Well I have decided (in less than 1 day) to return the Helio Ocean.
It has some really nice things going for it. The next Sidekick could benefit from incorporating the following features:
- Much brighter and higher resolution screen – this was a joy to look at compared to the SK3 screen. Even though the size was slightly smaller, the quality really makes a tremendous difference
- 2MP camera – the image quality from the camera was very high quality, both in high and low light situations – puts the SK3′s to shame
- GPS – the ability to have the phone know exactly where you are, and then with a single button, automatically search for businesses or locations and give you a turn-by-turn map is really incredible. There’s an obvious opportunity for Danger to create a 1st-party app that does just that
- Video – As much as I am not a fan of poor quality cellphone video, the ability to playback video was quite nicely done, and gives the Ocean a near-YouTube esque feel by being able to quickly stream viral videos, movie trailers, etc. I have a feeling that the iPhone is going to be a clear winner in this space in the near future
- Album Art in Music Player – There’s no reason SK3′s player can’t support this, even with an OTA software update this could be reality
- 1st party webmail application – The availability of having actual Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail/Live Mail on a phone is really appealing to me because I have never used my Tmail accounts, ever. I always use the POP function to send my Gmail to my SK3. However, the Ocean is unable to do a push of the mail to the phone. I had to manually tell it to “send/receive” to find out if there was no mail. That’s unacceptable.
Now for all of the things that convinced me immediately that the Sidekick 3 is a superior phone:
- The first thing was a defect with the device – the ear speaker/receiver didn’t function, thus rendering making calls with the phone impossible without turning the speakerphone option on – I’m sure a new unit would have solved this, but it was the nail in the coffin
- Interface/UI – With the SK3, it’s a breeze to get right to what you want – either using the scrollwheel, or a key combo. With the Ocean, it’s cumbersome and awkward. They have the options grouped well enough, but even though it’s in a circle, when you press down, it doesn’t always go down. As soon as you let up for a second, down suddenly means go backwards. Same thing with hitting up. You hit up a few times, wait, and now pressing up goes the opposite way. Terrible usability. It’s also difficult to find where you want to go. With the SK3, it seems much more intuitive and well defined; more like a Windows/Mac interface and less like a normal cell phone interface. The Ocean definitely still feels just like a souped up RAZR or some other “normal” phone. Nothing “smart” about it.
- No Multitasking – I had no idea how truly important this feature of the SK3 really was until today. You can’t do two things at once. Playing an mp3? Can’t go and read an email. Checking a website? Forget going to check an IM someone sent you. It’s infuriating as a longtime SK user to give that up.
- Keyboard – The slide out keyboard is decent, but it pales in comparison to the SK3′s. No dedicated number keys. No equals sign!? No backslash? and the form factor of it makes it very strange to have to hit the keys on the outer most portions of the keyboard. And the spacebar. It’s tiny. And I hated it.
- Web Browser – Although the browser had a well defined start page with an excellent list of well-designed mobile versions of popular sites (MySpace, Digg, NY Times, etc.), the rest of the web ended up being slow, and either with scrollbars appearing (Horrible!) or just as a mess. The SK3 has plenty of room to improve in their rendering of the web, but it really has a serious leg up on the Ocean’s implementation. I’ve said before, the #1 thing that I think the iPhone has going for it, is the browser. The demo of their solution for mobile browsing makes anything else seem primitive, including Danger’s current methods.
There are plenty of other smaller features that I liked and disliked – but the above sums up the things that really made my decision for me the most. The Sidekick 3′s trackball still is the best interface on a phone, hands-down. And it will remain to be seen if the multitouch iPhone really surpasses real physical buttons as the ultimate interface. You can rest assured that when the iPhone does hit stores, I will be visiting my local Apple store to kick the tires on it.