Mobile/The cheapest phone with gmail and operamini

From Bjoern Hassler

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[edit] 1 Introduction

Related page: Cheapest mobile with Adroid

Suppose you live in an area where you have GSM, and you want to get on the internet? What's the cheapest phone with gmail and opera mini?

Opera mini is probably the most important: Especially on simpler phones, Opera Mini 4 offers a significantly enhanced experience compared to phone-native browsers.

Google mail (as a java app, 'gmail app') is also good, but there are alternatives:

  • Google mail for mobile accessed via a web browser, see below, or Mobile
  • Accessing your mail via IMAP/POP.

Of course you may want to use an alternative mail service, but particularly because of the gmail app, the google mail offering is compelling.

What's annoying is that you can't work this out from the specs. I'll collect some data together, but at the end of the day, you just need to try it. There are various pitfalls (such as the available memory for applications). Really it would be nice if there was a 'Google Mail' and an 'Opera Mini' badge, saying that you can install both those programs together on the phone.

Contents


[edit] 2 Cheap

The first thing to do is to search a mobile site, e.g. search on gsm arena for phones that are e.g. "are available, have java, price up to USD 50", which returns only Samsung C200. This turns out to be an MIDP 1.0 phone, see below. If you go up to USD 100, you get about 50 phones, and the list is here (as of April 2009).

We then need to match the list against the list of supported phones for gmail and opera mini, and then pick the cheapest. On checking, the list (up to USD 100) wasn't too complete: Some phones that were cheap in the UK currently, weren't included. Perhaps the price range is different from what you can buy phones now. The lists here also show the phones in a range up to USD 150.

All in all, that's a lot of phones, so I had a look at http://www.carphonewarehouse.com, and compared those to the Opera Mini list.

[edit] 3 Applications

[edit] 3.1 Opera Mini

For Opera Mini, the list of compatible phones is here http://www.opera.com/mini/download/all/.

Matching some of the cheapest phones available (in the UK) via http://www.carphonewarehouse.com, we find the following three sub "GBP 30" phones:

And two three more sub GBP 40

(Usually you need to buy some air time with this, but we're only interested in the prices very rougly.) The Samsung C200 wasn't available for sale, but also only supports Opera Mini 3, see [1].


[edit] 3.1.1 MIDP 2.0

You should make sure the phone supports MIDP 2.0, so that you can run Opera Mini 4 (but see comment above!). The older MIDP 1.0 works with the older Opera Mini 3. http://www.opera.com/mini/help/:

What are the differences between the "Basic (MIDP 1)" and the "Advanced (MIDP 2)" versions?

The Advanced (MIDP 2) version uses more advanced text and image compression algorithms, reducing your waiting time and the amount of data transferred. It also offers more features like page icons, more font options, better-looking menus, smooth scrolling, a built-in clock, content folding and secure connections. See our feature list for more details.

Advanced (MIDP 2) phones can often fit large Web pages in the phone's memory. In Basic (MIDP 1) phones, large pages are automatically divided into several partial pages. Please note also that latest version of is 3.1.2 and hence does not support Opera Mini latest features.

Also, you'll need MIDP 2.0 for gmail, see next section.

[edit] 3.2 Gmail

Gmail may not be absolutely necessary: Google mail for mobile can be accessed via a web browser, see Mobile. Here are two links to the web-based google mail for mobile interface:

Alternatively the phone may have a native IMAP/POP client, that can be used instead. However, often native email support (like phone native web support) is very basic. As mentioned above, because of the nicely-working gmail app, the google mail offering is compelling.

Installation: For installation links for the gmail app see Mobile. Also, there is a web version of gmail that works on mobile, see Mobile. However, it's best if you can use the app, as it will work smoothest: Visit http://gmail.com/app from your phone.

Gmail support site: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=13545

[edit] 3.2.1 Requirements

Gmail Minimum phone requirements: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=52848

From that page: To use the Gmail application, you'll need:

To find out about the certificate, visit this link http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=78526.

So according to this information, any J2ME MIDP 2.0 phone should be able to do google mail. So in the above list, any MIDP 2.0 phone should be gmail compatible, BUT - see comments on memory below for 2630. (You could also check the phone for supported protocols, and you may be able to use pop or imap.)

