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Thread: Droid newbie: What phone should a developer with minimal needs get?

  1. Junior Droid
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    #1

    Droid newbie: What phone should a developer with minimal needs get?

    A total droid newbie here. As in I've never even seen an android-based phone in person before. However, I am a web-application developer who needs to make sure her apps work well and look right on, among other things, android-based phones.

    In general, I love Google products and the open design philosophy they espouse. Unfortunately, the cell phone world is a pain of locked phones and disabled features, and that seems to reach into the Droid realm as well. So I'm at a loss here. I was thinking that perhaps the people at this forum could help. I need:

    * Basic featureset. The phone at a minimum needs to be able to support web browsing over wifi
    * Fairly representative of the typical android product range most consumers will have
    * Email support
    * Minimal cost possible given the above

    Here's what I would like:

    * Not required to be locked into a given network
    * Not required to have a data plan
    * Able to make use of a minimal dataplan with low cost and minimal capabilities
    * Still able to get higher data performance or more monthly data xfer if I later decide I want to pay for it.
    * Able to have those capabilities in Iowa City, IA zip code 52240, and in Detroit, MI if possible

    I've been told that Verizon has good coverage around here; I don't know about other providers. But when searched for "verizon droid unlocked", I found a lot of negative info about whether this was possible. Off the bat, all I'd want to pay for is enough data service to have access to email everywhere. Later, however, I might want more for actual data-intensive browsing.

    To be honest, I would probably not buy a phone as expensive as these new smartphones if it were up to me. I don't really need those capabilities. But my work requires it, since *other* people are buying these phones, and I need to make sure our webapps look and run right on them. And so I want minimal cost (purchase and monthly) now, but . And I want things to be open/unlocked as much as possible. Nothing drives me crazier than existing capabilities being deliberately shut out of software (yeah, I'm a Linux user )

    Thanks in advance!

    - Karen
    Last edited by Rei; 03-21-2010 at 01:05 PM.
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    #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Rei View Post
    A total droid newbie here. As in I've never even seen an android-based phone in person before. However, I am a web-application developer who needs to make sure her apps work well and look right on, among other things, android-based phones.

    In general, I love Google products and the open design philosophy they espouse. Unfortunately, the cell phone world is a pain of locked phones and disabled features, and that seems to reach into the Droid realm as well. So I'm at a loss here. I was thinking that perhaps the people at this forum could help. I need:

    * Basic featureset. The phone at a minimum needs to be able to support web browsing over wifi
    * Fairly representative of the typical android product range most consumers will have
    * Email support
    * Minimal cost possible given the above

    Here's what I would like:

    * Not required to be locked into a given network
    * Not required to have a data plan
    * Able to make use of a minimal dataplan with low cost and minimal capabilities
    * Still able to get higher data performance or more monthly data xfer if I later decide I want to pay for it.
    * Able to have those capabilities in Iowa City, IA zip code 52240, and in Detroit, MI if possible

    I've been told that Verizon has good coverage around here; I don't know about other providers. But when searched for "verizon droid unlocked", I found a lot of negative info about whether this was possible. Off the bat, all I'd want to pay for is enough data service to have access to email everywhere. Later, however, I might want more for actual data-intensive browsing.

    To be honest, I would probably not buy a phone as expensive as these new smartphones if it were up to me. I don't really need those capabilities. But my work requires it, since *other* people are buying these phones, and I need to make sure our webapps look and run right on them. And so I want minimal cost (purchase and monthly) now, but . And I want things to be open/unlocked as much as possible. Nothing drives me crazier than existing capabilities being deliberately shut out of software (yeah, I'm a Linux user )

    Thanks in advance!

    - Karen
    to the Droid Forum. Unfortunately I'm only familiar with Verizon phones, particularly the Droid.

    To the best of my knowledge there is no Android phone that doesn't require a data plan of some sort. Google has the Nexus 1 available, but I don't know what their requirements are, however I do know that there is absolutely NO customer support for that phone. At least not much to speak of.

    I don't know about the HTC Droid, if that requires a data plan but Verizon does lock you down to a contract. Another thing you wanted to avoid.

    I feel that the Motorola Droid can deliver everything your looking for performance wise however your no contract and no data just isn't go to work for you to have a Droid.

    Hopefully somebody else a little more informed then myself on Android phones can help you. I simply don't have the answers for you.
    Please be respectful. Respect is #1 here at DF Please read our Guidelines of Conduct
  3. Senior Droid
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    #3
    * Basic featureset. The phone at a minimum needs to be able to support web browsing over wifi
    Pretty much any Android device as far as I know

    * Fairly representative of the typical android product range most consumers will have
    Probably go with any device that was shipped with at least 2.0 and is scheduled to receive the 2.1 update. This way you'll remain current with the future phone releases. The Droid as well as the Nexus One have a much higher screen resolution that previously released Android phones.

