It's all over the news yesterday and today. Kogan, a relatively-small electronics shop in Melbourne famous for re-branded cheap Chinese goods, has pre-released their Google Android powered mobile phone. It can now be ordered online but won't be shipping until late Jan 2009. There will be two models:
Postage will be around $30+ to Sydney Australia.
Looks a bit like, hmm, Samsung Blackjack? Pretty impressive specification for a $399 phone though.
- 2.5-inch TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen.
- Integrated QWERTY keyboard.
- High-speed 3G network connection.
- One-Touch Google Search.
- Easy Web Browsing.
- Easy-to-use email with attachment support for images, videos, music and documents.
- Customisable Home Screen with instant Email, text message and IM notifications.
- Instant access to mobile Internet services (Gmail, YouTube, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Maps).
- Music Player.
- Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate
- microSD. expansion slot for all your storage needs.
- Wi-Fi network access.
- GPS navigation capability.
- 2.0 megapixel camera.
The $100-less non-Pro version will not get Wi-Fi and GPS. Network will be triband UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100MHz) + GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz). Oh, did I mention Android, Google-backed Linux-based mobile operating system?
I guess the reason why I am posting this is -- I have actually been thinking about getting a new phone. Yes I know I've got a 3 Skypephone, but over one year of usage I found it is very much under-powered for what I want to use the phone for. Well, it is 2008 -- not 1998. I actually don't spend at of time talking on the phone. What I really want is a small portable computer that can fit into my pocket, and is well connected to the Internet. You happen to be able to dial a number to talk to someone as well, but talking on the phone is just so last century.
So I have been contemplating to get a Nokia E71 -- the kind of
portable computer phone that I think will fit my usage pattern very well. HSDPA connectivity for fast 3.5G mobile network. Wi-Fi when I am at home. GPS + AGPS to get you around the town. QWERTY keyboard for editing odd files in SSH (very important). Combined with Exetel HSPA plans at $5/month + $0.015/MB will get you online in most Australian cities in no time. Still want to make phone calls? Fring or Nimbuzz + cheap VoIP providers like PennyTel would have that covered -- at a small fraction of cost that a mobile operator would normally charge you. You can get a Nokia E71 outright for around $499 at the moment. I'll be buying this for my "business" against my ABN so hopefully will be tax deductible.
... and now this?! A pretty much spec-wise equivalent phone, at slightly lower price ($430+ delivered), but with Google Android! That certainly has made the decision harder.
Well. Spec-wise they do look similar. HSDPA? Check. GPS? Check. Wi-Fi? Check. QWERTY keyboard + QVGA screen? Check. Kogan Agora does have a less-impressive camera, but it does not bother me. What will be really against Agora would be its build quality. It does not look as metal-cladded as the Nokia. It's probably contracted out to some cheap Chinese factory (like my 3Skypephone, which has some build quality issue).
The real competition is probably on the software. Symbian S60 or Google Android? Yes I would love to have Linux on my phone, and it does seem to have good looking interface. But what about the applications? Most of those on the market are probably categorised as "fun" rather than "useful". I can't even find a proper VoIP app that supports SIP! It's tight integration with Google services can be worry as well. Maybe the app market will be different in 12 months time, but apps on S60 feel just so much more mature.
So. Nokia E71 (which has been available for 6 months) or Kogan Agora (won't be available for another 2 months)? By the way, don't suggest an iPhone.