A retrospective look at the future of lustworthy devices*

Over the past few years, there have been a handful of handsets that I would be happy to hop back into bed with. Here are a few of the best and worst of my past, present and future. *Opinions may vary

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At just north of $550.00 (CAD) this device was the first phone that I actually had to save up for. It came in a custom laser-etched tin and had 'heat-sensitive' buttons which worked even in the winter in Canada. It shipped with a stereo Plantronics 590A Bluetooth headset, 512MB microSD card, USB to microSD adapter, hard case, cleaning cloth, kitchen sink and heck, it even came with actual hot chocolate.

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Telus (TELUS) Mobility did a bang up job making me feel like I got my money's worth and then some. Upon opening the tin there were so many little details (like the inclusion of luxury "drinking chocolate") that served as a reminder of just how much Telus (must have) appreciated (all of) my hard-earned money.

Their marketing of the device relied heavily on playing up the media capabilities of the handset and constantly playing extremely high-gloss loops of the handset slowly spinning on a white background, all set to the tune of the then-probably-expensive Candyman by Christina Aguilera.

This was one of the very first times that Canada got a cutting edge handset 'first'. For once I wasn't left feeling bitter after hearing countless users in every other country bragging about actually having the device. In retrospect, this was one of the only times I'd paid for a phone and felt like I got what I had paid for.

Next up

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* Full disclosure: I have a 'sick obsession' with Motorola iDEN and I readily admit that I'm unreasonably biased toward this particular device. Even though it:

  • overheated to the point of actually melting into separable parts
  • had 0 bars of coverage in common downtown locations
  • had horribly small keyboard buttons (that were revised in later versions, but not in this country!)
  • could only be used on a network that offers (still to this day) no SMS packages of any kind
  • did not have MO-SMS (if you're not familiar with this acronym, just consider yourself lucky)

I fondly remember supergluing it back together on more than one occasion after a seemingly endless string of extreme over-heating incidents. It may have cost me a thousand dollars a month in SMS charges and the battery wouldn't last for more than 4 hours on standby but I could care less. I still love this phone and as a matter of fact still own one. If Motorola made something that looked this good today, I would use it even over my iPhone.

As for the worst...

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As I had just moved to the United States for work, I was quickly lured in by the apparent specs of this device but mostly by the fact that my Telus Mobility phone had stopped working somewhere just south of Philadelphia..

This phone definitely had a very slick look back in the day. It let people know you'd upgraded from the aging Motorola RAZR, had a solid flip mechanism, 1.3MP camera, mobile TV/music and disappearing external player controls. At the time I was signing up for the then-Sprint/Nextel service, it was down to either this or an LG Fusic. Given the fact that Sprint had accidentally bricked almost every Fusic on their network with a botched OTA firmware update, this choice was a no-brainer.

In the end, it was the bloated Sprint Vision firmware that easily made this the worst phone I'd ever had the misfortune of using.. Well, except for...

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*Copyright Nilay Patel

At the time it looked like a great device. It had a 'touchscreen', stylus and most importantly to me: a full QWERTY keyboard. It was a bold move to have the *ahem* robust Windows Mobile 6.1 installed on this device from the factory but HTC does try rather hard sometimes.

I remember sitting in a restaurant with some friends as I unboxed the device. As we had dinner and drinks I used it more and more and, according to my friends, became visibly angrier and angrier the more I attempted to push the device past it's apparent boundaries.

I quickly hammered out a text: "What's up?" on it's tiny keyboard. Only to be met with "W"........."h"................"a".........
By the time the short text message was done, I was already well into my second martini (and boy did I need it!)

Eventually I got home and as I made it in the door I realized it was closing in on 9:00PM. By Canadian mall standards, it was getting late and it was at that point made a decision that I will be content with for the rest of my life: I ran back out the door, hopped in a cab and got back into a different city by just 8:56PM. Just in time to do a "buyer's remorse" exchange to a new BlackBerry 8330. Looking back, I don't think there's any better term I could come up with to describe that exchange.

Let's have a talk about future devices.

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I'm a firm believer in the fact that the iPhone, although fantastic, is not the be-all-and-end-all of mobile telephony.

I don't want my love of tried-and-true technology to make me come off as someone who is stuck in the past or afraid of technology. Currently I use an iPhone because it is obviously one of the best experiences you can get for your money these days and still, there are some things that I don't like such as the alarm clock, durability of the device and ... actually that's pretty much all I can come up with.

But I'll still give up my iPhone
and sign another Classic Canadian Commitment of 3 years
just so I can try out this rather lustworthy Nokia Lumia 800.

The only obvious issue is going to be waiting for a Canadian carrier to pick it up..

So what are your top 3 handsets that you would climb into bed with?