Are smartphones worth the money?

I recently acquired an HTC Desire, (an Android smart phone). I believe Android are now currently outselling iPhones in the USA and they will soon be outselling them worldwide if not already.

I have to admit, owning an HTC Desire – (I got it on a Virgin contract and paid £149.99 down, and £25 a month for two years). For this I get a £450 mobile phone, 600 calls included every month, and 3,000 texts thrown in. In addition, I am allowed a Gigybyte of Internet 3g and, quite frankly, I can have this on 24 hours a day and never use more than half that amount! As for the 600 calls, friends are getting a little upset with me as I have Scottish blood in my veins and phone everyone and their dawg trying to use up my allotted 600 minutes!

There is a Market place app that takes me to a website with tens of thousands of free apps (applications) and a few you have to pay for. Most of these are around a pound or two and some of them are very good. I currently have 53 apps on my phone and some of them make my life a lot easier.

London journey, for instance cost under £2 and lets me see the service updates on all lines, real live times of trains due in at any underground station I click on, a route planner that has so many options I haven’t room to mention them all here. This app gets me around London using tube, bus, trams, British Rail, riverboat and Docklands railway. It gives me times, locations (on Google Maps), of each change within the journey and estimated total length of journey.

I have another British Rail app which gives me live information of any train arriving at any station within the UK. Another app that gives me arrival and departure times of any plane at any London airport (including Luton and Stanstead) with live updates. I have an app that turns my camera into a scanner and, in a store, I can scan the barcode on a product and get a list of all stores nearby and the price they are selling the same product, together with prices on the Internet. This has almost saved me the two year cost of the phone already!

Apart from Facebook, Twitter and Google Talk apps, there is one that will tell me of each different kind of bar or club local to my localised position (it uses the mobile’s triangular positions from the aerials rather than wasting battery using the inbuilt GPS.

I can look at the video programs I have downloaded from YouTube and they are brilliant in the heavy pixelated screen. In addition, another app shows me what is on TV for the day on each of about 60 programs, another tab shows the films for the day and a third any sports showing that day.

I have a terrific program that I jot down my expenses and income in, and it has a little window telling me how much I must have in my wallet and pocket. I am always losing some money! A further app is a note taker for writing and storing notes.

One brilliant phone app that shows all my callers photographs so I can choose who I want to phone without having to peer at small print. Ideal places I want to go back to can be photographed and are stored in an app, together with the latitude and longitude, a map, and notes.

A WordPress blog program so I can blog on the move, A full dictionary and thesaurus, an app where I can check with Google Analytics how many visitors I am getting on my websites. I also have an app for the Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, News24 (a South African newspaper) and “AG Newspapers UK”, This one app has most UK papers and many others from around the world, 33 to be exact, and all but six of them are in English! The Times may be out of luck when they start charging for Internet use!

I have a backup program which backs up applications to the SDcard or Online, and backs up the Sdcard on line as well. This can be very useful if the Sdcard gets damaged, or one has to load new Firmware onto the phone and lose all the programs. It can take hours to reload them all, although Marketplace does keep a record of those you paid for so you don’t have to buy them again.

As I said most apps are between £1 and £2 but there is a superb SatNav app for between £25 And £35 depending on what maps you require. This can be put in a holder in your car and will show you where you are going with voice instructions and I am told it is far better than TomTom. I will be evaluating this in due course. They now have the full street maps for South Africa so, if you are off to see the World Cup…

We’ll end here although I do have a lot more apps, and there are thousands on the website. When people download an app they can give up to five stars for the worth of the program whether free or not, and when you see half a dozen similar apps, a quick look at the star ratings and comments will steer you towards the best app.

I just had another look through the list of apps on my phone and there are so many more I can talk about. But I’ll just mention one, there is an app that tells you about every gadget in the market as soon as it comes out. This app may be free, but if you read it, it could seriously damage your wealth. Ask my wife…



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