Internet enabled mobile/cell phone recommendations

I’d like to ask a pretty general question regarding mobile phones. I’m considering getting a new mobile phone that will let me check out what’s going on around the web regardless of where I am. Seems like the cell phone market is a bit of a jungle, so maybe some of you can give me some tips.

I obviously need an internet enabled phone that either has a web browser pre-installed or can download and install new software (unless of course it comes loaded with several browser options). Opera looks interesting, especially with the new Opera Mini, and Nokia using Apple’s WebCore and JavaScriptCore is even more tempting. The ideal would be a phone that can use both browsers.

I’m not sure what else to look for in an internet enabled phone. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but all I need is SMS capability, an address book, and one or more web browsers. Cameras, downloading ring tones, MP3, radio, games, calendars and other useless features that phones seem to be crammed full of these days is of absolutely no interest to me. I suppose I’m out of luck if I want to find an internet enabled phone without a lot of unnecessary stuff, but I just though I’d let you know.

I’ve been looking a bit closer at Nokia’s phones based on the Series 60 Platform, since they can use both Opera for Symbian Series 60 phones and, when it’s released, Nokia’s Safari-based browser. Nokia’s 6670 and 6680 models both look nice. Anyone happen to own one?

What about phones from other vendors then? Like I said, it’s a jungle so I don’t quite know where to start looking. My current phone is a Sony Ericsson T230, and while I’m not too happy with it (the interface is a bit sluggish and it has been crashing occasionally) I’d consider buying a Sony Ericsson again if I could figure out if any of their phones are really internet enabled. All the Sony Ericsson website mentions is WAP 1.2.1 and WAP 2.0. That’s not good enough to browse normal websites, is it? I’m guessing you need additional software, Like Opera for UIQ or Opera Mini. Maybe someone can help clarify this?

I’ll need to buy a headset for the phone as well. I really don’t like making long callas (longer than a minute or so) with mobile phones. It gives me a headache and makes me dizzy. So if a phone is sold with a headset included, that’s great. Needless to say, the headset should not be wireless…

For those of you who already have internet enabled mobile phones, do you have any tips to share for using them to browse the web? What about other apps than web browsers, like RSS readers? Anything else I should think of?

Posted on August 23, 2005 in Browsers

Comments

  1. I have a Nokia 7610 and I use Opera 8 Mobile for browsing via GPRS access. The only problem I’ve run into is that Opera appears to support stuff sent as application/xhtml+xml, but then my service provider sends files through some sort of javascript mangler to strip out white space and things, resulting in broken pages.

    I’ve ran into this before in the past just when forced to use my mobile phone as a modem - people send files as application/xhtml+xml to score themselves some geek points and the pages just break…

  2. August 23, 2005 by Christopher Pastore

    I have a Kyocera 7135 Smart-Phone. I love it, but I would love to see Opera for Palm. The browsers available that work on Palm OS are lacking…

    I dream of the day web phone browsers will take standards support into account and render pages the same and correct… like Opera and Firefox. I am sure it’s a long way off though.

  3. Paul, kind of an odd thing to say when you are using XHTML on your own site. (Regardless of the media type you are using now, it should become application/xhtml+xml in the end for that format.)

  4. August 23, 2005 by Kalle Wibeck

    Hi Roger!
    I think you should avoid any browser that demands a serverside proxy like Opera Mini does.

    Other things to look for (my opinion):
    - The browser should support SSL for encrypted pages.
    - MIDP 2.0/J2ME support is a must if you would like free Open Source MIDlets like the ICQ clone JIMM (excellent BTW), MSN clients, RSS-Readers etc
    - A huge amount of runtime memory to be able to read blogg post with 30+ comments w/o getting a “Out of memory” error.

    Best, Kalle

  5. Personally, I’m using a Qtek S100 (http://www.qtek.nu/default.asp?id=96&element=0, in Swedish) which definitely works fine for me.

    However, it’s Windows so I guess that rules it out for you… ;-)

  6. Anne: only due to lack of time to make anything different.

  7. I was looking at the Sony Ericsson P910 because it apparently offers Opera Mobile compatibility. However, a friend of mine recently got one and when trying to download Opera he was refused because the file was too large. Also, subsequently he’s had similar sluggishness issues as you’ve mentioned with your current phone.

  8. A complete list of the phones with Opera on them can be found here:

    http://opera.com/products/mobile/products/

    I work for Device QA at Opera Software, so I have played around with quite a lot of these devices. My favourites of the ones available at the market today are the Linux-based Motorola A780 and ZTE E3 (which I worked on myself). Both were originally developed for the Chinese market, but I believe it is possible to get hold of the A780 elsewhere too. Other particularly nice models are — quite surprisingly, perhaps — the Windows Mobile phones. The Nokia Series 60 phones are also quite nice, but generally a bit too slow for my taste.

    The phone I’ll buy myself when my current one dies is, however, not on the market yet. We are working on very many very interesting projects these days..(c:

    Oh, and one more thing: if you do decide to buy a phone with Opera, avoid the ones with Opera 6 on them. There has been significant improvements since that version was released.

  9. August 23, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    paul: I have also heard of problems with phones and application/xhtml+xml. Something us geeks need to be aware of (though I’m currently serving most documents as HTML 4.01 Strict + text/html).

    Kalle: That’s useful info. I never considered the memory issue. And there are ICQ apps for phones? Cool!

