Hello, Mobilitydigest.com readers.

Although it’s been quite some time since I last contributed to the site, I never stopped enjoying the posts and the input of the readers during my absence. I recently arrived back to the U.S. after having spent a month on the great island of Australia. During my stay, I quickly realized Australia is a very expensive place to live. This fact bites even harder when you factor in the current value of the America Dollar. Old George is now worth less than the shiny metal Australian dollar. This reality was driven home almost immediately upon stepping down on the red soil of the “Land Down Under.”

At the first stop on my way to Canberra, I decided to refresh myself with a 20oz Coke only to discover the buggers were charging $3.50! Yes, that’s three round gold coins about the size of a quarter with the thickness of a nickel, and a single ridiculously huge silver dodecagon piece.  On a side note, this dodecagon (the 50¢ piece) weighs roughly the equivalent of a few AUS $1 coins (and were constantly given to me as change in place of the $1 coins for no apparent reason other than being universally hated for its size and weight). While Coke may have been the most insulting product (for an unhealthy spoiled American accustomed to the 99¢ pricing of his liquid crack) to buy at the going Australian rate, it was by far not alone in the expensive category. Nearly everything (except floss strangely enough) was priced moderately higher than what I have grown accustomed to living in the <enter preferred adjective here, e.g. “great”, “mitten-shaped” or better yet, “poor”> state of Michigan.

I quickly found myself in an infuriating bind. Soon after we arrived, my digital camera was made less useful by a 3-year-old, who made it his singular goal to find and enjoy it as his personal toy. The camera still worked but the focusing was forever altered (in a bad way). I needed a new camera. I soon realized after searching through several electronic stores, cameras and cell phones were the electronic equivalent of Coke in the Australian world. I debated what to do for several days. I could buy a cheap quality camera that was only $50-100 dollars more expensive than I’d get in America, or I could buy a good quality camera priced around $300 more than the going Yankee rate.  On one hand, I hate paying $300 more for anything. But on the other, I would miss out on taking awesome pictures in Australia if I waited to get it for cheaper. I debated back and forth several days which turned into a week ,which then turned plural and before I knew it I was packing my bags for the 26 hour return trip.

It was at that point that it dawned on me, I should’ve done what I would’ve done in the U.S.! SEARCH ONLINE! Not only could I have gotten a great camera for only a small increase, but I could have had it shipped to me two-day for a respectable rate. I’m not sure why that didn’t occur to me at the time but to be fair to myself not once when explaining my situation to any Australian citizen did someone say to me, (cue the late Steve Irwin)“Hey mate, why don’t you have a go online?” To be equally fair to the Australians, I was in the habit of telling everyone I met right off the bat the price of a 20oz Coke in America, which must have been pretty irritating. I don’t know why I couldn’t resist throwing that information into the mix. I guess I figured if enough people knew they were being cheated, eventually an uprising would occur and there would be a slight chance I could amass a stash of free Coke amid the chaos. Speaking of chaos, I can’t see the prices of Coke going anywhere but up, what with all the natural disasters pounding that (small) island.

To make matters worse, I was told close to our departure (of course), visitors are able to get the tax they paid on items they are taking out of the country back at customs. Wow, what a way to cap off a (non-relaxing) vacation. Are you wondering where I’m going with this? Well, I arrived back recently and everything seemed like a steal. Someone could have told me Coke came from the butt of a giant slug and I would have drank it anyway, considering it flows like water around here. I was a retailers dream customer. Logic never entered the equation when faced with purchasing decisions. It was as if I had found the last anchovy worth billions of dollars, price was not a factor in anything I bought. I went out and signed a two year contract with T-Mobile acquiring the G2.

I did this despite being given the wrong information (by no less than 3 representatives!) prior to departure and “owed” $170 to T-Mobile. Curious? Keep reading I’ll try to be quick. It’s worth telling because it’s a story that plays itself out countless times through countless large companies and affects  countless consumers.  My original plan was to wait until I got back to make any decision about the OS that would be powering my next device. However, I couldn’t resist being proactive and snagged myself a “Even More Plus” plan. It seemed like a good idea at the time because for a moment it was being reported T-Mobile would no longer be offering them. After being told three times I wouldn’t be charged a thing until I personally activated the sim card I took the plunge and promptly left the country.

Fast forward past all the happy kangaroos and endless koala bear sightings. I soon discovered the T-Mobile bill while sorting through a month of mail.  After much frustration and an infuriating conversation with a sad little phone representative named Aaron, I got it all sorted out. Thank you Mandy. The lesson here is never believe what anyone working for a large corporation tells you, especially if you have any doubts or what they are telling you seals the sale of their service to you.

This brings me to my actual point for writing the article. I decided to stop waiting for the Dell Venue Pro to have a decent ship time and go with the Android powered G2. And here is where I need some help. Was I right to wait until M$ got its act together and built some functionality into the OS or is WP7 so good that it trumps the G2 and Android 2.2 as is? I’m relatively happy with my Android experience thus far and I can really see the benefits of having Google built in, but every time I see articles like this one, I start having second thoughts. I also have several friends and colleagues who have switched from the iPhone 4 to a WP7 device and are loving every moment of it. This strikes me as a huge indicator because for the most part Apple users are usually very content with what they have and are unwilling to walk away from their app collection. 

