Consumerism Geek

Almost new phone time

I’m about due for a phone upgrade.

I haven’t made my mind up whether it’ll be iPhone or Android. Some will have very strong views on these. I’ll make up my mind closer to purchase time, but meanwhile there are some other factors I’m considering.

Radio waves

All phones emit radio waves. Some more than others.

The Nokia web site lets you look up different phone models and find out what the SAR (Specific absorption rate) value is. For my last few phones:

  • Nokia N95 (Type RM-160) (2009-) 0.72 W/kg
  • Nokia 6230i (Type RM-72) (2006-2009) 0.70 W/kg
  • Nokia 6100 (Type NPL-2) (2004-2006) 0.60 W/kg
  • Nokia 6210 (I think this would have been 2002-2004) — I’m not sure precisely which model variant. 0.75-0.91 W/kg

I’m not clear on why different model variants would vary so much in their output.

According to Wikipedia, the US standard dictates an SAR level of 1.6 or below; the EU standard is 2 or below.

Most other brands seem to have web sites, but CNet has a big list of lots of brands. If you were wondering, most of the recent iPhones have SARs of above 1.0 W/kg, as do many of the other Smartphones from the likes of HTC and Samsung, it appears.

I try not to get paranoid about such things, because it doesn’t seem like there has been a proven link to health problems. But equally, sometimes my ear is hot when I get off the phone, which just seems wrong. It’s probably a good idea to minimise your exposure.

Good reception

The other thing I’m on the lookout for with my next new phone appears trickier: which Android or iPhone earns Telstra’s blue tick for good reception in rural areas? My current Nokia N95 earned the tick, and gets a good signal even in far flung places like M’s parents’ farm, which lesser phones have trouble with.

At present it appears that none of the Android phones have the tick, and neither do the iPhones (though this Whirlpool thread suggests some older HTC models had it).

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

17 replies on “Almost new phone time”

I’ll say Android (I love my HTC Desire HD), but telstra’s top options seem just adequate.
Regarding Nokia, its OSs are terrible, maybe you could wait until they come with Windows7.

Anyway, good luck with the hunting!

Your ear is hot when you get off the phone because the device emits microwaves similar to those in a microwave oven.

Before you panic, phone microwaves are of vastly lower power than those in an oven, and are harmless.

There is no scientific evidence anywhere that mobile phones cause any health problems (apart from mobile users being distracted while driving or walking and having accidents).

I think I may have mentioned to you once or twice about my preference for Android. I’ve put four people on to the Galaxy S and each one has been blown away. If you have a lot of your life tied up with Google products (I have gmail, calendar, reader, photos, maps and a couple of app accounts) then Android is fantastic.

Many new phones have their antenna near the base of the phone (closer to the microphone) so radiation absorbed is lower. Also, I suspect your ear gets hot because something is pressed up close to it, not from radiation. ;)

HAve you thought about a Windows Phone 7? I swore I’d never go back to one after the debacle that was Windows Mobile, but I’m actually blown away by how good the new ones are. I’ve had one for a month now, and am loving it.

As long as you’re with Telstra you’re reception will be great.

I love my iPhone, but I think you can’t go wrong iPhone or Android, the Galaxy S does look nice.

My ear is generally hot when I take the phone away from it. Doesn’t matter whether mobile or landline. I noticed that when I was young. For some reason we had two phones in our house, it was very unusual in the 70s and it was the same with both of them.

And yes, don’t go with Vodafone. Just spent 13 minutes on the phone to them to only sort out one problem. Still don’t know if I’ve been overcharged.

I can recommend Android. I’ve had a HTC Desire on Telstra for 6 months and since I’ve upgraded to 2.2 I don’t have a single complaint (in fact there are times when I’ve been positively delighted by features/usability). Android vs the iPhone 3 is no competition for features and usability, but I haven’t experience iPhone 4 enough to comment. I also support Tony’s comment about using Android with google services.

