Goodbye, Samsung i330 with Sprint PCS. Hello, PalmOne Treo 650 with Cingular.

Back in August of this year, I finally got to upgrading our two-year old Samsung i330 cell phones, serviced by Sprint PCS, replacing them with brand new PalmOne Treo 650‘s, serviced by Cingular. Why the switch? Mostly because one phone went dead again and paying the $50 deductible to get it replaced again through the lock\line insurance just didn’t seem worth it, considering I’ve wanted to get rid of the i330’s for over a year already. So, this was a good opportunity (and excuse) to finally get a new set of phones.

I really wanted to get away from PalmOS-based phones after being utterly disappointed by the i330’s, but I wanted to stay with a PDA-based phone, since it serves more as a mobile calendar and rolodex than a phone for me, most of the time, otherwise I might have seriously looked at the Symbian-based smartphones available. Unfortunately, the only non-PalmOS PDA-phone that I was really interested in was the HP iPaq h6325 but after seeing how badly HP handled the previous version, the iPaq h6315 (see Gizmodo and Engadget to understand what I’m referring to), I just wasn’t willing to take that risk for the ridiculous price the h6325 is selling for. After much teeth-gnashing and indecision, I finally decided to bite the bullet and go for the Treo 650. I figured if someone like Jamie Zawinski thought it was worth the risk and wasn’t saying bad things about it non-stop (which, I’m sure he would have, if it were total crap), I could give it a try. (Turns out Brad Fitzpatrick ended up getting a Treo 650, too.) After all, if it’s PalmOS, there’ll be less data migration headaches moving from the i330’s to the new 650’s, right? Haha. Yeah, right, what was I thinking?

Overall, it’s a really nice phone with lots of good intentions, but as I had feared, PalmOS 5 still sucks, badly. The design of this phone is just horrible: the phone can be configured to automatically engage the “keypad lock” when it goes to “sleep” for power-saving mode, which would be a really nice and convenient feature, except to “wake” the phone up out of sleep mode, you have to press a button on the phone to do so. No big surprise, right? Yeah, except the phone actually processes the button-press and acts on it, then tells you that the keyguard was engaged and to press the center button to unlock it! Hello?! Is this not just flat-out broken? Isn’t the whole point of the keyguard to prevent any keys pressed while its engaged from having any effect on the phone until the keyguard is disengaged? Stupid, stupid, stupid. What’s worse is that all the keys that you can press that’ll wake the phone up all disrupt whatever you might have been doing on your phone when you engaged the keyguard. The only button that doesn’t seem to do that but will still wake up the phone is the red “hang-up” button on the phone. Pushing this button while you’re on a call will hang up the phone, naturally, but at any other time, it’s a great way to just wake the phone to disengage the keyguard. Of course, using this button works great until you end up accidentally hanging up on an incoming call that comes just as you are about to press the red hang-up button to wake up your phone to look at your calendar or something. If the timing is right (or, wrong, in this case), you’ll have just sent that incoming caller directly to your voicemail. Ugh! All of this is made worse by the fact that, while in the phone’s “Preferences” I have told it to “Auto-off after: 3 minutes,” the phone turns itself off far sooner — sometimes even after just a dozen seconds of inactivity or so. It’s pretty damn cruel to taunt me with a preference setting which the phone happily ignores.

There’s also no end of amusement in watching the phone crash and automatically reset itself. What’s even better is having the phone hard-hang (requiring a manual soft reset of the phone). When the phone’s hung, it doesn’t ring with incoming calls, or alert you to new incoming SMS messages or voicemails; when your phone stops being a phone, it’s pretty much useless. There’s no greater joy than having someone complain about you not answering your phone, responding to the SMS they sent you, or calling them back in response to the voicemail they left you hours earlier. That’s when you pull the phone out of your pocket, press the red hang-up button to wake the phone up to check it out, and find out it just won’t wake up. Sigh.

Overall, the older PalmOS on the Samsung i330’s is certainly more stable and reliable than the new Treo 650’s, but the old phones aren’t as feature-full as the new ones are. Having the Bluetooth capability in the new phones is nice, especially if Bluetooth DUN (Dial-Up Networking) actually works as advertised. Having a built-in 0.3 megapixel camera is convenient but even the cheapest digital cameras will take better pictures. Being able to run PalmOS 5-only applications could be a nice plus, too, since the i330’s ran a really old PalmOS 3.5.3. In the end, I wonder if upgrading to the Treo 650’s (and locking into a 24-month contract with Cingular) was really worth it, but I just couldn’t bear spending any money to get yet another Samsung i330.

I wonder if it’s worth trying to sell the old i330’s on eBay, since I still have one that works, plus a few USB cradles and batteries. I wonder if anyone is still buying them.

Speak Your Mind