What phone(s) should I buy? Or not?

I’ve been debating my phone strategy: I now have a two-generations-old iPhone on AT&T and a Nexus One on T-Mobile plus an AT&T laptop card.

Do I buy the new iPhone 4? Do I buy a new Android? Do I shift on Android from T-Mobile to Verizon? Do I move to one phone and platform? If so, which one? Do I get mifi? How do I convince my wife it’s not insane to buy new phones? (The last one’s the toughest because when she looks at me like I’m crazy, she’s right.) So here’s my rationale and rationalization:

I think I need to get the iPhone 4 to understand the impact of things like FaceTime and the things Jobs et al will invent (see my previous post). But I do think I need to see what develops on Android (see another previous post). T-Mobile just doesn’t work for me, though I love their unlimited month-to-month plan. So I’m thinking I may get the Droid X on Verizon and use it to tether as a mifi. I’d then cancel my T-Mobile account and my AT&T laptop card and end up almost even. Well, close enough for jazz and me.

What’s your advice?

  • Hi Jeff!

    I personally own a Nexus One and I am certainly no Apple fan (last-years tech made idiot-proof and expensive to pay for marketing) but I’d like to move you towards any Android phone. I am a true believer of the way Google looks at our world and favor the way they delivered a solid OS and an increasingly interesting App Market (and an upcoming noob tool to develop and market your own Apps).

    In addtion… you can drop your AT&T laptop card. The new Android OS (2.2 – Froyo) has built in tethering to create a portable hotspot via WiFi. You can even let others around you pick up on the signal and collectively use the bandwith of your mobile phone. I’ve been using it for a while now (in Holland) and it works great!

    Good luck making your decision!

  • I wish I knew. I am in the same boat. The Droid X looks amazing, but Apple has yet to fail me, even in the face of a MacBook Pro hardware collapse. I still hear rumblings of an iPhone for Verizon which gives me hope.

    I’m doing the only thing I can do until my contract runs out in November: waiting.

    • Nathan Snyder

      I agree that the Droid X looks amazing. I have no information, but I’ve been hearing “Verizon iPhone” for years now, and still nothing to show for it.

  • Rob F.

    Based on the rumors of the next iPod Touch having a front-facing camera & FaceTime, have you considered waiting until September to see if this happens & buying accordingly?

  • Jeff- if you are primarily concerned with voice/network quality then you have to go with Verizon. It works best across all major US cities and will begin LTE (4G) testing in major markets in October (covering over 100MM users). The upgrade rolls out nationwide next year- just in time for the iPhone to show up :o)

    I still think the iPhone is the best handset out there (integrated software/hardware) but Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) will be available Q4 as well, so you can have your pick of newer handsets that will come with it to Verizon. Since Android releases will slow-down after Gingerbread, you will be able to get a handset that doesn’t become obsolete within 3 months!

    Let us know how it goes!

  • Get an iPod Touch when the next version comes out (it will have everything the iPhone has except for the phone). Or wait for the new Ipad (to be announced in January) that will sport the same.

    On Android, wait for the new Samsung Android phones (coming out in September. On Tmobile, it will be called the Samsung Vibrant)

  • Brian Crumley


    If you are getting 2 phones. Get the iPhone 4, then pick up a 3.0 Android phone on Verizon when they become available later this year. That way you have the best of both worlds the GSM iPhone for traveling and the CDMA Android phone for domestic use.

  • You obviously don’t need these gadgets. Rather, it seems to me, you’re a casualty of corporate propaganda.

    • The depravity of our culture is something that people of the future will marvel at for centuries to come. The purity of our surrender will fascinate them. They will conclude that we looked into the abyss and decided that we liked what we saw in there.

  • Ted

    is there a solution that allows a user with 2 phones/services to communicate one-to-th-other?
    e.g. an appointment with a phone # pops up on one and allows you to initiate call from the 2nd (e.g. MetroPCS) phone?

  • I think I am going to enroll for “wife persuasion” lessons from you.

