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Mobile Phones – is 3G worth it?

February 12, 2009

htc-touch-dual-shipping-293x300I recently changed my mobile from a GSM only HTC Vox S710 to a HTC Touch Dual 3G mobile phone. The switch is a short term one as the switch was because the S710 was really beat up and scratched, and the Touch Dual was available at a steal of a price. It has given me however a chance to see if 3G on a phone is actually useful.

I hear you say, of course it is..  but right now I am edging towards the view that 3G for a phone is of little or no use except in the most extreme of instances. I am not talking about using the device as a modem for PC browsing, but whether the increased power usage and higher browsing speed are actually ok or not. To be honest for PC access over 3G, the best option is to get a 3G dongle or a laptop with the required radio already inbult – this allows you to use your phone and laptop at the same time, something I am always doing.

What I can say about the on-phone browsing and email download side of things, well I really do not notice the difference. With the email, I am reading small text messages and rarely open any attachments which explains it pretty much. With browsing, the performance is just simply not noticeably different – and I am talking about full screen browsing through the Opera Mini browser. Opera does a great job of compressing/caching the content so that operation over 2G is absolutely fine. The only place I saw a benefit for the speed is when I did have cause to open an attachment, but this is so rare as to not matter and we are talking about at most double the download time. I could see this difference being greater as I receive bigger attachments, but that just does not happen right now nor do I make use of it yet when running around. One special thought though is that I now have Qik video on the phone and that definitely does justify the speed of 3G, but using Qik I run directly into the other big problem of 3G phones – they suck power like it was going out of fashion.

I hear you say this must be the phone – after all it is a sucky Windows Mobile 6.1 device. Nope, I hear the same complaints from persons with other 3G phones such as the iPhone. Making use of the 3G service and the video on the device can really empty the battery purely because 3G phones require more processing power than the bog standard 2G phones.

So like many others who have moved to 3G, I now manage my life differently. I try not to be far away from a power source and recharge whenever I can. I am also eyeing up a spare battery or even the enhanced life version that makes the phone really thick. I am not however going to drop back to the 2G life – the video features are very nice, and that processor speed is also very nice in the OS giving the phone that nippy feature. It has however made me think twice about a non-replaceable battery phone like the iPhone, as charging is needed twice a day in real use because of my addiction to data access and push mail. I will just have to see what is available in August this year, when I feel I will need to upgrade again.

My thoughts however may be swayed if I do suffer too many battery out incidents.

What do you think of 3G phones?

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