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Thread: Uprading on Sprint: Moto Photon or iPhone 4S?

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    Uprading on Sprint: Moto Photon or iPhone 4S?

    Motorola Photon or iphone 4S?

    I need to upgrade the phone on my Sprint SERO plan and am divided between a Photon, iPhone 4S. Has anyone here used both?

    They are not directly comparable - 4G and a larger screen on the Photon, nothing like than for an iPhone. I understand that Photons have a great radio/antenna rig, but now hear Apple's is at least as good. I first considered the SGS2, but it's said to be noticeably weaker in RF performance.
    I had originally settled on a Photon due to the seeming much faster on the web due to 4G and its being $50 rather than 200 after upgrade credit. It turns out the SERO upgrade credit can only be used through Sprint. Thus any of these phones are the same $200 net. I'm thinking it'll be easier to resell the iPhone next year.

    I will use it in the NYC metro area, for voice, web browsing, apps and emergency tethering. I want to be able to easily sync docs across several devices. I have no interest in games.
    Can anyone compare the user experience on these two devices? I don't want to get into a debate on which one is "better" or drag racing benchmark counts. How are they different when you use them?

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    When you mean syncing docs across several devices, would you be referring to Google Docs?

    This is how I use Google Docs. If I upload a spreadsheet to Google Docs on the PC into my Chrome browser, the spreadsheet will be visible for review on the Google Docs app on all my Android devices, including the tablets. This is very good for collaboration with different people on the same set of documents.

    Also, if I received an Office file in my GMail as an attachment while I am on mobile, I can have Google Docs open the attachment and immediately review it. At the same time, the document is stored into the Google Docs cloud, with which it can be also visible on any other device I own with Google Docs signed in to my account. When I go back to the office, I can open my browser, launch Google Docs and see the document there.

    The Google Docs app on Android is original Google's. There are likewise, third party Google Docs apps in both Android and iPhone.

    On RF, it seems to me Motorola is slightly ahead of Samsung in the game, while Samsung and Apple appear to be neck to neck on reception, which is about average, but nothing to complain much about.
    I am @guamguy on Twitter.

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    I've used Google docs for a few minutes, it formatted Word docs into tables which were a bear to edit. There's probably a simple fix for that, but I found no sign of it in the time I had available. So far Google Docs is the sync solution I'm aware of, there are probably others. I also want to sync contact lists, calendars etc and have more than skeleton calendar functionality available. Don't know if Google, APPL or a 3rd party does that better.

    Resale is another issue. On my plan I'll pay the same $200 for a Photon, SGS2 or I4S; I hear it's very easy to sell recent gen iphones, less so most others. Resale is an issue bc right now the Wimax and larger screen on the Moto are material advantages. Once there's an LTE iPhone and I have a thin slate to supplement the phone I suspect I'll prefer the convenient though restricted iphone ecosytem - QC is easier when you have maybe 3 related devices to test on rather than 30 with substantial differences.

    If the no-charge or $50 upgrade applied to the Photon it would be a no-brainer. At 200 and considering resale it's a puzzle. One strategy is to try the iPhone first - if the small screen and slow 3G turn out to be showstoppers then I pay the restock fee and get a Photon.
    Does Sprint have the will and resources to bring their 3G up to tolerable speeds in the next 4 months? I'm calling that 4-800k down in real use. I'd seen 1.4M from them on Rev A a year ago.

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    EV-DO, in the hands of Sprint and Verizon, is going to be stuck at 2Mbs download speeds. Both carriers do not plan to upgrade EV-DO to newer revisions. Its useless for them to do so, since they are investing in 4G.

    WiMax will get better speeds than EV-DO but note, Sprint is changing its mind about WiMax and plans to move to LTE. Unfortunately it means phones with WiMax, like the Photon 4G, will go obsolete with it.

    But that's still better than signing up 2 years for a phone like the CDMA iPhone 4S, that is stuck to 2Mbs EV-DO for life.

    It will be until the second half of next year till Sprint will get LTE phones.

    iIf I want to get an iPhone, I would stick to AT&T, where at least, even with obsolete 3G HSPA technology, you still get up to 14.4 mbs, in addition to getting data and voice calls simultaneously. EV-DO can't do that --- it is 3G only in data, reverts to 2G CDMA for voice.