[edit] 3.3 Memory

Another pitfall is that your phone needs to have enough free memory for applications, which can be different from available memory overall. For instance, the Nokia 6230i has 30MB of memory, but only 1.5MB can be used for applications, which isn't a lot.

For instance, each application could easily take 0.5 MB, and Google Maps could take up to 1.3MB. So if you ran gmail, opera mini, google maps, and skype, you might use up to 2.5 MB (also depending on the data needs of those applications).

The Nokia 2630 has got 11MB of memory, but no card slot. It's not clear from the descriptions whether that's all available for applications. If a good part of 11MB was available for applications, that would be sufficient.

So we'd need to check the available memory for the above applications.

[edit] 4 Comparison

Here's a list (with data drawn from http://www.gsmarena.com/), covering some of the cheaper phones, and only considering phones that are currently available in the UK (September 2009). Note: Some of these phones are clearly not compatible. I've just listed them to remind me that I've looked at them. Also, in the table 'not in list' means that the phone is not listed by the opera mini compatibility list.

[edit] 4.1 Sub 30

Model Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Opera Gmail Speakerphone Price band Tested?
C200 MIDP 1.0 Opera Mini 3 Basic no


Samsung E250 (~2006) 128 x 160 10 MB / microSD GPRS, Edge v2.0 / v1.1 MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML IMAP/POP3/SMTP 250h / 5h Opera Mini 4 in principle yes, but see 'memory' below y 30 Test below
Nokia 2630 (~2007) 128 x 160 11 MB / no GPRS, Edge v2.0 / no MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML IMAP/POP3/SMTP 310h / 6h Opera Mini 4 No? See 'low memory' below y 30
Sony Ericsson T280 (not in list) 30

[edit] 4.2 Sub 35

Model Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Opera Gmail Speakerphone Price band Tested?
LG KG800 176 x 220 128MB / no GPRS only v1.2 / yes MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML IMAP/POP3/SMTP 200h / 6h Opera Mini 3 Advanced 35
Motorola W377 [2] 128 x 160 10MB / no GPRS only NO JAVA WAP 2.0/xHTML No NO JAVA NO JAVA Y 35


Sony Ericsson K330 [3] MIDP2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML No (not in list) 35

[edit] 4.3 Sub 40

Model / release date Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Opera Gmail Speakerphone Price band Tested?
Nokia 2330 (2009) (see below) 128 x 160  ? / No GPRS only v2.0 / ?? MIDP2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML (opera) Yes 528h / 4h (ships with opera!) y 40 Test below!


Nokia 2760 (2007) 128 x 160 10MB / no GPRS only v2.0 / no MIDP 2.1 WAP 2.0/xHTML IMAP/POP3/SMTP 310h / 6h Opera Mini 4 in principle yes y 40 test to follow
Nokia 2680 128 x 160 32 MB / no GPRS, Edge MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML IMAP/POP3/SMTP 400h / 3h30 (not in list) 40


Samsung C3050 [4] (2009) (not in list yet?) 40
T303 [5] WAP 2.0/xHTML 40


W205 [6] (2009) 128 x 160 5MB/ yes GPRS / EDGE v2.0 / v2.0 MIDP2.0 WAP 2.0/HTML (Opera Mini) No 425 / 9 (not in list yet?) y 40


J700 [7] 128 x 160 pixels, 2.0 inches 10MB, microSD GPRS / EDGE 2/ 2 MIDP2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML No (not in list)  ? 250 / 3 y 40 to follow

[edit] 4.4 sub 45/50

Model Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Opera Gmail Speakerphone Price band Tested
W350i 176 x 220 14MB + 512MB (M2) GPRS, Edge v2.0 MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML IMAP/POP3/SMTP 300h / 7h yes yes 45 Test below!
LG KE970 240 x 320 50MB / microSD GPRS, Edge v1.2 / yes MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML IMAP/POP3/SMTP 280h / 3h Opera Mini 4 50

[edit] 4.5 ~ 50

These phones were available at 50 as refurbs, the regular price is higher. These phones are older smart(ish) phones, and they would definitely give good usability due to the larger screen size. However, the larger screen phones also have shorter battery lives.

