Samsung Charge (I have signal again!) *UPDATE* Phone = returned.

Well after a brief 5 month stint on T-mobile, I have now left. According to them, they have “the worlds’s largest 4G network”, but according to me, their network sucks. I was using the kick ass Samsung Nexus S on T-mobile; everything about the phone was fantastic, except the carrier it was on. I found the service to be very weak, or non-existant in most of the areas I frequented. This mind you, was not in the middle of some random desert either; I live, work, and play in the Silicon Valley. One would think they’d have amazing coverage here; they do not.

I am back to Verizon now. I now have more bars than I know what to do with! It was easy to leave the carrier, but leaving the Nexus S was going to be hard since there were no phones that could match it, until I caught wind of the Samsung Charge. Slated to arrive on April 28th, it was of course delayed, for whatever reason, until May 14th. Today is May 14th. I have the Samsung Charge now.

Overall the specs are basically identical to the Nexus S. The Charge has a larger Super AMOLED Plus screen, and the addition of hardware buttons below the screen. I quickly installed Launcher Pro as the Samsung UI wasn’t doing it for me. The phone feels snappy and looks pretty good, having similar styling to the Nexus S.

Once I get it rooted (so I can remove the preinstalled crapware) it will be a great Verizon alternative to the Nexus S for me. (until the next awesome Verizon Android phone comes out!) 😉

Side note to Verizon: Concerning this “droid” campaign you have going on right now, CUT IT THE F*** OUT!!! IT IS TERRIBLE!! NO ONE WANTS A PHONE THAT LOOKS LIKE IT IS GOING TO KILL THEM!! It is loud, obnoxious, and damages the android brand HEAVILY. Please stop. Stop it. Do not do it anymore.

*UPDATE* I have returned the Samsung Charge to the Verizon store. Fortunately within 14 days, since it seems the return period is 14 days, not 30. This phone was the victim of Verizon branding and Samsung’s terrible interface makeover. The Charge was a great phone hardware-wise, but was completely ruined by the software tampering. Samsung’s Touchwiz interface is nothing short of terrible! Had this phone been running the “Google Experience” version of android it would have been much better off. The other major factor in the return was the HORRIFIC battery life. I was having the phone die on me before hitting noon. Completely unacceptable. On a side note, when I was returning the phone the Verizon rep flat out told me that the 4G was the reason the battery life was so incredibly terrible. Back the phone went. On to the next. My next phone may surprise many of you. 🙂

Rooting around in my Nexus S.

Well, It finally happened. My Nexus S was working too perfectly, so I had to go ahead and root it and load a custom ROM. 🙂 Here is a quick little how-to of what I did to make it all work. All files are linked below. This is not a final release of CyanogenMod 7, but it has been rock solid so far. I use a mac in case that matters to you.1) Unlock the bootloader.

To unlock the bootloader, you reboot your phone into fastboot mode. you can do this by holding down the power and volume up key. At this point you connect your phone to your computer and fire up the terminal.

./fastboot oem unlock

2) Install Clockwork Recovery Mod

./fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-3005-crespo.img

3) Flash CyanogenMod 7 RC2

boot into clockwork recovery and install the CyanogenMod 7 RC2(I had to wipe my phone and clear the cache before the install would work)

4) Install google apps

install the google apps that are not included (for legal reasons i believe)

After this, I signed into my google account and my phone began pulling all of my apps settings back down from google’s servers.

FILES http://dl.dropbox.com/u/123007/fastboot-mac.zip http://dl.dropbox.com/u/123007/googleapps-20110120-signed.zip http://dl.dropbox.com/u/123007/recovery-clockwork-3005-crespo.img http://download.cyanogenmod.com/get/update-cm-7.0.0-RC1-NS-signed.ziphttp://download.cyanogenmod.com/get/update-cm-7.0.0-RC2-NS-signed.zip

**This of course can explode your phone, so be careful and don’t do it if you are unsure.** KABLOOM!!!!!

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Nexus Yes!

It has been a rough year for me in the cell phone area. Throughout this year I was on three or four different platforms across six or so handsets. It was definitely a year of swapping. I started out the year with a Motorola Droid that replaced my iPhone in October of 2009. From there I migrated to the Palm WebOS platform with a Palm Pre Plus handset. After that phone was dropped and left with a cracked screen, I moved to a Palm Pixi Plus, still on WebOS.The Pixi Plus was a super awesome little phone with a hardware keyboard that was a dream to use. When Microsoft Windows Phone 7 was announced I was (surprising) intrigued with what I saw. The phone that caught my attention was the HTC HD7. I went to see the phone in person and 30 minutes later walked out of the store with one in hand. Everything with the HD7 was going along nicely until December 16th came along. The release of the Google Nexus S. I looked at it online. I saw it in person. I ordered it online via express shipping! Why did I drop Windows Phone 7 so soon? Simple answer; google services. I use a ton of Google services everyday and the simple fact is that Windows Phone 7 does not integrate with Google services well at all (surprise!).

After a week of use, I am honestly completely blown away with this device / OS. The Nexus S is absolutely fantastic in the hardware and software departments. The Nexus is running the latest version of Android, 2.3 Gingerbread. A big plus to the Nexus S is that it runs a build of Android that is completely untouched by carriers or manufactures, just pure Google. When it comes to hardware, it feels like what I have been wanting in a phone for a very long time. Solid quality, great look, and not a lot of extra unnecessary crap.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a huge fan of Palm/HP WebOS! The problem is that I personally can’t sit around and wait for things to shake out in the Palm/HP universe. And to be honest the drama that was pouring out of the community lately was starting to really bug me. I would love for WebOS 2.x to come out and make me switch right back. I am totally rooting for them, excellent group of people over there at Palm!

Windows Phone 7 is most definitely going to be a major contender as we head into 2011. Other players in this market are going to have to take notice quickly if they haven’t already. Unfortunately, as much as I like the OS, it will most likely never been what I need as long as I use a mac and a ton of Google services. I am however, VERY happy that there is a new contender in the phone OS war. Competition is what we need to move ahead!

As always this could change at any second, but I am calling the Nexus S the bar that all new phones must at least reach in order for me to even acknowledge. It is official, the Nexus S is the best phone I have ever used as of December 26th, 2010.

PROS:

  • Beautiful screen
  • Great build quality
  • Comfortable to hold and talk on
  • Doesn’t get hot when talking on the phone
  • Gingerbread (Android 2.3) is brilliant
  • “Anti-fingerprint screen coating” seems to actually be real!
  • The power button is in the correct place (not on top)

CONS:

  • No notification light / indicator
  • No dedicated camera shutter button
  • Very slippery

SIDENOTES:

  • Haven’t been able to try the front facing camera on a video call yet
  • Haven’t had the opportunity to try the NFC (Near Field Communication) anywhere