David Pogue's Platform Comparison
By Justin Ried, Mon Dec 15 13:00:00 GMT 2003

In today's edition of the International Herald Tribune, David Pogue compares the Symbian, Palm and Windows Mobile for Smartphone platforms. Using the Sony Ericsson P900, Treo 600 and Motorola MPx200, Pogue says that each OS has its own unique appeal but concludes the Treo demands the fewest compromises.

The article's written from a distinctly American viewpoint. Referring to Symbian as a European alliance, Pogue lauds the P900's capabilities but laments difficulty grokking its UIQ user interface:

"Of course, all of the phones in this category are, to an extent, aimed at geeks and gadget freaks. But the P900's technical level is, well, let's put it this way: if such user-manual topics as "To add a DTMF tone sequence" and "To create a new WAP account" do not make immediate sense to you, you're shopping in the wrong aisle."

The Treo gets a favorable review because of its QWERTY keyboard, huge catalog of available software, and familiar user interface:

"Like the original Treos - wide, fat flip phones - the 600 exhibits a deeply considered respect for your time; the screen always seems to offer the function you want at the moment, and shortcuts are everywhere."

The MPx200 gets a solid overall rating, but suffers from what Pogue calls "1.0-itis":

"The thumbwheel on the left side, for example, works nicely to adjust the ringer or earpiece volume - but it does not scroll through menus. The keys do not light up, either; there is no way to punch in a number in the dark. You can't use the on-screen dialing pad, because there isn't one. Unlike its rivals, this phone's screen is not touch-sensitive."

While I agree with a lot of his points, I have to take issue with a few:

  • "Windows Mobile for Smartphone OS is attractive, simple and easy to understand." This runs contrary to just about every other online review I've read. Most reviews have acknowledged its capabilities - especially the customizable home screen - but simple and easy to understand?

  • That the functions available on the P900 "swamp the phone's processor. It scrambles to keep up, like a comical, out-of-shape personal assistant." I've spent a lot more time waiting for the Windows CE busy cursor on Windows Mobile than anything on the Symbian platform. What's he talking about?

  • Symbian's based in the UK, but shareholders include Samsung, Panasonic and Sony Ericsson while the company has offices in Japan and the United States as well as Europe. Calling it a European alliance seems a bit misleading.