The Smartphone I Use (Rod Trent): January 19, 2015

The Smartphone I Use (Rod Trent): January 19, 2015

Recently, I detailed what I use for my daily computing driver, which consists of a Surface Pro 3, the Surface Pro 3 docking station, miscellaneous USB-attached devices, and three external monitors. In an upcoming post I'll talk about why I require three external monitors to get my job done. I've attempted before to run just one, just two, and even bumped it up to four, but finally settled on three. I think it'll be interesting to hear how I came to this decision. Technology has advanced to the point where we don't have to settle anymore. A person can custom-fit technology to match both lifestyle and business needs. Truth told, it's a pretty exciting time to love technology.

In the earlier post I also promised to keep covering what else I use. I'll eventually get around to talking about the services and software that I've chosen, but I've set aside this post to tell you about my choice of smartphone.

Let me very clear to start off, I'm a Verizon customer. I've been down the provider path several times, tested T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and other local providers. I'm in the Cincinnati, Ohio region and even though Verizon is notoriously bad for supporting Windows Phone devices, the service and coverage here is fantastic. I made the choice to stick with Verizon a couple years ago when using AT&T in NYC proper and couldn't keep a signal. I thought, of all places, NYC would be one of the places AT&T would work best. That wasn't the case. I understand that is much improved now, but AT&T is still pretty shotty in my neck of the woods.

Since I subscribe to Verizon and I prefer to use Windows Phone, you already know that my device options are not great. But, even more than that, with Verizon's history of poor support for providing timely Windows Phone updates, choosing a Windows Phone device is almost like picking a dead-end smartphone. But, I love Windows Phone 8.1, consider it to be the best smartphone platform available, and believe it to be worth the gamble.

When it was time to move to a new smartphone (moved from the HTC 8x), thanks to Verizon, my limited options were to settle for an older Lumia 1020, the new Nokia Icon, or the HTC M8 Windows Phone. After much deliberation, I finally pulled the trigger and chose the HTC M8 Windows Phone.

The HTC M8 Windows Phone is fantastic in so many areas. It doesn't offer wireless charging and doesn't have the awesome camera capability available in the Lumias, but the battery life is amazing (which was a pleasant and unexpected surprise). My wife and oldest daughter both have 1020's, so they get tapped to take the photos at family events, which is great because it keeps me from having to be that person. The HTC M8 camera is not that bad, and in most situations does a fantastic job, so I'm not unhappy with it. Still, the 1020 seems to do the best in all situations.

But, really, if you asked everyone sitting at a table to take out their smartphone and sit it on the table in front of them for comparison, the smartphones will all look just about the same. Smartphones come in different sizes and colors, but the shape and form really hasn't changed much over time. They all make phone calls. They all provide Internet access. They all have apps (some more than others, obviously). And, I'd like to say this in the kindest way possible, but when price is a concern, people choose Android. When price is not a concern, and the cool factor is a key decision point, people choose iPhone.

But, like I said before, choosing a smartphone is a very personal decision. What settled it for me was a couple specific features. Both are very personal reasons that might sound a bit trivial or petty, and definitely not reasons you'd expect from a gadget aficionado.

My first decision point was the Dot View case. Since all smartphones basically look the same, how could I make the HTC M8 even cooler? The Dot View case was the perfect geek add-on. The case wraps around the smartphone and provides a flip-cover. And as you might surmise from the name, the flip cover contains "dots." The dots provide for quick-view capability where you just double-tap on the front of the case and you can get a quick glance at awaiting notifications and time and temperature. This is all driven by a special app designed by HTC. The app is customizable so you can choose what is available for view and even alter the background image to display. I bought the Dot View cover at full price ($49), but see that it is now only around $30, which probably indicates that it wasn't as popular as HTC hoped it would be, forcing the company to drop the price. Not that it means that much to me, but the Dot View case does make my choice of smartphone standout. I regularly receive double-take glances and then folks that ask to see what I'm using. The HTC M8 Windows Phone with the Dot View case is unique in both look and function. You rarely hear someone ask to see an iPhone. It's an iPhone – everyone has one.

My final decision point, and probably the most trivial reason of all was that HTC embedded TV, cable box, and home theater system remote control capability into the M8. HTC Sense TV is an app that provides the remote control capability interface. I have the app configured to every TV and entertainment device in our house. My kids are notorious for losing the remote controls for our entertainment devices, so this is saving me hours a month on trying to locate lost remotes. HTC Sense TV also integrates with BlinkFeed, which allows me to set reminders for upcoming TV shows and movies, and read full programming descriptions. Again, a very personal choice that makes my smartphone selection even more personal.

In an upcoming post, I'll talk about why I believe Windows Phone is the best smartphone platform for me, after using both iPhone and Android for years.

As always, though, I'm interested in you. What have you chosen and why? What makes your smartphone selection purely and uniquely you?


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