  • Personally, finally decided to upgrade to iPhone 4. I think the key is how invested you are in Google’s web services, if so, go Android. I’m entrenched in Apple (tons of apps, iTunes music and movies content, iCal vs. Google Calender, Addressbook vs. Google contacts) and the seamlessness of all the Apple stuff with the iPhone is really appreciated.

  • As a scholar of mass media you should own phones from both of the market leaders. What’s nice about AT&T is that you can swap out cards without having to call customer service to activate the other device.

    Equally interesting is that a group of enthusiasts have ported the Android OS over to the iPhone. Only works on the original and 3G at the moment, but I suspect having a dual boot phone will not be so unusual in the coming months.

    My wife also thinks I’m nuts but thankfully supports my gadget habit given I have no other vices.

  • In general I would advise against an iPhone and AT&T but obviously you ate in a special position and you need to use and understand both platforms as they move forward. That said, perhaps you should get a Samsung Galaxy S. You could either get it on AT&T on sort of a family plan with the new iPhone. Or get it on Verizon and maybe wait to see if the iPhone on Verizon rumors are true.

  • Jeff:

    I decided to pass on iPhone 4 for now, especially given the serious “hold it wrong and lose the call” design defect. Apple will be forced to fix it, but they’re so proud/arrogant that they’re going to resist as long as they can in order to offer a slipstream fix in the guise of some other “feature”. Mostly, I just don’t want to put up with another two years of crappy coverage with AT&T. So I’m going to wait awhile and consider my options with Android and see if Apple gets the message about people being fed up with AT&T.

    Some rumors gaining strength that an iPhone for Verizon Wireless might come out in January. That might tip the balance for me.

    The next iPod Touch will apparently have all the features of iPhone 4, minus the phone bits, including FaceTime, due in September. I may well spring for that. Cool that we’ll finally have handheld videophone over pure Internet.

    Agreed that Android phones are gaining strength and are worth jumping in – just pick the version that seems to have the best bang/buck for your needs (what combination of screen and keyboard feels comfortable to YOU). Wait for Android 3.0 – by then it should be pretty well full featured and reliable – 2.x sill has some issues.

    As for carrier, in order of preference for best coverage: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Clear.

    In order of preference for reasonable policies: Clear, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, AT&T.

    Your Mileage May Vary.

  • Arthur P. Johnson

    I like the way you think, having just upgraded my office cell with an iPhone 4, and replaced my wired Verizon house line with a Sprint Evo. I mean, why miss out on any of the fun? Unlike you and seemingly the rest of the geek-iverse, I have no good feelings for Verizon and would not even trust them to provide service for a vuvuzela. In the past 4 years, the quality of their support has eroded to the point that their techs (when they show up) have actually screwed up and shorted out my home wiring. I hired a private outfit to rewire my home and office, whereupon the signal out in the street ceased. They have even refused to provide me with a “box” to trouble-shoot problems of their own devising. Their service is so unreliable that I had to install a cellular backup to my alarm! So Jeff, is there ANYONE besides Verizon who could service your Android? Speak to your inner skeptic before trusting in this sacred cow.They ain’t who they used to be.

  • James Ruggiero

    Jeff if T-mobile does not work for you and AT&T does, get the Nexus One for AT&T. It unfortunately is not subsidized but is the best Android phone that works on their network. The iPhone really offers nothing too new with ios4. Facetime looks cool but has too many restrictions Expecially wifi only and will inky work with another iPhone. Stick with android. I have had three generations Of the iphone and am a perminate android user.

  • You’re becoming to Leo Laporte–you’ll drive yourself batty chasing the latest toys. :-)

    If you insist, however, you should get a new iPhone and an Android phone (does it really matter which?), and give one to your wife. That’s enough exposure to each platform to form opinions, but not so obsessive that you are wearing the communications technology equivalent of a belt and suspenders.

  • Mike Hill

    Don’t be another follower and get a phone with a failed antenna!

    Get an Android device, and enjoy an innovative platform with plenty of great apps.

