Samsung Moment

My cell phone has been dying, so I bought a Samsung Moment to replace it. It’s an Android phone, one of two Sprint currently offers (the other being the HTC Hero). It has (in no particular order) a slide out keyboard, an AMOLED display, 800 MHz processor, GPS, bluetooth, wi-fi, USB, headphone jack, 3.2 megapixel camera, touchscreen but no multitouch, and a 2 GB microSD card (expandable to 16 GB).

I’ve been happy with it so far. The display is bright, crisp, and has a nearly 180 degree viewing angle. The keyboard works well. The phone itself is a bit thick, but not too bad. Phone calls work well. Visual voicemail is awesome. The camera is good, for a cell phone. The battery charge estimation is a little inaccurate, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem with the battery itself.

Integration with Google services is very smooth. It notifies me when I have a Gmail message, which I can read in a specialized app. (It’s slightly faster than using Gmail through the browser, probably because only data needs to be downloaded, not markup.) It also notifies me of Google Calendar events, which again has a specialized app.

The browser works well. It doesn’t support Flash, which is disappointing. There is an app for Youtube, but of course that doesn’t work for non-Youtube videos, and certainly not for other uses of Flash besides video. It does come with Google Gears, which allows web apps to do things like read the GPS (if you let them).

The Android Market is amazing. There are tons of apps out there, most of which are free. I have a streaming radio app, an SSH client, sudoku, a metal detector, an RSS reader, a bar code reader and price comparer, a wi-fi analyzer, and some random ones, all for free. As for the metal detector, I speculate it uses the magnetic sensors, as the phone can sense magnetic fields in three dimensions. I have a tricorder app that graphs those, acceleration in three dimensions, and other data. (It literally looks like a Star Trek tricorder.)

There aren’t any radio stations in Santa Cruz to my liking, and I lose my San Jose ones because of the mountains. As an experiment, I opened the streaming radio app, plugged an FM transmitter into the headphone jack, and played through my car speakers. It worked great. My drive is an hour, and music played continuously almost the entire time. I had silence for two five-second periods, which I speculate may have been the cell phone getting handed off to a different tower.

Plugging the phone into my computer via USB lets me view and modify files on the SD card. No software needed.

I’ve heard complaints that the Android UI is unpolished. I do think there’s a spot or two where it could use improvement, but overall I like it.

Overall, I like it. Nothing is perfect, but this phone is state of the art and works well. The iPhone raised the bar, so kudos to Apple for that, but Android’s close in usability and far ahead in openness.

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