So my contract with my old mobile carrier (Fido) was up and they had no appealing phones so I switched to Rogers and got an LG Eve for $50 (with a 3 year contract). After, I walked over to Staples and then picked up an 8GB microSD card for $30 and I was set.
The LG Eve is an Android 1.5 (Google Linux) phone and it’s sweet. I’ve been fairly pleased with it and the more I dig into it the more fun it is. Now, Android 1.5 is (in this fast paced cell phone OS world) a bit old, but there is word a 1.6 upgrade is in the pipe for spring, so that’s cool too.
Anyways, the phone is dead sexy. It’s a bit smaller than an iPhone, a full touch screen and more importantly a full pull-out keyboard that makes typing a breeze. It has a proper 3.5mm headphone jack for music and it charges off USB. It has a shocking 5 megapixel camera, wifi, and GPS.
It serves adequately well as an mp3 player so I finally got to chuck my tried and true 1GB iRiver that served me well for 3 years but was getting long in the tooth. It nicely also has some good podcast apps in the market that make getting podcasts on it automatic. I just check and the new ones are there.
It can do video, like mp4 and YouTube, but I haven’t yet gotten DivX working on it, so on that front it is a bit limited which is a shame, but oh well.
Now, some of the killer apps for me (aside from replacing my mp3 player):
- NewsRob: A wonderful Google Reader integrated RSS feed reader that means I can now read all my news on the go, which makes time spent on the bus a lot more productive. This is possibly the most important app for me.
- Meebo IM: I can connect to all my IM accounts with this one client. There are a lot of IM clients for android, but not too many support proper Jabber. This one does, so awesome
- ConnectBot: A ssh client that also supports ssh keys. This little app is a must for any sys admins toolkit as it allows me to do server administration on the go
- Twitteroid: for keeping up with twitter
- Google Listen: Podcast fetcher. Solid enough. Just wish it supported video feeds (TED talks)
- Proxyoid: Simple web proxy that couple with the Android SDK allows web tethering (turn on Settings->Applications->Development->USB Debugging, plug in the phone to a computer, turn on proxyoid, and then run ‘adb forward tcp:8080 tcp:8080‘ from the Android SDK and you have a web proxy on your computer on port 8080 through your phone over the cellular network!)
- TasKiller: App management :)
- Google Maps: Allows searches for things near you and navigation to them via transit from your location. Fantastic.
- ShopSavvy and Barcode Scanner: Read barcodes and QR codes through the camera and do web search on products for information on them. Very cool
- K-9 Email: Thanks to commenter TopperH I found K-9 Email which is a decent android email app. It can actually move messages between folders (lacking in the default email app!) so it will work for me :)
All of these apps make this little phone an incredibly handy tool. It suddenly gives me a lot more power on the go.
Now, the cons:
- Battery life: Battery life is not fantastic, especially if you are using the phone a lot. I pretty much always need to charge it at the end of the day if I’ve been using it on the bus or for anything else. It’s not fantastic. But because I can just charge it over USB it is at least easy to charge. And considering the power it gives me I can live with this. Also, handily, I have a USB battery pack charger I threw into my backpack, so I can charge it off that if I need while I’m on the go. It’s a bit ad hoc but it works.
- Stability: It’s not the most stable phone/system I’ve ever seen. I seem to have to pull the battery maybe once a week due to lock ups. Some times it’s a bit slow or unresponsive. It’s not the end of the world, although it may be a bigger problem for other people. I’m happy with the trade off of having all this power and handheld Linux.
- Wild West-y-ness: This slightly ties into the stability of it and the general app market and may also be somewhat prevalent on other phone OSs too but it feels like the good old DOS and early windows days when there was a glut of crazy random apps for everything before clear market winners were established.
I suppose one thing that may get glossed over in comparisons to competitors like the iPhone is that Android can multi-task. That means I can have my IM client running in the background, have a music app playing, and have a text editor open with some text, but be browsing in a web browser that supports multiple pages. This is also amazing and beats the pants off the iPhone.
So on balance I am incredibly in favor of this phone and deeply happy to have it. I’m used to, from 9 years of using Linux and more years of other bleeding edge software, handling a few glitches to get the cutting edge and neatest features and most power. I just consider them part of the price of the overall awesome of the phone, which to be fair, I did name “glitch” only in part because of its occasionally sporadic behavior, and in part because of its portable utility, like Bob’s key tool “glitch” from the 90s TV show Reboot.
Finally, I just discovered the coup de grace for this phone (I did say the more I dig, the better it gets): Android Scripting Environment.
It’s an app that downloads scripting languages that have partial access to the android API and has a built in text editor. I supports amount other languages Python, JRuby, Lua and perl. I can now code on the go in several hot languages on my phone.
This really is the future phone running Linux I’d been dreaming of owning all last decade. I’m pretty stoked.