New Phone Lust: Siemens S66 vs SonyEricsson S710a

31 August 2005

Much to Claire's dismay, I've been obsessing over new phones again. The contenders for my many dollars are the Siemens S66 and the SonyEricsson S710a. Both phones seem comparable with their Java (MIDP 2.0/CLDC 1.1/3D), 1.3MP cameras, GPRS, and Bluetooth.

For $100 more than the price of the S66, the S710a has the faster EDGE network, MP3 player, bigger and more colorful screen, and built in camera light. All these features really tempt me.

The S66 has one thing over the S710a: Java Bluetooth support. Java BT makes me really consider this phone, but I must ask myself, "Will anyone else have Java BT to which I can network my phone from within my Java software?" The answer will probably be "No" for quite some time. I also prefer the solid, candy-bar form factor of the S66 (like my current T616).

When I bought my T616, it was already nearly 2-year-old technology. I thought the Java implementation was better than it turned out to be -- MIDP 1.0 is pretty limited and the phone lacks a socket implementation, so I can't run cool SSH or Jabber midlets. I also regarded the camera phone as a toy, so I didn't worry about the picture quality. I want a much better camera this time, since it's the camera I actually have with me all the time, and I've taken many more pictures with it than I would have ever expected.

Now I'm upgrading my expectations, and going for some of the best features -- maybe this new phone can avoid obsolescence for a bit longer. If I really do manage to keep the phone for a couple years, will I regret not having Java BT support or not having the network speed of EDGE?

Honestly, I shouldn't feel this compelled to shop for a new phone, since there's absolutely nothing wrong with my current phone for what I do. The problem is the rate at which these phones come and go. I used to think the longer I wait, the cheaper the phones get and the better the features. In reality, carriers have been dropping the phones before they get super cheap or before they even have an equivalent replacement. I've often seen lulls where there are no good phones from which to choose. Already, Cingular seems to have dropped the S66 from their website, and it looks like I may only be able to get the S710a. If I wait a couple more months, will the S710a be gone too? Then they'll have nothing with the features I want at a comfortable price. (The RAZR is comparable, but has a lower-quality camera, so I'm not bothering with it.)

Filed Under: Home Technology Family Entertainment Toys T616 Java