    The optimal choice for me is to get an Android with LTE. If I am going to be stuck with a phone for the next two years, it better be planning that far ahead. If its a Motorola phone, man, I would get the Droid RAZR on Verizon. Its faster than the Photon 4G, better looking, better in every department from screen, to build, to its speed, plus the LTE speeds. We're talking like 20Mbs on a good day, 10x faster than you can get on EV-DO. There is also the HTC Rezound on Verizon and the soon to release Samsung Galaxy Nexus also on Verizon. On AT&T, there is the HTC Vivid and the Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, along with a just released LG Nitro HD.

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    Agreed on nearly all points. But I'm constrained to Sprint due to costs.

    Sprint well behind at this point, but they keep me on by saving at least $25/month, 500-800 per contract even with both the Sero Premium and 4G surcharges. They're also forgiving about occassional tethering (good for emergencies etc), no charge for calls to any mobile numbers, nav and the other items I'm sure you're familiar with.
    Their voice coverage has been good enough, and they offer an option on the phone to force roaming for those times when the phone attempts to hang onto an unusable Sprint signal. They act like they're trying harder. Obviously, VZ's LTE, coverage and phone selection kicks Sprint into last week, but $20-30 recurring cost isn't something I can't afford to ignore. I also don't need 20Mbps down, from for my use 800 is OK, 1.5 is pretty good and about 4 would feel speedy for everything except being a full time mobile hotspot. It's when it slows to 400 or 200K which Sprint 3G sometimes does that it gets to be a headache. An iPhone an ATT would appear to offer a huge boost over EV-DO rev A, call it "perceived 4G".

    And as you point out, on Sprint you're still stuck with soup or bread (voice/data) but you can't have both in one bite. Sprint won't get the Razr or Nexus either. SO, why a I staying? Easy, I have other expenses which mean it would be irresponsible to give up my SERO plan as of right now; were this not the case I'd try VZ.

    From your info I can get a decent Android device on Sprint but not the best, and in about 12 months Sprint will have rolled out at least as much LTE as they now have WiMax. I also like the idea of an LTE iPhone - it's a restricted OS, fewer features, but speedy, rootable and well thought through. I'd expect needs less time + attention on my part, both of which are in limited supply. Android keeps improving tho, and if I were on VZ I'd go with a Razr or Nexus.

    So based in part on the info you've provided, what do you think of getting a Sprint iPhone with the intention of selling it next summer, just before the wave of Sprint LTE Androids and the inevitable LTE iPhone? I'm guessing it will be waay easier to sell the iPhone than the Photon.

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    You still isn't going to sell the phone for that much. Your ETF will cost you more than what you sell it for. Then add the cost of the new contract, and I don't think you are getting any net savings, not even compared to moving to Verizon. As a matter of fact, your most cost effective measure is to sit out for the length of the contract.

    Second, Sprint's LTE adoption will be pretty slow, which is the result of any network whose money is tied up on inventory especially with lots of iPhones, which leaves you with not enough money to upgrade the network. By the time they would have sufficient coverage, you're going to be finished with a two year WiMax contract anyway.

    It doesn't matter if you actually think you're saving money with a network because you got a cheaper contract. Inferior service costs you more in terms of hidden alternative costs, like decreased productivity and increased unhappiness with your personal living. This is the classic save a penny, lose a dollar thing.

    I also don't see any basis why the iPhone 4S has equal better radio reception than the Motorola Photon 4G and better than the Epic Touch 4G, which I also recommend. According to Consumer Reports, the Photon 4G and Epic Touch 4G are both ahead of the iPhone 4S, though I doubt the iPhone 4S reception is nothing to complain about, and it certainly doesn't have the death grip issue of the iPhone 4.

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/consum...s-higher/62857

    I would think the Epic Touch 4G is actually better than the other two, but the iPHone 4S is definitely more resellable due to its brand name and GSM support. Note that people are buying up second hand phones in the US and reselling them in emerging countries in the grey market, and for that, GSM is preferred, or at least a CDMA phone with GSM support. That's the reason why I see pleny of Sprint Blackberry 9930s in GSM filled Asia. For that matter, the Motorola Photon 4G also has GSM and HSPA support, unlike the Epic Touch 4G.

