Why I Love My PPC-6700 Smartphone

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Steven Jones
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Why I Love My PPC-6700 Smartphone

Heads up - this is another chronicle. I am going to use this thread to share my ongoing experiences with my newest, bestest gadget, the Sprint-branded PPC-6700 smartphone.

It's not my first smartphone - I was previously a big fan of my Treo 650 - but I have a feeling this one will blow the Treo out of the water. As I get up to speed on all the built-in and add-on features, I will post my notes here. Feel free to join in the discussion and ask questions as the thread grows.

Here we go...

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Here is a picture of the

Here is a picture of the phone in question. If you haven't seen it yet, then your first impression (like me) is likely to be dominated by the slider keyboard. I have to tell you that I have had the phone for several weeks and still get a kick out of sliding down the keyboard. I am completely convinced that a true smartphone needs a keyboard, but it has to be usable. This certainly passes the test. I actually enjoy using it to store contact info after receiving a new phone call or to record notes while on the phone.

Steven Jones (not verified)
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I will try hard not to simply

I will try hard not to simply give yet another review of the basic features of the phone but instead talk about its versatility and how I am incorporating it into my life.

Along those lines... my first impressions:

The bar had already been set pretty high by my Treo and I had invested heavily into that device over the past year - 2 bluetooth headsets, SD card, car charger, spare battery, leather belt pouch (laugh all you want), eGrips, etc. I was pleased to discover that minutes after breaking open the new box that this phone easily paired with my bluetooth headset (it actually handles calls better than my Treo did!). It also quickly paired with my PowerBook. although I can't sync quite yet - no Mac-compatible software:-(

I was also able to access the Internet over the high(er)-speed EVDO network and set up several pop-based email accounts! I think I did all this in the first hour - before I even made my first phone call!

I am not sure how many people would have tried all these features out in the same rapid succession but the phone scored high right out of the box. I had already begun to how nice the now outdated Treo would look in my gadget museum.

And last, but certainly not least - it fit neatly into my existing leather Treo belt clip (feel the leather). Still laughing aren't you?

Steven Jones (not verified)
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With Bluetooth licked and

With Bluetooth licked and very happy with my EVDO capabilities, I moved on to WiFi - this is the first phone I have had that also includes WiFi natively (no separate card or sled needed).

I drove to the nearest WiFi hotspot and had no problems getting the phone to recognize and connect to the network. This of course was even faster than EVDO but with both networks at my disposal, I felt even more connected than ever before. This began to feel like a very powerful gadget, possibly the first real threat, for me, to my tricked-out laptop.

A couple of notes on the WiFi and other wireless settings. These will obviously consume additional battery life and you should explore the configuration options that let you enable these only when they are being used. At first, it seemed convenient to leave them on all the time but a dead smartphone is neither smart, nor a phone.

There was a setting I DID eventually change. You can have the phone ping you every time it finds a new network it can try to connect to but this is simply annoying and I recommend not using it.

Steven Jones (not verified)
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XM Radio!I am a big fan of

XM Radio!

I am a big fan of satellite radio and happened to land on XM first (they had the first cool portable gadget). I recently learned that they are now offering their customers the ability to stream XM content over the Internet for free. So I thought, how about trying that on my new smartphone?

Well, it didn't take long to find websites that are aimed at delivering XM to mobile devices and even less time to make it a new bookmark in my portable browser. It works beautifully - just click on a "channel" icon on the page and in seconds, your XM content begins streaming through the Windows Media Player on the phone!

And here's another bonus. I dug out the headphones that were bundled with the phone, having previously dismissed them as crappy buds gratuitously included in the package because the phone had a headphone jack. But now I see that they include a microphone in the cord so you can use them as a handsfree option while on phone calls.

I had heard this feature touted on the new iTunes phone but it really is pretty slick: when a call comes in, the music stops and you can answer the call without any fuss!

