Switching from iPhone 4 to Samsung Focus Windows Phone 7

Last week I purchased a brand new Samsung Focus (SGH-i917) off Craigslist. The guy selling it had purchased it for his wife who decided, after playing with the one he bought for himself, she preferred her iPhone.

I have owned an iPhone for a little over 2 years beginning with the iPhone 3G, then the iPhone 3GS and upgrading to the iPhone 4 this past September. I like my iPhone as a portable Internet access and media device but I have never liked it as a phone. Further, I am opposed to the stranglehold Apple puts on its customers, partners and employees in handling support, services and the addition of new features.

cracked-iphone-4For example, Apple markets the toughness of the iPhone 4 glass. However, should the purported ’gorilla glass’ crack after dropping one foot, you will be charged $199 to have your phone replaced. I consider that price obscene, considering the iPhone 4 complete bill of materials is estimated at $187.51 by industry expert, iSuppli. An example of Apple’s new feature despotism is the change in behavior of the dedicated iPad switch—from orientation lock to mute—with the latest iOS 4.2.1 update. Everyone is unhappy with the change except our friendly captors in Cupertino.

My last reason, and it is certainly lowest in the stack, is I am a Microsoft employee and stockholder. I am not biased by my employment or investor status. Our house is an equal opportunity consumer of gadgetry. In addition to our iPhones, we have owned every generation of iPod. TB’s primary machine is a 27” iMac (running Windows 7) and I have an iPad and Mac Mini. On the other hand, Fanboi I am not. My primary machine is a tricked-out PC assembled by me. Our workhorse computers are a Windows Home Server and a Windows 7 Media Center, both built by me. I love ThinkPads and have carried a T40p, T43p, T60p, T61p and T500 (current) starting just before IBM sold the brand to Lenovo.

soapbox-preacherMy decision to start migrating to Windows Phone 7 is not a soapbox play. I still own an iPhone and other iDevices. I will continue owning iDevices as long as they fill gaps other devices do not at prices I am comfortable paying.

Having used my Samsung Focus exclusively this week during a Thanksgiving trip to Los Angeles, I believe the Windows Phone line is positioned to close the gaps that originally drove me from previous generations of Windows Mobile to iPhone. Sure, it is missing key apps and there are several fit-and-finish issues with the current software. Once those are addressed I see no real advantage to keeping an iPhone.

For example, the Samsung Focus has a 4” Super AMOLED, 480 x 800 display. In tandem with the Windows Phone variant of ClearType, the display produces crisp and vibrant images, text and colors. It is easier to read and more enjoyable to look at than the highly-touted iPhone 4 640 x 960, 3.5” Retina Display. Below is a comparison matrix for those interested in how the Samsung Focus stacks up against the iPhone 4. (reference)

iphone-4-samsung-focus-windows-phone-7-feature-comparison

This is not about side-by-side hardware comparisons or head-to-head app quantity/quality evaluations. The iPhone is still superior in ways that matter to most consumers. That said, I prefer the future and potential of Windows Phone over the trend of iPhone. Thusly, I begin my Windows Phone journey.

Things I learned the first night with my newborn

TB and I are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby boy, Owen Marcellus. Team Smith was discharged from the hospital yesterday afternoon and headed home for what surely will be the first of many evenings of fun and excitement. Gratefully, Grandma Rhonda and Auntie Tonia were with us to make sure we newbies didn’t damage their new grandson and nephew.

Owen Marcellous

Here are 10 random discoveries I made and lessons my son taught me during our first night together.

  1. Surely 3M or Dow Corning can bring to market a meconium-based adhesive. That stuff is crazy.
  2. Three hours of uninterrupted sleep never felt so good.
  3. The inventors of the BabySense V Baby Movement Monitor by HiSense should all be awarded the Nobel prize.
  4. Pre-baby, I never gave breastfeeding a second thought, strange that it now consumes so many of my thoughts. Fathers-to-be: Attend a breastfeeding course with the mother.
  5. My hands shake when I get very tired.
  6. A wooden kitchen rolling pin is excellent for an emergency, self-inflicted back massage.
  7. I need to hit the weight room. Maybe I’ll jump on the 2009 One Hundred Burpee Challenge.
  8. The iPhone’s lack of MMS support sux. It did not bother me before I became a dad.
  9. I am a swaddle master. I wonder if there are any competitive swaddling events.
  10. 500+ word blog posts are long gone. The new hotness is brevity, baby photos and sleep.