    I have had an Eris and recently a Droid on Verizon, and have been pleased with both the platform, and the devices.

  • digs

    It appears that the IPhone is a real mess.

  • rob schoorl

    Hope you are well Jeff,
    My personal choice has been the Droid with Verizon. Better phone service and great apps. Is always nice to talk to your droid and get a reasonable response…..better than a lot of people I talk to. The only negative for me is that I only use the touch screen, so I really never needed a keyboard, which makes it a bit heavier.

  • leon van rooijen

    what would google do jeff?

  • Facetime will soon have competition, and the Android market is growing. Besides, you’re going to want a place to view the apps you make with Google’s new App Inventor. Apple is in a bad place right now, because it can’t fight all the new Android phones coming out, many of which make the iPhone seem a little old. I like the full qwerty keyboard of the new T-Mobile phone. Whatever you get, buy a Verizon Wifi hotspot, so you’ll on a real network.

  • Paul

    I have a hacked iPhone (1st Gen) running on T-Mobile and I really liked it until I got my wife the MyTouch Slide. I didn’t think a physical keyboard was that big a deal but that plus the nice UI on it make me now want that….if my iPhone finally dies.

  • Saad

    Jeff: Get a DELL STREAK! http://bit.ly/cx4IcR ,it rocks!

  • R A Jensen

    All due respect to those already commenting — but the real question is what do you want the phone to do for you. To me the phone is a tool, for business (for me) first and personal as well. Therefore, it has do communication, email, PDA stuff, and occassional web surfing. In order to accomplish this, where I live, (one of those major metro areas BTW) Verizon is a poor choice. Had a decent Android phone been available, and supportable, on a network other than Verizon, I would have seriously considered it to replace the first gen iPhone I have had for some time.

    Just like Apple has to get away from AT&T, Android has to get its most advanced versions on other carriers — then I’ll take a hard look. Again, it has to do the job!

  • “Facetime” or as the rest of us call it, “video-calling” is pretty much pointless. Have had it available for the last 4 years on my last two “feature” phones (Nokia 6288 and LG Viewty), with the video calls included as a part of my plan (in Australia and over 3G), and with all the people I regularly call also have phones that can video call.

    Yet, I’ve only bothered to do it a couple of times just to see what it’s like. And it’s just like being on speaker. That is, annoying… It won’t even be a fad. It just won’t be used…

    Serious apple fanboyism / american insularism to think Facetime is a big deal.

    (The only exception is for reality TV shows and kids with grandparents. And even then, this will amount to less then 0.1% of the phone’s use and there are plenty of free alternatives.)

  • Jason B

    I’m thinkin you should beg Apple for a paycheck, buy their phone, and then talk about it on your blog.

  • I’m on a Nexus One and I cannot see any phones out there making me wanting to change. My advice: stick to your Nexus One and make it your digital-life partner as I did, you won’t need anything else.

  • Rob F.

    Another idea just occurred to me, and I don’t think anyone has already expressed it…get an iPhone 3GS, upgrade to iOS4, and then purchase the AT&T-compatible Nexus One. If I’m correct, they should both accept the same SIM, and this way you can switch back-n-forth w/o having to pay for two contracts. You won’t get all of the iPhone 4’s new hardware features, but you won’t have the antenna issues either.

    Shouldn’t this work?

  • Already been engaged in mobile communications as an RF engineer since 1982 when I worked for Motorola. Had Blackberrys for the previous eight years or so, but just pre ordered a Samsung Vibrant through Tmobile. Need some new capabilities and a brand new Operating system to play with. I’m frustrated that Tmobile has turned away the wi-fi compatability hotspot feature in the Samsung Vibrant, but I’m sure somebody will certainly figure out just how to root it and add the feature back in. I am now carrying a wi-fi compatability only iPad and want to wirelessly tether it to the mobile phone. Looking forward to obtaining my new phone!