Also with regards to your requirements of radiation and good reception I think (from reviews, but without any formal understanding of the tech) there is a negative correlation between your requirements i.e. high radiation = good quality signal. Regardless if you go Telstra your reception in regional areas is going to be better than the other carriers. Recently down in Wye River I was browsing the web on my phone while my wife’s Optus iPhone could not even make a call. The beach house we were renting had a map for other carriers on where to drive to get signal.

As an experiment, put your phone up to your ear for the length of an average call, but with the phone turned off.

Well I guess someone has to say iphone, though if you are going to go down that road I would wait until iphone 5 comes out (which is due probably mid year).

I was a hardcore PC person for years and I had no love for Apple at all. Then I finally got an ipod (80gb model) in 2007, and lined up for the iphone 3g in 2008. About two months later I had my first Mac. I still use Windows at work and am pretty happy using both.

I can’t really compare iphone to android because, well, I haven’t even looked at it. I really need a hardcore android user to sit down with me and show me why they think android is better than iphone. Personally I think both platforms probably have their strengths and weaknesses and in the end it probably comes down to personal preference.

The main thing Apple has going for it is that, at least at the moment, is market penetration. When I got my iphone 3G I was scared to take it out and play with it on the train (or anywhere in public for that matter). Now, three years later, every man and his dog has one. Some days I get on the train and everyone is staring zombie like at the device (very Doctor Who).

I guess the strengths of the iphone are: ease of use. You show it to anyone who hasn’t used it before, and it’s pretty obvious how it works. Assuming you can find someone who hasn’t spent at least some time playing with one. Now I’ve gone into the Telstra shop and played with Win 7 phones and Android phones and it’s simply not always obvious how the things are meant to operate. I’m no tech dummy and am sure I could pick one of the other devices up if I needed to, but honestly I’m getting older and I can’t be bothered learning new things as much as I used to, so i’m pretty happy with the iphone user interface.

The other strength: The App store. Sure, there’s a lot of crap in there. But there’s also an awful lot of awesome apps (many free). Many of them are no doubt ported to android or win 7 mobile, but not all of them. If an app is coming out for whatever reason, you are virtually guaranteed that it’ll be on the iphone first.

Blue tick etc isn’t really an issue for me, most of the places I go have great reception. I guess it depends on how much time you spend in country areas, and what network you are going to choose, as to what effect that will have on you.

Re the google integration, I use push gmail, gmail contacts and gmail calendar flawlessly on my iphone. If you haven’t done it already, start migrating your contacts to google contacts now, as it will be much easier when you do switch (regardless of if you choose iphone or android).

My phone gets hot during a call whether it’s at my ear or sitting by itself using Bluetooth handsfree. That means it’s the electronics inside it making it hot – the various integrated circuits that are doing high power things with electricity. If the microwave energy was being absorbed by the phone material and heating it, it wouldn’t be doing a very good job of propagating a microwave signal to the phone system.

So my assertion from this piece of evidence is that my head gets hot because the phone gets hot, not because of microwave energy being absorbed (and therefore wasted) by my head.

If you’re worried about reception, best to ask people about particular phone models. Don’t trust the blue tick. When the CDMA network was closed down, work gave us all new phones with the blue tick. They didn’t work at anyone’s house, even where we lived on the edge of town. One of us had bought a Nokia without the blue tick as a personal phone. It had full reception where the blue tick phone had none.

Perceived heating of the ear can have a little to do with the compression and blood restriction caused by the handset when on a call. Whether landline or mobile, phone on or off, you’ll notice this effect. Similar to the feeling you get if your foot goes to sleep or you fall asleep on your hand.

I just noticed your Flickr picture of the HTC you selected as the new toy.
A true toy of the future, as it already shows the time and weather at 10:08 in Sydney on 25/06/2011 where today is just 03/06/2011
I want one of those predictive phones !!!!
Estee Ratus
PS I’m going for the Sensation with qHD screen

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