Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Tech Disappointments of 2011 – Mobile Phones


We’ve already had a go at tablets and now it’s time to turn our attention to mobile phones. Today we’ll take ...
Tech Disappointments of 2011 – Mobile Phones
We’ve already had a go at tablets and now it’s time to turn our attention to mobile phones. Today we’ll take a look at some of the handsets that were hyped to be something really great, but in reality fell flat on their face, as they simply didn’t work as advertised or were absurdly priced or simply didn’t receive adequate support, either from the manufacturer or community.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
The ‘PlayStation phone’ had a lot riding on it when it launched in April 2011 and it was supposed to ‘revolutionize’ the mobile gaming scene. Sadly, Sony failed to realize that if you are going to launch a niche phone dedicated to gaming, you will need a vast game library and more importantly, top tier exclusive titles. Where’s Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Toy Story? At least, let us have the old PS One games, which includes more than 100 titles.
All 'play' and no games makes Sony a ...
All 'play' and no games makes Sony a ...


Most games found today in the Xperia Play’s library are standard Android games with just the controls mapped to work with the slide-out joypad. The device itself isn’t bad, as it’s similar to the Arc, internally. However, the extra bulk of the joypad is rendered useless without proper support for exclusive titles.

HTC Sensation
HTC’s first attempt at a dual-core phone didn’t go down too well with end users. The first major issue that cropped up was the ‘death grip’ problem, which mainly affected the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, rather than the cellular radios like the iPhone 4.
Not sensational enough, eh?
Not sensational enough, eh?


The issue was caused due to the aluminum chassis of the Sensation, which when held in one's palm immediately caused a drop in signal. A more alarming issue, with the touchscreen was found later. Many users around the globe stated that the screen would simply stop responding after just a week’s usage. Replacement units also suffered from the same problem, which put a further dampner on sales.

Nokia X7
Nokia is well known for their product placements in big budget Hollywood movies (remember the Nokia 5800 ‘Tube’ from Dark Knight?) and they spared no expense for their X7 media phone. It made a cameo in Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, but unlike the movie itself, which wasn’t too bad, the X7 was more like Transformers 2.
Perhaps Nokia should have used a better movie to promote this
Perhaps Nokia should have used a better movie to promote this


Leaving aside the fact that it came with Symbian Anna, it’s priced in a bracket where there’s no shortage of good Android phones to choose from, so why would someone pick this? Nokia targeted it as a media phone when its media capabilities were far from impressive. It could playback 720p videos, but most of it played without audio and it’s not like there’s a third party player to help you out since, hello, it’s the Ovi Store. Something else we can’t fathom is Nokia’s fixation with fixed-focus cameras. Why? You’re charging Rs.20,000, throw in a auto-focus camera!
Motorola Fire and Fire XT
These are the two most appalling Android handsets, we’ve come across this year and is not something we expected from Motorola. Throwing a wild guess, what could have happened is that while the entire R&D team were busy with the DROID RAZR, they had a bunch of their interns whip up something to pass their time.
A poor effort from Motorola
A poor effort from Motorola


While the handsets aren’t built too shabbily, it’s the horrible touchscreen that ruins it. That’s like build a great car and then messing up the steering, it just doesn’t work. The phone - Fire XT also overheated quite frequently, which cased the phone to reboot randomly. We can’t believe we are saying this, but the budget Micromax A70 was a mile ahead of this one.

Dell XCD35
Dell didn’t really have any great phones this year, but out of the lot, their worst would have to be the XCD35. Other than the high resolution screen and decent build, the phone pretty much sucked in everything else.
Avoid like the plague
Avoid like the plague


Although the screen is a capacitive one, the touch input is not the best and there’s a noticeable lag in pretty much anything you do, due to the slow 600MHz processor. There’ also no official support form Dell for a Gingerbread update, so you’re stuck with Froyo. I can go on, but to put it plainly, it’s a strictly average phone that shouldn’t have been priced anything beyond Rs.5,000.

BlackBerry Torch 9860
The new Torch 9860 from RIM wasn’t a complete washout, but again it wasn’t a real winner, either. I’m not really going to poke fun at the poor app store, since that’s a given, but even with a 1.2GHz onboard, it wasn’t exactly as blazing fast as you’d hope it would be.
All style, no performance
All style, no performance


Also, with prolonged usage the phone would get a bit sluggish, which could hint at poor memory management. The battery life also turned out to be just about average. For a bit more money, you could get the Bold 9900, which is an excellent phone, so there’s no reason to get this in the first place.

That’s our list of what we felt were phones that were either hyped and didn’t play their part or were just simply awful to begin with. So come on, let’s hear your list.

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