My new phone – Samsung i5700

I’ve been looking for a mobile phone for a while now, and after a lot of deliberation I settled on the Samsung i5700. The phone came from Parallel Imported, here in Auckland and after turning on the phone and playing around with it, it was obvious that it originally came from England, most likely from Virgin Mobile.

The first thing to note was that the phone came with Android version 1.5, which I immediately wanted to upgrade to the latest version (2.2) as soon as possible. This lead to my first disappointment. It turns out that the only way to upgrade the phone is by installing the Samsung New PC Studio software. This should’ve been straight forward enough, except that:

* The software CD which came with the phone had the wrong version of the software, meaning it wouldn’t recognise the phone
* Samsung has several different versions of New PC Studio, depending on
– your county
– your provider
* New PC Studio has been replaced by a piece of Samsung software called Kies, which also refuses to recognise the phone
* Once I located the correct version of the software and installed it, it recognised the phone the first time it was plugged, but all consequent attempts to get it to recognise the phone have failed
* The Samsung software is incredibly annoying. It uses too much sound and the only thing I can see myself using it for is to upgrade to the newer version of Android

I swear, Samsung are utter crap at software, and if you had to find someone to write a manual on how not to create useful, bug free software, you should see the guys which created NPS and Kies.

Once I got that out of the way (in the process I had exceeded the download limit on my internet connection) I found that the software was not available to download. i.e. it would not allow me to upgrade the phone. By this time I was furious. The reason that the software wasn’t available is that you first needed Samsung to issue the update and then get the mobile provider (probably Virgin Mobile) to push the upgrade to all of the devices. These kinds of problems are exactly what everyone was trying to warn consumers about when they warned of Android fragmentation. In giving too much say to the handset makers and the mobile services providers, Google have created a situation where each middle man tries to “add value” by adding their own proprietary layer. From this consumers point of view, all the middle men do is add shit.

Samsung should stick to making TV’s and not try and be a software company. Virgin Mobile should invest money in their infrastructure instead of trying to wring every last dollar out of their clients.

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