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After the weeks-long epic!fail of my current cell phone provider, I am switching companies. I'm using this opportunity to get a new phone, as well.

I'm about to join the 21st century and get a smartphone. I'm not a huge fan of phones in general, to be perfectly honest, and my needs are very specific and work-related. I want to be able to 1) talk, 2) text and receive texts (some with photos), 3) receive, type, and send email, 4) get GPS, and 5) access certain websites (most of which are text-heavy, like the websites for my classes, Goodreads, certain blogs, etc.). I have zero interest in streaming videos, or playing games, etc. on my phone.

The iPhone 4 and 5 and the Samsung Galaxy 3 and 4 are viable options. I'm not a hater of any of them. However, my usage will continue to be typing-heavy (as it is now), and I'm not overly comfortable or enthralled with touch screens. That's one of many reasons why I have a wee little netbook rather than a tablet. (Note: I have very small fingers. The keyboard I use for my desktop is child-sized.) My current phone has a QWERTY keyboard, and it's perfect.

From my research, the phone that seems ideal for me is the new BlackBerry Q10, despite the fact BlackBerry doesn't seem to be ruling the market at the moment (whoa, understatement).* I love the keyboard and design.

Q10 LTE (800/900/1800/2100/2600)

I need some honest advice. Pretty much everyone on the planet knows more about smartphones than I do. Would I be making a huge mistake if I went with the BlackBerry? Are there compelling reasons I should join the flow and do what everyone else is doing? Or are there other options I've overlooked? I welcome all input. Thanks so much.

* But hey, Mycroft Holmes uses one, and he is the British government.


( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 28th, 2013 01:15 pm (UTC)
For the uses you described practically any smartphone would be perfectly functional. However jumping on the bandwagon means you will most likely have a longer support and upgrade path, I don't expect blackberries to last another 5 years. If you buy an Android phone the upgrade will mostly be stop at the store, get new phone, log in, and by the time you get home it will be mostly set up for you including wifi keys and all your contacts.

My smartphone experience has all been on Android phones, my first one had a slide out QWERTY keyboard, the rest have been onscreen keyboard only. The onscreen keyboards work quite well even with bigger fingers, and with android devices if you don't like the onscreen keyboard it comes with you can replace it. I am quite fond of swiftkey as a replacement for the stock keyboard.

I would recommend the GS3 if you want a high end smartphone, or looking around at what midline android phone that you can get cheaply. I would make sure the phone comes with android 4.0 at a minimum (Ice cream sandwich, or jelly bean) so you can take advantage of Google chrome and google now.
Jun. 28th, 2013 04:34 pm (UTC)
Have to pop in here to say I love your icon! :-)
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 28th, 2013 01:33 pm (UTC)
First of all, Cell Service Provider:

I LOVE mine. They use the Sprint network, and you can check them out at credomobile.com. Seriously - LOVE them - did I mention? I have been with them for two years.


Credo has four with slide-out qwerty keyboards that are all free with a two year contract. My last phone had a full slide-out keyboard and I loved it (my new phone is a huge touchscreen HTC One and I am getting used to it, but I still miss the keyboard).

Two of the keyboard phones available at Credo right now are more smartphone-like with largish touch screens as well as the slide-out keyboard. They are the Samsung Transform Ultra, and the LG Rumor Reflex. There is also the Samsung Array, which is more phone-like with a smaller screen and actual number buttons on the outside, as well as the slide out keyboard. Lastly is the LG Remarq, which is an itty bitty tiny phone with a qwerty keyboard that slides out at the bottom instead of from the side, so it is REALLY small. I had one similar to it three phones ago, and it worked well for me. I did like the larger keyboard I got later, better, though.

Even if you don't want to use Credo as your carrier, you can peruse the phones on their website.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

Edited at 2013-06-28 01:33 pm (UTC)
Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for all of this helpful information! This is awesome, and so are you! <3
Jun. 28th, 2013 02:42 pm (UTC)
I have used both iPhones and Androids. I had an iPhone 4, and now I have a Galaxy S3. I love the size of the s3, but sometimes the apps are a little buggy. However, the apps on the s3 are super cheap or free, whereas the iphone's apps cost money. A lot more than the android.