  • Great info, I’m a guy through Detroit who is about to get his very first real dive in to the Google android, figuring it is best obtained through acquiring the Samsung Fascinate. It is been a lengthy hold out, including buying a HTC Desire and cancelling that due to receiving news about this particular mobile phone, as well as in my personal small search regarding information to pass the period I ultimately found this wonderful site.

  • Ivan Dimitrov

    I don’t understand why do you consider IPhone at all? I got the impression from your book that you see clearly what Apple is and you are not totally blinded as most Apple fans are. I don’t know how severe the IPhone antenna issue is but this is not the point. The question you should ask yourself is: “Do I what buy the products of a company which will first ignore an obvious problem for 3 weeks, blame the users for its problems, and finally when they were forced to acknowledge the problem, they still claim that the the problem is not only theirs but to every smartphone. The thing is they are the only ones giving 30$ piece of rubber for free the fix a none problem”. And this is the latest example.
    Personally I am starting to look for the Blackberry OS6 which is to be released at the end of the year. Android also looks good but I fell in love with the full QWERTY bar form factor of my current E71, and Android still does not have a good business offer in this form factor. If you need a Apple product buy the coming new IPod. It will be the same as IPhone 4 without the phone (which doesn’t work anyway ;)).
    In your book you are saying that more companies should behave like Google and how to force the rest to change? Simply if you don’t like their policy don’t buy their products.

  • HoosierDiva

    Jeff… Hands down….THE Droid X…it has your mobile hot spot (trash your ATT netcard) …it DOES it all! amazing and large…and amazingly NOT bulky! AWESOME phone! (Crisp Clear calls too…no matter HOW you hold it, and even without a bumper!)

  • Jeff I am right there with you.
    A few days ago I was starring at a Google checkout screen for a Nexus One (AT&T). Mind you I had my iPhone 4 laying beside the computer, making unnecessary signal drop expressions at me. I checked my bank account one more time to ensure that I had the funds to support this selfish investment, I googled ‘Nexus One for AT&T vs. iPhone 4 vs. HTC Evo 4G’ and checked my funds again.
    It was 0350 on June 15,2010 and I laid on the couch staring aimlessly at the stream of tweets waiting for the green light to start the preorder process for an iPhone 4. Yes I do own a Macbook and I do own a few other magical devices from apple. Am I in denial when I say I’m not a fanboy? When it comes to fans and what they stand for I think of a New York baseball fanatic. Notice that I used the location, sport, fanatic. Isn’t everybody in New York a baseball fan? How about, isn’t everybody in New York a Yankee fan? Well to a degree, if a team wins a World Series then New York has your back. Screw it up and I am pretty sure the devoted, loyal, and invested fans will have room in their hearts to forgive. Where does that leave the rest of us that want to shift from one winner to another, that try to be ahead of those snarky fan boys who won’t loose faith or respect for their devotion, loyalty, and ohh yeah investment.
    Ok enough vague metaphors and meaningless dissections, my iPhone 4 is the best phone I ever had in my entire life. Wow, very powerful stuff and very scary to think about. Maybe staring at the Google checkout made me think twice about what I was doing and what is important. Having the option to do more is always better, so instead of cancelling the Nexus One order I just closed the chrome browser and waited.
    Good things happen to those who wait for what’s next. So Google helped me in my decision, they stopped selling the Nexus One. Okay so now that I can’t buy (at a reasonable price) the only phone I thought I wanted, I think my first Android device will be carrier independent, beneficial to me, and vulnerable to innovation. Love thy iPhone, for it be the only phone which thy hath loved.
    P.S. Carriers are going to ruin everything,
    Android = open platform = bloatware = DOA device
    iPhone = carrier dependency = closed platform = narrow innovation = niche device

  • amanda

    DO NOT GET THE IPHONE 4. listen to why though. the thing about apple is that they continually make money by selling the new iphones just a year after there previous iphone release, and every new iphone has something new and significantly better than the previous one, making it appealing. the iphone 5 rumors are already swirling and their saying that it will come in summer if no january. i would suggest a tmobile phone because they have very nice touch screens and just great phones in general.