Rowlette
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I agree it is a GRRRREEEATTTT

I agree it is a GRRRREEEATTTT unit but I still can not fine a print program that will work with ver 5.0. Maybe you have a suggestion. Printboy Hang the system up and I have to do a full restore which you know all the OS / Contacts Programs must be reloaded. The biggest pain is retyping all my pcAnywhere customers Statics IPs address. Also I have backup the unit. BBBBUUUTTTT for the life of I cannot remember where the backup programs is located and I would like to have a backup in place again. Note I have bluetooth to other units PDA's/PPC no problem but have not been able to bluetooth to my pc's per to per. I have no problem doing it with usb mini or wi-fi. Thanks Rowlette

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Rowlette, a 'print solution'

Rowlette, a 'print solution' is on my list but there are so many other things I have to get to first:-)

I also don't have any suggestions (yet) for backup/syncing but will investigate. I am using a mac as my primary computer so I don't even have a viable sync solution yet. You would think that would have been a showstopper since the PIM functionality is key to owning a smartphone but that hasn't stopped me! Plus I know that the usual (software company) suspects are hard at work on building a mac-compatible sync solution, just a matter of time.

In terms of bluetooth connectivity, I will be posting more of my progress on that front. What specifically are you trying to do between the 6700 and your (Windows?) pc?

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Here's another treat which

Here's another treat which should appeal to those of you who are fed up with proprietary mobile phone cables. The PPC-6700 uses a simple USB cable for charging and syncing!!!

The included power cable plugs into the wall and uses a mini-USB to charge the phone. I guess you could call that proprietary since you won't likely find a replacement at Radio Shack but what it means is that the phone can charge over the USB port. Sprint also includes a USB-to-miniUSB cable in the package which allows you to trickle charge from the computer while plugged in (to sync).

I already had a few of these cables lying around as they are fairly general purpose. This is a big win for folks like me who won't need to invest in a completely new power/charging solution for the new phone.

Steven Jones (not verified)
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PPC-6700 At WorkIts not all

PPC-6700 At Work

Its not all fun and games for me - occasionally I am inclined to do work and this was a big reason for upgrading to this phone. With the EVDO (high-speed data) option, I would have a much easier time managing work-related tasks.

In this picture you can see a telnet/SSH client running which allows me to have command-line access to our Unix boxes. This isn't a new capability for smartphones necessarily, but it is one more strong argument for the PPC-6700.

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Let's take a minute and

Let's take a minute and review the key selling points so far:

  1. GIANT slider keyboard
  2. High-speed EVDO network supports fast web access, email, and messaging
  3. Built-in WiFi for even faster network access in wireless hotspots
  4. Convenient, inexpensive charging solution
  5. Compelling Windows-based Internet applications for work (telnet/ssh) and play (XM radio)
  6. Bluetooth profiles for wireless headsets and transferring documents between phone and PC


And I'm just getting warmed up!

Eric Daugherty (not verified)
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So the feature list is

So the feature list is interesting and all, but what about compare/contrast to the Treo 650 which you previously had. How do the features compare.

Steven Jones (not verified)
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So for Eric's sake, lets do a

So for Eric's sake, lets do a quick compare:

Treo wins for:

  • One-handed operation
  • Breadth of apps (that are useful to me)
  • Faster camera
  • SD memory card (vs. mini-SD)
  • Beaming applications back and forth
  • Sync with Mac


PPC-6700 wins for:

  • EVDO
  • Bigger keyboard
  • More convenient charging solution
  • WiFi
  • Landscape mode


Despite the various pros & cons I have to say that high(er)-speed Internet access on the phone makes this an easy decision for me. It is the number one reason why I would never go back but, of course, this isn't the only EVDO phone available anymore.

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Next leg of the journey...I

Next leg of the journey...

I broke down and bought a mini-SD card. I mean, why not, I had all the rest of the collection including compact flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, SD, and more - what's another format going to hurt?

