maanantaina, syyskuuta 26, 2011

Between iPhones

Since I cycled home in the downpour of last Wednesday, my iPhone 3GS has not turned on the backlight.  I don't know if you have noticed, but the screen of the iPhone is darn near impossible to read with the backlight off, even in good lighting conditions.

Given that iPhone 5 doesn't launch in a week, I find myself between iPhones.

Rummaging through the kitchen drawers produced a functioning Nokia 5000d-2 and a 4 GB iPod mini. Maybe I can pretend I'm just trying to be retro until iPhone 5 is available in Finland?

Some observations about the phone:

The first thing that strikes you when you pick up the Nokia 5000d-2 is it's feather-like weight, only 74 g. It is thin and light enough to lose in your trouser pockets. The battery, even though it is old, lasts a few days. That seems incredible to me because I am used to charging my phone during every night and often during daytime too.

The user-interface is slow and feels like it is from the stone age. 

There is very little on-board memory (12 MB of which about 9 MB are left to the user.) so uploading music files on it is not really an option. There is no slot for memory card. The headphone jack is too small for standard 3.5 mm plug. The phone has a built-in radio but it requires headphones to work.

The user-experience is riddled with annoyances like:
  • The automatic key lock only engages if the phone is on the home screen.
  • The backlight turns off automatically, but the next key press doesn't just turn on the backlight, the key press also takes effect. E.g. if you are in the middle of composing an SMS and get distracted, you'd better not press the biggest key on the keyboard. Yes, it will wake up the phone but it will also immediately send the message.
The web browser is terrible, but installing Opera Mini helps a lot. There is no 3G support, so browsing is slow. Email, even Gmail, is integrated in the messaging menu. Reading emails with this is not fun, but you could do it in a pinch. 

Facebook status can be updated by sending email and nowadays Tweets can be sent as SMS to Finnish phone number.

The only things I'm really missing are my calendar from work Exchange server and GPS support for Endomondo or a similar exercise-logging app.

Some observations about the iPod mini:

The battery is a bit old and tired. It took a couple of hours of charging before it woke up and iTunes connected with it. But it still works and seems fully supported by iTunes. But no new software updates available for it, I see.

The click-wheel was an innovative user-interface that still feels fresh. The screen is positively minuscule and monochrome. This device was built for listening music, period.

The 4 GB size means I have to scale down my music collection, but it was easy to do. On iTunes synching screen I checked my "Coding music" playlist and a new option "Fill available space with music". The last option was not available back when I was using the mini for real. A really useful option!

The iPod mini came with a belt-clip, which is good for cyclists during the summer months if all the cycling shirts (with large back pockets) are in the laundry. The clip is less useful now when the weather is so cold I'm wearing a jacket which has pockets big enough to carry any size of phone or iPod. The clip can actually be removed and the mini is much smaller without it.

All in all, I think I can survive with this setup with some time, weeks or even months. The rumors say iPhone 5 comes out on October 5th, so I will be OK, even if it is rolled out in Finland a bit later.