I’ll start this post with the full disclosure that Helio sponsors my phone use; still, I kept my Cingular plan open in case I just had to have an iPhone. See Helio’s Ocean vs. iPhone comparison here. My favorite iPhone review is here on Engadget.
After watching an episode of Ask A Ninja on my Helio Ocean, I figured it was time to write about the phone, and my thoughts about its relation to the iPhone. I’m a hardcore Apple fangirl, and the minute the iPhone was announced I signed up for all the mailing lists and totally vowed to save my pennies to get one the moment they came out. So why didn’t I get one last week?
Hardware, baby. I love the Ocean’s form factor, the dual-sliding sexiness, the weight, the cellphone charm fob, and the attention it gets when I open it. Removable battery, long charge life, and I can add/remove memory. The Ocean has stereo Bluetooth (the iPhone does not). Custom ringtones (not available for the iPhone). The Ocean is not perfect by a long shot, but even though I’ve got disappointments with the software, I’m realizing they’re the same issues the iPhone hasn’t solved (even though it’s one goddamn sexy phone, and Mac-compatible, which the Ocean isn’t — yet).
Both phones are closed platform, meaning you can’t download applications to the phone. And we all know, great apps are written by many different people — not just the phone companies who create these closed systems. Yes, the iPhone is being hacked, but I’m not a hacker, just a user (even if a power user). I think both companies kept the platforms closed for their own reasons — likely, Apple for security reasons, and Helio for controlling the users’ experience (and a little of both). The Ocean is not a smartphone, it’s a featurephone; it’s really great to call up a contact by typing the first few letters of a name without going to any function or app first. But with Helio, it’s *their* apps — and Apple is supposedly going to add a whole lot of goodies to the iPhone, like iChat, which sounds all space-age and super exciting.
Why the need to download applications? Well, I’m a serious Gmail user (it’s my main organizational tool for work), and while both phones come loaded with their own Gmail app, their versions aren’t as useful as the real deal — the Ocean’s is slow and doesn’t give you real access to your inbox — though neither does the iPhone. Both devices completely dropped the ball with Gmail as far as I can tell, which sucks because I’m a *heavy* email user. (Blistering review of the iPhone’s mail shortcomings here.) Or Google Reader, which I use a lot. I really enjoy blogging from the Ocean, and with two clicks I can take a nice photo (2.0 mp) and upload it to Flickr — which is why I’ve been mobile phone blogging a lot lately, it’s fun and easy.
Here is a photo from my Ocean:
And here is a photo from my friend Jonno‘s iPhone:
I’ve also taken video with the Ocean (MPEG-4; the iPhone does not support video) and with two clicks sent the video to my Blip.tv account, which is fun and could also be great for capturing news-worthy events. The Ocean smokes for texting and the qwerty keyboard is awesome. It’s also been a great tool more than once; not just the flashlight, but the Google Maps app (with satellite views) and its built-in GPS — with the click of a button I can see where I am when lost, and get directions from my current location.
The iPhone has made me lust for a better browser; the web is fast on the Ocean but it’s not as nice, easy to see, or easy to use as Safari. Le sigh. There is no perfect phone for users like me, but it’s exciting to see phones starting to go in the direction I’ve been fantasizing about. I do love my Ocean. But for now, I’ll sit back and see what happens with the iPhone, and what Helio’s next move is with the Ocean. I know they’re up to something.
Or, I could just get one of the new Hello Kitty phones.