Tech Note: Help Me Choose a Smartphone

Four years ago (when I had only been blogging for a month) I asked my readers what kind of smartphone I should get. Nobody replied, but I got some advice elsewhence and bought a Qtek 9100. Then, two years ago, I asked the same question again and got lots of answers. In the end I bought a Samsung SGH-i780 that has served me well since.

I'd like to get away from Windows Mobile while there's still an aftermarket for the Samsung, so here I go again, asking you, Dear Reader, for advice. Here are the specs I'm aiming for.

  • Cell phone connectivity
  • Wifi connectivity that actually allows me to connect, not just see that there's an access point
  • Swedish qwerty keyboard
  • NOT Windows Mobile. I'd like an open-source operating system this time. Android, anyone?
  • Socket for removeable flash memory and preferably works as a vanilla USB drive when connected to a desktop computer
  • Plays nice with my linux computer
  • Full-screen time & date readouts when in sleep mode
  • Hardware key-lock button
  • Stable touch-screen that needs re-calibration less than once a year
  • Decent camera

What model smartphone are you using, Dear Reader? Are you happy with it? What should I get?

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Your criteria precludes an Iphone! After owning an Iphone 3g for almost a year now, all I can say is you are on the right track. 80% of my iPhone's cell calls drop or fail to connect.

I would, however, recommend that what ever you do wind up purchasing, an internal compass, accelerometer, and GPS are not optional. There are a quite a few applications under development for the interpretation of heritage sites that will depend upon these features.


I've got a Motorola Droid, and I am mostly pleased with it. The screen and keyboard are very nice (don't know about Swedish version). Wifi connectivity is okay--on my home network, sometimes transfers are fast, sometimes they hang up, but it might just be our setup (my desktop iMac has no problem connecting). Connecting to the iMac with a USB is pretty straightforward. The camera is not great--a lot of noise unless the light is full daylight. And of course, with basically a pinhole lens, it's not like you're going to get great resolution. So I haven't used it much (But then, I'm used to my vintage Nikons and my 4x5 Speed Graphic, so I'm biased.)

I'm using a G1 circa 2008 (ancient in smartphone years), but it mostly satisfies your criteria. The camera isn't that great though. That will be what I'm looking for when I upgrade later this year.

By Brad Pitcher (not verified) on 02 Feb 2010 #permalink

I have to point out that I have a Freerunner and there is no camera. Other than that it's fairly decent hardware, but the software is a bit behind

By Brad Pitcher (not verified) on 02 Feb 2010 #permalink

I have a Nokia 5800 "Xpress music". I think it matches your requirements except that I have no idea if it connects with a Linux PC. The phone is essentially a big touch-screen, where the full (Swedish) keyboard pops up when needed. The Nokia compares very favourable with my previous phone which was a HTC windows smartphone. It is much faster and the interface is more intuitive. I've actually taken some really good photos with the camera in outdoor daylight. On the downside is the sync software which I find unintuitive. Also, I would like to see today's and tomorrow's calendar entries on the front screen, but found no way to do that so far. Except for this, I like it.

I have an iPhone 3G, and it has slowly wormed its way into my life as an integral component. I wasn't entirely sold on it when I first got it, but I have been fortunate in not having connectivity issues until quite recently, and even those seem to have become rare occurrences. I'm not entirely happy with the iPhone service provider, but that is another issue entirely. Plugging it in via USB to either my Mac or PC has never been an issue. You do need ample light for photos though.

Prior to the iPhone, I was a Bbery user. I loved my BBery but the iPhone was definitely an upgrade though I think that BBery has made some good strides, and I wouldn't them out in the future. The hubby is in telecommunications, and he wasn't that thrilled with the Droid when he tested it pre-market. It's kind of clunky. Happy phone hunting!

I have a Nokia E71, and pretty happy with it. The camera is more useful than most phones - it even has a focus button - and the OS (Symbian) is open source these days. It has a micro-SD chip and it works fine with Linux as a USB drive and a 3G modem, but firmware updates require Windows (you have to meet a Windowsy friend about once a year...). It doesn't have a touchscreen, but that is not important to me. I have more need for the built-in FM radio and GPS receiver.

By Lassi Hippeläinen (not verified) on 02 Feb 2010 #permalink

I have an Android phone now, and most of the Android phones on the market will meet all your requirements - no problem connecting to Linux anyway.

Nokia N900 might be a good ideea also, Maemo is a modified Debian. I kinda regret buying my new phone just before the N900 launch.

I haven't tried it my self, but I have heard alot of good things about Nexus One. Here is a site for it:

It runs Android written by google on a phone maid by google. It works with in something like 80-90% of the world I believe. It has better hardware than an Iphone, a free OS which makes it easy to make applications. It comes unlocked so you have to connect with an company (abbonemang i brist på engelska ord). It can roam on pretty much every net in the world. The calender and mail is on Internet so you can reach from both the computer and the cell phone. It has the sockets and a more than decent camera.

However it is only released in USA right now and in a beta state. But you can have a friend buy it and have it shipped to you. Don't forget to buy a converter as the charger won't fit. And it does not have Swedish QWERTY, though it is not impossible that an application or edited version of the OS has it. After all the OS is open source.

By Tomas Romson (not verified) on 02 Feb 2010 #permalink

Nokia E71 - qwerty keyboard, strong wifi, internal gps which can tag photographs, camera poor though.
Except for the camera this is the best phone I've used.

In March and April there will be a lot more Android phones on the Swedish market. I suggest you wait until then.

I've got the first generation iPhone and frankly it sucks when using Linux. The tight coupling with iTunes is a major pain.

At present the only kid on the block is the Nokia N900. It will not just play nice with your linuxbox it is a linuxbox!