Okay I put off buying a smart phone till my previous mobile phone looked like it would die, since I’m a geek and I knew too much time would be spent playing and fiddling.
After some reading around I settled on the Huawei Ascend G300 as the cheapest Android phone likely to ever have Ice Cream Sandwich officially supported. Currently available from Tesco for £80 as they try and clear their stock, in the UK it will be supplied connected to Vodafone, and mine was locked.
The phone itself seems well made. The only item I think I might want over and above what is included is a front facing camera since rear facing doesn’t work with Skype. The 5MP camera in the phone is tricky to get a good photo from, I have taken a few good shots with it, so perhaps it can be mastered.
Unlocked cheaply by “unlockfusion.com” since Vodafone has no signal around here.
Moving it to Orange PAYG I discover the support for managing data on PAYG is pretty much useless. I plan to switch to Giff-Gaff as soon as I burn down my credit at Orange since they offer unlimited data for £10 a month.
Played around with various widgets on the screen, but decided that the notification for Email, Facebook and other apps means that most of the widgets just clutter the display.
As a geek ConnectBot went in as an SSH client.
Skype went in as a surprising choice, but the Skype client (when it doesn’t crash) offers cheap calls, and saves messing around with Skype on the desktop. I’m surprised more Android users don’t have it set up.
Settled on Jorte for a diary app as it sync with Google Calendar including “tasks” (which are a simple To-Do list thing in Google Calendar).
Browser – I have a lot of accounts around the web and use LastPass as a password manager. The Lastpass browser doesn’t yet support reporting location to websites, but it seems the Dolphin Browser has a competent LastPass plugin, a combination that seems to work well.
The Huawei comes with the TouchPal input which seems fine.
Most of the bundled Vodafone apps are set so you can’t uninstall them which is obviously an attempt to preserve revenue by Vodafone, also these apps are not the best of breed. Slightly annoying that you can’t just remove them, and apparently easily worked around but I’ll leave that till after the ICS update.
Ended up with Email, Skype, Facebook as the icons at the bottom of the toolbar, that are shown on each screen. Also installed a selection of games, and some books from Google Play.
Whilst generally happy I am a bit disappointed with the reliability of the applications, almost all the applications have at some point crashed (invoking a “force close”). I’m use to applications being more reliable than this on my Debian desktop.
Also Google Play often have games or applications which whilst billed as free (gratis) are cut down versions of paid for applications. Whilst I don’ mind paying, I don’t like being led to believe I’m getting one thing to discover it is another.
The built in FM radio requires the headset to act as aerial and you tend to get noise from the jack socket moving around if using it whilst walking around.
Most surprising plus is that voice input, whilst a bit hit and miss, is often better than trying to type the input.
In summary I think I ended up with a good budget smart phone, obviouly doesn’t have the CPU power or screen size of the newer phones, but happily plays video full screen.