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    Wasn't planning on terminating my Sprint contract. For someone getting a new contract now who wants a high end phone, VZ is clearly ahead. I have a friend who travels 70% and swears by VZ; coverage is much more consistent in his experience.

    That hasn't been an issue for me. Previously I had a VZ phone and a VZ data card. In my usage pattern I've never had a time where I ground my teeth wishing I had VZ again. It would have been nice had I realized sooner how easy Sprint makes it to force the phone into roaming - it's on the phone menu, three taps, no hacks. Can't blame them if I didn't RTphM. There's exactly one location where I use that feature. For me, I can say that when I pay my Sprint bill each month I feel like I've got every dollar's worth. It's not too often that I can say that about a phone company.

    What's your take on call quality/radio performance and build quality between the Photon and SGSII? The latter seems to be considered a small step above the Photon, but I'll trade that for measurably better voice connections. Maybe I'm stuck in 1876, but I still use my phone to talk ;-)

    Anyway ... each of these 3 phones has its advantages. I'll pick one and try it, then possibly test drive both fruit and robot wares.

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    Motorola said to have the best voice quality, but for most phones nowadays its not much of an issue. Some thin phones make voices sound "thinny" at first when new, because the speakers are still so tight and new. But gradually speakers loosen with use over time and gets more mellow.

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    Photon versus iPhone 4S on Sprint

    I was in your shoes about a month ago. I was torn between the iPhone 4S and the Photon...well I was also considering the Samsung Galaxy 2 4G Epic Touch. I eventually eliminated the iPhone from the running for two reasons: first, because it doesn't have 4G and second, because the thing is way to delicate for a klutz like me! In the end, I was all set to get the Galaxy, but then the Photon just felt better in my hands and although the EpTouch did slightly better in benchmarks, playing with the two side by side, it was impossible to tell which was faster. Plus, the voice quality on the Photon is a lot better than the Galaxy -- or the iPhone, for that matter. The Photon holds a signal extremely well and the person on the other end of the conversation can be heard loud and clear. I haven't had one dropped call the entire time I've had it.

    I was coming from a Palm Pre, so the Android operating system was new to me. I liked WebOS better, but I'm impressed with Android too. I have loads of Apple products, including an iPad and iPod Touch, so I'm very familiar with iOS as well. Apple's iOS is prettier than Android, but to my surprise, I actually prefer Android. All of that said, I do still have iPhone envy, but I'm definitely comfortable with my decision. It was important to me to have a phone that well....actually worked well as a phone. Apps and OS aside, there is no doubt that on Sprint, the Photon is a better phone than the iPhone 4S. It just gets better reception. Go into a Sprint store and try the iPhone and Photon and Galaxy back to back. There's really no comparison when it comes to call quality. When you're on the Photon, it feels like you're on a landline.

    One more thing. I'm in NYC too and, unfortunately, both 3G and 4G are pretty terrible here. 3G speeds are often 500K and the most I've ever gotten on 4G is 2.5Mbs. Sadly, indoors I find that 3G and 4G are just about the same -- usually between .25 to .50mb. Terribly, terribly slow. Now, of course, when you're inside you often have access to wifi so that's not a huge deal, but it's still something to consider. Outside, both 3G and 4G speeds are better, but I've never found Sprint's 4G to be as fast as advertised. In New York, I think an iPhone on ATT's HSPA+ is probably faster than any phone on Wimax. In other parts of the country it's possible that Sprint achieves the 4G speeds they claim in their advertising.

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    There's the info I need. I'm going to try out a Photon, and if works out OK I'll keep it.

    The limiting factor seems to be Sprint's speeds, so a 3G only phone doesn't cut it now. My current antique phone (Treo) is so slow it that on phone apps can't keep up with the data stream, so mostly it's not a good indicator of network performance. It did work pretty well as an emergency data card tho. A year ago I could get over 1Mbps indoors when tethered, on a top floor, in an old building with no steel deck or frame. That wasn't bad, I didn't feel strangled by a slow connection. That may not come back for a while.

