Singapore and Cellphones

May 31, 2008 / Culture, Opinion, Reviews / 21 Comments

Singaporeans are incredibly infatuated with cellphones. Everywhere you go people are text messaging, chatting, emailing all the time. It has been said that the annual cellphone sales in Singapore is often double the population of the country. So why the craze? Cellphones, otherwise known here as handphones, is a symbol of fashion forwardness, education and social standing. Decidedly, the very first thing I bought when I arrived was a brand-new cellphone.

Having just returned from a technology unsavvy country such as Canada, I wasn’t going to spend too much money on something I rarely use. But as much as I hate to admit, I’m quite the gadget enthusiast. Looks don’t matter too much. For me, the more functions the phone has, the more bang for my buck. So, I looked hard for a smartphone with wi-fi access and a QWERTY keyboard. The pool of the latest phones quickly narrowed down to two: Sony Ericsson P1 and HTC S730.

Sony Ericsson P1HTC S730

Sony Ericsson’s P1 QWERTY felt strange to the touch. HTC S730 lacked a touch screen. But I ultimately let ergonomics win me over and chose the HTC S730.

HTC S730 Review

So I’ve been using the HTC S730 for about a week now. The features are endless so I can’t say I know how to fully operate the phone but I’d say I’m an intermediate-advanced user. I’m not a professional phone review, so I won’t go into meticulous details. Thought I’d just make list of pros and cons that anyone considering to buy this should know and then wrap it with my concluding opinion.

Pros

  • Latest connectivity: 3.5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HSPA and Internet Sharing.
  • Two Good Cameras: Main camera has 2 Megapixels. Secondary VGA camera for self-camwhoring. No flash but both capture light very well!
  • Useful functions: Microsoft Office, QWERTY Keyboard, MSN Messenger, Adobe Reader, RSS Aggregator and Flash Lite Player.
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile is great for downloading many free programs like Skype on the phone.

Cons

  • Runs on Windows Mobile: Also means that it’s slow and inefficient in starting up both the phone and applications.
  • Badly-designed menus and confirmations: The developer who programmed the menu and the commands should really be shot. Everything is counter-intuitive. For example, I would expect that when I transfer SIM contacts to the phone, I’d find it under the Contacts menu or possibly under Settings. But no, the developer had to put it in an application called SIM Manager filed under a Folder called Expert – as if transferring contacts is an advanced use.
  • Badly-design file explorer: The file explorer is designed to mirror normal PC Windows. It’s very functional on a computer but quite a drag on a phone. I don’t want to be looking through phone system files while searching for a file I just sent from my computer. It’s very dangerous since I could accidentally delete something vital for phone operations.

Final Verdict

[rating:4]

HTC clearly did a good job taking care of the ergonomics and design. The keyboard and keypad are both fairly comfortable to use – though I would have preferred the keyboard keys to be slightly larger. The camera is amazing for a 2 megapixel. Photos are sharp, colors are bright even in poor light and without a flash. Battery is decent; it lasted about two days with some bluetooth, wi-fi and 30 mins of phone calls. The matte gray finish looks quite elegant and professional. Definitely something you could bring to the office and look good in.

The biggest problem is with its operating system. Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 needs to go back to the drawing board. It’s slow, cumbersome and can barely sustain itself in a phone with 256MB ROM + 64MB RAM. The menus are a pain to use. Even for a gadget geek like me, I had to refer to the instructions manual to do some very basic things like deleting contacts.

With all that said, this is an amazing smartphone for a low price. To be precise, I got it FREE for a 2 year contract. I’d pay a few hundred for this, if I had to. This is a Blackberry and more. It’s designed for the business user, but after holding a few MSN conversations with it and checking my RSS subscriptions on it, I’d say it can definitely be used for leisure too!

Hope you enjoyed this haphazard review. Will sweep for grammatical and spelling errors tomorrow morning. I may also add a few camera samples. I’m too sleepy now. Sorry!