Cellphones


Grist for the mill.

A friend with a friend with telco connections told me this morning this totally unsubstantiated rumor, so take it with a few tons of salt: there are at least 50 Apple iPhones in the Philippines as we speak.

My friend’s source, who is reasonably reliable, says that the major telcos are currently evaluating the iPhone for compatibility with their services and hardware, and to possibly create specific apps for the local market. According to the rumor being mongered, each telco (the two biggies and the wannabe) have ten units each for their various departments (engineering, marketing, etc.), so that makes 30 iPhones.

Then the National Telecommunications Commission supposedly has 20 units for evaluation, certification, approval and all that legal and technical jazz.

So all in all that makes about 50 units. Wowoweewah.

Sounds about reasonable. I kinda sorta think it could be true. But I would like to stress that this is a totally unsupported, unsubstantiated, likely bogus RUMOR, ok? Remember: tons of salt. PWiT thinks it would be nice to speculate though, and throws this tidbit out for the heck of it. Let the fun begin.

50 iPhones. Here. Oooh. Nice, if it were true.

Of course the telcos and the NTC are mum about it, and asking them would be like squeezing blood out of a stone. If any of you readers spot one of these in the wild, like maybe in a cafe or on the MRT (which I highly doubt; Apple’s NDAs are scary things), chime in and tell us about it, will you?

Microsoft has recently unveiled their latest Operating System for Mobile Phones, and honestly, I am a little bit excited.

From what I have read, here’s what I think will be the features of Windows Mobile 6 that we should be excited about.

  • Call history of each contact is now placed directly in their respective vCard – This will make it easier for me to see how many times Adel has harassed called me about writing deadlines.
  • A smart calendar view – If Microsoft is to be believed, this means I can look at a week’s worth of appointments and agendas with just one glance.
  • Built-in data encryption – Porn Data stored in a memory can can be easily encrypted. This also extends to the Exchange server for you corporate types.
  • Windows Live! Integration – For an MSN Messenger and Hotmail nut like me, this is awesome.
  • A better looking email client with HTML mail support – I’m not exactly down with the HTML support, but a better looking email client is always a boon.
  • New and improved MS Office suite – Better MS Word? I’m so over that like butter on bread.

And the best new “feature” of Windows Mobile 6 is:

  • Windows Vista compatibility – When in the world did this ever become a “feature”? Windows Mobile 6 should be Vista compatible since it is afterall a Microsoft product. It’s like Casio saying their Diver’s watches are *gasp* water-proof. Oh well, guess we Windows Mobile user should be grateful as Microsoft’s own Zune player wasn’t even initially Vista compatible.

Stupid “Vista compatible” feature aside, I have high hopes for Windows Mobile 6 and there’s a good chance I won’t be disappointed.

m600iI was going to write it for this blog, but having been pressed by my editor at the STAR to come up with a tech piece, I dashed off a review of the Sony Ericsson M600i (in a death-match with the Treo 650) for next Wednesday’s (January 31) issue.

So I’m not going to talk so much about the M600i as I will about the aftermath of selling my 650 to make way for the M600i. You’ll have to wait for the article for the gory details, but the sum of it is that I began to miss quite a few things—like my favorite Palm apps. The M600i runs on the Symbian 9.1/UIQ3 platform. It’s an impressive mouthful, but my sad discovery was that—like the iPhone I’m just waiting to appear on the horizon—hardly any apps have been written for it, so you’re reduced to making the best of what comes with the package right out of the box.

I’m talking about apps like Backupman (a full backup program; you can back up your contacts and datebook from the phone to a Memory Stick Micro, but not the whole Phonezilla, unlike the Treo which can save all your preferences and restore them in case of a wipeout). I was also missing Metro, a freeware subway-routing program that’s more than once saved my ass in the netherworlds of London, Berlin, Milan, New York, and Nagoya. Or even a plain and simple checkbook, not to mention full-fledged (but free or low-cost) dictionaries and e-books.

The M600i has a lot of other things going for it—it’s sleek and it’s relatively cheap. But for all the swipes people have taken at the Palm platform, it’s undeniably robust and software-rich; UIQ3 has a lot to catch up on.

Palm m515That led me (or led me back) to the proper subject of this short piece: having given up my Treo, but disconsolate over the loss of my favorite apps, I remembered and resurrected an old friend from one of the many boxes I use as footrests under my desk: a Palm m515 in near-mint condition, something I was suddenly glad not to have given away in a fit of altruism nor sold for a bag of peanuts.

I’ve always liked the Palm V/Vx/m500/m515 form factor—heck, at one time or another, I had them all! That hatchet shape fits nicely in the hand, and even the relatively thick m515 still looks girlishly slender beside a Treo.

So I charged and fired up this Palm OS 4.0 device, loaded it up with archived copies of my Palm apps circa 2003, and pretended like the Tungsten T, the iPod mini, and “Hello, Garci” never happened. Looking at the gorgeous baby, I wonder why I ever upgraded. Next I’m going to Greenhills to buy myself a Nokia 8910 or an even older favorite, an Ericsson (no Sony yet, mind you) GF788—and then maybe a back copy of Macworld or PC World circa 2001—and feel really, really cutting edge.

Ah, the things we do to pass the time before the iPhone cometh. Meanwhile, check out my blog next Wednesday for my take on the M600i—but you already read pretty much the same thing here!

Yes, I am an Apple fanboy. Yes, my first thought upon seeing Apple’s iPhone was “Jeez, I wonder how much I can sell my Treo 650 for?” But perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t have an internet connection during the days after the iPhone announcement, and was spared the gushing comments by fellow fanboys and the irrational exuberance of stock market analysts and investors (Apple’s stock went up while Palm and RIM’s got hammered). CNet’s Crave blog lists thirteen reasons to doubt the iPhone hype, and while most of the content seems to be just an attempt to say something different, I think at least three of them are valid.

