Big Step, Small Step

I’ve had a touchscreen phone for a few years now, maybe 5 or 6. My first one was an Orange SPV M600 which ran Windows Mobile 5. It was quite different to my previous phones in that it was more like a computer. I really enjoyed it but it opened my eyes to what a phone could do, and I felt restricted and let down.

It could play music, browse the web and manage email, but it just wasn’t very good at it. I wanted it to do those things well.

Then, I purchased the HTC Touch HD. Again, I felt let down. The device was great, one of the best looking phones I’ve ever owned and great hardware. But, it ran Windows Mobile 6.1. It had a good slap of HTC Sense on top that made things a bit better, but the underlying operating system was not great and it still relied on a stylus.

There were other options though. The T-Mobile G1 had been out for a while, but for some reason I overlooked it. It was bigger and clumsier and didn’t have the huge screen that the HTC had. The iPhone had also been out for a while but it still had teething problems and I found it and iTunes incredibly frustrating in it’s simplicity and inflexibility (I didn’t blog about it at the time, but I did about the iPod Touch)..

So, I battled on with the HTC for another 18 month contract. In that time, Android starting making waves. It had settled in a bit, and new devices were starting to come out. I was convinced that pixels were power, and when the HTC Desire was announced, I knew that it was the phone for me (I remember reading rumour blog posts about it codenamed the HTC Bravo).

When I got it and started using it, it literally changed the way I looked at mobile devices. Suddenly it did everything that the HTC Touch HD should have done, but didn’t. It actually allowed me to have a computer in my pocket with full internet, email, YouTube, games, etc etc.

16 months (to the day) after getting it, I’m somewhat saddened to see that there hasn’t really been any significant developments in phones since then. Android has updated from 2.1 to 2.2 to 2.3 (which wasn’t ‘released’ for the Desire) to 3.x which is optimised for tablets. Ice Cream Sandwich is supposedly around the corner, so we’ll see what that brings.

Meanwhile devices have got bigger in most respects. Their screen size, memory size, CPU power, graphics power, cameras etc, but they’ve not really seen any fundamental changes.

I think that those changes would be welcome and would add up to a better phone, but I think the real improvements that I could notice would be a bigger screen, significantly better battery life and a faster data connection. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen anything that fits the bill…. yet.

I’m now facing a situation where I’m coming out of an 18 month contract fairly soon and am not that incentivised to get a new device as I don’t think it will be that much better than the one I’ve got.

The jump from a great device with a bad OS to a great device with a great OS was so big, that the next one (and perhaps one after that) will be pale in comparison. Hopefully I’ll get proven wrong.

3 thoughts on “Big Step, Small Step

  1. I’d guess that for many people that “ah ha” moment was the iPhone. Suddenly those services became usable in their pocket, in a whole new way. It sounds like you had some so-so devices that disappointed, two in a row, then one that excelled, so the jump from disappointment to fantastic was obviously huge. To go from fantastic and jump as far again sounds pretty ambitious.

    I’d guess there won’t be huge innovation in battery life or screen size until some breakthrough technology changes the game. Batteries are just not very effective. Screens are pretty old fashioned and power hungry. Processing power will probably creep up, a turning point might be the first dual CPU phone. But that probably won’t change much on the physical layout or battery life front.

    You could remain content with your HTC Desire for a year or two… 🙂

    1. Yeah, I realised after writing that post that my ambitions were probably a bit high. Dual core phones have been out for a while.
      Yeah, I think a fundamental change would be significantly better battery life and a screen that can change size. Small in your pocket, big when you’re reading.

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