On the eve of the next big iPhone announcement I thought I’d think aloud about what I’m looking for in my next phone purchase, to replace my ageing iPhone 3G, and whether it will be a smart phone at all.

I bought the iPhone 3G on its release day in the UK and it has since revolutionised many things for me, not least my use of social media. Twitter and friends made little sense to me when I could only access them when sat in front of a laptop. Having access to Twitter everywhere suddenly made it make sense. I have acquired many other apps on my 3G over the years I’ve had it and they’ve all been useful and/or fun.

A year later the 3GS was released. It wasn’t a huge leap forward from my 3G, and not worth upgrading to. 12 months further on the iPhone 4 was released and I still didn’t see the new iPhone as a worthwhile upgrade from my 3G. The along came the the iPod Touch 4G. It was very nearly an iPhone 4 without the phone, and at a _hugely_ reduced price. At time of release a 32GB iPod Touch was £249 while a 32GB iPhone 4 was £599. My mind was made up. An iPod Touch and a MiFi combined to provide my smartphone needs and my iPhone 3G was reduced to being just a phone. I continued to look at new smartphones, mostly Android phones, as they were released, on the assumption that eventually I’d go back to a single device.

Now, though, I’m not so sure. My iPod Touch continues to do a great job as a smartphone. At home and at work, and many other places too, I have WiFi, and where there is no WiFi my MiFi fills in. The Touch runs all my iOS apps perfectly. There are a few iPhone features missing – the one I miss most being a decent camera. All in all, though, I’m very happy with it. I could replace my iPhone 3G with an Android phone, or with whatever new iPhone Apple announce tomorrow, but if my iPod Touch is doing a good enough job do I need to? Why don’t I just buy a, well, a phone…?

Right now, I can’t think of a good reason not to do just that. If the phone could do basic Twitter that would be great. If it could run something like JoikuSpot to replace my MiFi that would be better. I’m sure there’s something out there that will do the job, and that costs much, much less that the current crop of smartphones. Any suggestions? A Nokia “feature phone”, perhaps?

I will watch the Apple announcement tomorrow evening with some interest, but I’m currently not expecting to place an iPhone order any time soon…

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  1. That’s some pretty radical thinking there Steve…

    The only thing I can’t help but think is that you’re carrying around too much stuff! The galaxy s2 I have works brilliantly as a phone, it’s my wifi hot spot when I need to work out and about, and it came in at £25 a month – for which I think (though I’ve not in fairness checked) you’d struggle to get 2 contracts for a lot less, would you not?

    I remember the last time I tried to get a dumbphone – I was after the nokia 1100 (or whatever it was called). A black and white, basically bomb proof handset that wouldn’t run out of battery for over a week of regular use. The issue I ran into was that the deal I could get didn’t have enough minutes. Instead of saying, right we’ll give you a £25/month contract for £10 because you don’t want the good phone – they said they’d charge me more for switching the handset!

    I think it’s more straight forward these days…

    I don’t know about the whole idea though… there’s a certain beautiful simplicity to a really dumb phone (as the above for example), but the ‘feature phone’ market I think is a little grotesque :)

  2. Steve Rumsby @ 2011-10-04 16:11

    If I was starting from nothing, I would almost certainly go for whatever shiny device is announced in the next hour or so. But I’m not. I have some fairly capable kit already and I’d find it hard to justify spending a lot of money on one new device that simply merges all of my current devices into one but provides little new functionality. If there’s something really compelling announce tonight. Something revolutionary. Maybe then. Or if the price turns out to be astonishingly small.

    I’m not holding my breath…

  3. Andy Lord @ 2011-10-05 07:33

    Interesting Steve… I use iPod4 but no MiFi, although I see it comes in from £10/month. Personally, I still like being out of touch sometimes!

  4. Steve Rumsby @ 2011-10-05 08:25

    The MiFi is a great device. I like it a lot. And the price is hard to argue with.

    Being out of touch is easy – just don’t turn it on! I don’t feel the need very often – I’m usually the opposite, and not liking when I’m not online. Very occasionally, though, I resist the temptation!

  5. Andy Lord @ 2011-10-06 13:55

    Which MiFi package have you gone for? just in case I think again…!

  6. Steve Rumsby @ 2011-10-06 15:26

    I got this, on the 1GB/month tariff: http://bit.ly/pVMlQr

    I’d recommend instead getting it with 12GB over 12 months on PAYG, because that’s a little more flexible. Most months I don’t use anywhere near 1GB but occasionally I need more. There’s no roll-over of unused bandwidth, though, so on those few months I end up paying extra. Next time…

    In either case you’re paying approximately £10/month for 1GB and the MiFi is free.

    There’s a new, faster one that’s barely more expensive: http://bit.ly/qOEP27. I’d actually get this one on the 12 month PAYG if I did it now.

    Just for interest, even the older one goes pretty quickly with a strong signal. I have managed a little over 4Mb/s download on mine. Upload is a lot slower at maybe 300kb/s.

  7. Andy Lord @ 2011-10-09 07:06

    Many thanks Steve… will have a look.

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