Model Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Opera Gmail Speakerphone Price band tested?
U600 240x320 60MB / microSD GPRS / Edge v2.0 / v2.0 MIDP2 WAP 2.0/xHTML Yes 250 / 3.5h Opera Mini 4 Y 50
Nokia 6300 240x320 7.8MB / microSD GPRS / Edge 2.0 / mini USB MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML Yes 348 / 3.6h Opera Mini 4 Y 50

[edit] 4.6 Cheapish qwerty

Model Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Opera Gmail Speakerphone Price band Tested
B3310 240x320? 176x220?? 40 / microSD GPRS / Edge 2 / 2 MIDP 2.0 WAP 2.0/xHTML yes 380 / 5 not in list  ? y 50+10


LG KS360 / LG GT360 (2008) 240x320 15 / microSD GPRS / EDGE 2 / 2 MIDP 2 WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML Yes 430 / 5 Not on list  ? Y 60+10 or 50+20 See below
Samsung T469 Gravity 2, price ???
Samsung t349, ~ $100 in US

[edit] 4.7 Some other phones I had access to

Model Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Opera Gmail Speakerphone Price band Tested?
W810i Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Yes Yes Y no longer available see below
Nokia 6230i Screen Memory / card slot Connectivity Bluetooth / usb Java Native browser Native email Battery: Standby / talk Yes Yes, but no ssl? Y no longer available see below


[edit] 4.8 General comments

There are some phones, like the J700, or the Nokia 2680, or the Sony-Ericcson W350i/T303 that support Java MIDP 2.0 (see Mobile/List), but aren't on the opera compatibility list. Likewise the kg800 is listed as MIDP 2.0, but only supports Opera Mini 3 Advanced. So it's not that straight forward.

[edit] 4.9 Other MIDP 2.0 phones spotted cheaply


[edit] 5 Evaluation and testing

As mentioned above, we should really do a test. The devil is in the detail.

Particularly for the four Opera Mini 4 phones above (E250, 2630, 2760, LG KE970) it would be nice to test usability with Opera Mini 4 and gmail.

[edit] 5.1 Nokia 2630 (from forums, no direct test)

[edit] 5.1.1 Low Memory

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google%20Mobile/thread?tid=5c7c4036d2bd24e5&hl=en

Also on this phone the J2ME subsystem can't cope with the size of the latest J2ME google email application so that is not an option.
You can still download the older version of the gMail app from Google:
http://m.google.com/app/gmail.jad?dc=gorganic&ver=v1.5.0 (only via phone browser)
http://m.google.com/app/gmail.jad?dc=gorganic&ver=v1.1.0 (only via phone browser)
Also, your phone supports Opera Mini 4.2 which works very well with both the mobile web and full-web "basic HTML" versions of email. Visit http://mini.opera.com to download Opera Mini
I've downloaded Opera Mini in the past and it works quite well, albeit a little slow, for a while then dies with a memory error, obviously I should report this to the Opera people as a fix for this would solve my problem ...

So looks like Opera Mini will be ok, but google mail will not work, or not work smoothly.

Also this thread shows problems with gmail v2.0 on 2630: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2008/10/introducing-gmail-for-mobile-20.html

[edit] 5.2 Nokia 2760

Seeing as the 2630 may have memory problems, it may be the same for the 2760.

[edit] 5.3 Samsung E250 (direct testing)

The

skype: Downloading nokia 5200 version works. Status doesn't seem to update, but otherwise chat seems fine.

[edit] 5.3.1 Verdict

Samsung E250
Opera Gmail Skype Maps
Yes 1.5  ? Ys
Gmail: 1.5 seems ok, 2.0 with warnings.

[edit] 5.4 Nokia 2330 (direct test)

(More specs here and here.)

The Nokia 2330 ships with Opera Mini. So within seconds of unpacking the phone and turning it on, you're on the web. (This was with a T-mobile card, which had pay-as-you-go-web pre configured.) On the phone, you just hit the 'globe/web' icon, and you're online with opera mini.

While this was great, it has a disadvantage: Google only seems to allow the download of the application from certain mobile browsers (presumably ones that identify the phone correctly). Opera doesn't seem to do that (presumably because the traffic comes via the opera server), so it's not possible to download gmail/maps via opera. (I tried both the socket and the http setting.) Because Opera is available as the 'native' browser, there isn't another native browser you can open to install the application.

A work around is to open the link from a text message (you can get the gmail product page to text you the link). From the text message, the link opens in a 'native browser' on the phone, and allows you to download google products (incl gmail and maps). There may be a better way to do this.


