How NOT to Shop for a Phone. My Summer Smart Phone Shopping Adventure.

While we returned to Texas (from Thailand) for the summer, I wanted to use this time to finally shop for a phone of my own.  Prices are cheaper in the states (I was surprised, too), and I’ve been sticking with my trusty old Windows Mobile 5.0 phone for a while, so this summer was it.  Oh, what’s the ‘phone curse‘ about?  Well, for the past year, up to recently, it seems that whenever I’ve decide on a new phone, something happens to prevent me from keeping it.

So, at the end of my first Phone Curse post, I was still in Thailand, and my last attempt was the Nokia 6710 Navigator, which ended up not getting to me as it was not functioning when the seller tested it.

Here’s my summer smart phone shopping adventure, in a nutshell (really big nutshell…):

Attempt #1: Nokia E5:  I summarized the highlights in my previous post about the E5. It’s a “portrait qwerty” (BB style) phone with WiFi, and Nokia’s free lifetime voice guided navigation.

Result:  Returned to Amazon.  Why? The battery cover hinge, which should click and hold the cover securely, was broken.  I didn’t even bother to power it up and use it.  Sent it right back and got a refund.  Would have kept it otherwise.  Shop on.

Attempt #2: Nokia C3: A WiFi enabled, qwerty feature phone, cheap ($119 unlocked, Amazon) and simple.  Here’s my review on the C3.

Result:  Returned to Amazon.  Again?  Why?  The unit I bought had a bad spacebar button, which crackled each time I pushed it.  Decided to get a refund and shop on, again.  I did use it, and would have kept it save for the key issue.  May seem unforgiving, but I expect a new phone to have better quality control than that.

Attempt #3:  Nokia C2-01:  As the summer progressed, I got more and more budget conscious, as our house was still on the rental market, and I knew I couldn’t splurge too much on a smart phone knowing our financial situation.  So, I went ultra cheap.  the C2-01 was  a very simple feature phone, with no WiFi, but was similar i software to the C3, just with a traditional keypad layout, and smallish 2 inch screen.  It worked well for a cheap phone, good call quality, nice loud speaker, had microSD memory card slot.  The screen brightness was horrible in daylight, but for $89 from Nokia USA’s site (closed since June 30), it was affordable.

 

Result:  Returned to Nokia. Man, now what, picky man!  Well, one of the softkeys (right side) also started to crackle, instead of the solid click it was making.  Again, I know it’s a cheap phone, but I still wanted a quality phone that should hold up over time.  This did not inspire confidence at all.  I could have lived with a simple feature phone, given that I have an ipod Touch for my smartphone uses…

Attempt #4: Nokia E72.  This was one of my old favorites when I reviewed it last year.  It a slightly older, but classier version of the E5, but with better build quality and camera (5 MP autofocus).  I found it used ($189 in like-new condition) from Gazelle’s Ebay shop, one of the few places you can get a 30 day return/refund.  It came in the original box, and came with nearly all the accessories (micro usb cable missing).

Result:  Returned to Gazelle (great customer service, by the way! They pay for return shipping, too).  Dang, why?  This was going to be a keeper, but the gps connection times were unpredictable, and I wanted one that would lock on quickly when needed.  And for some reason, I could not get my gmail working, even though the primary mission of the E72 is supposedly email, as it’s a business class phone E series).  So, the software failed the E72 this time.  Reluctant to see it go.

Attempt #5:  Nokia N8:  Our house was re-leased to our current tenants for another year, so with that financial stressor out of the way, I gave myself a little leeway to get a smart phone again.  My favorite phones of the last year, Nokia N8, was out of reach (retailed for $399 or higher), until Nokia’s USA online store had a mega sale for their entire lineup, and the N8 had a $150 rebate (send in an old, working phone to recycle), so essentially it was $249.  Even the C2-01 and C3 were available with rebates, making them significantly less than $100. No other phone could compare to the N8 at that price point (even a new E72 was $300 on Amazon), so I pulled the trigger.

Result:  I bought the N8 from the Nokia Online store, in my favorite Orange color (Go UT Longhorns!), a few days before the store shut down ($399+tax+$3.99s/h). Mailed in an old phone my dad had lying around, so I’m waiting for the $150 check to arrive in the mail from flipswap.com.

Why Nokia?  Why not Android, or iPhone?

I shopped for Android phones, but the N8 discount was too good to pass on, especially since it was a new phone.  A good android phone that comes close to the N8 at that price point would have been used.  I passed on the iPhone since unlocked iPhones were much more costly compared to the N8 deal.  Also, with my iPod Touch, I have the iPhone app experience without owning an iPhone.

Here’s my review of the N8, with my podcast recorded in Thailand when I had a trial unit for 2 weeks.  Check out my top 10 features there.  I also bought a 2 year warranty from squaretrade, which includes accidents and drops, and most standard manufacturer warranties don’t cover drops/accidents/spills.

Now that my Phone Curse appears to be over, I’m looking forward to using my new N8, navigating around the world, and taking photos, videos, and making podcasts on it along the way.

 

  4 comments for “How NOT to Shop for a Phone. My Summer Smart Phone Shopping Adventure.

  1. July 10, 2011 at 18:47

    you got the N8 for a very cheap price… i bought a cheap wifi phone, samsung corby 2 in CM for 3690 Baht and email functions work great…except that i noticed that the touch is not responsive… i’d love to have e72 but it’s like $300 here too… saw the n8… looks really beautiful with the aluminum casing…

    • callingbubba
      July 10, 2011 at 23:22

      Hey Flip,
      What I can say about Nokias is if you have a choice, get the newest generation of Symbian^3 phones, rather than the S60 phones. They are a leap forward, and just work better, in my opinion. Using the E72 and E6 (S^3) and N8 in the same week, hands down S^3 is better.
      Bottom line, go with what works for you, right?

  2. July 12, 2011 at 06:31

    Congrats!! Hope it sticks around for a while this time! Beautiful phone!

    • callingbubba
      July 12, 2011 at 21:25

      Keeping all my fingers and toes crossed. That hurts, by the way…

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