Saturday, 23 April 2011

Searching for a mobile phone

So here I am looking for a new mobile phone. It has not been a year since I got my last one, and I am looking for a new one again. My last mobile, Samsung Monte is great: Has good features, and more importantly fits the bill. What it lacks is customization. I chose this one, when I found the need for Ananya (my baby daugther) to regularly video-conference with her grandparents. Over the last year that I am using this phone, I have tried to add a few more apps, but none is available. I have decided to move on to a mobile phone, which supports a generic platform.

Android is the first choice, when it comes to a good platform for mobiles. Of course, there is Windows, but having spent half my life on computers running Windows, I want to stay away from that. Besides, Android phones outnumber Windows' greatly.

The mobile phone scenario...
In many ways, today's mobile phone scenario is very similar to the personal computing evolution of the last decade. The PC and server chipsets were facing similar innovation challenges almost ten years ago .

There is almost a free ride on the horsepower: The processors for the personal computers are clocking thrice the speed of their mobile counterparts. Desktop CPUs are topping 3GHz, compared to the ~1GHz, that mobile CPUs are offering. The mobiles' will soon catch up, but there'll be an upper cap. 'Coz they dont have the liberty of unlimited power.

Multicore CPUs are starting to trickle in. The PC industry is having this technology for almost a decade now.

So where is the innovation, where is the challenge?
PCs of the last decade didn't have the constraint of fitting in your palm, and  run on the credit-card sized batteries. They also had the liberty of unlimited reconfigurability. If you wanted something newer, you could always buy an add-on card, and plug it into your chassis, and chuck the older one.

Mobile phones, on the other hand, have to come with all the all the functions pre-built-in. You cannot add anything after the consumer buys the phone. Except for, a Bluetooth handset. And the manufacturers have to get the combination right a good six to twelve months before they hit the stores.

Along the way, there are a whole lot of applications that have become standardized. Music Player, a movie camer, GPS, ... (OMG I am already taking the others for granted, whatever there is).

The communication technology is  moving faster than the speed of thought: GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, HSUPA, LTE, etc.  I am running out of terminologies, and also out of applications that can use all the available bandwidth.
Simply put, there aren't enough applications to use all the bandwidth that's coming along. Even if there are, the network operator is charging an arm and a leg.

In India, the 3G tsunami is just hitting the shores. (Oh yes, forget the state-run BSNL/MTNL which had an year's headstart, and offered the 3G simcards for free).  Operators are starting to offer 3G services. Yet, the price of bandwidth, especially, the wireless bandwidth, remains extremely high. Most operators charge a cool 10 bucks (50 cents) per MB.

I am nowhere near to closing in on my search. Stay tuned, and it will follow.


Edit: I have completely forgotten to mention the grand-daddy of all cellphones. Apple's iphone running on iOS
No wonder it did not cross my mind.
In my opinion, to be able to afford a ihome, you have to be:
1. Either you have too much money or dont care about shelling out 25K ($600) on a phone.
2. Wishing to be in the chic league, wanting to show off or keep up with others in the league.

I am neither of those. So, iphone is never a contender for my requirements.

Its worth mentioning, iphone has been a major trigger for the cellphone market. Most of the competitors Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericcson, LG, Motorola (where are you...) try to catch up on what iphone is offering.

It is still interesting that the likes of Samsung and Nokia, releasing two phones every year, dont match the package iphone (features, performance, software integration) , which releases a one-size-fits-all solution every 12-18 months. And they have released only four phones on the market till-date.


  1. 2 excellent choices. Motorola Atrix or Nokia Astound.

  2. Dont think Atrix is available in India yet.
    Saw the C7. One of my colleagues have got it. AMOLED looks excellent. Runs on Symbian :(