Yesterday was my wife’s birthday. I wanted to buy her a new mobile phone; her Nokia 5800 was functional, but felt terribly slow. In front of my BlackBerry and the new iPod Touch we bought recently.

Now, I’m still not a touch-phone person; I like my old fashioned keypad and I think BlackBerry’s keypad is the best I’ve used yet (Disclaimer: BlackBerry is a client of Edelman India).

Nokia has been one brand that we both have used almost forever. My very first phone was an Alcatel, 13 years ago, but after that, it has always been a Nokia. Same with wife – Nokia, all along. We both strayed into Samsung territory, but that did not last more than 3 months. I got one of Samsung’s phones that was advertised as the world’s thinnest – it was brilliant eye-candy, but the battery did not last more than a few hours. Samsung did thoughtfully include a spare battery as a default extra, but I can’t even begin to think of changing the battery during office hours or while driving! So, even though I thought the phone was fabulous design (functional UI), I dumped it within 3 months and got back into Nokia fold.

Ditto with wife. She had got a Samsung slider phone for a brief period, but came to Nokia, almost immediately. Between us, we’ve probably owned most of the popular Nokia models.

My stint with BlackBerry started when I joined Edelman. Here’s more, to avoid repetition.

Why this introduction? Because I got my wife Samsung Wave II for her birthday.

I did tweet about it much before buying and even asked for recommendations from my tweet friends.

Surprisingly, almost everyone started suggesting based more on the mobile OS than any handset. Andriod was the unanimous suggestion and people suggested phones like Samsung Galaxy 5 and LG Optimus. When I tweeted that we’ve zeroed in on Samsung Wave II, I got many replies and DMs asking me to stay away from it because it has Bada OS, something owned by Samsung and which doesn’t have as many apps as iOS or Android.

Let me try to understand that. Wouldn’t that be more like going for a car that had a <xyz> engine under the hood? Granted, the engine is the life of the car, but how many of us go by that as the sole criteria? There are many more things that matter in that purchase decision.

Coming back to a phone, my wife is a moderate user. She needs a decent enough camera to shoot impromptu pics of our 4 month old daughter; needs a good enough screen to play movies/music; uses her basic apps like Facebook and some surfing and wants her phone to be a lot more responsive than Nokia’s 5800. Apart from the movies part (but adding the music part), that may perhaps be the profile of an average mobile phone user. You could add Twitter into that equation, these days.

For such a profile, how important are things like availability of many apps and the OS?

Despite having researched a lot on a few models, I almost felt like I made a huge mistake opting for a Bada OS phone! In fact, as a last ditch effort, I even asked the guy at the store for an equivalent phone to compare Wave II with – he gave me Nokia N8 and Nokia C7. The former was way too pricey compared to Wave II, while the latter fell out of the decision making process by simply being a Nokia – she’s bored of Nokia – no mistake of Nokia, anyway.

One of the main reasons why we went for Wave II was my knowledge of the 1Ghz processor. It is from ARM, that too – now, not many people would go for such a criteria, but isn’t the speed of the processor as basic as the cc-count for a car? That ARM part cannot be that popular and I have a mild advantage having worked with ARM for their PR mandate, in the past.

So, we got Wave II for about INR 17,500 and I think it is a wonderful deal. The phone is the closest I have experienced, to an iPhone and the much-maligned Bada UI is a sheer delight to work with. Things are as intuitive as they can be and my wife figured the basics almost immediately. The touch functionality is brilliantly responsive and she’s delighted with the camera and screen size. I can’t really understand what people have against a OS that is not Andriod or iOS!

How many apps does an average user need, beyond the basic stuff that have almost become standard features in most phones? More than that, if OS is a key criteria, aren’t we talking about updates and support for the OS? If that’s the case, consider the number of months/years we own a model of a phone, these days.

On an average, I have changed my mobile phone once every 18-24 months. I know of a lot of people who change it almost every year, almost like an annual ritual. For something that we change so often (at least these days, unlike earlier), how does updates/support for an OS really matter?

Does it, at all, I wonder!

Mildly related addition:
Most shops that sell mobile phones do not have all the phones as a usable sample. They are usually packed and sealed, and the vendor, in many shops, carefully removes the seal without damaging it, to show us the phone, as a brick. That’s great to just see the phone, but we cannot operate it and see how good it is. I do understand that most bigger stores have usable trial samples, but that are restricted to the larger stores alone. Given that, I wonder if there is an opportunity for a website that simulates the complete OS of a phone, perhaps using Flash or HTML5.

Ideally, such a website would have a bank of phones to select from and upon selection, give us an option, using the mouse  touch pad (laptop), to experience the phone’s OS. An added layer could be a percentage similarity with the actual phone’s operating speed (this model’s UI speed is 80% accurate in this simulation!). What do you think?

Samsung Wave II photo courtesy, GSMArena.