Give Tilt a Chance?

April 23, 2008

Impatient with waiting for Exchange Active Sync for the iPhone, I put it down recently and moved my SIM card to an AT&T Tilt.  Initially I had issues with the form factor and I was surprised by this as the Tilt’s ancestor, the HTC Wizard/Cingular 8125 was also a qwerty side slider and I loved using it.  But the mini OSX touch interface had spoiled me good, and so I was stuck in Goldilocks land for a time.  

To remedy this I purchased an unlocked RAZR2 V8 with 2G of internal memory and EAS, only to discover it didn’t actually have the EAS option it’s manual said it should.  So I Googled and ultimately found my way to a ROM I could flash to the device that hopefully would have this option and voila I pulled it off (thanks Rasputin007).  The V8 is truly a smartphone disguised as a feature phone and the form factor/build quality is superb.  Call quality was not as good as I expected it to be, but definitely better than Apple’s offering.  EAS worked as I’d hoped (except for a certificate issue that made scheduled sync impossible though it was I think an issue with the certificate and not EAS on the V8) and the native Opera browser was pretty snappy but not persistent.  In other words if you moved to another program on the phone the browser closed completely….not cool.  The other deal breaker was the challenge of text entry.  The iPhone keyboard may suck, but it is definitely better than T9 or multitap on a standard numbered phone pad.

So the tilting qwerty slider was catching my eye again and a few experiments with Opera Mini 4 later (PIE post Mobile Safari renders PIE even more unusable than it already was), the Tilt was back in black, or at least charcoal (which along with the black plastic trim, black rubberized backing, and chrome Dpad makes this device look as a sexy as a PDA can look I think).  I must say I’m rather pleased with it for the moment.  Call quality is actually top notch and I’d forgotten how great multitasking on WM is even if getting around the interface is a challenge.  The biggest complaint I’ve heard about it from other power users is battery life, but I’m not seeing that problem at all.  Here’s what my usage diary looked like today:

  • Starting at 100% I pulled the charger from the socket at 720a this morning
  • Browsed Google Reader in Opera Mini for 15-20 minutes
  • Checked some email (Exchange push on all day long by the way)
  • Reset on the way to work because the data connection flaked 
  • Browsed the NY times within Opera Mini for another 15-20 minutes
  • Bluetooth turned on at 530p and I called my wife and had a couple minutes of conversation via headset
  • Called AT&T customer service and stayed connected for 15 minutes while I asked them if I could switch to a Blackberry data plan (more on that later) and let my wife officially inherit the iPhone with the data plan (more on that later too)
  • Checked Gmail and had it polling every hour all day

At 1146p I still have 40% juice left.  Now I am running a cooked WM 6.1 ROM from XDA (DCS authored as I tried a couple of Dutty’s and they were quite frankly bug ridden), and maybe the chef optimized battery life in a way the standard Tilt ROM doesn’t?  My 3G signal at work is rock solid, but at home it can be iffy, so you tell me is that poor performance for a moderate day of usage?  Maybe if I made more phone calls I would be complaining, but I can’t based on what I’ve seen from Sir Tilt thus far.

I’ve rarely turned on the Wifi radio because the 3G data speeds are so good, but are they noticeably better in Opera Mini via HSDPA than in Mobile Safari over EDGE? They are but not drastically, though when you combine it with full EAS, I can live without iPretty for a time…..

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