Initial Impressions–Samsung Galaxy S3.. or why I left Blackberry

I have recently bitten the bullet and decided to move on from my much loved Blackberry Bold 9900.  I have used Blackberries for quite some time and they were the best phones I’ve ever had.  I loved the way they were programmed and the way that their key functions such as diary, contacts and email integrated.  It also was the best telephone I’d had; it always pulled a strong, clear signal.  In addition, the camera met my needs and I had a few useful ‘extras’ such as GPS on the phone.  However, chinks have undoubtedly appeared in RIM’s previously untarnished armour and their system has fallen over twice and caused a huge wave of frustration amongst its loyal fan base.  There is no doubt that their hardware & software is behind the game, with Apple and Android setting the pace now.  One of my main problems was using the net with a screen less than half the size of even an old smartphone and nearer a quarter the size of the latest models.  RIM have invested heavily in a total rewrite of its operating system, and Blackberry10, which is currently being previewed by developers, seems to have a lot to offer.  Also their new hardware looks very promising.  However this is not due to be released till next spring, and it seems unlikely that it will be available before then, and the chances are that it may take longer for it to reach the UK.  RIM have gone from being the golden child, to the runt of the litter, with a market share of little more than 10% in record time.

I have read nothing but good things about the iPhone 5, and it did tempt me.  I have an iPad, using iOS 6, so I have some idea of how to use that and what it offers.  My daughters have recently also ‘jumped ship’ and bought iPhone 4s, and are pretty happy with them.  However, I do like my tools / gadgets to be organised to reflect how I want to use them, rather than expecting me to change what I do to conform with them.  Also Apple is always the most expensive option. So I decided that I would try Android, which offers a lot of flexibility in how you configure and use it, even if it required more work on the my part.  The Samsung Galaxy S3 seemed to be the new Top Gun.  I did consider the HTC one X, which is also very good , but felt that the sheer market share the S3 has would make it easier to find resources/support for it, and also there are issues with the HTC’s battery life.  You can swap batteries on both the Android phones, but you are stuffed if your iPhone runs out of juice when you are out and about.  I wondered about waiting for Windows 8 and the Nokia Lumia 920, but it isn’t out till the end of the month and as a totally new system it seemed likely to have teething issues that iOS and Android have largely sorted.

So I took the plunge and dived into a totally alien operating system.  The phone is big, but certainly not too big for me.  The biggest difference is the screen, which dominates the whole thing (though at the loss of my beloved BB keyboard!)  I had already migrated my diary and contacts to Gmail so there was no work in getting them onto my phone, I simply signed into that account and they were magically there.  I could simply move all my music and pictures over by inserting my micro SD card from my BB, giving me 32gb of memory for the princely sum of only £10, something else that you can’t do on the iPhone.

Android offers so many things you can configure straight from the box, it takes as while to understand them and work out what they do, let alone which I should choose.  Much is made, when a new phone is released, of the gimmicky things like voice control, gestures and things like NFC.  I don’t feel in the real world they are going to be of much use to me.  It is interesting to see how well I can dictate to my phone, but ,by and large, I want to type my input.  Some of the gestures are helpful, but I frankly can’t remember them all!  It is like the short codes in Windows; I regularly used 2 or 3 like Control B for bold, and couldn’t remember the rest.  NFC may be very useful one day, but I had it for a year on the BB and never used it.

I spent a fair time trawling through articles, forums and YouTube for hints and tips on how to set this up and which of the 500,000+ apps are useful.  I like the fact that if the Samsung calendar doesn’t do everything I want I can find one that does.  After a week, I have a pretty well sorted and organised phone.  In it’s native form it misses useful tricks that are standard on BB and Nokia such as profiles, but you can find apps for that too. 

I was concerned that the signal strength and call clarity might not be all that I am used to, and in truth, I’m not certain that they are as good as the BB.  They do seem good enough though.

I came to the conclusion that there is no perfect phone.  Whatever I chose is a compromise and every one will have strengths and weaknesses.  I just have to find the best package for me in this renewal cycle, and I did want to get much more hands on with the whole new smartphone & app thing.  It is certainly changing the way we work and what we can do.  The S3 isn’t an object of envy like the iPhone, but it is a very good phone, which allows you to do most anything you could want at a pretty reasonable cost.

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