Last week I decided it really was time to look into a new phone. I’ve had my trusty Nokia 5230 since April ’10 and, in all honesty, it’s served me very well – but recently it’s started to show it’s signs of old age. The battery isn’t lasting as long as it used to, crashes are becoming more common and it’s started shutting down all by itself. Enough is enough.
But I faced a tough dilemma. Ever since I got my 5230, I’ve been a very loyal member of giffgaff. They’ve been great to me – and their £10 per month goodybag was perfect for my everyday needs. However, I’ve always fancied an Android phone – and they’re expensive – so a contract of some form was inevitable.
Sadly, I am about to close my giffgaff account and transfer my number to my new O2 account – a sad farewell but never mind! Anyway, on to what you want to read about – the phone!
Overall, I’m incredibly impressed by the phone. Compared to the 5230 I had before, this is a gigantic step up with new features left, right and centre. Here’s a quick run-through of the tech specs:
- 1.5Ghz dual core Snapdragon processor
- 768MB RAM
- 8MP dual flash & autofocus camera with 1080p 30fps video recording (plus dual microphones for stereo recording)
- 4GB internal memory (1GB usable)
- Up to 32GB microSD expansion (mine came with a 16GB card)
- Android 2.3.4 (with HTC saying an upgrade to 4.0 coming in early 2012)
- WiFi b/g/n
- GPS, bluetooth
- 4.3″ multitouch display @ 960×540 pixels
That’s the most important stuff covered – and as specs go I’d call that a pretty high end phone. And these specs do play a good part in the phone – with fast boot enabled the phone will boot in around 5 seconds.
Anyway, let’s have a run through most of the key features.
Look and feel of the device
I personally happen to feel that this is one of the best looking HTC devices I’ve seen in a long time. The device is reasonably flat on the front with no hardware buttons at all – just four touch sensitive keys. The screen is very is a beauty to look at – colours are crisp and resolution is excellent. On the side, you get a volume rocker on the left and a sleep button on the top-right of the device. The back of the device has a firm plastic-type feel – it doesn’t look too bad but more importantly it wipes out the potential problem of scratching the body.
Weighing in at around 150g,the device does actually feel quite heavy in the hand – but this is normal for a device of this spec. It’s not uncomfortably heavy to hold, but I think my arm would tire after half an hour or so on the phone.
The 8MP camera on the phone does a fine job of taking crisp photos. The autofocus works well and also responds to pinpointed focus on screen, whilst the dual flash does a brilliant job of brightening up the darkest of scenes. However, I wasn’t hugely impressed by some low light pictures – and whilst the flash is great it sometimes over-saturates the picture.
The camera is also capable of filming 1080p video at 30fps – and videos recorded look well focused and consistent (little or no dropped frames). The device also packs two microphones for stereo recording – although I found that there was sometimes a worrying amount of background noise picked up by the microphones.
Android and bundled software
I’ve never properly used an Android device before – so this was a great opportunity to start. The device comes with Android 2.3.4 (and a promised upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich early next year) and it packs a punch. Most of the bundled software works very efficiently and loads up in lightning speed (partly thanks to the dual core 1.5Ghz processor).
There are a couple of pieces of software that do disappoint me, however. For one – the music player; which seems to lack many key features. For example, it fails to remove the word “The” when alphabetising artist names which can be very frustrating. It also fails to group albums in many cases – which is incredibly frustrating at times.
Another piece of software that annoys me a bit is the Mail app. It’s great for receiving emails and will render them very well, but it does a poor job of sending mail out. It doesn’t seem to be capable of inserting line breaks to emails and also doesn’t copy sent mail to an IMAP server. There doesn’t seem to be any option to change these settings – so if anyone can enlighten me here that would be great.
If I have one major complaint about the device, it’ll be for battery life. It really is pretty poor (I’m told most Android phones are like this) if you play on your phone a lot. I had the battery from full to flat in 7 hours after quite a lot of app downloads and web browsing. However, if you take it steady and use it normally, it should get you through a day or two without recharge. Still, I’d like to think it’d last a bit longer at this spec of phone.
Bundled “Beats” earphones
I actually really like these – and it was a nice bonus to the phone to have a decent pair of earphones included. With the beats software running on the phone, you’ll get pristine bass and treble from the earphones. However, bear in mind that the “beats” software only really works with the music player – so other apps won’t be able to make use of it.
Overall, I’m really happy with the device and glad to have it as my companion for the next 24 months. It’s not perfect – and there are clearly some software issues that could well be solved in Android 4.0 – but overall it does a fantastic job of providing a fine balance of entertainment and practicality. With pricing for the SIM free model around about £430, it makes a great competitor to the iPhone – as it has much better tech specs and a larger screen. However, it’s down to the opinions of the person using the phone – and some would rather use iOS than Android.
If you’re interested to know the contract I got for the phone – it was the o2 200 DATA Bonus contract purchased from Dialaphone. Coming in at £536 for the entire 2 year contract, it makes great value. The plan comes with 200 minutes, unlimited (3000) texts and 500MB data every month. If you’re a data junkie, you can get the plan extended to 1GB data for an extra £4 per month (change it after you’ve started your contract and received the phone).