After agonizing for a few weeks, I bought an Android phone. Specifically, a Samsung Galaxy S 4G. Being a T-Mobile phone, it’s a potential dead end, but I opted to do it for a few reasons.
Why? I’m sick of not being able to play Angry Birds. Not really, but I like seeing people’s reaction when I say that.
For one, the money I save by locking in today’s T-Mobile plan and rates for 2 years pays to replace the phone. And I can’t find anyone giving me that caliber of phone for $99 right now. Usually $99 gets you last year’s model. T-Mobile is trying to retain customers while the AT&T buyout gets sorted out, I think. For another, if I’m unable to unwilling to use it on AT&T’s network in 2013, even without a phone plan, the device is useful. It can be a PDA, a wi-fi web browser, MP3 player, video player, and a video camera, at the very least, without a phone plan. That’s not a bad thing to keep around, especially since wi-fi hotspots are almost everywhere these days. When I was getting my oil changed, I whipped out the phone to check the time, and it told me wi-fi was available.
I actually have a $30 voice plan that they don’t offer anymore, but they grandfathered me in. I rarely go over on the minutes, and since the phone can act as a VOIP phone over wi-fi, I’m even less likely to go over. I wouldn’t have been able to get that deal from anyone else, which is one of the reasons AT&T and Verizon want T-Mobile gone. I don’t know yet if T-Mobile’s 200-meg data plan will be adequate for me, but with wi-fi available in so many places it might be. If not, it’s not like they’re going to turn me down if I walk into a store and ask to buy a more expensive data plan.
The Galaxy S 4G has good reviews. It has a 1 GHz Samsung Cortex in it and gets 6.5 hours of active use out of a battery charge, and the screen is nice. There’s not much to dislike about it except that its carrier might go away, but if the AT&T deal does go through (which isn’t a guarantee) they’ll still have to honor the contract you signed with T-Mobile. And it syncs with my Gmail account automatically, which is nice. I can put things I need to remember on the calendar with my full-sized computer, and the phone automatically picks it up.
I see from the XDA Developers Forum that it’s not quite as hackable yet as some of the other phones, but that will come. I’ll watch the developments there and consider loading custom firmware on it to speed the phone up at a later date. It seems pretty quick out of the box, but I don’t have much to compare it to.
So now I have something new to learn. The capacitive screen takes some getting used to–I’m used to hitting my HP iPAQ and Dell Axim screens with a fingernail. The GUI is different from what I’m used to, but at one point in my life I was switching between Windows, Mac OS, and Amiga OS depending on what time of day it was, so that won’t be a problem. I find myself trying to right-click sometimes, which of course is futile.