The GPS on the android is a LOT better than Apple Maps. Like, thing 100x better. It is fantastic for driving.

I dislike the blackberry - it isn't user friendly, and everything that I have seen of them makes the tech of them seem like they will be off the market with little support in a few years. I haven't heard anything about their GPS, but it is supposed to be good for email and texting thanks to the keyboard. That said, the keyboards on the other phones are great, and like another commenter said, you can replace the android one with another one you download. I love swiftkey as well.

I vote for the s3, but that is the one I love.
Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is sooooo helpful, especially the comparison between the two (iPhone and Android). And I think you're right about the longevity of BlackBerry (or the lack thereof). It's not a very wise gamble to make; I needed that reality check!

Thanks again for such great advice!
Jun. 28th, 2013 02:44 pm (UTC)
I have an (I know, old) HTC Desire Z because it has a slide-out qwerty keyboard, and I adore it. I could have upgraded at the end of my contract this year, but I'm keeping it until either it falls apart, or until the UK gets its act together and makes more slide-out qwerty keyboard phones available (I can see them over there in the US, but they're not here!) I may even have to import one from somewhere, if I can make it work here - and I don't usually want to go to that much trouble about something like this!

I glanced at the Blackberry as an alternative to the slide-out keyboard, but didn't think it would work with the way I type. I want to type with two hands (thumbs...), and the Blackberry feels too small for me to do that. I like the horizontal-size of the slide-outs for typing. Then again, I don't have small fingers.

Mind you, the other thing is that it's not teeny-tiny, so its screen isn't either - better for reading lots of text. On a Blackberry you really only get half the screen size cos the rest's taken up with the keyboard...

I wonder how much typing Mycroft does on his... *g*
Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
Excellent points all around (and I'm glad to know I'm not the only keyboard lover left!). Thank you so much for your insights!

I expect "Anthea" does a lot of BlackBerry typing. I wouldn't be surprised if Mycroft, on the other hand, didn't simply will his texts into existence. LOL!

Thanks again for the help!
Jun. 28th, 2013 03:24 pm (UTC)
Hmm, well. I use the swiftkey keyboard, but that, swype, and the stock keyboard all support my favorite feature now: you trace words without picking your hand up between letters. This really improves typing accuracy, because it uses guesses about the whole world to figure out which key you meant. Between that and improving voice recognition, I think hardware keyboards are on their way out.

I talk about 500 minutes a month with my family, so I'm still on a regular cell plan. My brother doesn't talk nearly as much, so he's on the t-mobile $30/month plan: 100 minutes talk, unlimited data (slower after the first 5 Gb). If you can get t-mobile where you are and don't walk and talk with your cell for hours, I really recommend it. http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans (black text near the bottom -- they'd much rather you picked one of the more expensive plans.)

A good place to look at buying your own, unsubsidized phone to go with the t-mobile prepaid thing is the google play store, the Samsung S4 or the Nexus 4, but of course that's only if you decide the keyboard is good enough. I wish you could borrow a phone for a few days so you could try it out and get past the first hump on the learning curve to see if you would.
Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! This is sooooo helpful. I can't thank you enough. *grateful high fives*
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, this is really useful information. I really appreciate it! I think my knowledge of smartphones just doubled by reading your comments (that's not saying much, considering my starting point, but still). I owe you big time. Thank you!
Abbie Culbertson
Jun. 28th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
My honest advice is that I can't actually give any advice because I still have a non-smart Samsung phone (it also has a slide out qwerty keyboard that I appreciate). Still, I comment. I was just going to say that I'm glad you've asked so that I can learn with you! I, too, know next to nothing about smartphones. The closest thing I have is an iPod touch. Not sure when I will ever upgrade to one, but I imagine this conversation would come in handy!
Jul. 2nd, 2013 10:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone! (And since I'm still using an iPod Classic, you have my full permission to feel greatly technologically advanced in comparison.)

