Long-time readers here know that I’m prone to getting all excited about getting a new cell phone, and then never quite pulling the trigger to buy one. My current phone is a Sony-Ericsson T616 from early 2004. I came close to buying the Treo 650 and waited for most of a year for the Nokia N91 to ship in the US. Then, when the Nokia E70 was announced, I stopped waiting for the N91 and started waiting for the E70.

The E70 just started shipping in Europe. It looks like a nice phone. The problem with the European E70 (and the N91 that’s finally shipping in the US) is that it doesn’t support GSM at 850 MHz, so it’s mostly useless on Cingular’s network. And it’s increasing looking like Cingular is the only US GSM provider with a decent data network. So, unless a US-specific 850 MHz version of the E70 starts shipping, it just isn’t going to work for me.

Right now, I’m carrying too many gadgets around–I have my phone, an iPod, a Palm TX, and (unfortunately) a 2-way Pager for work. I’d really like to roll the Palm and the phone into a single device, but I can’t cope with PalmOS 5 anymore. Similarly, I can’t cope with mobile versions of Windows–I tried it for a month with the Motorola MPX200, and it just didn’t work for me.

Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion, again, that I can’t cope with non-keyboard input methods. I don’t like T9, Graffiti, or any of the alternate input methods that I’ve tried on the Palm. If I’m going to enter text into a pocket-sized device, then it’s going to have to have a keyboard. I’ve found that the pain of writing with the Palm keeps me from using it, and that makes it mostly useless. And that leads to me missing appointments and forgetting tasks, and I can’t cope with either.

So, basically, I want a phone with a QWERTY keyboard that doesn’t run Windows or PalmOS, and works with 850 MHz GSM. I believe there are two phones on the market that fit that description–the Nokia 9300 and the Nokia E61. I’ve played with the 9300 before, and it’s just too slow for me–loading web pages crawls while it’s slow little CPU renders pages.

The E61, on the other hand, has almost the same features as the E70 that I wanted, except it’s Blackberry-shaped and doesn’t have a camera. It does have everything else, though, including 802.11 and a native SIP client that supposedly people have been able to get working with Asterisk. Someone at work just bought one off of eBay and is really happy with it.

So, after over 2 years, I finally ordered a new phone. My E61 should be here on Monday. I’m still trying to sort out Cingular’s data plan options, but I should have that dealt with by the end of the day today, and then I’ll be set. I’ll be able to drop the Palm and T616 out of my life, and probably be able to get by with a few songs on the E61 most of the time–it’ll hold a 2 GB flash card, and there’s a sync plugin for iTunes, so it’ll work with almost everything but iTMS songs. I’ll still be stuck with the pager, but that’s a whole other story for an other day.