    Robert: Qtek being Windows based doesn’t rule it out. It does make it a whole lot less interesting though ;-)

    Bryan: Hmm. I wonder if sluggishness is “normal” for Sony Ericsson phones.

    Wilhelm: Thanks for some great insider info! I’ll make sure to avoid anything with Opera 6 on it. So the Nokia Series 60 phones are a bit slow? How would you compare them to similar Sony Ericsson models? Speed seems to be a pretty common problem with modern phones…

  10. I love the nokia 6680 series. The nokia 6680 series is great because it uses all the nokia standards of web browsing and also supports flash lite a soon to be very big technology on cell phones. In fact almost all nokia cell phones support the flash lite technology. The nokia 6680/81/ or 82 (soon to be released) would be my best recomendation.

  11. “flash lite a soon to be very big technology on cell phones.”

    Great, that’s just what we need when browsing the web on 9.6kb/s, crushingly-expensive GPRS connections - Flash!

  12. I actually used to have an Orange SPV Smart Phone, which ran off Windows, using IE and had a version of MSN messenger on it. Considering it was IE, and around 18months ago, it worked rather well. I didn’t have any complaints about it, other than it was a big sluggish using some of the apps on it.

    It came with a non-wireless headset which was better than other headsets that I’ve used in the past.

    The newer models of the SmartPhone have more features, better memory capacity (mine had a reasonable smart card in it for pictures/mp3s) so it might be worth looking into them.

  13. I have the current Orange Smartphone the C500 (a couple of models on from Melissa’s SPV which I had as well). It’s faster, I have an RSS reader installed, although I’ve yet to try another browser, the default IE install isn’t too shoddy as it happens but then I usually stick to “PDA versions” of websites.

    Bluetooth - so you can choose a headset you like, and takes miniSD cards (I currently have 512MB in mine, handy for moving files around).

    Syncs with Outlook (or other email/contact apps with a 3rd party sync app), so my contacts are always backed up.

    Might seem a bit OTT but it’s certainly faster than ANY of the Symbian/Palm based phones I looked at, screen is bigger too in many cases.

    Can you tell I love my phone??

  14. Currently I’d say that your going to be limited to some variation of smart phone, be it series 60 on Nokia, the S-E P series or a windows mobile based one. Of these the P series apparently isn’t very stable which leaves you with series 60 or windows. These two are fairly similar in that the phones they run on are fairly chunky and they both are slow to boot compared to standard OS’s like series 40.

    Personally I prefer windows mobile to use as its more like a normal OS. Series 60 has a lot of quirks although it is possible to get used to it and if you aren’t changing the settings everyday then you should be fine. Opera is available for both I believe and as series 60 uses J2ME as its developer lang you should be able to get all sorts of interesting stuff.

    We have the 6680 here in work and the consensus is that its better than the 6630 which preceded it. That said its shaped like a breeze block. If you want a more basic phone the 3230 is also series 60 but the keyboard is a bit cramped. More phones now come with some sort of smart card slot in them and you can install programs on the smartcard rather than putting them into phone memory so failed installs shouldn’t be a problem.

  15. M$ has a few mobiles, they are quite good, I myself hate microsoft but I think its the best they ever made those mobiles. (I’m a mac guy). It has IE (oh no not another one) + it also supports opera so that is good.

    If you don’t have a PC at all then I would suggest not getting it. (Stuff like opera needs you to install it from a PC)

  16. My girlfriend has a Sony Ericsson K750i and aside from the truly awesome camera that comes with it, it has a very good web browser.

    Its built-in browser recognises the handheld media stylesheet and displayed virtually all web-pages I tested it with. The way it displays forms is truly terrific.

  17. To emphasise Melissa and Gordons comments, I’ve recently purchased the Orange SPV M500, and find it very impressive. It comes with all the gubbins that you mentioned you don’t really want like the MP3 player and camera etc. and like yourself I wasn’t particularly bothered about these features but already I’ve found myself taking photos.

    The beauty of my model over Melissa and Gordons is it comes with a stylus to navigate round the screen, rather than a clumsy dial or awkward buttons, which makes for typing text and scrolling web pages much more efficient.

    The only current downside to my phone is that it is a Pocket PC, which means that Opera Mobile isn’t yet available, but I understand it’s coming soon.

    Also, you will probably need to buy more memory, but that’s pretty cheap.

    You can buy one of these phones outright but you’ll still need to pay for a monthly allowance (in MB) for the content you download, so you’ll be better finding a contract deal where you get browsing and telephone calls bundled together.

    I hope this is useful. Good luck!

  18. August 27, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Thanks for all your suggestions so far. I think I’m leaning towards a Nokia, probably the 6680 series. I like the way it looks, it doesn’t use Windows (I don’t have a PC so it would be difficult or impossible for me to install software on a Windows phone), and I’ll be able to choose between Opera and a Safari-based browser.

    I guess the next step is to find one for a reasonable price (I’m supposed to be saving money for a house ;-)), which may not be too easy.

  19. A correction to my original comment; it seems that Opera Mobile is treating any XHTML page as if it’s been sent with a MIME type of application/xhtml+xml - even if it was originally sent as text/html.

    More details here if anyone’s interested.

  20. August 29, 2005 by Greg

    What about Nokia 9300?

Comments are disabled for this post (read why), but if you have spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to contact me.