Twibble and locr. I never got comfortable typing on the Iphone, sometimes I still pine for my old Q with the wide QWERTY keyboard, so E71 with its slimmer frame is a good compromise. The E71 is a phone that truly gives you wings…(sorry Redbull) You can travel with it, stick a local sim card and get talking, emailing, fringing, tagging photos with locr, mapping your way with the super fast GPS all the while having the freedom of having whatever blinking ringtone you want on it. I know you do not care, but I am indulging today aren’t I? My current ringtone is the song Gongo Aso by 9ice. I have the freedom to change it Moloko’s ‘Fun for me’ or Morcheeba’s Enjoy The Ride (Silver Saver Mix). Try doing that on the Iphone…you would have to pay Apple to create a simple ringtone?!! When Wired’s gadget lab proclaimed this phone ‘Best of Test’ I wholeheartedly agreed then and still do. On the podcast I think the guy said ‘This phone is not for everyone. It is for people who want a higher level engagement with their phone’ I haven’t even touched on the barcode reader! You know what, just head on over to Juergen’s for a complete rundown of E71 awesomeness if you haven’t already.

The Nokia N97


CC licensed pic by Inky on flickr

From the looks of it, this could be THE phone that combines the best of ALL worlds, at least while the Morph concept phone remains just that. A concept.The N97 has a full QWERTY keyboard, touch screen, Micro SD slot and generous memory – 32GB onboard memory, you can add 16GB on the Micro SD card slot. For more spec-goodies see the Data_Sheet_Nokia N97.pdf. I care about the 32GB memory because if you truly want an Ipod replacement such that you would have one device to rule them all, and have access to your substantial collection of music, space matters. If for some odd reason you’d want to listen to Longomba’s ‘Vuta Pumzi’ while you recall the good times circa 2005-’06, or early 2000s Kenyan rap that sounds rather bad right now, yet at the time you were bobbing your head going…’oh this is nice’ well you’d have the freedom to. Wings from Nokia i tell ya. Wiiings! Caveat: The N97 does not have a flashlight. Readers of this blog know that i have this thing for Nokia phones with flashlights, and believe that it is The.Best.Feature.Ever! so on this one point, i am going to ding the N97 just a peg. If someone can hack the Dual LED camera flash to act like a flashlight when i type a combination of keys…well it is quite possible that I would sign over an IOU stating my infinite adoration to the person who hacks this. Yes oh yes, BET ON NOKIA.

I am looking forward to being in a country where i can switch mobile companies vuka/unvuka as I darn well please. Kenya, see you in a bit.

15 thoughts on “Lets talk about phones baby! …

  1. whoa nokiafangirl! i’m not arguing with that :-)seriously though, i like the personalised review. saves me ummm-ing and ahhh-ing over which phone to get. you so deserve a cheque from finland πŸ˜‰

  2. Found your blog am intrigued that there’s a Kenyan living in the USA interested in renewables.

    I’ve been making a living doing solar energy consulting from Nairobi since the early 90’s.

    Here’s an article I published in RE World:
    Taking a fresh look: Why Africa is reΓ’β‚¬β€œexamining renewables http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/magazine/story?id=53846

    We’re always looking for writers about renewables in the Solarnet magazine!


    Mark Hankins

  3. There are some apps available that misuse the camera LEDs as a flashlight – at least for the N95. Thing is that these LEDs weren’t designed as flash light substitutes + battery drain. I am using the screen brightness to work as a flashlight.

    Anyways, instead of the on board gadgets, I also thought about an additional LED hardware hack that just requires a bright LED and could be added on a customized (battery) back cover and feed on the normal battery. ==> Jua kali project for our homies in Moi Avenue. I really have to work this out one day soon. Parts are all here.

    So you’re all serious about dropping the iPhone?

    I guess it is equally expensive and complicated to obtain a decent phone contract with a phone in the US and Germany.

    Oh and btw: I think the success of the N97 will be measured by its internal browser. I’ve asked a journalist from a tech zine to check the browser for me and he told me that the N97 does not yet (!) have an improved browser that is adjusted to the phone’s capabilities. So as long as it still only has the normal S60 browser, the phone is not really that interesting.
    Also, there currently is some rumour on AllAboutSymbian that the N97 comes with the same CPU as the current phones, so it may just be as fast as the E71 (which is still better than the N95!).

    Next time I get a trial E71, I will move away and take it with me πŸ™‚

  4. @sciculturist glad its useful to you, i sort of just needed to get the thoughts out of my head πŸ™‚ Kwanza I like Finland, I wouldn’t mind going back there in future.

    @bankelele, naah we all know the iphone has no flashlight πŸ™‚ I enjoyed writing this, it felt cathartic (shindwe Apple!shindwe! heh) I hope it was fun to read.

