Why one cannot recommend the freerunner as a daily phone (was Re: Is a FreeRunner sufficient for me?)

Joerg Lippmann jl_lists at donalbain.de
Sat Jun 20 22:38:31 CEST 2009

> On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 10:49 AM, Joerg Lippmann<jl_lists at donalbain.de> 
> > Then the Freerunner is not for you.
> > It may sound harsh, but it's definitely *not* suitable for daily use.
> > Period.
> Brolin,
> I must respectfully disagree with Joerg's advice to you.  There are
> flaws, including the ones Joerg points out, but they do not
> necessarily make the Freeruner unsuitable as a daily phone.  I think
> it depends on the person.  I use mine daily as my only phone and it
> works well for me.  From your description of yourself, I suspect you
> would be happy with a Freerunner as well, as long as you don't expect
> it to do everything you want out of the box.

OK, maybe I should explain. 

My mail should not be taken as FUD. I have a freerunner since it came out a 
year ago and - being a linux user since 1994 - I was prepared to get something 
rough and unfinished. But I hoped that it would one day be sufficient to replace 
first my phone, then my Palm Tungsten C and maybe my Etrex-GPS. It does neither 
in a satisfactory way.

I used it for about year now, installed this and that distro and during that 
time I defended all the shortcomings as being a work-in-progress and a 
community effort. But all in all I cannot recommend it to anyone as a daily 
phone. Here's why:

- The device wakes up too slowly, I lost some calls.
- The vibrator is too weak, I missed more calls.
- The volume is way to low, You can really only use it indoors.
- The Display is too dark for sunny days, even in the shade.
- I lost many SMS. I eventually receiced most of them after restarting the 
- The battery lasts only a few hours, again, I lost many calls (this depends 
on the distro. But even with a »good« one, I had cases in which the device did 
not suspend due to something crashing)
- Sometimes I cannot access the phonebook (Android, SHR)
- Wifi does not work reliably and it takes a long time to connect.
- The device/software is terribly slow. How fast was even the oldest palm in 
- the on-screen keyboards are all terrible for finger-typing. I liked the one 
from QTe, but you have to install german wordlists by hand. Also it was 
impractical to switch upper/lowercase. Best solution would be to use landscape 
- Even simple tasks like inserting the number of the caller into the 
addressbook is sometimes impossible or very complicated.
(- Many people I called complained about terrible buzz, but I hope to get the 
fix soon)
- The alarm clock does not work reliably.
- When the battery is completely empty, it takes ages to reload the phone and 
you're not able to turn it on even when plugged in.
- You cannot sync dates or even contacts, PIM-functions are virtually non-

(And I did not mention nice things like video-playback, a good MP3-Player, 
voice-notes, a nice email-Interface or a feed-aggregator...)

Granted, most things depend on the distro you're using. But neither is really 

OM: 2007: very stripped down, although I liked the simple interface.

QTe: Overall quite OK, but no Sync, no working wifi, no usable browser, no 
GPRS, no usable GPS-Application

SHR: good battery life when not crashing. some bad design decisions 
(animations are useless on this phone), slow (especially the setup-menus and 
finger-scrolling), ugly phone-function, contacts crash very often, tangogps is 
working, many SMS and calls lost. Keyboard either english-only or only usable 
with a pen.

Android: Best of the bunch so far. But volume too low, missing keyboard in 
stable versions (cupcake one looks better, but is not stable enough at the 

I'm trying to honour the work of the many developers, but in my book, this is 
still not a working everyday phone. Let alone a smartphone.

Today, I slipped my SIM-card back into my old Siemens M55. What an experience: 
I got every call immediatly! I could hear what the other side was talking! I 
could send an SMS in a few seconds without problems and received an answer! I 
could also insert the number from a caller directly into my addressbook. You 
should try it once.

My freerunner will stay in my drawer. Maybe when Android works perfectly, I 
will give it another try.

Am Samstag 20 Juni 2009 schrieb Ben Wong:

> The sound quality is "terrible" according to Joerg, but that has not

It's just way too low. I can only unterstand the other side well, when I'm in 
a quiet place. While with a real phone you can talk on the street or in a car, 
with the freerunner I can't. I tried also other alsa-state-files and fiddled 
myself, but without real success.

> Joerg also mentioned that the device is "lame".  I'm not quite sure
> what he means. 

Sorry, I meant "slow". See above.

Please, developers, don't feel like I want to thrash your work. It's just not 
ready for primetime, yet. I really like the design and the hires screen. It 
could make a cool device when it would work...

jörg at home
We will bring freedom and Leberwurst to the Welt, ob sie will oder nicht.

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