    Right now I can't switch to VZ and their better NYC coverage + LTE - that's double my SERO plan cost and would take $ away from things more important than phone (amazingly, there are more important things ;-).

    Either system will be a large, useful, beneficial improvement. 4G, not being tied to iTunes and your data point on Photon call quality have solved my question. It's FAR more helpful to hear from someone who is not religiously tied to some product than the party line povs often heard on the net and owns devices on all the relevant platforms.

    "When you're on the Photon, it feels like you're on a landline." This really helped, since we're on the some carrier in the same city.

    Now, where can I look for info to spend a reasonable amount of time - 2-6 hours - getting ramped up on Android? I want to know it just well enough that I'm not wasting time or missing obvious benefits when I use it, but I do not want to make futzing with my phone a part-time job/time sink.

    Quote Originally Posted by kslam View Post
    I was in your shoes about a month ago. I was torn between the iPhone 4S and the Photon...well I was also considering the Samsung Galaxy 2 4G Epic Touch. I eventually eliminated the iPhone from the running for two reasons: first, because it doesn't have 4G and second, because the thing is way to delicate for a klutz like me! In the end, I was all set to get the Galaxy, but then the Photon just felt better in my hands and although the EpTouch did slightly better in benchmarks, playing with the two side by side, it was impossible to tell which was faster. Plus, the voice quality on the Photon is a lot better than the Galaxy -- or the iPhone, for that matter. The Photon holds a signal extremely well and the person on the other end of the conversation can be heard loud and clear. I haven't had one dropped call the entire time I've had it.

    I was coming from a Palm Pre, so the Android operating system was new to me. I liked WebOS better, but I'm impressed with Android too. I have loads of Apple products, including an iPad and iPod Touch, so I'm very familiar with iOS as well. Apple's iOS is prettier than Android, but to my surprise, I actually prefer Android. All of that said, I do still have iPhone envy, but I'm definitely comfortable with my decision. It was important to me to have a phone that well....actually worked well as a phone. Apps and OS aside, there is no doubt that on Sprint, the Photon is a better phone than the iPhone 4S. It just gets better reception. Go into a Sprint store and try the iPhone and Photon and Galaxy back to back. There's really no comparison when it comes to call quality. When you're on the Photon, it feels like you're on a landline.

    One more thing. I'm in NYC too and, unfortunately, both 3G and 4G are pretty terrible here. 3G speeds are often 500K and the most I've ever gotten on 4G is 2.5Mbs. Sadly, indoors I find that 3G and 4G are just about the same -- usually between .25 to .50mb. Terribly, terribly slow. Now, of course, when you're inside you often have access to wifi so that's not a huge deal, but it's still something to consider. Outside, both 3G and 4G speeds are better, but I've never found Sprint's 4G to be as fast as advertised. In New York, I think an iPhone on ATT's HSPA+ is probably faster than any phone on Wimax. In other parts of the country it's possible that Sprint achieves the 4G speeds they claim in their advertising.

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    Good Choice

    I don't think you'll regret. The Photon really is a fantastic phone. Again though, indoors both 4G and 3G are very slow. Outdoors, 4G can be okay, but it never gets blazing fast. Last night I hit 4.5 Mbs, which is the fastest I've gotten so far.

    Oh, one more thing -- in your earlier post you mentioned that you like that on Sprint you can select "roam only" and jump on to Verizon. Unfortunately, Sprint no longer allows you to choose "roam only" on their phones. They do still have "automatic roam." I, too, had a Treo and used to turn on "roam only" from time to time. When I got my Pre in 2009 I had to install a patch to bring that option back. On the Photon, I haven't bothered trying to hack it to bring roam only back. Sprint's reception in NYC is excellent. In fact, if you look at the various surveys, Sprint and Verizon's phone reception in NYC is practically the same. (In other markets it's a different story.)

    Edit:
    How come under my user name it says "My mom bought me this phone?" I didn't write that.

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    Just got it from the store, it's on the charger now.

