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Living with Technology / Making the call on a new mobile phone

Published 2:03 pm, Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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Many people ask me what technology I use. I'm happy to tell them, but I have to admit I'm not always using the latest gear.

In fact, I just replaced the phone I've been using for three years -- a full 18 months after I could receive a discounted upgrade.

In looking around, there are many good choices, and I won't get into them all, but they pretty much fall into two camps: Apple or Android.

Yes, the Blackberry and Windows phones are out there -- and the new Windows phones look really nice. And as much as I like underdogs, the market leaders have some great products.

I really like the iPhones -- and my daughter insisted on one. And while I like the size of the iPhones and how well they work, their oodles of apps and integration with other systems, the Apple "ecosystem" prevents one from doing things that Apple doesn't want you to do.

So I went to the Google Android world. The real problem with the Android market is that there are new phones coming out quite literally every day. Today's killer Android phone is yesterday's road kill.

With many phone manufacturers selling Android phones, such as Samsung, HTC, Google and Motorola, which is now part of Google, the choices are dizzying.

When Samsung came out with their Galaxy S III phone, it was very nice. It was fast, light and just about everything I could want.

Then I saw the Samsung Galaxy Note II. It's pretty much a larger version of the Galaxy S III. The Note is a cross between a tablet and a phone.

As I looked at what I want in a phone, I decided that I use the phone feature much less than I use the tablet feature. However, I already have an iPad, which is too big to fit into a pocket.

The Note does fit into a shirt or jacket pocket comfortably. With my voice I can pretty much control the entire phone. By using a headset, either wired, which is my preference, or Bluetooth, I can leave the phone tucked away and not have to touch it unless I want to use the screen parts.

And the screen parts are stellar. With a screen size of 5.5 inches diagonally, whereas Apple's iPhone 5 has a 4-inch screen, it's definitely on the large size, but that extra real estate makes a world of difference when viewing web pages or email.

The large screen is also useful for watching movies on Netflix or when I use the phone as my GPS.

The "speech to text" feature, where I dictate emails, text messages or other items, is accurate more than 90 percent of the time. Simply amazing.

I wouldn't say that the phone is for everyone, but my wife and I both have these phones and we're quite happy with them. If you're in the market for a new phone, be sure to check out both the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

Mark Mathias is a Westport resident and has worked in information technology for more than 30 years. His "Living With Technology" appears every other Wednesday. He can be contacted at livingwithtechnology@mathias.org.