Our review of the Geeks’Phone ONE
The user interface on the ONE is based on a stock Android experience. I am a big fan of the general Android user experience and although HTC’s Sense UI or perhaps the forthcoming Rachel UI from Sony Ericsson have that wow factor, it is not always about jazz. While the ONE may not match up to the Sense UI, there are plenty of third party applications to keep you busy customising the device until the early hours of the morning. Indeed, Geek’sPhone philosophy includes the ‘development, promotion and commercialisation of “open source” mobile telephony solutions’. The very nature of their device encourages the end-user to customise their product as much or as little as they like. This is why the device comes unlocked and network free. Nonetheless, I was a little disappointed by what Geeks’Phone themselves are offering.
Just like any other Android device, everything is laid out in a straight forward manner. The applications tray is accessible by a swipe ‘up’ or a tap at the bottom of the screen, and the core settings can be reached by swiping down the status bar at the top of the display. This will reveal your system and notifications tray. Everything can be accessed by a few taps or swipes. Unlike some other devices that run other operating systems, such as Symbian, there is complete continuity between actions. For example, on a current Symbian device I use, sometimes one has to double tap menu items, other times you press them just once. With the ONE, everything is consistent.
As with the HTC Magic, it is possible to bring up the call log via the green ‘call’ hardware key, and this reveals the favourite contacts, contact lists, and the dialer. When navigating these types of screens on the Android user interface, I found myself torn between using the stylus and using my finger. Indeed, for some tasks my finger would do just fine, but for other more intricate ones, the stylus performed better. Knowing when to use either one will come from experience, but I found the thought process annoying and draining after a while. I like to increase my productivity on any device as much as possible, and I found that not knowing when to pull out the stylus a drag. For some things, such as small webpage links, it was obvious to use the stylus, but other times such as playing with the Android settings, it was not as clear cut.
While testing the device, I had to remind myself that I was not using a $650 phone. For the price, I find the ONE a reasonably good option. It is by no means an entry-level handset as it will cost you around $425 (285€) to buy. Indeed, it is not cheap. But for your money you get WiFi, aGPS, 3G, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a full QWERTY sliding keyboard, and a decent screen resolution. It is possible to pick up a HTC Magic, unlocked and without a contract for about $40 (27€) more, but the most obvious drawback is you don’t get the keyboard. Instead, you would receive a slightly better screen resolution.
Considering the more negative points made above, the ONE picks up fingerprint marks quite easily, but they rub away easily too. The battery life on this device was slightly above average – especially when considering the battery capacity – but was nothing amazing. It would probably require nightly charging if you used it heavily each day. Furthermore, the resistive touchscreen will not suit everyone, although the inclusion of a stylus remedies some of the issues. The overall design of the device is nice, but not exciting. The camera is a little on the entry level side for me, and for this price I would have liked to have seen a 5MP sensor and a better lens. Despite the fact that the build of Android Geeks’Phone are using for the ONE has suffered intense optimization, using Android 1.5 is a real drawback, especially since two fully fledged subsequent released could have made our pockets prior to Geeks’Phone hitting the shelves. I found that I thoroughly enjoyed using the keyboard and preferred it to my Blackberry Curve. In the long term though, I cannot say how it will hold up in terms of durability. The inclusion of Dataviz RoadSync is a welcome addition, and something that will suit many consumers who require Push Email support.
Overall, there are better devices out there that will cost you far more money. However, it is still cheaper than the HTC Magic, which is about where the phone now sits in terms of specifications. If you want a device that does everything, but isn’t the best at anything, the the Geeks’Phone ONE may be for you. I can easily recommend it for those that wish to be foot-loose from a carrier and do not have to spend a fortune on a phone.