Installing google mobile applications seems to be particularly difficult - other application downloads seemed to be handled correctly.

[edit] 5.4.1 Installing gmail - previously with difficulty

You can use opera to go to http://m.google.com, and get google to send you a text message. You then open the message, down button to highlight the url, and center button to 'use'. The built-in browser accesses the url.

Alternatively, you can do this by writing a note. Select "Organiser", then "Notes". Then "Options > Make a note". Write http://m.google.com and save the note. Then view the note, "Options > Use detail > Web address / Select / Go to". Again, the internal browser shows "loading" and you get the page with the apps to download.

Note: If you enter "http://www.google.com" then the url is handled by Opera mini.

[edit] 5.4.2 Installing gmail - now works

We got another one of these phones, and as I was configuring it, it turns out that the google mail install now works!

[edit] 5.4.3 Overview

  • Google mail
    • Was difficult to install, see above.
    • "Allow network access?" appears repeatedly. Need to quit the application and adjust the network settings to 'ask only first time', then it works.
  • Google Maps
    • We get a 'low on memory' warning first time the app starts, as well as occasionally during operation.
    • "Allow network access? This application is not from a trusted supplier." appears repeatedly. Need to quit the application and adjust the network settings to 'ask only first time', then it works.
    • The app can't locate you (as expected for a more basic phone)
  • Skype
    • Skype isn't officially supported. However, installing the Nokia 5200 version seems to work (for text chat at least). (Note that e.g. the 5300 version didn't work well, because it was assuming a different screen size)

[edit] 5.4.4 Verdict

Nokia 2330
Opera Gmail Skype Maps
Yes, preinstalled Yes Unsupported, but works at least for text msgs With limitations
Notes: Installation of google apps requires extra know how. Skype not supported, but '5300' version works.

[edit] 5.5 W205

Keyboard is not very convincing, so decided to not get this one. (Has opera pre-installed.)

Instead, I got the W350 for testing.

[edit] 5.6 W350i (direct test)

http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_ericsson_w350-2198.php

Works nicely - Opera mini, gmail, google maps, skype. Those apps need to be downloaded using the native browser. The google apps dont seem to be signed.

One minor reservation is that it doesn't seem to be possible to create a shortcut to those apps directly, so one needs to wade through the menu each time to get to the app.

A significant issue is security: while it's possible to set a sim lock and security lock, the pin is only required when starting the phone (from off), but cannot be set in conjunction with the key guard. I.e. if the phone it on, it cannot be locked with the key guard. Normally, one would want applications to remember passwords (e.g. so that email can be checked quickly). If the phone was lost or stolen (while on), such applications (and other data held on the phone) could be accessed freely. This seems to be a generic issue with Sony Ericsson phones, and is different e.g. from Nokia phones, where the phone can be set up to require the pin when disabling the key guard. For some Sony Ericsson phones patches seem to be available that enable this feature.

Verdict:

Sony Ericcson W350i
Opera Gmail Skype Maps
Yes, v 4.2 Yes Yes Yes, with location
Security issues due to lack of key guard with pin

[edit] 5.7 LG KS360 (direct test)

http://www.gsmarena.com/lg_ks360-2467.php. Review here http://www.gsmarena.com/lg_ks360-review-309.php

Querty keyboard, 240x320 screen.

More pricey compared to the other phones tested here, but I wanted to test a cheapish querty phone as well.

Tthe Samsung B3310 seems to be a similar phone, but there's very little information about it available online at the moment, so I decided to go with this LG phone instead.

Opera / gmail works.

Skype works, but I can't get skype to rotate, so the display remains portrait, making it not very usable.

[edit] 5.8 W302

SE W302 - nice keys

[edit] 5.9 W810i

to follow

[edit] 5.10 6230i

[edit] 6 Other notes

Gmail imap instructions http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=78799

Interesting site for MIDP benchmarking on various devices: http://jbenchmark.com/

[edit] 7 Costs

The phone may be cheap, but what about the data charges?

In the UK and Europe, even on day-as-you-go, you often get flat rate internet at a daily or monthly cost (see Mobile internet pay as you go).

When I was in Zambia, I figured that the cost of an email was around 30 zmk, ie. about one half to one US cent, not using a special 'bundle'. (Compared to a cost of 300 to 500 zmk per text message.) See Samfya.

[edit] 8 Call for testers!

Perhaps we'll need to find some testers.