I am really liking the Android 2.2 powered G2 and the 4g-like speeds it offers on the T-Mobile network but find myself pining for WP7. The phone hardware is very good (needs a slightly bigger screen) and the OS is the solid experience I remember, having used it a year or two ago. Yet, somehow I feel like I’m missing out on the excitement of something fresh and new. I can either wait until Nokia releases a high-end WP7 device next year and enjoy the Android experience until then or I can throw caution to the wind and plunge into an early adoption relationship with M$. Anyone care to throw some thoughts on the subject before my 30 days run out?

4 COMMENTS

  1. just so you know… the windows phone experience isn’t the same as the windows mobile experience from a few years ago which you recall (in the last paragraph of your article). it is very different and rebuilt from the ground up. as a result, it turned into a more modern approach to smartphones taking the route somewhere between iOS and Android, but as a result lost a whole lot of functionality as well that was there in wm6.5. hopefully it slowly come back in.

    but in terms of UX, wp7 is far superior to wm6.5, and if you’re not a power user, wp7 is awesome. if you are a power user you’ll dislike the fact that things are more locked down (to keep constancy).

    however as you pointed out, the nokia + MS deal could be worth the wait because we hear from MWC that it will introduce more features and whatever flexibility is extended to nokia, the other OEMs benefit as well, so only time will tell to see how far that flexibility goes before MS puts the break on it.

    And finally… speaking as an Australian (i live in sydney), EVERYTHING is expensive here as you pointed out. You name it, it’s more expensive here than probably any where else in the world (in most cases), technology, food, clothes, resources, information, even housing. on a ratio of average annual income to housing cost, sydney was ranked the second most expensive only behind Hong Kong (with a ratio of like 11.6 or something, i.e. average annual income to the ratio of average housing cost). I can’t remember the exact number, but yea, we were second highly even in terms of owning your own house.

  2. As a previous owner of iPhone 3G and Droid X and a currently an owner of a Focus, I have to say the the central idea behind Windows Phone 7 is very similar to iPhone.

    Each build-in apps in Windows Phone 7, like in iPhone, is very well though out. I can’t explain the exact experience, but it seems that the WP7 developers anticipate many of the tasks that users are likely to encounter and put it upfront where it is very easily reachable. On Android, I often have to press the “menu” buttons to find what I am looking.

    Consistency is also something that Windows Phone 7 (and iPhone) beat Android. Thanks to very extensive guidelines, most of the build-in and third party apps feels familiar. For example, many apps make use of the panorama and pull-up menu. Apps on Android is in an entirely different situation. Some apps have category menu on the bottom, others on the top. Some have skinny little boxes and bold text, others have thick outline and cursive text.

    Performance is another matter. In Android, scrolling any kind of menu or scrolling the browser, I can feel that there is some resistance and it doesn’t want to follow what I want to do exactly. It doesn’t hang, but I always feel that it’s always a step behind what I want to do.
    In Windows Phone 7, scrolling always follow my finger exactly (excluding apps that need to retrieve a lot of data like Facebook). If I scroll down a page on Internet Explorer, I don’t have to wait until the browser catches up. This also works for third party apps. Scrolling up and down “top news” on the IMDB app, I don’t see the app having any hard time catching up to my finger at all.

    That said, Windows Phone 7 (like iPhone) doesn’t allow much customization. Don’t like how that start screen looks? Too bad! I can change the color but nothing else. Still, with how well throughout the overall Windows Phone 7 OS is, I can live without much of the customizations.

  3. just a quick thing, but if you really want to get a phone with a hardware keyboard, why not trying to get your hands on the LG Quantum. It’s been rated as having one of the best keyboards among all phones. Don’t wait for something that keeps on getting pushed back, you’ll just end up jaded and unhappy.
    The G2 is a great phone, but make sure that the 3G band it supports work in the countries you’ll be visiting. I know the G2 takes Band IV, and supposedly Band I, but if you’re not on Tmo, then you’ll need to get the NAM Desire Z (A7275). otherwise you can try your hands on the european Desire Z (A7272) which has a different set of 3G bands.

  4. Hey great insight guys, I’m glad a few people were willing to wade through to the end. All of you made a really fair judgment call on my impending descision.

    @soundman Great to know an Australian read my article (besides my wife). I’m sure you’ll be one of the few who catch the more subtle Australian jokes, one of which refers to the happy kangaroos … they’re all dead! I was quite upset I didn’t see a single wild kangaroo (my expectations for seeing a koala was of course zero) this time around. You guys killed them all off! How inconsiderate. My past trips provided constant hopping enjoyment. As for the housing, I kid you not, I don’t think I set foot in a house that cost less than 600,000 dollars the entire time I was there. Saying that to a Michiganian would be boldly telling them you’re filthy rich and that your stay was filled with constant visits to mansions, which just isn’t the case in Australia. Great place, great people and great wine though, worth visiting as many times as one can afford.

    @Brianna Thanks for the comments, it’s people like you who are coming from an iphone that I take note of the most.

    @Mike Thanks for that tip and the frequency note. Very good point, one that I usually factor in because of my frequent trips to Australia. They are very similar to the US in that different carriers provide different frequencies so the option is there. That being said, considering the plane tickets alone cost $3500, it’s going to be a while before we return.

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