Feb 152010

Recently I read this post, somebody complaining about Samsung copying the iPhone OS [german]. Apparently they have similar UI’s. I wonder about that… iPhone OS is not the source of all invention. I recently got an iPhone, apparently loads of the feature were already available in my meanwhile 6 year old Sony Ericsson P910. Having a small screen and a common functionality ends up most likely in similar approaches. Now follows a not too serious compare between an iPhone 3GS and a Sony Ericsson P910i.

The P910 I got back in late 2004 – as far as I remember. It has a VGA camera, a slot for a memory stick (it could address up to 1 GB) and a plastic keyboard which I removed when I got it. Most remarkably at the time was the 5 way scroll wheel and the touch screen. As it was one of the first smart phones, gaming, business and mobile phone unified in one device weren’t common. I remember posing with playing doom on the phone or bluetooth pong :)

Let’s have a look at a few pics

oh, look! a calendar! Look and feel are still the same…

That is the message application. I find the eZiTap extension for the P910 far beyond any other virtual keyboard apps I have seen on mobile devices. It also has context sensitive proposals, so when i start typing “cheers” it also proposes “Kerstin” as word to follow. It proposes a couple of words I can choose from and it doesn’t randomly replace text on it’s own will. I also like the counter of messages you are going to sent, the iPhone doesn’t bother to tell you how many texts you are going to send with one message. Although the P910 had a bug, it couldn’t really calculate multiple messages, and special characters, such as an accidentally typed tab could increase the number of texts to be send. But again, isn’t it a great feature to have a choice between hand writing recognition and a keyboard? It also allowed to access special chars such as umlauts, even when the system language is english. What a feature…

Organizing the apps in little icons in a matrix isn’t a new idea either. Although I quite like the Symbian way: I put my favorite apps in front. All applications were accessible via a filterable list. Less scrolling is more! Also I added my own theme – and an background image to the application.

Another amazing feature is the photo app. The preview on the P910 sucked as the memory and processor were quite limited. Scrolling through the images got very slow after uploading / taking a lot with the built-in VGA camera.

The maps app is way more sophisticated on the iPhone, but 6 years ago, without internet and GPS on the phone this tiny map app was quite neat to find the way through Dresden. AFAIK it allowed to get directions but one needed to keep track manually.

Cheating, this is an extended calculator for the P910, the original one you can find here. There was already a feature of installing additional software. There was no certification center, anybody could provide software.

What would I choose?
I definitively would go for a smart phone like the P910. It is easy to use, has a touch screen, a 5 way dial, the freedom of choice. It can be easily backed up, the UI is enhanceable. The iPhone’s invention for me is the multi touch, the rest is just caused by newer hardware. The P910 is 6 years old. It is one of the first smart phones and clearly an invention and not ‘just’ a big marketing deal.

Back to the present…
Well… the iPhone, I have one now… I am not too excited about that. I am quite keen on seeing more about the Motorola Milestone, the First Else (will it ever be productized?) or the Samsung i8250 Halo with an integrated micro projector. For a short period I was excited about the Nexus One until I read that it barely supports 3G. “two souls, alas, are housed within my breast” – shall I spend a lot of money on devices I barely use for their original purpose (making calls) or should I rather wait until at least one of the two mentioned mobiles dies?

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