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...till you get your iPhone

How many features should your next phone have? Here are five things we recommend.

By Namrata Dadwal | Print Edition: July 12, 2007

The much-awaited iPhone, the Swiss knife of the cell world, is finally out. But given that there’s at least six months to go for an Indian debut, you might as well cool your heels with the next best thing, and there is a lot to choose from. The question now is not how many features your next phone should have, but what kind of features. Here are five things we recommend.

PHONE BOOK / CALLER PROFILE

Just names and numbers won’t do. You have multiple ways of reaching out to your friends and family—home phone, mobile, office, fax. Almost all of them have multiple e-mail IDs, some a website or a blog also. How about keeping the postal address too? Top it all with a picture, his nickname and birthday.

The phone book should have clearly marked space for all these entries. Not just static entries, but ones that can be integrated with other functions. So, when you e-mail from your phone, you shouldn’t have to type the e-mail address; simply call it from the phone book with the click of a button. Ditto for accessing the Net.

BUILT-IN / INFINITE MEMORY

When it comes to memory, more is always merrier. Especially when larger memories neither add to the size or weight of the handset nor are they hard on your wallet. The storage capacity in your current phone will start overflowing even before you had your fill of pictures, videos or songs. Even if you are not a big user of the camera or music player, you are likely to receive e-mails with file attachments that you may want to save and edit. Or if you want to use the phone as a voice recorder, you will need a hefty memory to store those heavy audio files. Buy a phone in which you can attach memory cards. The cards are shrinking in size, but increasing in storage capacity, which ranges from 128 MB to 4 GB.

NORMAL PHONE / SMART PHONE

Like in the case of a personal computer, for mobile phones too it is better to buy a handset with slightly more features packed in than you think you currently need. Chances are that in just a few days you will get addicted to features you didn’t know existed. Even if you think you don’t need one now, buy a smart phone. These are the phones with advanced PDA, e-mail and fullscale (not WAP-enabled) Internet browsing. Also, it doesn’t cost much.

For less than Rs 10,000 you can own a Blackberry — the last word in smart phones if the just-launched iPhone doesn’t unseat it. A smart phone converts your mobile into your personal cyber cafe on the go. You can not only e-mail and surf the Net, depending on your phone’s hardware, you can also download and upload attachments. Another suggestion: buy a phone that is GPS-ready. GPS-based navigation is likely to become big and uncomplicated, sooner rather than later.

VOICE ACTIVATED / SPEECH TO TEXT

Voice activation isn’t just a theoretical feature any more. Modern handsets are more likely to understand your voice commands accurately, no matter how flawed your accent and diction. That includes relatively long voice commands such as “Call Ramesh Gupta on his mobile”. There are early stages of software that help you dictate text to your phone. This means speaking out your e-mails, text messages and schedules, instead of using the keypad. Research has already proved that when it comes to errors, text-based and speech-based have no significant difference. The reverse — text-to-speech facility — is also becoming a reality. Imagine your phone reading out text messages, contacts and e-mail.

INFRARED / BLUETOOTH

The more your mobile gets useful, the more things it will need to be connected with — to exchange data. Be it your PC to your friends’ or family members’ mobile, to a printer or to a headphone, the phone’s connectivity should be multiple and easy. Easy connection is wireless, and preferably Bluetooth. Infrared has limits of range and direction. Bluetooth can ensure connection within 100 m in any direction. You can also connect more than one device simultaneously. For example, use a Bluetooth headset for listening to music along with a computer for synchronisation.

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