I just spent an outrageously long time at Best Buy, where their non-commissioned staff were wonderful about 1) asking me if I needed help and then 2) leaving me alone. I just held the different phones and tried to get a feel for using the screens, etc. My conclusions thus far: 1) I think while no one was looking a bunch of phones bred with a bunch of tablets, because fully half of the phones looked/acted more like tablets (to my ignorant eyes) than phones; and 2) either I'm shrinking (totally possible) or phones are getting bigger, because half of them were impossible to hold in just one hand. I already carry a huge purse. I'd need luggage to carry some of these.

Right now I'm leaning toward the iPhone 5 for the simple reason that I can hold it securely in one hand. But I will report back, whatever happens. I will have to make a decision soon, as Sprint's towers here have been down for weeks now, and I've got no coverage, period, unless I drive fifteen miles. Boo, hiss.

Loved your post recently about moderation, by the way, as opposed to "everything's bad for you." Well said. I should've commented and didn't. (I'm sorry!) Belated high fives.
(no subject) - Abbie Culbertson - Jul. 10th, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Jul. 13th, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 28th, 2013 04:55 pm (UTC)
Get an iPhone. You'll get used to the keyboard and the voice recognition is surprisingly accurate for extensive text entry. Small fingers make typing even easier!

The ease of use, consistency, functionality and beauty will all be worth it in the end.
Jul. 2nd, 2013 11:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this! After spending an afternoon "playing" with various smartphones at the store, I'm really leaning in this direction, and your affirmation is very encouraging to hear. I really like the "feel" of the iPhone 5 and, unlike some of the phablets, I think I could carry it around in a pocket/purse instead of having to invest in a piece of luggage! Definitely small-hand friendly.

I'm most grateful for your reply/advice!
Jun. 28th, 2013 04:55 pm (UTC)
Me and my kids have Samsung phones and we all love them. You get used to the touch screen in no time and they're really user friendly.

I have the Galaxy Note which is AWESOME and my son and daughter have the S3 and 4 respectively.
Jul. 13th, 2013 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh, after your (very helpful, thank you!) comments, I made a point to spend some time at the store with the Samsungs, especially the Note. Good grief, it was like walking into an episode of Star Trek! Is there anything that device can't do? It's brilliant! I can easily imagine that it would win me over within minutes. It's especially good to hear your longer-term experience has been so positive.

The big down side for me was size (back to the "small fingers" thing). For my immediate purposes, I really need something I can hold in/use with one hand. I'm not sure the Note is much smaller in screen size than my netbook. That said, I hope that the Note represents the direction that netbooks/tablets are headed (it felt like a "crossover" device that combined the best of the two), because I could see going for something like that down the road, not as much for the "phone" part of its utility as for -- well, everything else (which obviously is A LOT!).

If you don't mind, I may check back in with you at a later date for your advice. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and advice with me!
Jun. 28th, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
I understand how you feel about touch screens. I find it very hard to type on touch screens because of the lack of physical buttons.

Wish I could be of more help with your actual question, but I stil luse an older phone.
Jul. 13th, 2013 05:57 pm (UTC)
I find it very hard to type on touch screens because of the lack of physical buttons.

Oh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way! Thanks.

In the end, I broke down and got one. I still don't like the touch screen, but my dislike is somewhat mediated by the fact 1) I found a great screen guard (so there are no gross smudges and fingerprints, which would have driven me seriously crazy), and 2) the predictive text feature is quite good, so it's not necessary to type out every word completely. I'm getting better at it. And I love the phone otherwise. But still, I'm hoping the physical keyboards will make a comeback. I suspect I'm not going to be a "convert" to the touch screen.