    You have any suggestions as to the 1st 10 or 20 things I need/should know about Android or this thing is particular? About an hour's worth. Also a good case - I got one from the store merely to not have an instantly banged up phone; it just clips around the phone and provides slight bump protection. Sprint had no extended battery either, the standard one is surprisingly thin. Then again I'm coming from an antique, a Treo with a 2-day 2200mah extended batt. They did not have any sort of screen protector - don't I need one or is that gone with the new glass-front phones?

    Just before buying the phone I spoke to Verizon and asked about deals for new customers porting their line from elsewhere. The best the rep had was less service for $30 more base charge. That had no unlimited mobile to mobile, so add overage changes, for that price VZ was 2GB not 5, and they would doubless pounce on more than a couple hours worth of emergency tethering. Their 800mhz would be better indoors, no doubt, and I do see spots where Sprint drops but I can roam sucessfully (with the old phone's force roam option) on the pay me now company. But it's not a tax-deductible business expense for me, so ... fuggedabout VZ.

    I'm feeling pretty good about this, like it's going to give me much more in productiveness and stress reduction than I'm paying.

    --- I didn't pick my subtitle either. I think the site owner has a script that tosses those out and gets a little chuckle out of it.

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    Hey, I wrote you a long reply last week, but I just realized it never posted. Anyway, I don't really have any specific Android tips. Oh, one thing that took me a while to find, is where I could assign different alert tones to different Gmail boxes. It's in a peculiar place -- at least it seems unintuitive to me. You have to go through a few submenus in Gmail settings until you get to "Labels to notify." There you'l be able to set an alert tone unique to that account.

    I don't keep the phone in a case. I'v found that the rubberized back and gorilla glass front to be rugged enough for me. I wouldn't make a habit of keeping keys and coins in the same pocket as the phone though.

    And, yeah, I realized after posting that the subtitles are pre-assigned. Har-har.

    In other news, I was shocked to get 4G speeds today in Brooklyn of almost 9Mps!. That was outside, of course.

    Are you liking the phone? Do you feel like you made the right choice.
    Last edited by kslam; 12-19-2011 at 07:02 PM.

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    I have some random thoughts though not a clear picture yet, I gotta say writing this makes it clear how much I depend on my phone.

    I'm about 1/2 into using it like my old phone - I still have to port calendar and contacts over and get an m-SD card for it; some files, such as a web page will save onto an SD card only not internal storage.

    Net so far:
    Sprint 4G is a tease - signal out there but never in here, unless you live in a glass or paper box.
    The Photon a lot of machine, but it forces me work for it so that it will work for me.

    More 1st impressions:
    It's impressive, powerful, and somewhat annoying. Swype is brilliant, but in any text box I have to fight with it to bring up the control and move the cursor. As it turns out there's a command in Swype which brings up cursor keys, it's not obvious even after browsing through the embedded help. It's still a bit of a pain to enter text (I'm coming from a physical keyboard). With all the famous customization in Android, I don't see where Swype allows me to change keyboard layouts like Windows does (I don't like querty, it fights you, which is a bigger issue with swype typing than touch)

    Screen resolution is amazing, but you can't use it all for text. It's possible to shrink letters to below readable size, so the high res doesn't indicate how much you can cram onto the screen. Even at 4+" it's not a substitute for a computer, for that you need a tablet. I can more with the Pho than on the Treo's 2.5" screen, but it depends on a mobile version of a site or futzing around with a document. For me there's no advantage to phone screens over 4".

    The Photon is thin even with the Sprint plastic case, which I may ditch after I get a screen protector.

    The camera another huge improvement, but it dies in low light. I believe that's true for nearly all phones. More MP on a small sensor ==> crappy low light performance. I'd prefer a more expensive grade of 5MP sensor bc and better indoor shots, those little lenses can't resolve 8mp anyway.

    For a couple days I'm in an apt with no internet connection so I loaded a tether app. <2 min with the readme, a minute or two futzing with settings and it worked. Not bad.
    Not everything works that well. At one point Sprint dropped out and it went into roaming. But you can't force roaming to make that connection stable and you can't install the app for that without rooting the phone. I'd hoped Android would let me install apps without hacking/jailbreaking etc.

