New Android Phone

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Received my new Samsung Transform Ultra from Ting yesterday, and have been playing with applications that work well with my Mac. Some things are good, some are clunky and some are just unusable. Thought I would share some of my results as I go along. It would have been nice to get an iPhone, but Ting does not offer those at the moment.

BTW Ting is a Sprint reseller, you buy your phone outright, but they have pay-as-you go. You pay per MB, text message and minute with month to month service. That may seem like a bad deal, but on Verizon we were paying for 2 basic phones, sharing way too many minutes because the share plan would not let us get less. I had a 75mb data plan for my ‘featureless phone’,  could get email to work and that was about all. That was running us $114 / month. With Ting, it looks like our bill will be closer to $50 if not less, plus we get text messaging AND a data plan. Ended up paying around $175 for each of our phones, but at a $65 / month savings, that will pay for itself in 3-4 months. Acually would have had to pay $50-99 for our phones anyway with a 2year contract on Verizon, so even better deal. I had a $50 off offer on the phones, [got it from This Week In Google @ TWIT] ,  so that helped too. So far the Sprint service is fine, although there is no 4G service in the Charleston SC area. Went ahead and got the cheaper 3G phone, figured it would be a while if ever that 4G would come here, and it seems to be fast enough for email, web browsing, etc.

First impressions of the Samsung Transform Ultra:

I had a Samsung featureless phone with a slideout keyboard, was not too bad except for the awful browser/email, so ended up getting the Transform, liked the screen size and memory and price. The phone comes with about 1GB internal memory and a 2GB microSD card. I found a 32GB card on Amazon for about $20 so will be getting that soon. The Transform has a slideout keyboard, although at the moment I cannot type very well on it, actually do better on the onscreen keyboard. The phone came with the Swype KB, but switched to the Android stock KB and like that better, seem to get less errors on it. The phone has a nice feel, although with the slideout, it makes it a little clunky reaching the power switch on top, which you have to press to get the phone out of sleep mode. Been looking for a way to wake up the phone with the home keys on the bottom front but have not figured out if that is possible yet.  The phone is pretty fast, no lag when using it, and the screen is responsive to touch. I do miss the ability to navigate back and forth with a swipe like my iPad, end up using the ‘return’ button, and the left-hand ‘settings’ button is how you access a lot of the features. Just takes some getting used to… Running Android Gingerbread, will never get an update to any of the newer versions, but seems to be good overall, but not as easy to find settings as on an iOS device, takes some digging to find how to do certain things.

I wanted to sync music, photos, and some documents on my phone, so will have some more posts on each of those and the solutions I came up with. Since I use Gmail, it was nice that the phone automatically loaded all of the phone numbers and emails from Gmail to my phone. I did transfer some numbers from my old phone earlier in anticipation of that, and it is so easy to do it online in Gmail, knowing the phone will just find it.

I loaded the Google+ app, and the advantage here is that even if you do not use it, you have access to all of your Picasa Web Albums. I use Picasa to store backup copies of all of my images, so nice to just have access to them on the phone without having to actually download them. I do want to sync some images from my computer to the phone, still working that one out. Hmmmm, went looking for the URL, and lo and behold the Google Play store knows I downloaded it already. On my computer I looked up another app, clicked ‘Install’ and it just showed up on my phone, that is a nice feature, sometimes easier to browse on my computer for apps. Impressive, +1 for Google.

The phone comes with a USB charger cable, so easy to just plug it into your computer. The first time I did it, nothing happened, though that my Mac would be an issue. After leaving it plugged in for a minute or two, I diconnected, waited a few seconds, and plugged it back in, and my iMac mounted the SD card as ‘NO NAME’, so now I have access to get files on and off easily. I tried the Bluetooth settings too, and after initiating the login from my phone and not the computer, was able to connect and browse using the Bluetooth Explorer. The file transfer was not speedy, but definitely faster than my old phone. I find it is sometimes easier to use Bluetooth to transfer a few images, etc than plugging into the USB.

Overall not a bad experience, have not used the phone itself for calls yet, but the hardware is sturdy and does not feel cheap. The big thing will be finding the ins and outs of Android.

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