Friday, June 14, 2013

Our plan for new electronic leashes/tethers/lifelines

So I mentioned in a few previous posts, Mel and I run our lives with our smartphones; both of which now need replacing:
"I need new phone, as does Mel. We like buying the same phones so we can share accessories, cradles etc... 
I like the S4, but I don't like the feel in the hand, and how plastic it is. I like the Nexus 4, but want external storage.

My requirements are 4g, fast quad or more core CPU, big ram, external storage, fits in a reasonable pocket and pouch, TOUGH AS HELL and cradles available. 
Unlock/jailbreak/root availability is important as well, but secondary.

I've had my Droid Bionic since the day it was released, literally. We preordered them and they shipped them overnight the day before so we would have them on release day, about 2 years now. They've been great, but they're dying. 
My charging port is loosening up, and it's very iffy on cables and chargers. The battery is dying, and can only hold a couple hours charge. Worse, Mel shattered her screen a few weeks ago and her battery is dying, as well. 
Basically I want all these specs or better: "
That was a few months back.

For the last three years, we were running off a local microwave ISP. Unfortunately, that was $150 a month, and we couldn't afford it anymore. So, for the last few months, we've been running our internet access off our phones and MiFi.

The funny thing is, I often get better than 10Mbit/sec speed, faster than the microwave was. 

This was from a few weeks ago:
I'm actually mostly running off off a wifi hotspot hack to my Droid Bionic handset. 
Unfortunately, the phone is two years old, and is starting to die. Charging port is loose, and it's picky about position and cables; and it's spontaneously rebooting every once in a while.

Mel is also doing the same on hers, and she recently shattered the screen. It's still usable (I put an adhesive screen protector over it... it's readable and the touch screen works, but it's less than ideal... and eventually it WILL stop working).

My actual 4g mifi is limited to 10gig a month... which is about how much bandwidth I use in about five days (I use something like 60gig to 100gig a month in a normal month). 
The GOOD news, is that I'm one of those folks who have permanent true unlimited data on my Verizon plan, but it's locked to this specific device. 
If I upgrade the phone, I lose the unlimited data. However, I can keep the unlimited data if I buy an unsubsidized phone at full price and activate it on the line."

Well, looks like I'm going to find out about getting unlimited data on a new phone.

We've been putting it off for months, but now, we need new phones. Mels screen is dead, and my battery only lasts a couple hours; and I'm traveling for a contract all next week.

Since I'm going to be traveling, I need to use my phone, off the charger, 24/7.

What it comes down to is that I run my life off my smartphone and laptop. Particularly I run my work off of it. I get all my internet through my phone, both at home, and while on the road and working.

So, as I said above, I need a phone with a lot of memory and fast processor, on Verizon 4g.

The phone runs 24/7 and is my internet connection, so I need a phone that can handle the background load of being a hotspot AND talking and doing all the things a smartphone does.

Mel of course needs a phone too...

However, there isn't any new phone that she likes... In fact, she loves her bionic, and she'd gladly keep it if it weren't for the screen. My Bionic is still working fine, it's just the battery is losing capacity, and the charging port is loose.

...and we need to keep our unlimited data, since the phones are our only internet connection.

We don't really WANT to spend this money right now, but we don't really have a choice. This is how I make my money... Without the phone I have no internet and can't work.

So, we have a cunning plan...

Right now, my Bionic DOES charge. It charges just fine in the charging cradles we have for them, it just doesn't like most USB cables, and is sensitive to position, orientation, vibration etc... So it's no good for traveling.

So, I'm going to buy a new higher end phone, and we're going to replace Mels broken Bionic with mine.

To deal with the loose charging port and battery issue, we're buying a new battery, and a wireless charging setup for the Bionic. That's about $40 combined for the parts for the phone, plus the cost of the charging pads.

The chargers run from $30 to $75. The good news is, the Droid Bionic has a QI compatible wireless charging setup available. Most of the new higher end phones either have QI built in, or as an option. There's also little adapters that plug into your devices charging ports, so you can use the inductive charging pads for other devices as well. That way we're getting good value, being able to use them with our other devices (including whatever phone I get), as well as extending the life of the Bionic.

I'm not thrilled with paying for an unsubsidized phone right now. On the other hand, being able to keep the unlimited data more than makes up the difference, since I won't have the $50 to $150 a month ($50 in major urban area, $150 where I live right now) internet bill (and of course, it's tax deductible).

What it comes down to though is that I can't work without a phone and internet... One of those situations where I have to spend money to make money; so I don't really have a choice.

I get on an airplane for a week at a clients site, 0615 Monday. The phone I end up with is largely down to what is in stock between here, Coeur D'Alene, and Spokane between Friday and Sunday; or possibly what I can have overnighted to the client site for pickup Monday or Tuesday.

My options are pretty much as follows (baseline configs. Some have options for more storage):
Droid Razr MAXX HD: 1.5ghz dual core, 2gb ram, 4.7" 1280x720 (720p) screen, 3300mAh battery, 32gb, sdhc (32gb)
HTC Droid DNA: 1.5ghz quad core, 2gb ram, 5" 1920x1080 screen (1080p), 2020mAh battery, 16gb, NO external storage 
Samsung Galaxy SIII: 1.5ghz dual core, 2gb ram, 4.7" 1280x720 screen (720p), 2100mah battery, 16gb, sdhc (32gb) 
Samsung Galaxy S4: 1.9ghz quad core, 2gb ram, 5" 1920x1080 screen (1080p), 2600mAh battery, 16gb, sdxc (64gb) 
Unfortunately, I don't really like any of those options. What I'd REALLY like is the HTC One, which won't be available on Verizon until "sometimes this summer".
HTC One: 1.7ghz quad core, 2gb ram, 4.7" 1920x1080 (1080p), 2300mAh battery, 32gb,  NO external storage
As I've said, I don't really care for the plasticky feel of the S4. The HTC One is aluminum, and feels better in the hand. I think it will be more durable as well.

Unfortunately, I need a phone NOW, not "sometime this summer".

At this point, I think the S4 is the best option. There's only a $100 spread from the cheapest to the most expensive of them (the now obsolete S3... the rest are all pretty much the same price), and the S4 is by far the most capable.

Hell, get a bluetooth keyboard and an HDMI output dongle, hook it up to a TV or monitor and it's as powerful as a low end laptop... Or what would have been a HIGH end laptop 5 years ago.