1. No 3G. In a country where hotspots are hard to come by, the most practical way of going online when you’re away from home, the office, or some hotspot is through the cellular network. And since Smart has dropped its data rates to P10/30 minutes whether you use GPRS/EDGE or UMTS/HSDPA, the faster your connection the better.

2. No third party apps, for now at least. I don’t think I can dispense with an offline HTML and RSS reader (iSilo), a text editor and a spreadsheet (Documents to Go), a diary-type application (DayNotez), a souped-up to-do list and outliner (Shadow Plan), a multi-city subway guide (MetrO). I think each smartphone user will have at least half a dozen apps that he can’t live without.

3. No real keyboard. I used to shudder at the thought of using a QWERTY keyboard with keys that are smaller than a SMINT mint, but with practice I’ve realized that it’s way faster than using a stylus. I can’t imagine how I’m going to do SMS and enter long strings of text for taking notes and composing email with the onscreen keyboard. For a country that sends more SMS messages a day than some European countries do in an entire year, an onscreen keyboard might keep buyers away.

I’ve no doubt that I will eventually get an Apple iPhone, but I’m definitely passing on this particular iteration.

Instead of ranting and cursing Steve Jobs for delaying the release of the iPhone in here, I find that releasing the iPhone later is actually a good thing for Asian Apple users. Yes, it is excruciating to wait for the iPhone… yes its torture to see how people from the “west” gets to use the iPhone ahead of us but look at it this way:

  • By 2008, all the hardware kinks of the iPhone would have already been discovered and subsequently fixed. Remember the plethora of problems that hounded the first release of the MacBook and MacBook Pro? I’m hoping that the iPhone will not have as much problems as the early Intel Macs but if there are indeed problems, at least those problems will not be ours to experience and solve.By 2008, the cost of the iPhone ($499 for the 4GB model, $599 for the 8 GB model — both with telco subsidy) would have stabilized. The street price will, hopefully, be lower than if it will be available immediately.
  • Although the iPhone has an impressive lineup of features, it does not have 3G and HSDPA. Hopefully, the model that will reach the Asian market will have those high-speed mobile data standards. Add to that other potential, yet essential features that are not offered in the current iPhone. I would like to see it able to run applications such as a book reader, a “lite” version of Quicken, and other “lite” applications.
  • And most importantly, it will give mac fanatics (like some people I know) to save up enough funds to buy the iPhone!

Yes, it will take a long time before we get our grubby little hands on the iPhone but I sincerely think that the wait will be well worth it.

I can’t handle talking about it right now.

Here.

Its been years since I’ve used a “cellphone” cellphone because I was enamored by PDA/Phone convergence devices for around two years. Before that, I’ve shunned Nokia (too mainstream), Motorola (its user interface, especially on older models, needed a lot of improvement) and other lesser known cellphones opting for Sony Ericsson phones because of its outstanding compatibility with my other passion during those times: Palm PDAs.

When 2007 rang in, I decided to make it my personal “Year of 3G” so I shopped around for a suitable phone and after an exhaustive search for the “one” I decided to give Motorola another try so I got myself a Moto RAZR V3x — not necessary the bleeding edge phone people expect me to get but I sort of fell in love with it somehow.

Here’s a list of what I like about it so far:

  1. It’s a clamshell. There’s something about clamshell phones that attracts me to them. Motorola has been known for its outstanding clamshell phones starting with the MicroTac and StarTac series up to the RAZR series. I just hope that the RAZR series lives up to its pedigree in terms of durability (the StarTac was known as a “tank” because of its now legendary durability).
  2. It uses standard mini-USB interface. This is a rarity in a world where each cellphone manufacturer uses their own proprietary connector for each of their models – making it difficult to charge the phone or have it connected to a computer.
  3. Its external LCD display is actually useful. Without opening the phone, one can change the ringing profile of the phone. When used as an MP3 Player, one may see what music track is playing and change it if needed.
  4. Large displays and large keys. I can safely say that its display ranks among the best in its class allowing people with not-so-perfect eyesight to use it easily.
  5. Loud external stereo speaker. Makes its user really notice it when there’s an incoming call or SMS. Real handy if used as a standalone MP3 Player.
  6. Built-in data/memory card connection profile. This alone makes it worth paying for its price. If connected to a computer on “memory card” mode, one may access the transflash/MicroSD card as if it is a regular external storage device (no additional drivers needed). If connected in “Data Connection” mode, one may easily use it as a 3G modem.
  7. Streaming audio through regular wireless BlueTooth headsets! This is the most exciting “discovery” I made using the Moto RAZR V3x. Other cellphone brands require a special A2DP BlueTooth headsets to do this but the Moto RAZR V3x does it with non-A2DP headsets although as expected, audio output is in mono. Pretty useful when listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
  8. The bundled Motorola Phone Tools is outstanding. Used in conjunction with the bundled USB cable, users can do text messaging through the computer and synchronize contacts, calendars and to-do lists. Connecting a computer to the internet is a breeze using the “Internet Connection” button of Motorola Phone Tools.
  9. If later on I decided to do some hacking, this phone has a plethora of “customization” options available on the ‘net.
  10. Easy media transfer between the Moto RAZR V3x and a computer through the MPT (Motorola Phone Tools) Multimedia Studio. Existing video clips can easily be converted for viewing on the phone using this tool. Pictures can also be edited to conform with the phone’s display allowing it to be used as a wallpaper or screensaver.

I am so impressed with this phone that I’m planning to get a second unit to give to my wife. This is my no means the perfect phone but for those who are not “enslaved” by Nokia phones, then the Moto RAZR V3x may be worthy alternative.