As those who have tried to call me, or follow my tweets, may know my N95 has been dying for some weeks now. Some audio issues, followed by SIM synch errors, etc.
So since there is some other stuff on the horizon (both in the world, and things we're likely to get into the office) I just went back to the old N75 for a while.
And it totally surprised me. Sure it's got it's issues:
- Limited running memory; often refuses to launch things, hangs, pauses or crashes.
- AT&T put so much stuff on there that cannot be killed (always running), about half that memory is used for no good reason.
- AT&T crippled parts of the phone. Cannot delete or move some of their apps, and cannot create folders, for no clear reason.
- POP port for audio. Meaning I cannot listen to the World Service unless I go to transistor radio mode. Or I guess buy an adaptor. But that's not likely.
- Flip phone. S60 is not set up for that, so it doesn't work flawlessly. Often hard to tell who is calling, for example, and lots of themes don't work quite right.
- No GPS, though cell/sector/triangulation does a pretty good job.
- The AT&T music player is much worse than the Nokia one that came with the N95. Which would be okay if it didn't insist on taking over a hard key and running in the background all the time.
- No WiFi, but I never use that anyway, so I just mention it for completeness.
But what surprised me is how much it pleased me for a slightly operator-crippled two year old phone. And that was all the services that worked (though it did take me a few hours to install and configure this):
- twitter and sms in general.
- Google search from idle screen.
- Calendar automatic OTA synch (over Google also).
- Maps, with a choice of several services.
- Browsing. With a choice of browsers.
- Address book synch (with some data bugs, I got the company contact list in the phone).
- A better calculator, a good stopwatch and other secondary-use apps I have grown to rely on.
With these, I am 95% back to where I was a couple days ago. I can do almost everything I did with the super-capable modern phones I have been using, just because most apps and services that make my life go are simple, or cloud-based.
The worst parts of the whole experience, in fact, are not the bad parts of the hardware like I listed above. They are the dumb parts of those cloud services. Google maps, for example, forgot all my favorites. It has my search history of all things, and is a cloud app really, so why are favorites stored on the hardware. Opera mini never really synchs right, even when I try to. And so on for most applications.
What I am learning more and more (even though I always knew it in theory) is that it's all about the experience, and not about speed or memory or megapixels or network or any other specs, directly, but about how well the device performs user tasks. To that end, old hardware, or more relevantly a featurephone might do just as well for many users.
It also supports a lot of the opinions we've already had. If you want everyone to use your application, make a mobile website, then a J2ME app, then platform-specific apps. Most of what are regarded as featurephones today can still install Java apps, so can do most or all of the functions expected of any phone, one way or the other.