A Device to Loathe: Bell’s HTC 5800 Smartphone

I woke up the other morning despising my mobile phone.

I’d been forced to spend some time without my HTC 5800 from Bell Mobility. In its stead I’d gone back to my old Palm Treo 650.

I only just picked up the HTC device last October, and I’d realized almost right away that I didn’t like it. I suppose I got suckered into its fancy slide-out keyboard. Of course, it’s far less bulkier than the Treo, and doesn’t have an antennae, so I recall that being a bonus.

Over time, however, I’ve grown to absolutely despise this device. Here’s why:

Windows Mobile. This is a most sorry-ass excuse for a mobile OS. Rather than ask, “How can we enable a positive mobile experience for users?”, Microsoft seems more intent on replicating the Windows experience in one’s hand, warts and all. This concept is highlighted when you consider how un-Mac-like the iPhone is, as it’s more about a unique mobile user experience.

The dongle. Never again will I buy a device that has a dongle to enable a proprietary data port to interface with USB. If I ever lose this damned dongle (and I temporarily have, from time to time), I’m screwed, as it’s essentially for charging and syncing the device. Words to live by: dongles are evil.

The battery. If I’m lucky, I’ll get an hour or two of talk time out of this thing. Standby? Maybe 20 hours. And that’s on the decrepit 1X network in the Horse. When I visit Vancouver and do a lot of data, the device needs to be charged twice daily.

The cute noises. In general, I can turn off most noises on this device. However, no matter what I do, I can’t kill the cute little dingly noise the damn thing makes whenever I slide open the keyboard or shut it. And trust me, it’s a lame noise.

Speed. This thing is slow. Like, minimum 1-second response time for dialpad pushes. This is especially apparent when you try to quickly dial a number and the device is just starting to display the keys you’re pressing after you’ve finished typing it in. At times the device seems to lock up forever, but really it’s just in a state of delayed animation.

Memory. The limited memory is constantly full and I have to manually manage the state of applications through an application called Task Manager. I prefer the iPhone model where no applications can exist in the background. With this device, and presumably with the Windows Mobile smartphone OS in general, the apps pile up in the background, hogging memory and making the device run ever slower.

Stability. I have to pop the battery out of this device at least once a day to reset it. And at least once a month I have to completely refresh the operating system. It is constantly locking up, often in the middle of phone calls. It’s pretty lame to call someone back with the excuse: “Sorry, my phone crashed.”

Sync. You’d think that because it’s a Windows Mobile device it would naturally sync contacts, calendars, and other data well with a Windows Vista PC. Well, you’d be wrong. I was constantly troubleshooting the relationship between the two devices. What’s more, it would often take the PC up to 20 minutes to even recognize that I’d plugged the mobile device into it. I ended up purchasing the Missing Sync for Windows Mobile from Mark/Space. There were still problems, but the Missing Sync on my Mac was worlds better than Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile Device Centre.

Button Lock. On my Treo, I just had to put the device to sleep to enable button lock. With Windows Mobile, it’s a two-step process: power button then 3-key. Doesn’t sound like a problem, but it is. Many, many times I didn’t quite hit the keys right while in a rush and ended up making phone calls from my pocket. Potential massive embarrassment. Note to self: require one-button sleep in any mobile device purchased in the future.

A lot of my grief comes from my ownership of an iPod touch and that fact that I’ve seen and played with an iPhone. Both of those devices are so well thought out and operate so flawlessly, that it boggles my mind how truly bad a device the HTC 5800 is and how absolutely pathetic Windows Mobile 6 is as a mobile operating system.

I mean, there must be smart people involved in the design of these things, right? How can they turn out such crap?