I opted for a 1GB card so that I would have plenty of room to play around with media. I have to say though that it has pretty much gone unused for the past few weeks. I have NOT loaded any music on the phone (since I have an iPod for that), video would take too long to figure out, and even if I snapped pics for three days straight, I wouldn't begin to fill up the available space. My buddy Ron started a thread here on TechLore about this very question.

So at this point, I can't recommend the memory card upgrade for smartphone owners. Anyone have any compelling uses for this thing?

Steven Jones (not verified)
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And speaking of photos, I

And speaking of photos, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the Treo and PPC-6700 cameras. On the left is the Treo shot and on the right is the Sprint phone. Now, pictures uploaded to this site can be scaled down but the same process would apply to both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other note. On a hunch, I timed the process of getting the phones ready to take a picture from the "off" state. The PPC took more than twice as long to get into camera mode. That does not necessarily encourage paparazzism, now does it?

Ron Repking (not verified)
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I love the idea of this phone

I love the idea of this phone. It's got almost everything that I could want (as mentioned above). The only problem that I have with it is that I think that the physical design of the phone could use some work. I'm not a fan of how flimsy the sliding part of the phone is. The phone itself is quite bulky and does not easily fit into my pocket.

The only reason why I would consider it is because it is the only phone with these features that has high speed internet access (EVDO) on the Sprint network that I'm aware of. I need a new phone, but am going to wait a little longer...

Steven Jones (not verified)
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So in response to Ron's post,

So in response to Ron's post, let me add this to the thread. My first in what will likely be a series of dislikes about my PPC-6700. It can't all be good, right?

Here are the things that have already risen to the level of frustration:

  • Slider Too Slide-y - I was a sucker for the slider design but quickly found that the phone will not stay shut. Too many times, I have pulled it out of my pocket or belt clip (no laughing!) and found it ajar. I haven't found there to be any harm caused by this condition other than it being slightly annoying to have to continue to fully close the phone each time I go to use it.
  • Battery Life - any time you pack this much functionality and power into a handheld device, you are going to run into battery life issues so its not like this problem is unique to the PPC-6700. Still I find that I am reluctant to use all the features, like WiFi or media playback as much as I would like for fear of being without the power to perform basic phone functions. I know a spare battery is in my future and the charging cradle accommodates the phone and a separate battery (which rocks) but until I get a backup, I will have to continue to choose my demos carefully.
  • Full Contact(s) Sport - this is probably a silly gripe but the useful Contacts link is constantly on the move. During simple phone use, the button to access your phone's contacts moves to three different places! I understand the benefits of "soft keys" that can be reused for a variety of contexts but this seems to have gotten out of hand.
  • Separate Power Button - maybe this is a leftover hangup from using the Treo 650 for a year but I still haven't gotten used to having a separate power button on the top of the phone. It doesn't really fit into the one-handed use scenario and is actually quite awkward to use.
  • Camera is Sloooooow - this is a legitimate complaint, not just because the Treo was much snappier but because it proves just how easy it is to abandon a popular function if it is not convenient. As I mentioned earlier, it takes way too long to launch the camera application and taking pictures in the highest resolution (not an unreasonable request) is just frustrating.


Now, it may be that there are workarounds or setting changes for some or all of these issues but until then, I will continue to struggle. Please don't take this as a slam as I still value this smartphone very high. All devices are going to have good and bad points and I want to be fair to the readers of this thread.

More good (and bad) coming in the days ahead...

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Frustrated with the delay in


Frustrated with the delay in getting a real Mac sync solution, I figured out a way to at least get my contacts on the phone. After creating individual vcards for the relevant contacts from my Mac Address Book, I was able to beam them over to the PPC-6700 via bluetooth file transfer.

The phone not only recognized the incoming data feed but prompted me to import the new contacts right into the Windows Mobile contacts database. Not a complete sync, more manual than automated, and only one way but gets me alot further down the road.

Prior to this exercise, I had already paired the phone with the Mac Powerbook but the two were not exactly on good terms. I am not able to browse the phone from the computer and file transfers to the phone have typically been more complicated than they should be.