Control your Sonos system with the iPhone

If you are relatively new to my blog, you may have to dig through the archives to discover I like the Sonos music distribution system. Since I wrote that post lots has changed that makes me like it even more.

First, with the recent v2.7 software update, Sonos owners now have free access to Pandora and Last.fm music streaming services. I have subscribed to Pandora in the past and both services are excellent alternatives to normal FM radio broadcasts because they are commercial-free and play songs based on your musical tastes. Now that they are free to Sonos owners, users of XM/Sirius radio might also want to take notice.

Second, Sonos provides a first-party application through the Apple App Store for controlling Sonos Zone Players using an iPhone or iPod touch. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and you can control all your zones and access your entire music library anywhere in your home using the intuitive iPhone touch interface. This is great because Sonos charges $399 for a CR100 controller that does the same thing using a smaller screen and more complicated series of buttons and a circa-iPod-Generation-2 jog dial.

Check out the pictures below that I grabbed from my iPhone while playing around with our Sonos setup.

Sonos iPhone App - Zone Menu Sonos iPhone App - Zone Grouping
Sonos iPhone App - Music Menu Sonos iPhone App - Music Library Sonos iPhone App - Artists
Sonos iPhone App - Now Playing - Pandora Radio Sonos iPhone App - Now Playing - Music Library

Keith’s Amusing Musings now iPhone Friendly

I made some upgrades to this site to improve viewing and navigating for visitors using the iPhone or iPod touch. You will only see the custom look if you are reading the site on the iPhone. Otherwise, you will see the blog normally. Below are the before-and-after pictures of this site being viewed on the iPhone.

Amusing Musings - iPhone (Before) Amusing Musings - iPhone (After)

I am relying on the WPTouch plug-in which is about as simple to install and configure as it gets. I wish more software was as easy to install, configure and get working the first time. Separate but related, I also added a custom icon for bookmarking the site on your iPhone Home Screen. To see it, click the ‘+’ while viewing the site on the iPhone and choose “Add to Home Screen.”

Now you may be wondering two things:

  1. Why did I customize my site for the iPhone?
  2. How did I get those before-and-after pictures?

The answer to both is simple: I bought an iPhone 3G. 😯

‘Tis true. TB made me do it so she could get one too. Ok, ok, maybe it was the other way around. Regardless, I sold out and retired my Motorola Q (aka Mobile ENIAC) and ended my cheap Sprint SERO plan. I have no regrets—other than the price differential between my former Sprint SERO plan ($30/month) and our joint AT&T FamilyTalk plan ($149.99/month).

The iPhone 3G is an amazing little device, far from perfect, but amazing nonetheless. TB uses hers more than I have seen her use any mobile phone.

Apple iPhone/iPod 6G Compared to Microsoft Zune

To commemorate today’s release of the Microsoft Zune 2 digital media players, services and software, I present a feature matrix comparing all the Apple iPod 6th generation devices—including iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic and iPod nano—with the 1st and 2nd generation Zunes—Zune 80, Zune 30, Zune 8 and Zune 4.

The following table covers what I think are the most important features of a portable media device including screen size, storage capacity, screen resolution, height, width, depth, weight, battery life, connectivity options, interface, supported audio formats, supported video formats, available colors, and, of course, price.

There are several comparisons missing to keep the chart manageable (e.g., podcast support, size of music & video stores, Cover Flow, desktop software, etc.) However, I have included things many shoppers want to evaluate when choosing a device to playback music, video and pictures from various sources while on-the-go.

Zune 2 vs. iPod 6G Comparison classic touch iphone 160 80 8 4

Earlier, I stated “…Zune 80 sets a new standard for hard-drive based media players vs. iPod Classic.” This table shows why. Note the new Zune 8 & Zune 4 devices compare favorably to the latest iPod nanos as well.