The last photo I took on my old phone was this shot of the leaves along the Erie Canal in Lockport.

I decided it was time to move to the current state-of-the-art in phones and get a smartphone. I ended up playing it safe and getting a HTC Incredible. Why is that safe? Because my son, Bryan, got one almost the minute they came out. He ordered one before they were in stock and waited for it to ship.

He’s spent a lot of time playing with his and knows a lot about it. He’s rooted the Android operating system in it so he could make modifications and had the latest software version 2.2 on his before it came out through Verizon. He’s been playing around a lot with things that extend the battery life by turning off parts of the phone automatically when not needed. Things like knowing that if wi-fi isn’t available, to just check every few minutes, rather than leave it on all the time. He’s doing all the legwork and research on tweaks and I get to benefit from it. I learned more in 5 minutes of asking him questions than I did reading the whole manual.

Yeah, I actually read the manual. Well, not right away, but once I ran the half-charged battery down and had to let it charge, I read it while waiting. It wasn’t very satisfying.

So, I’m into the 21st century with phones. The age of apps. I added an app for Photobucket and had to try it out, so I uploaded a couple of photos using it. The photo above was taken on the old phone, the LG ENV2, which my daughter inherited. (She needed a full keyboard to text with.) Everything from the old phone was transferred to the new on, either by some magic done through Verizon or by transferring the micro-SD card to the new phone. I think that’s how the photo came along.

HTC Incredible
But all the address book and other data came along for the ride. So did all my information from Gmail, which created some duplicates. The Android system is made by Google and ties in to your Google account. If you don’t have one, you almost have to get one. I suppose you could use it without one, but it would be really crippled in some ways. You can also have it interface with a couple other mail systems, either your favorite POP or IMAP mail account or even an Exchange Server. That will make the corporate people happy as clams. I could have that, but have to pay extra for it, so I don’t bother. I really don’t need it. Got Hotmail or AOL? Just set up you Gmail account to retreive them first. Actually, you can have Gmail do all the heavy lifting on all your email accounts if you want.

Using the phone as a surrogate for a computer is acceptable, but you’d better get used to the small type on the screen. It does resize intelligently, though. A tap on the screen and it even flows the text to fit the screen by the area of a page you are viewing, so it is actually useable.

Some videos, flash and PDFs do work in it as well. I found that PDF have to be downloaded, then opened in the separate application to view them, something that is handled transparently on a computer. Some videos don’t seem to work, though, or else only work when on wi-fi.

One of the coolest things it’s capable of is wi-fi hotspot. You can actually use it to feed it’s 3G to your laptop to get on the internet. The downside is it costs extra. I don’t need that very often, but I can activate when needed. You can also do it through a USB tether, but it still costs you extra.

The biggest downside is the battery life. I seem to get just about long enough to get through a day of hard use. But need to place it on charge each night. Big screens, wi-fi, GPS and data radios and addictive uses all add up to draining the battery. The last phone would go a week on a charge because all I ever did was leave it on in case someone called me. I’d make the odd call, or check the time with it, but mostly left it idle. This phone is too tempting to play with. When the novelty wears off and I leave it alone more, maybe I’ll get more time out of a battery charge – maybe two days! But it’s a small price to pay for all the convenience it offers.