  5. I have forever wanted a nokia, but the price out here. Yikes, and since I see no time they are gonna be ‘ever’ subsidized. πŸ™

    And T-mobile service is great. I have been with them forever, just hoped on their newest phone so far so good.

  6. Erm… so me and phones, we have the most basic sort of relationship. I walk into the shop and ask, so what is the cheapest Nokia you have? And then I ask, what doesn’t it have that you think I will need? We take it from there. So if ever we meet, I’m promising to keep my phone out of sight. So that it doesn’t get intimidated by your phone.

    But also, I come to say, Vuka Country welcomes you back.

  7. @jke, yes i am very serious about ditching the Iphone. It just isn’t worth the trouble. I have not spent much time with the Google phone G1, it could use a bit of a makeover, so the G2 could be better.

    @MsaniiXL the price for the E71 should come down alittle, keep an eye out for the Nokia flagship store. There is one here in Chicago, but I am sure there would be one at your neck of the woods. they might have some % off for christmas promotions.

    Rombo, I have chekad!! Enyewe the E71 brings it. I like that ‘Vuka country’ tutakutana though?

  8. Ok now, since Mamajunkyard already enquired on this issue via Twitter: I am glad I won’t have to decide between the iPhone and an E71!

    Me thinks that both phones are great and that both devices serve their purpose. Since internet browsing is more and more important these days, the iPhone clearly (imho) has the best browser. Nokia’s S60 browser also renders pages in a similar way, but the navigation is just horrible. Reloads pages instead of fetching it from the cache. See what operamini does instead. Would be nice to have a setting on Nokia phones to choose which browser is default.

    So, I’d probably recommend the following:
    – browsing, playing games, usability => iPhone
    – e-mailing most of the time => BB
    – all-in-one device with keyboard, nice battery runtime, good connectivity (GSM, GPRS, HSDPA, Wifi, IR, BT), ok-browser, e-mail clients, similar range of software as on the iPhone – but more business oriented and less “fun”-applications, easier sync with Outlook & Zyb/Plaxo & Co. => Nokia E71

    What I really like about the E71 is that it has the best build quality i’ve ever seen on a Nokia. But still, Nokia phones are very unsexy when it comes to usability issues. Mimi, me I don’t need a multi-touchscreen on a phone to shift around menu items on the front screen. That’s just marketing to me. So what Nokia still needs to work on is response time (firmware sometimes hangs up, regardless if its the E71 or the N95..) and improve on usability issues like that browser thing. Feature-wise, the E71 alreasy is top-of-the-range, see the list of connectivity options alone. Awesome.

    I used to laugh about the iPhone, all these Apple deciples/fanboys and their blind love for the walled gardens in the Appleuniverse, but I then realized that what customers actually want is to have a seemingly (!) simple system that just works and doesn’t offer much choices.

    And also, as AfroM already mentioned, there’s no stupid lock on the E71. Apple did this though and ppl bought it anyways.

    So what Nokia has to deliver with the N97 or any other “flaship phone” in future is a business phone that has all multimedia features from the entertainment world (= merge E- & N-Series). Plus an improved S60 operating system.

    And Apple should get rid of iTunes πŸ˜€

    (pole, long text)

  9. I know nothing about AT&T, so can’t comment on portions of the rant :). For me, Samsung’s I780 (AT&T Epix) (Windows Mobile 6.1) has quad-wings! No kidding. MS is bashed a lot but if one knows their way about their phones, bliss! So, are you are selling your Jesus phone?

  10. Kenyans are the African Chinese. You want to get the most out of the Phone anywhere in the world? TAKE THE LEAP AND UNLOCK THE DAMNED THING!!!! Thataway you get to install 3rd party applications that make up for the iPhone’s deficiencies. As for the nokia mania, yes you are a taaaaad bit biased. When I want a camera, I’ll buy a Canon EOS 40D or a Nikon D80. A phone’s for communicating…..and not much else. You want something that’s the next big thing? GET AN iPhone. It’s like getting an ordinary Subaru and modding it to run like it’s on steroids! πŸ™‚

  11. Thanks for the great review. I wish I had read this before I went and got the the e71x. ATT had really crippled that phone in ways that makes me really unhappy with it… I am really unhappy with ATT even though I have been with them for a while. But on the bright side, I am actually switching to the e71 instead… I ordered the phone from Amazon so I’ll see how it works out πŸ™‚

    I am still thinking of getting the iPhone though. But in this case, I will be getting an unlocked iPhone which I plan to buy in New Zealand early next year. I don’t expect that I would have too many issues with that though… except maybe the ring tone part…

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