Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Mobile phone, converged device or communications device?

Mobile phones are at the heart of the convergence of communications with multimedia applications like photos, music, GPS and gaming. Increasingly, consumers are buying devices that support multimedia creation and consumption, however many of these devices still seem to be compromises that don’t deliver outstanding functionality across all applications. They do some tasks very well but others less well. They also tend to be bulky devices with a chunky form factor.

When I bought my last handset I took the view that what I actually wanted was a communications device. I wanted to be able to make calls, text, email, and access social networking services easily and seamlessly. Anything else would be useful – but a device that did the comms piece well was essential. I went for the Nokia E51, despite it not being available on a consumer tariff, because it’s designed for communication. It gives me:

  • 3G/GSM voice – Speaks for itself, obviously, and on my handset is ably supported by SpinVox for voice message delivery by SMS.
  • WiFi & VoIP – DeFi and Truphone are essential to me for cost effective and quality mobile coverage at home as well as in WiFi hotspots elsewhere. DeFi also gives me a London number on my mobile so people can call me at lower rates.
  • SMS – SMS has been a key communication method for me ever since I started sending messages via foreign operator SMSC’s back in 1994 to get around the lack of operator interconnection in the UK at the time.
  • Email – The Nokia Email service delivers copies of my messages to the handset home screen for easy reference.
  • Web access – The principle communication requirement here is Twitter. A flat rate data tariff is essential to provide certainty of expenditure.
  • Nokia E Series ‘Active standby’ mode – Displays essential information on the home screen, for example both my SMS and my email inboxes are displayed concurrently.
  • Excellent form factor – The E51 is a very slim handset that slips comfortably into a shirt pocket, unlike the bigger N and E Series devices.
  • Great keypad – Proper keys in the right places!

So what about the stuff that’s missing from the E51?

  • High-end camera – I don’t need a mobile camera for capturing high quality images. I use the E51 camera for snapping photos of stuff I need to remember and sending a copy to Evernote via Shozu. When I want high quality images I use a pocket size Nikon that has done the job well for several years now.
  • GPS – I’ve tried satnav via Nokia handsets using Google Maps or Nokia Maps and they don’t come close to my TomTom. The TomTom has a screen you can actually read in the car (surprisingly useful!), simple setup via the touch screen and can be used by others in the family.
  • Music – I don’t listen to a great of music but the E51 player is fine when I need it, although for sheer style you still can’t beat an iPod!

I suspect my next device will have a decent camera and GPS, if only because these will increasingly be standard features in quality handsets, but for now my E51 does the job!

Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.

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