Yes, over five years ago, I bought and sold high-end phones on e-Bay, mostly for fun, until I realized I was generating $25,000 in income. Not enough to retire from my day job, but the business generated a little cash and became a hobby.
Within a year or two, I had repeat customers who bought a second phone from me, due to good deals and great customer service.
I even became a “top 5,000 reviewer, evaluating dozens of phones and wrote five mobile phone guides. Known eventually as mobilediscoveries, I became a big fish in a little pond, advising people about buying smartphones, one year before the iPhone appeared.
I thought you’d like to read one of my short guides about smartphone buying, familiar to all mobolites today who like reviewing, then buying smartphone. Each phone reviewer brings his likes and dislikes to the table, either praising the device as the ultimate gift from God or the worst piece of plastic sent from the other place.
In either case, enjoy it. It might even help you choose a new smartphone.
How to Buy a Smartphone (eBay, 2006)
Mobile device manufacturers keep adding more features to their phones. How do you decide which one to buy? Are the extra features worth the price?
As an example of the dilemma, I reviewed the Sony Ericsson p990i, SE’s top-of-the-line Smartphone/PDA. If I give you an example of a phone with everything, this may help you decide which mobile device is right for you.
The P990i from SE is the THE most sophisticated smarthone/PDA I’ve tested. The signal strength , using T-Mobile in the SF Bay Area, is nearly always at full strength. You get true XHTML browsing which increases download time depending on your carrier and data plan. (Yes, you’ll need to buy a PDA data plan for $30-$45 per month, depending on the carrier, to pay for unlimited data usage.)
Although this is a 3G phone (high download speed overseas) and does not support EDGE in the U.S (Cingular and T-Mobile’s standard)., it downloads web pages significantly faster than straight GPRS (the standard for most phones with data download).
Connected to my home wireless network, the WLAN ) is blazenly fast as if you were downloading to a PC with DSL or cable internet service. The phone switches automatically to WIFI hot spots, wireless home networks or the carrier’s data signal.
Despite the true XHTML web page quality, you’ll need good eyes. I’ve yet to determine how to enlarge the font sizes, but the web pages are crystal clear and the type is readable. The Access Point (APN) is set to T-Zones.
So you must first launch the browser into T-Zones, then T-Mobile Web, then click on your hot link from email, a web bookmark or document URL. (Adjusting the settings may remedy this and T-Mobile, the most helpful carrier I’ve used, has a non-supported device tech department to assist.)
The phone locked on me a few times and showed error messages, but usually the problem was resolved by closing the flip. I’ve had to take the battery out a few times to return to the main screen.
Since this is the upgrade to the SE P910, you can enter text via the beautifully blue back-lit keyboard (easier to use keys than the RIM BlackBerry 8700’s), handwriting recognition or T9/ITAP from the front flip.
like the handwriting recognition on the SE P series. On the 990, it immediately suggests possible words at the top of the screen. Just tap on the right word and, voila, you’ve entered a word quickly.
The 2mp camera is not as good as SE’s k790 cybershot technology. While accounting for the 3.2mp difference on the 790, the 990’s camera works best outdoors. Indoor shots don’t look as sharp, even with the flash. When you zoom in–both outdoors and indoors–you need to stabilize the device; otherwise, it blurs.
I think the extra weight and ergonomics of the 990 account for the blurred shots. The phone has a business card reader that works very well. You take a shot of a business card and the phone enters information into your address book. It’s not 100% accurate but a nifty business feature to have.
You configure the email client using your ISP’s settings. I subscribe to AT&T/SBC Yahoo DSL and while inserting the proper settings took time, now the 990 checks email every 30 minutes. Sony Ericsson offers a “push” email service for enterprise and non-enterprise service–similar to a BlackBerry–but I haven’t tried the service yet.
Menus are, as usual for SE, intuitive. By pressing right on the center control button. the phone brings up a summary of all missed calls, unread messages, appointments and tasks. Push in on the track wheel or click with your stylus to open the application. Super.
Choosing Smartphone Features
Now, why did I cover some features and performance of this phone? I could have covered others. I chose to cover them because they interest me the most about the P990i. If you wrote this guide, you might have covered other features. And that’s my point.
Buy a mobile device based on your needs. Rarely will you find a cell phone that performs equally well in all functions. If you want to send and receive emails primarily, get a BlackBerry. If you want your phone to play music, buy a Sony Ericsson Walkman.
Always choose a well-known manufacturer, such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson or Motorola. Established mobile device manufacturers offer the best products and the least technical problems. They will also give you technical support if necessary.
Beware the “dazzle” phones–the ones that supposedly do everything. You’ll only use 30% of the functions. Now that there are more mobile phones in the U.S. than people, the phone manufacturers will try to convince you to buy higher-end mobile devices and ask you to pay extra for additional services. Ask yourself if you need what you’re offered.
In sum, buy a smartphone from a reputable manufacturer, a seller on eBay or elsewhere who knows mobile devices, and choose a phone with features you’ll use. Mobile devices are improving constantly and you’ll probably buy another one in 18 months. Good luck!