Edited at 2013-07-13 06:00 pm (UTC)
Jun. 28th, 2013 08:20 pm (UTC)
My Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is large enough that I can use the touchscreen fairly easily.
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this! Based on your comments and clara_posts's, I looked at one at the store, where I could hold it and interact with it. Wow, what a brilliant device! It definitely felt like a huge evolutionary leap in terms of the technology. (I loved the pen, too!) That said, for my immediate needs, I require something I can hold and use with one hand, and the Note is just too broad for that. But I'm very glad to have it "on my radar" anyway, though. Thanks again!
(no subject) - wellinghall - Jul. 13th, 2013 06:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 29th, 2013 12:34 am (UTC)
You might want to test the Blackberry before purchasing and make sure the keyboard is two-thumbs-friendly. I have a slide out keyboard, which works well. The photo above looks like a rather small keyboard in comparison, but without actually trying it out, it's hard to tell.
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC)
Excellent advice!!! Thank you. I followed it, and it really did feel fantastic (and thumb-typing-friendly), although I do love the slide-out keyboard. But I was strong and resisted, LOL! I think everyone's point about the future support and upgrade path for BBs was well taken. I really like what I ended up with - it's exactly what I needed, compared to what I had before - but I suspect I'm not going to become a touchscreen convert, even though I'm getting decently quick at it. I'm hoping the slide-out or incorporated keyboards make a comeback. *stubby little fingers crossed, ha*
Curtis Weyant
Jun. 30th, 2013 01:01 am (UTC)
I had the original Motorola Droid, which had a slide-out keyboard (as others have mentioned). I never used it because I have fat fingers, but I loved Android operating system, which is especially nice if you use Google products in general — which I do.

I had a Blackberry for a previous job and hated it...but again, fat fingers. I also disliked the seeming unavailability of apps for it, but that might have had more to do with the fact that my employer's tech support locked down the software, so I was limited in how much I could modify/customize it on my own.
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this! I'd only heard positive things about BBs before (in general, floating out there in the aether), but it turns out that, once I started asking, I learned that you and my bro-in-law shared the same dissatisfaction. VERY good to know.

Needless to say, I've decided to dodge that bullet.

I'm grateful for all of your insights/advice!

Edited at 2013-07-13 06:12 pm (UTC)
Jun. 30th, 2013 04:01 am (UTC)
One word: stylus. They're cheap, & whatever smartphone you choose, it's easier to type on a touchscreen if you have one. I got my first smartphone (under duress) in January, & I love having a stylus for longer typing.
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, excellent advice! Thanks so much for this.
Jun. 30th, 2013 05:54 am (UTC)
Screen space
I'm about to buy a new phone too, and it will (probably) be the Samsung Galaxy S2 Plus. If I was in Europe, it would be this phone: http://fairphone.com/.

I don't think the Blackberry is a mistake at all, but I think there are a couple of compelling reasons to go full-screen. The Blackberry style keyboard is too fiddly for my slightly broader fingers. The touchscreen/Swype keyboard is much easier for me since (as mentioned in a previous comment) it recognises the shape you trace over the keyboard. That it disappears when not in use is the second compelling reason, since I then have a much bigger screen for reading.

If possible I think it would be best to borrow a friend's for quarter of an hour or so, and just play with the text input. If it seems to work for you, then that would be my recommendation - if you can't use it comfortably, then it's definitely the wrong choice! Good luck :)
Jul. 13th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Screen space
Playing with the text input in person was exactly the suggestion I needed - all of my opinions changed after I had the chance to hold/type/mess around with several models.

I really liked the Samsung Galaxy (obviously an excellent phone), and I might've gone with it, only it didn't fit easily in my hand (which I need). It felt a bit too wide, like I'd always be in danger of dropping it. The whole "comfort" factor really is huge, and I couldn't judge that simply by looking online.

I'm most grateful for your excellent advice! And best wishes with your own upcoming purchase.
Re: Screen space - ext_2044287 - Jul. 21st, 2013 09:13 am (UTC) - Expand
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