my next phone

Next month my contract with Cingular AT&T, at which point I can either switch providers or get a discount on a phone upgrade. I can't see any compelling reason to switch to either Sprint, Verizon or Tmobile. Most people I'd call are on the AT&T network (so you get the mobile to mobile feature to offset minutes), and I'm pretty sure I want to stick with a GSM phone. So unless anyone can think of something I've missed, I think I'll end up sticking with AT&T.

Now, the phone I really want won't be mature enough for another year in the best case. Is Android worth the wait? No, probably not... while the first Android enabled phones will be out this year, I suspect it will be a year or two before things are mature enough. I've also determined that I need something a bit more than a basic flip phone.

After Ann got a blackberry, I have to concede that the new model (Curve) is really a great phone. The data aspect has won me over -- the convince of a real web experience and application platform means I'm done with a basic number pad based phone.

Here's my gadget breakdown currently --

Of that list, the only thing I always carry around with me is the phone. The PDA syncs with work and isn't used much beyond having access to my work calendar without logging in via the VPN. The GP2X is a "novelty" really and only occasionally used for long air travel (its chock full of classics running via emulation). I bring my iPod to and from work (occasionally hook it up in the car if I can't find anything XM to listen to), workouts and travel. I would probably use it more if I carried it around all the time. The PSD for emptying CF cards for long trips where I don't bring a laptop. I might eventually get an Epson PSD, but for right now the hyperdrive meets my basic needs.

The two phones I'm leaning to right now are an iPhone and a Blackberry Curve (8310) -- unfortunately the 8320 is exclusive to the Tmobile network, or I would go with that in a heart beat because it has wifi built in).

So here are my thoughts --

This phone won't be use to connect to work (though the BB would be better obviously). I will still use the Axim for that.

The iPhone would replace two items in the above list, and the BB would only swap one. The BB does have a microSD expansion slot and could conceivably be used as a music player (probably not video). I wouldn't take the iPhone for workouts, so its not truly a replacement, but it is for all intents and purposes.

I hate the iPhone keypad but the touch screen is a much better interface. The BB's trackball is much improved over the side scroll in my opinion, but still not the equal. The BB keyboard wins, hands down. Interface, I think its a wash between the two (albeit on different ends of the spectrum).

The iPhone is a more multimedia and rich platform, while the BB is more data focused. Apple will probably release their SDK in the beginning of March so we can get more details then. BB's J2ME is adequate for the device and allows very easy development and deployment (which means there is a huge collection of BB applications... both good and bad) -- and its free and open. Its unclear how tightly controlled Apple's SDK is going to be and if they are going to limit deployment through iTunes (which would suck because it would weed out the casual app developer who usually writes the best and most useful applications). I'm not sure there is a clear winner here... though we'll get more detail shortly. The BB has a bunch of applications for google, facebook, etc that are particularly well done.

BB has GPS. Not exactly a killer feature in my book, but when thats combined with google maps, it might be highly convenient. iPhone has wifi. Given that you'd need unlimited data plans with both phones, I'm not sure this makes that much difference. Yes, the EDGE network is s-l-o-w... which just plain sucks. Am I going to get screwed if/when 3G versions get released? Will it make that much difference?

The iPhone will probably have an update in the next 6-10 months. The BB Curve is brand new and probably won't be eclipsed soon.

Web browsing on the iPhone is much better because of the interface. Being able to use Opera Mini on the BB has drastically improved browsing on the BB, but its still not quite up to par.

The BB is about half the cost of the iPhone (because AT&T can offer discounts). Apple is to stingy to allow anyone to discount an Apple product. The iPhone's basic plan would cheaper per month ($60 for iPhone and $75 for BB). The BB's cost could probably be reduced by including it in a family plan... I'd have to research that.

BB has a user replaceable battery. You can in theory ship off the iPhone to get it replaced. iPhone has slightly longer talk time that BB (but not significant). iPhone has 8+GB, whereas BB only has user insert microSD card (which I think maxes out at 2GB).

All things being equal, I'm probably leaning towards the BB. Have I missed something obvious that would change that?