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Never stop Grokking

Sunday, March 27, 2011

HTC Freestyle: First Impressions

I got an HTC Freestyle from AT&T today. It was free, so I can't complain about the price, however it's a bit of a downgrade from my E71. First, what I like about it.

It has a decently sized touchscreen, and the Twitter+Facebook app is pretty decent. The browser is WebKit based and handles CSS @media queries correctly. It even switches correctly when you rotate, which the iPhone gets wrong.

On the downside though, rotating from portrait to landscape is not automatic. You need two clicks to tell the browser that you've rotated. No accelerometer in this phone. Which brings us to the things I don't like about it.

No GMail and GMaps apps for it. Since the primary reason I went in for a smartphone was to check my email and use the GPS while I'm on the road, this makes the phone a complete non-starter. The sales rep at AT&T told me that it was an Android device, but once I got it home and looked it up, it turns out that that isn't true. It runs something called Brew MP.

Transferring contacts from my older phone is clumsy, but doable. The main problem here is that I need to use the SIM card to transfer contacts and it just doesn't have enough space for all my contacts.

I could set my ringtone on the E71 to any mp3 file that I had access to. On the HTC Freestyle, it's limited to files under 300KB. Seriously. Kilobytes. What is this? The 80's? My current ring tone on my 3 year old Nokia is 6.4MB.

After using the real keyboard on the E71, the onscreen keyboard on this device is extremely clumsy to use. I've made mistakes on every occasion that I've needed to use the keyboard. I even make mistakes trying to hit the backspace key. I guess I'll get used to this eventually, however one thing to note is that the E71 does far more with just one key than this phone can do with its keyboard. The main problem is the number of times your hands/fingers need to move in order to type or even to just select menu items.

No wifi. 'Nuff said.

Ok, so that's it for the "Smart" part of the phone. Now to the phone part.

I tried to make a call when I got out of the AT&T store. The call dropped after 3 seconds. Remember, this is right outside the AT&T store. All the phones inside the store had decent signal strength. I thought it may have been due to the battery having almost no charge (since it was a new phone), so took it home and charged it up, but it hasn't changed. On 8 out of 9 calls that I've made so far I've been unable to hear what the other party says though they can hear me.

Switching on the speakerphone requires two clicks after the call connects. On the E71 it was one click while the phone was ringing. This makes a big difference because the person at the other end has no idea what's happening while you're switching on the speakerphone. It also makes it impossible to answer the phone in speaker mode while driving.

The speakerphone sound quality is also pretty bad. It's not clear when soft, and starts jarring when loud. There doesn't seem to be an optimum volume setting for it.

All in all, this is not a phone I'd pay for.


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