Eric Daugherty (not verified)
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Sounds like a big step up

Sounds like a big step up from your Treo. No really. These seems like a very rational approach. Way better than that stupid hot sync thing.

Icey1174
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I just bought a new PPC-6700

I just bought a new PPC-6700 and so far I love it. I used to use Mbuzzy.com, but they do not support this phone. Do you know of other web sites where I can get wallpaper, video, ringtones, games, and apps for free? Also... I don't know if they were screwing with me at Sprint of not, but they said there are web sites online that have a lot more programs for this phone than they know about. They claim one to be able to learn the frequency to your garage door openers. Have you heard of this??? Thanks for any info.

John

fullerfun
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Have you tried finchsync?http

Have you tried finchsync?
http://www.finchsync.com/index.html

The site claims to have mac OS X support for syncing with Mozilla clients, like Thunderbird and Sunbird...as well as the
Mozilla Calendar extension for the Mozilla Suite, Firefox and Netscape or the standalone Sunbird (Version 0.2).
I'd really be curious if you can get it to work with OS X. One of the main things keeping me from getting a PPC-6700 for myself.

Also, you should play around with Scheduleworld.com. They use sync4j syncml, and you may be able to sync using the open source syn4j client for Windows Mobile...don't know if it works with windows Mobile Version 5 though. They also have a Java client that is completely cross platformable which is pretty hip. 'm also very curious about this...

set2992
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I am experiencing a problem

I am experiencing a problem when I play wma files on the phone. The files are played from a SanDisk 1 Gb Mini SD Card and on MS Media Player. The music comes across very scratchy and there is an intermittent popping noise heard. It is very annoying since the music was recorded at 192 Kbps.

However, when I save some of the music on the phone's internal memory and play it - it plays perfectly.

I have tried both a 512 Mb and 1 Gb SanDisk Mini SD card with the same results. I have also tried playing one of the cards on a different PPC-6700 at the local Sprint PCS Store with the same results. Interestingly, when I play either of the two cards on my PC or another Ipaq PPC with the SD insert - the music plays perfectly.

Any ideas as to why the phone is having problems reading the cards?

Can someone out there try this on their phone if they have a SanDisk Mini-SD card and verify my observation. I am curious if a different Mini-SD card brand might be a good course of action if it has faster read/write speed than the Sandisk.

Vr,
Scott

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Seems like I have had this

Seems like I have had this same conversation with a half-dozen people over the past few weeks. They ask about my phone and I tell them that I still feel its the best phone out there but I caution that it might not be the best phone for them. I still enjoy using it but I can see how an even better phone could be done so I hope others will hold out for new models.

John, I haven't tracked down any sites like the ones you are looking for. The garage door opener is an interesting app. Did you ever find that?

Any other cool uses for this phone?

tmenet
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Steven,

Steven,

 I know you have used  the phone to connect to a wifi hot spot. My question is can this phone be configured to BE a WIFI hotspot?

I live on a large piece of property with our house too far for DSL and too far from the road for cable broadband. I am fed up with my satellite internet cutting out during storms and punishing me for downloading trilaware. (fair use policy) 

I am thinking about signing up for mobile broadband through Sprint and primarily using the PPC-6700 to provide internet to my home network. I know it can be used as "phone as modem" with the cable, but does that work over the wifi by perhaps enabling "internet connection sharing"?

The cool thing about this solution is when we are on the road I can take our internet with me in style!

Steven Jones (not verified)
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tmenet:

tmenet:

I have gotten a single laptop to connect over the phone's modem but had not even thought to try you scenario of making the phone its own access point.  I'm no expert at this but I'm not sure Windows Media 5 is sophisticated enough to do the type of connection sharing you're thinking about.

 My suspicion is that you will be stuck(?) with accessing the Internet directly from the phone or through a single connected computer.  

 BTW, I haven't tried hard to connect my laptop to the phone's modem via the USB cable - only through bluetooth - but its on the list.

tmenet
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Let me know when/if you try.