    * Email support
    Sure! Since Android is released by Google they all have Gmail support built in. There are apps available to receive mail from other web based or POP3 accounts.

    * Minimal cost possible given the above
    There are always special offers going on if you get a service plan. It pays to shop around a bit. If you're buying just the phone, you'll have to pay up.

    * Not required to be locked into a given network
    Not a Verizon phone since it uses CDMA. Maybe a phone that has a SIM card will work for you? I don't really see the need for this requirement here.

    * Not required to have a data plan
    As far as I know, all Android devices require an unlimited data plan in order for a carrier to activate. Of course you could buy just the phone.

    * Able to make use of a minimal dataplan with low cost and minimal capabilities
    See above.

    * Still able to get higher data performance or more monthly data xfer if I later decide I want to pay for it.
    Again, see above. WiFi is always free (so to speak)

    * Able to have those capabilities in Iowa City, IA zip code 52240, and in Detroit, MI if possible
    Do some research and check coverage in your area. I don't foresee too much of a problem in those areas with any carrier. But I've never been to either of those cities.

    But when searched for "verizon droid unlocked", I found a lot of negative info about whether this was possible.
    If by 'unlocked' you mean being able to use it on another carrier besides VZW, your out of luck. If by 'unlocked' you mean access to every nook and cranny of the phone's system, then this is the phone for you. Just look in the rooting/hacking forums.
    ---------------------------------------------------

    I'm sort of confused by your post. Are you going to be using the phone specifically for testing apps during and after development? Are your apps strictly web based? Is the phone for personal use too?

    There are a couple of solutions that may be of interest to you. They are provided by Google.

    1. The Android SDK includes emulators of the different phones that use different versions of the OS.

    2. Google does have an Android Developer Phone available that is completely unlocked. The current one (ADP2, or named Google ION) is essentially an HTC MyTouch 3G. The phone is a little dated now though compared to the newer releases. It will run you a cool $399.
    Last edited by Skaggz; 03-21-2010 at 02:52 PM.
  4. Senior Droid
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Rei View Post
    A total droid newbie here. As in I've never even seen an android-based phone in person before. However, I am a web-application developer who needs to make sure her apps work well and look right on, among other things, android-based phones.

    In general, I love Google products and the open design philosophy they espouse. Unfortunately, the cell phone world is a pain of locked phones and disabled features, and that seems to reach into the Droid realm as well. So I'm at a loss here. I was thinking that perhaps the people at this forum could help. I need:

    * Basic featureset. The phone at a minimum needs to be able to support web browsing over wifi
    * Fairly representative of the typical android product range most consumers will have
    * Email support
    * Minimal cost possible given the above

    Here's what I would like:

    * Not required to be locked into a given network
    * Not required to have a data plan
    * Able to make use of a minimal dataplan with low cost and minimal capabilities
    * Still able to get higher data performance or more monthly data xfer if I later decide I want to pay for it.
    * Able to have those capabilities in Iowa City, IA zip code 52240, and in Detroit, MI if possible

    I've been told that Verizon has good coverage around here; I don't know about other providers. But when searched for "verizon droid unlocked", I found a lot of negative info about whether this was possible. Off the bat, all I'd want to pay for is enough data service to have access to email everywhere. Later, however, I might want more for actual data-intensive browsing.

    To be honest, I would probably not buy a phone as expensive as these new smartphones if it were up to me. I don't really need those capabilities. But my work requires it, since *other* people are buying these phones, and I need to make sure our webapps look and run right on them. And so I want minimal cost (purchase and monthly) now, but . And I want things to be open/unlocked as much as possible. Nothing drives me crazier than existing capabilities being deliberately shut out of software (yeah, I'm a Linux user )

    Thanks in advance!

    - Karen
    Welcome to the Droid world! As far as flexibility in data plans go, you will be locked with a mandatory plan when signing up with Verizon. Fortunately, you also have other options with carriers considered as MVNOs (or resellers of Big Red that operate without contracts), namely Page Plus Cellular or Blackdog Wireless (I would vouch for the latter as the owner himself is a reliable dealer with reasonable rates, especially on the data side. Plus, his network is equal to the Big Red's postpaid coverage... so no roaming charges included on top of your monthly fees). The companies I stated above allow BYOD (bring your own device), and in this case, the Droid, when updated with the latest PRL, will work out of the box... calls, texts, email, web and all.

    More information on those two carriers is available on howardforums.com under the prepaid section. While I have a Verizon contract myself with one Droid, I also have a prepaid account with PPC (with a second Droid as well). I will be porting out to Blackdog soon as I do need a larger data package included with my regular plan (work purposes).

