I wrote about the incredibly cheap Orange San Francisco (ZTE Blade) while back. It's a really good Android phone for £100 PAYG in the UK. I couldn't resist when I was in London recently and grabbed one in Bayswater. Even the young lad in the shop thought Orange was crazy with the low pricing.
The phone itself is far far better than you could expect it to be for the price. Good feel, excellent 3.5" capacitive touch screen, decent 600MHz CPU, 3.2MP camera, GPS, Wifi, 2GB SDCard in the price. Only downsides are slight tackiness/cheapness in the buttons, no ball/optical-joystick and it was riddled with Orange software branding and tools.
Luckily the awesome Paul O'Brien from Modaco
has hacked it and you can root it and de-Orangeify it easily. A couple of quid took care of network unlocking it too.
My Dad is not the most technically adept to put it mildly. But he loves email and he's good with SMS. Whilst he should be relaxing in his retirement at the age of 72, instead he is up to his eyeballs in some high intensity roles. One thing that was driving him mad was that all the young guys he is dealing with have their email on demand, either via Blackberry or iPhone. He has to wait until he gets to his laptop. I tried setting up Nokia's email client on his e65 but it was a waste of time, he couldn't make head or tail of it.
Earlier in the Summer I walked him through my HTC Desire and he seemed to "get it". Even if it just did GMail (which he digs) he'd have been hooked. As I mentioned at the time, the iPhone users were bursting blood vessels as they were convinced Android would be far too complicated for him and all he could master would be one button.
Cue CJ in Reggie Perrin "I didn't get where I am today Reggie by using a phone with only one button".
However, having said that, I was concerned that a multi-decade Nokia user would have a big problem switching to touch-screen only. It is a big change.
So I thought the San Francisco would be a good trial. Instead of him upgrading on Vodafone for some stupid price and then discovering he hates touch screens, why not get the cheap phone, set it up for him, transfer his contacts and let him run with it for a week or two.
At Halloween we did exactly that. I walked him through the phone, configured it for his hands-free in the car, showed him how to do GMail, SMS, calling etc and let him at it. He struggled a bit with the on-screen keyboard. The standard Google one is a horror, the one that was default on the phone was awkward but actually the HTC IME isn't bad so we set that up for him.
He had a few simple questions like "how do I forward a text" etc but the only funny one was "how do I call someone that's not in my address book". It might sound a silly question but the "phone" bit on Android 2.1 says "dialler". And he simply didn't know that that meant "phone keypad". Some UX work still needed on Android.
I've checked in with him once a week to make sure [a] he was still happy to be using it and [b] he had no problems. Every response is about how much he loves having email on the go!
He says he'll have some detailed questions for me at Christmas which I'm looking forward to (I bet he wants to install Angry Birds
) but otherwise he is a very happy man indeed.
The question is whether we bother upgrade him to a better Android phone. We had thought we'd do that when the Desire Z came out with a proper Qwerty keyboard but he hasn't complained about the lack of keys at all. The other reason for upgrading is that the antenna on the San Francisco is pretty crap. It gets no signal in some parts of their house where the old Nokia would have 2 bars.
Of course, my eldest is desperately hoping his Grandad does upgrade so he can move from the G1. The inability to play Angry Birds on that is driving him mad.
If a phone that good can be made that cheap, Nokia really must be planking themselves. Brand loyalty means nothing if you aren't delivering for your customers.
If you want one of the San Franciscos in Ireland, I believe you can just pop over the border to your nearest Orange shop.
Aside: During this process I discovered that he was on some ancient rip-off Vodafone plan. 500 minutes but ZERO texts included! I have upgraded him to 500 mins + 500 Texts + 1GB Data for a few quid more but his monthly bill will go down as he isn't paying for SMS any more.