Over the past month I've tried an experiment.
First I wanted to see if I could wean myself away from my Blackberries (yes I have one on T-Mobile and one on Verizon) for email and have been using both a Nokia E75 and two different E71s (one for North America and the other for Europe due to 3G radio configuration) and looked closely at the use of the Apple iPhone for the global traveler. Secondly I wanted to see what worked best for me as far as cost savings.
During the past month I've also traversed the UK with my INQ SkypePhone2, plus tried and enjoyed the Toshiba G450, but more for the 3G capability, than for the phone.
Here's what I've unearthed:In the USA, nothing beats the Verizon network for call quality and fewest dropped calls. In the car the RIM 8830 is my weapon of choice. In Europe the Nokia E71 is the hands down winner. For maps and directions it's a toss up between the iPhone and the E71 with Nokia Maps 2.0. The difference. Google Maps on the iPhone are free.
Mail For Exchange 2.0 on Nokia E71 and E75 s Rocks The House
Candidly if you want more than a Blackberry and need Microsoft Exchange compatibility in a much more robust offering then the Nokia E71 and E75 are very good alternatives. Candidly, I wasn't a big user of the under appreciated Blackberry Messenger and PIN to PIN capability within a closed circle, I could dump the Berries. With the latest firmware on the E71, Nokia and Mail for Exchange 2.0 I don't miss the Blackberry at all. The form factor is perfect and I can fire off emails, and more importantly manage my address book and calendar possibly easier than on the Blackberries. For PC users (I'm poly-platform) who are used to some of the more traditional nuances of Outlook, the visual similarity just seems to be easier on the mind, making Mail For Exchange a faster experience. What's more, the thin and lightness of the Nokias can't be beat. Sadly the one area where the Nokia's fall down is on battery life. But that's where it ends.
In head to head comparisons the Nokia wins in many other categories:
2. 3G speeds
4. Ability to tether (via Joikuspot)
5. Audio quality
6. Real VoIP (Truphone and Gizmo work very well)
As a matter of fact, Truphone Anywhere on the E71 is a joy and major cost savings. Yes, I'm biased, but the combination of my travel routers and most of my clients tools (Boingo, Truphone, Nokia) save me enough money to eat well wherever I go!
Note: I did try the Skype Client on the E71 and found it buggy so I reflashed the Euro E71 and have not had any issues.
That leads me to the INQ SkypePhone S2, which for me when I'm in London, or later this year in Austria, is a great way to stay in touch with my team and to enjoy conference calls from the banks of the Thames, or from the back of a black cab in London, something Jim Courtney can attest to happens regularly, as he's my cab call test each trip to London. In a nutshell, calls on the SkypePhone2 are almost free for me. Sure I burn up some SkypeOut credits, but the combination of Skype + HiDefConferencing means I'm on more calls from halfway around the world and not missing a beat (though the calls at midnight UK time do cut into sleep time some nights.) My sources tell me that the upcoming INQ devices are likely to be even better too. In the UK the pricing from 3 can't be beat, even beyond the Skype calling. Plus, I can tether the SkypePhone when needed just like I can the Nokias.
That leaves the iPhone from Apple. Candidly, its an engineering and design gem, and when it comes to applications and browsing, provides the best experience of all the phones, and with Truphone and Boingo running on it, I'm easily connected. The drawbacks to the Nokias are the lack of a keyboard, though for reader types and light typers the on screen keyboard is fine, but not for someone who is email intensive. The carrier locked phones is also a drawback, and while I could Jailbreak it, I'm not inclined that way. My email usage is so high that even with the best plan from AT&T I'm pushing its limits, so for the global business person, be wary. This also gives the nod to the Nokias.
On the financial front, RIM wins the deal with the lowest global roaming plans around. Compared to AT&T's rates, nothing beats the Blackberry for staying connected to email. Of course, the best way for me to use data in the UK or Spain is with local SIM's in my unlocked Nokias. On average the cost is under two dollars a day, or on par with what I pay for AT&T Media Net, Sprint or Verizon here in the USA for mobile broadband.
With a trip to London coming up next week (yes I will have been in London three times in five weeks) I'll again have my "bag of phones" but this time, after the last month of intense testing, the Nokia E71 and SkypePhone will be getting the lions share of the use, with the Novatel MiFi playing a supporting role with local SIMs that create my own personal hotspot, all the while keeping the data costs down.