    Hope this helped you a little bit Plus, with these carriers, you will save more, while enjoying the flexibility of optional packages with no contracts!
    Last edited by bizfox; 03-21-2010 at 02:59 PM.
  5. Junior Droid
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    * Minimal cost possible given the above
    There are always special offers going on if you get a service plan. It pays to shop around a bit. If you're buying just the phone, you'll have to pay up.
    Like any -reasonable- person, I care about total cost of ownership, not upfront costs. Which is why I don't want to get locked into an expensive data plan. I want to have the *ability* to upgrade to a higher end data plan if so desired, but what I need for now is pretty minimal.

    Not a Verizon phone since it uses CDMA. Maybe a phone that has a SIM card will work for you? I don't really see the need for this requirement here.
    Because I hate, hate, hate lock-in. It's the principle of the thing. I'll do it if I have to, but I despite spending hundreds of dollars on something and be prevented from getting my service from who I choose.

    I like to own the things I have. And if you're locked in, to me, that's not true ownership.

    * Not required to have a data plan
    As far as I know, all Android devices require an unlimited data plan in order for a carrier to activate. Of course you could buy just the phone.
    That's what I want to do: I want to buy the phone. I don't want to get the phone at some minimal price but then be locked into some expensive data plan and be dependent on having that.

    Do some research and check coverage in your area. I don't foresee too much of a problem in those areas with any carrier. But I've never been to either of those cities.
    Do you know of any sites that contrast coverage for different areas? I don't even know what my options are -- only that Verizon is supposedly good here. And even if there was a site that would compare/contrast coverage, how could I be sure it would be applicable to the phone in question?
    I'm sort of confused by your post. Are you going to be using the phone specifically for testing apps during and after development?
    As stated, I need to get it to be able to test apps -- almost exclusively from my place of business, which has wifi. But if I'm going to spend hundreds of dollars on a phone, yes, it would be nice to be able to get a minimal data plan so that I can get email on the road, too. But that's it.

    Are your apps strictly web based?
    Yes. They use a HTML/Javascript thin-client frontend. And the backend is way too hardware intensive to consider running on a phone.

    Is the phone for personal use too?
    Only insofar as I'd like a minimal dataplan for reading email when on the road.

    1. The Android SDK includes emulators of the different phones that use different versions of the OS.
    Would that affect how the web browser displays things? Obviously that couldn't affect the screen hardware. I don't care about Android's underlying Java layer.

    2. Google does have an Android Developer Phone available that is completely unlocked. The current one (ADP2, or named Google ION) is essentially an HTC MyTouch 3G. The phone is a little dated now though compared to the newer releases. It will run you a cool $399.
    Would I have options for:

    A) Using it with no dataplan
    B) Using it with a minimal data plan for reading email
    C) Using it with a higher rate/monthly limit data plan at a later date if I so chose?

    Thanks for all of your help, everyone!
  6. Junior Droid
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizfox View Post
    More information on those two carriers is available on howardforums.com under the prepaid section. While I have a Verizon contract myself with one Droid, I also have a prepaid account with PPC (with a second Droid as well). I will be porting out to Blackdog soon as I do need a larger data package included with my regular plan (work purposes).
    What sort of unlocked Android phone could I buy that would work with them? And how could I find out what sort of coverage they have in my area for said phones? I tried going to the BlackDog site, but it was down (not an encouraging sign...)

    I do like the idea of "pay for what you use", since I don't intend to use much.
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    Any Droid with out data and cell service is worthless IMHO..there is not always free wifi.
    A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.

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    Buy a used G1?
  9. Junior Droid
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backnblack View Post
    Any Droid with out data and cell service is worthless IMHO..there is not always free wifi.
    There's always free wi-fi in my place of work. Please note the primary reason I'm purchasing it.

    Not everyone wants a device for the same purpose. To reiterate:

    * When I'm not going to be travelling for a long time, I do not want to pay for any data coverage -- only voice.
    * When I am going to be travelling, I want to pay for only minimal data coverage (for email).
    * In the future, I may desire higher bandwidth/limits, and want the capability to acquire more.

    That's one of the annoying things I've found whenever I search for info on phones: some person comes to a forum and says that they want a phone but not a data plan, and gets berated as though they don't understand what it means to be limited to wifi. Just a bit of a pet peeve -- sorry.
    Last edited by Rei; 03-21-2010 at 05:48 PM.
  10. Junior Droid
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    Quote Originally Posted by iPirate View Post
    Buy a used G1?
    Would that be able to come without a data plan and work without a data plan (wifi-only)? Would I be able to add a limited data plan in my location?
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