Next mobile phone: which one?

I’ve been pondering for some time now on which phone to get. It’s been a month since I’ve gone through 12 months of my Orange contract, and now, I’m looking for something that I would definitely be happy with for the next 12 months. Requirements? it has to be better than my current phone, the SE W810, in every way, most notably:

  • music playback: with album/track ordering support, 3.5mm audio headset socket somewhere
  • camera imaging (ideally 3.2 MP+). Autofocus is a must. Flash light.
  • long battery life (what makes mobile phones mobile? not having to carry around a charger all the time)
  • torch light (never underestimate the usefulness of a phone light in dark creepy places)

The W810 suffers from not having proper album support which can order by track #, inherent with all Walkman 1.0 SE phones. The new batch of SE phones with Walkman 2.0 solve this problem, but they all seem to have the deranged corporate feature of borking some of the camera features just to keep the cybershot series of phones distinct; i.e. lack of autofocus on the W850 (lovely otherwise), no light/autofocus on the W880, no camera on the W950… and the W610 is basically a W810 with newer software and the lovely M2 memory stick instead of Duo (not worth another 12 months for).

Maddening? yes. Nonetheless, the W810 is a great phone, though it is rather disappointing that 1 year later none of the current batch of new phones really exceed it much, considering that near-identical W800/K750 phones were released almost 2 years ago

Anyway, several candidates spring to mind, with their pros and cons.

Nokia N95

The initial stats look impressive: 5MP camera, GPS, Wifi, as well as the latest version of the Series 60 Symbian OS. Hing showed me his the other day at the Arboretum park – very nice indeed, with a 3.5″ minijack at the bottom, and that dual-slide thing. It even flips screen orientation depending on how you hold it, and what ‘mode’ you have the sliding part of the phone.

Good things?

  • large internal memory (over 100mb, can’t remember exact number), micro SD expansion, #
  • nice large screen (proper 24bit colour range), QVGA resolution (common with a lot of phones now)
  • music software seems fully featured – plays back all the necessary formats – MP3, AAC, eAAC etc;
  • runs symbian (plenty of software to choose from, TV remote control too!),
  • GPS – mapping, etc,
  • multimedia powerhouse – pretty much an uberphone when it comes to feature. Did I mention wifi, light and car sat nav use too?

Negative points:

  • short battery life, many reviews mention that it rarely lasts more than a day. Definitely would need to stock up on chargers for this.
  • High cost (expected for something as highly spec’ed as this).
  • Average imaging quality – reviews show that it does not beat the SE K800 for picture quality, though under optimum conditions you can get some good details in; Also: shutter lag – pictures saved are noticably delayed from what you see.

Samsung U600

Beautiful looking slide phone, one of the thinnest out there. Played around with one in Carphone Warehouse (though the sales assistant didn’t seem pleased that I wasn’t out to get a new contract on the spot). First impressions were: nice camera, 3.2MP with autofocus, quick to take, comes out pretty well. Will need to see it under low light conditions however. Media playback seems decent, and the phone seems pretty responsive too.

Not so sures (need to find out):

  • battery life – previous samsungs seemed to have short-to-average battery life usage, having 1-2 days between recharges, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if this was the same, especially with the slim body. I could possibly live with 2 days though.
  • software? was not a fan of the LG/Samsung interfaces in the past; this is quite subjective though
  • Music output- does it have a socket/bundled adapter for 3.5″ minijack? plus what is the music playback quality like?


  • camera performance seems good, much speedier than the old Samsung D500, quality, whilst not K800-beating, is decent
  • Look – very nice looking phone, will definitely fit in the pocket pretty easily
  • Micro SD memory expansion slot – definitely needed for all those songs and pictures

Sony Ericsson P990

Smartphone, released rather late, so the specs did look underpar compared to the opposition, however, being the big brother to the newer SE W950 and M600, it has their features plus more, and recent firmware upgrades have meant many of the bugs which plagued the phone at release has reportedly pretty much resulted in a nice stable system to use. The user interface / input system – touchscreen, qwerty keyboard – might annoy some, but the P990 is a definite improvement over the original P800 with a number of input systems. Lack of 5-way thumbwheel (now a 3 way) is a shame though.

Hmmms (not so great):

  • Large size (bit of a brick here), though it is still pocketable, it is still slightly larger than the old P800, and looks slightly bigger than the N95 too
  • 2.0 MP camera – seems backwards compared to current phones today, though it is reported that the picture quality is better than that of the K750/W810 phones.
  • Software not as big a library as the Series 60 (aka Nokia smartphone) – the change to UIQ 3 has meant many of the older symbian UIQ software is obsolute, and unusable on this newer phone – plus the smaller userbase doesn’t help


  • Software (meaning at the very least we can extend the functionality of the phone). I know, I mentioned this as a neg, but the possibility balances the current drag. With more phones based on UIQ in the future, (and SE purchased UIQ last winter) this will at least be some leverage.
  • Uses memory stick duo (I have plenty of these cards, will save on getting new flash memory)
  • Decent battery life – considered much better than the highend nokia smartphones, lasting several days.
  • Wifi!

Sony W610

Just a quick comment on this; there is a big brother to this, the W660, which includes 3G support, though it is in my eyes slightly uglier to look at. Cons: similar to the W810 in build and feature list; slightly worse camera, but it is better than most of the other walkman2.0 based phones. Still 2MP. Uses M2 memory (bit of a pain, as it is more expensive for the lower memory capacities available right now compared to the others) Pros: latest firmware; walkman 2.0 means better music organisation, nicer (subjective) look. Same excellent battery life, and still decent picture quality.

Most phones on the market now will have decent bluetooth support (several years back you would be lucky if a phone could send files via bluetooth easily, let alone the whole addressbook), reasonably nice screens, triband/quadband/3G, and your general PIM features, so now, looking for a new phone will be placing emphasis on looking at the extra non-calling features that you might want, the quailty of the build, and most of all, battery life – the one thing that you can never have enough of. Otherwise, there are plenty of budget phones to serve your (minimal) needs out there.

More phones when I see them to come.