I need a new phone

There’s no two ways about it: I need a new phone. My current phone, a Motorola V551, has been on its last legs for several months now and I’ve been putting off getting a new one because I didn’t want the hassle. But I don’t think I can put it off much longer.

The problem is in the bit of shopping that I’ve done, both online and in person, I can’t find one that I’d be happy with. Hence this post, which I’m writing as much just to get my thoughts down as to solicit recommendations from anyone who might want to toss them out.

I’m already past the end of my contract with AT&T, so I could switch carriers without a penalty, but I probably wouldn’t without a really strong reason. I’m leaning towards buying an unlocked GSM phone instead of signing a new two-year contract with AT&T — more because the phones they offer all seem to be complete dreck than because I’ve got any real beef with their service (although my signal does stink at home).

These are my key criteria:

  1. Must be a good phone. I really don’t need a phone that is also a toaster. This one seems particularly lost on folks marketing phones these days. Everything seems to be “phones that play music” or “phones that play video,” which is all well and good — I wouldn’t specifically turn down a phone because it had extra features — but if it isn’t a good phone I don’t really care what else it can do.
  2. Must fit comfortably in my pocket. My current phone isn’t too bad in this regard. Ideally, I’d like something a little thinner, but it could also be a little taller or wider and still be pocketable.
  3. Must have unrestricted bluetooth. None of this headset-only crap. I’m not going to pay a carrier to get things onto and take things off my phone when the phone is perfectly capable of doing it directly. This is one of the main reasons I ditched Verizon a few years back.
  4. Must have voice dialing. I drive between 3 and 4 hours round-trip to and from work every day, and I do a fair amount of calling in the car. I would love a phone that could do digit-based voice dialing, in addition to the usual pre-recorded entry style, so I could call numbers by speaking them, but at least the canned style is required.

These are some other non-critical but still in-play factors in no particular order:

  • Would prefer a quadband phone. This one’s pretty high on my list, but it’s not a total dealbreaker.
  • Wouldn’t mind having wi-fi connectivity.
  • Would like good iSync compatibility.

So far, the phone that seems to come closest to the largest number of these is the Nokia E65. My biggest concern there is that I haven’t been able to hold one in my hands to see if I like the feel, and that’s not an insignificant amount of money to be shelling out sight-unseen.

Update (22 Aug 2007, 14:28): After a particularly annoying last couple of days with my phone powering completely off during multiple conversations even while plugged in, I broke down and ordered the E65 last night. We’ll see how it goes…

Update (22 Sep 2007, 12:21): I am absolutely loving this phone. The size is perfect and the sliding action is solid. I like that I can voice dial any entry in my phone book without having to record voice tags for them, although the recognition has been a bit finicky — so far it’s had maybe a 75-80% success rate. I’ve set up an account with Truphone which gave me a 206 area code number, and I’ve set up my GrandCentral local number to ring through to that one. So if I’m in range of a wireless access point I can make and receive VOIP calls without cutting into my plan minutes, and if I’m not everything rolls over to my regular mobile account automatically.