    I also saw almost 10Mbps 4G in a nowhere corner of Brooklyn, indoors in a thin wood framed house, and 3G was about 1.5. But in places where I'd actually want to be for more than 30 seconds it's weak, such as UWS where you'd think it would be blanketed with cell sites. Examples: 4G at an old brick building, 2-4Mbps outside, signal dies immediately once inside. Even on the top floor, nothing. But this is where you need it, as 3G is down to between 100K and 1M here (it's near Columbia U). When 4G is scavenging for a signal it seems to kill both; 3G went down to 100K. A dumbphone from a decade ago at least has an antenna port to make the best of such situations.

    Battery: On idle it's a bit over 24 hours. That might not last: every new app seems to want network access with no options e.g Yahoo mail checks for new mail continuously and gives me no control over that. I'd have to use the Sprint utility to clobber all the background apps. The Sprint power mgmt app seems fairly thoughtful - a nice balance between control without complexification.

    Battery when actually using it is another story - do somthing with the phone and the battery falls off a cliff. The large screen always kills it as does 4G does when I can get it. No way will it last for 10 hours of talk time unless that's 10 hours screen off, all other radios off and standing under a tower. Leaving the house on less than a full charge or not managing power use is asking for a dead phone later in the day. So far I'm carrying a small dumbphone around to use when, rather than if the superphone battery dies. My Treo with a slighly extended battery could not be killed in a day's usage. You'd wear your fingers and eyeballs out first. All these superphones need a black+white mode, like a Kindle, with no backlight and a cpu downshift.

    Given the weakness of Wimax and the need to root it (ugh), I'm thinking that iphone, jailbreak and no 4G doesn't look so bad. It's a less powerful machine than the Photon, the screen is 1/2" smaller than ideal, but in practice maybe I'll get more actual work and play done with it. iphones have some resale value even 1 gen back, and any 3G or wimax phone on Sprint isn't quite cutting it for me.
    Looks like what I really want is indoor coverage with 4G or at least 3G working as it did in 2008, and on Sprint either may be a looong time.

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    4G is a tease, it's true. Sometimes it's great, but indoors it barely works.

    I've found battery life to be very good. I've been using Juice Defender, which you can customize to meet your needs. I was so impressed with the free version that I went ahead and bought the pay version, mostly to support the developer, but also to get a few added features. I highly recommend it. I did order an extra battery from Amazon just as a security blanket. It was only $11 and gets good reviews.

    As for keyboards, I like Swype, but the one that I mostly use is called SwiftKey. It's very simple to switch between keyboards, btw. You just hold your finger on the input field until you get an option called Input method. I'm finding that I use Swype for texting and SwiftKey for most other things.

    Agreed, screen resolution is amazing...maybe too good, actually. I find that I'm wearing my reading glasses on this phone much more than I did on my old one. If the resolution were lower, everything would be bigger. You can blow up the fonts within apps, but I haven't yet found a way to make the home screen icons bigger. To me, this is one advantage the Galaxy has over the Photon. The EpTouch's lower resolution AMOLED screen = bigger icons, though less available screen real estate.

    I'm sorry that you had a call drop. I haven't had that happen yet. Have you found the voice quality to be better than your old phone? I continue to be extremely impressed with the voice quality and find that I'm using my phone at home much more than I used to. In the past I'd always let calls forward to my landline and pick up that way.

    Oh, if you're not using it already, I recommend giving GoogleVoice a try. The one advantage that Sprint has over the other companies is that you can use GoogleVoice on your number without porting your number to Google. You can even switch back and forth from Sprint to GV as many times as you like. GoogleVoice is really fantastic. Definitely worth trying, especially if you already have a GoogleAcct. Because it's fully integrated with Sprint, you don't need to download the GoogleVoice app and I didn't for a while. Recently got it though and it's worth. Basically, it adds visual voicemail to your phone.

    Anyway, if you end up switching to the iPhone, I'm curious to hear your impressions.

    Oh, also, can you let me know which tethering app you've downloaded? I haven't tried tethering yet.

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    Last Post: 05-19-2006, 06:22 PM

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