Buying a new mobile phone

When I was looking to buy my new phone, I found it very difficult to do research on features, quality, models available, etc. Google is not what it used to be, and performing a basic search like “buy gsm phone” doesn’t return very good results. It should return such sites as mobilefly,, or bongowireless, which are all good places to buy unlocked phones, but it doesn’t. There are also a lot of buzzwords relating to features that phones can have, and it’s tough to figure out exactly what they mean.

I ended up buying the Sony-Ericsson T610 direct from T-Mobile, and I’m happy with it. But now I can more intelligently talk about the features my phone has, and if they are worth considering.

  • Polyphonic sounds: This means that your ringtone can be a MIDI file. It does not mean it can be a wave file! Some phones do support wave file ringtones, like the nokia 3650/3660.
  • EMS: a standard unique to sony ericsson, now obsoleted by…
  • MMS: the new standard for rich messaging, with pictures and sounds and videos and stuff. So I can take a photo and send it to someone else whose phone has MMS. Or I can use email to send it to an email address.
  • Downloadable games, Mophun: DOWNLOADABLE GAMES ARE WORTHLESS. They are slow, suck battery life, are on a tiny screen, are impossible to locate online, and aren’t fun. I’ve tried a bunch of different games, and they aren’t very enjoyable. Maybe phones with bigger screens and faster processors will make gaming possible, but on my phone, it’s not worth it
  • Ringtones can be assigned to phonebook entries: This is cool. Char’s ringtone is unique from everyone else’s, so I know right away when she’s calling
  • Built-in digital camera (288×352 pixels): A camera at this resolution isn’t too great. Check out my pictures for an idea of the quality you’re going to get
  • Java: only used for games and useless apps. worthless.
  • Bluetooth: extremely cool. If I get a bluetooth connector (it’s wireless) for my laptop, I could use my phone as a modem whereever I get a signal, even under linux. This is good
  • WAP 2.0: This refers to the web browsing standard your phone supports. Phones can’t browse regular web pages (since the screen is small and regular pages are so big), so they use a standard called WAP to browse a subset of the web. WAP 2.0 is actually important, since it’s a big step over wap 1.2, the other standard you see everywhere. For instance, it allows for color. It also can browse simple web pages, so you don’t need to retool for WML and figure out the right mimetypes to make it work. This allows me to transfer files from my computer to the phone using the wireless web capability
  • T9: predictive text input. this is a must
  • POP3 email client with attachments: some people might like this
  • Calculator: good for tip calculation I guess
  • Scheduler: good for setting alarms in the future, but mostly useless
  • Voice memo: I don’t use it, maybe some people like it
  • Themability: The t610 is fully themeable, down to text color and such. Most phones only let you change the wallpaper. I like this a lot
  • Symbian: Some phones (nokia 36**, sony-ericsson p8/900, and more soon) run a software platform called Symbian. These phones are generally called “smartphones,” and have more pda-like functionality. They tend to have more memory, more programs, bigger screens, better cameras. Some can play videos. I have no experience with these in real life.

    So I would have gotten the Samsung V200 from tmobile, but it only has wap 1.2.1, and I think that’s a dealbreaker for me. I use WAP a lot, for news, movie listings, weather, and sports updates, so having the latest version is important to me. I was also considering getting the Nokia 7250i, but other than twice as much memory and an FM radio, the t610 beats it feature for feature.

    Anyway hopefully someone will benefit from this information. Paying a ton of money for a new phone is a big deal, and the lack of a good site out there to explain what everything means is a shame. One last good resource is the Howard Forums, which practically have one forum for every phone in existence. It’s good stuff.