Some feedback from using the neo as a phone for a day

Igor Foox igorfoox at
Mon Oct 15 04:38:34 CEST 2007

Yesterday (and today) I used the neo as a phone for the first time,
after gsm started mostly working out of the box. I'm really excited
about this development and I think that it marks a huge milestone for
the project. So congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on this

I've got a lot of feedback about my usage of the phone. Both minor
points as well as bigger design issues. I'm going to post them here
for discussion, in no particular order. But if there are better places
where specific points should be redirected, I'll be happy to do that.
A lot of the issues I'm going to raise are negative, but it's just
constructive criticism from a user's point of view. :-)

- There is a very strong amplification of background noise when in a
voice call. If you are in a quiet room the sound is pretty good (and
the volume is nice and loud). But when there is even mild background
noise in your location it gets amplified, and both you and the other
party barely hear anything.
    - I tried playing with sidetone in alsamixer but that didn't help,
so I don't think that that's the problem.
    - I'm not sure in which component of the software stack this
happens, but it seems to me that we might need to investigate some
noise cancellation algorithms and apply those to the incoming sound
when in a voice call. Does anyone have any experience with this, or
does anyone at least know whether this is a common thing to do with
cell phones?

- The current keyboard is highly unusable. I know it's intended to be
used with a stylus, and it's fine for that, but it's completely
unreasonable to expect a user to have a stylus for activities like
SMS, or entering a new contact. And even with pretty small fingers
it's pretty hard for me to type on the keyboard.
- In the Contacts application, it's impossible to enter a phone number
(and maybe an email address) for a contact when the phone is not
connected to the GSM network.
- In the dialer application there's apparently a 'cursor' that you can
move by clicking somewhere on the textfield displaying the current
phone number. But there is no visual feedback for the cursor so if you
accidentally place it in the middle of a number you're left thinking
you will be very confused.
- The scrolling is very cool, but it's often difficult to scroll when
the items you're scrolling are clickable, because it incorrectly gets
recognized as a click.
- The dialer does not always "pop up" on an incoming call. So when the
phone starts ringing you need to open the dialer application and then
answer the call.
- The dialer application has the "hangup" button on the top right of
the screen when in a call. When you actually talk on the phone it's
_really_ easy to touch that part of the screen with your face, which
results in 3-4 accidental hangups per call. Oops. :-)
- The "status" icons on the top tend to disappear once in a while.
Sometimes a reboot gets them back. Sometimes it doesn't. But usually
two or three reboots get them back. Very perplexing. :)

I'm going to continue using the phone for the next few days and try to
identify more issues. I think that the only major issue here is the
background noise problem. If that is resolved we would be well on our
way to having a phone ready to be tested by some real consumers.


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