Let me know when/if you try. If I decide to get one I'll see if I can try to make the phone WIFI hot spot and post my results here! At the very least I know if I plug a laptop into the phone, then regular Windows XP will allow me to use the "Internet Connecion Sharing" feature to share via the laptops ethernet or  WIFI port.

If the phone can do it all that would be very coo! Imagine how popular you can be when you go out camping and provide all the other tents and RV's with free WIFI ! :-)

 

Albert

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Better bring a power solution

Better bring a power solution to the camp site! I have been disappointed for months now with what I thought was gradually failing battery life but only recently decided to look into the problem more closely.  I hope others will find this interesting:

3 Ways I Found To Improve Battery Life

  1. You should absolutely turn off all wireless features that are not being used.  I hardly use the WiFi actually(!) so that usually stays off but it is the Bluetooth setting that now stays in the off position more frequently.
  2.  I had originally set up my email accounts to check for new mail every 15 minutes which is great if you are obsessive about getting new emails asap (think blackberry) but underestimated how much of a battery drain this activity is.  It now stays off and I update by hand only when I need to - this seems to have a big impact on battery life.
  3. Limit your use of SlingPlayer Mobile! - ok this is partly in jest but one of the real reasons I bought the phone was to watch my Slingbox on my phone which works REALLY WELL and has kept me sane at many an airport gate over the past few months.  But the streaming video also takes a toll on the ole lithium ion.  Still a fan of course and will continue to evangelize this amazing combo (Windows Mobile 5 EVDO phone and Slingbox) but now look for external power supplies wherever possible.

Another interesting charging-related note that is worth (re)mentioning.  This phone charges quite nicely over a fairly standard USB cable and will draw power from any laptop in an emergency.   There have been several times over the past few weeks for example where I have plugged the PPC-6700 into my Mac laptop for an emergency charge.

Last note.  I also bought a replacement USB charger recently that retracts the cord and is great for traveling - only $13.  Also picked up iGo system for the car which of course has a USB tip for charging on the go.  Will post more impressions of iGo soon.

More later... 

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Let's talk about a love

Let's talk about a love rekindled...

As in my love for this phone.  I've already given what I think are valid reasons for having upgraded from my Treo 650 to this PPC 6700 despite the obvious fact that there had not been a solution for syncing important contact and appointment data from my Apple laptop.  In some ways, I took a huge step backwards with the phone upgrade and have lived in PIM squalor for more than 6 months.

That is until now.  The boys over at MarkSpace have finally answered my prayers and provided a much-anticipated upgrade to their Missing Sync product suite.  Being the foolhardy headstrong alpha-geek that I am, of course I jumped on the chance to try out their Alpha release for Windows Mobile 5 owners and sure enough it does the trick.

In this early version, I can sync contact and calendar data wirelessly over Bluetooth which takes longer of course but I'm sure there will be a number of improvements before the final version of the product.  But now we Mac types can rejoin society and I can start loving my phone again.

Steven Jones (not verified)
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...Now Sharing Pictures is

...Now Sharing Pictures is Easy!

For many of you this will seem old hat, I know.  Actually, I owned and used one of the first camera phones (Sanyo 5300) and loved it instantly.  Snapping digital photos certainly wasn't new at the time but having a camera with you at all times was flippin' sweet.

Anyway, since then I've always had a camera on my mobile phone and have used it mostly for my own gratification.  Sharing pictures with others never seemed easy enough, though, and that continued on with this PPC 6700.  Very few times did I upload pictures directly from the phone or beam them wirelessly to a nearby phone.  Most of the time I would physicaly move the image-laden mini-SD card to my laptop and import them into my photo editing software.  No exactly elegant if you ask me.

Well now that I have the abilty to sync my entire address book on my computer with my phone (long time coming - see previous posts in this thread), I find that its much easier to simply email pictures to my friends and family.  The combination of a built-in camera, outbound email capability, and a complete list of email addresses for my own contacts makes this much more compelling - now I'm snapping away like never before.

Whaddya know, the old hat still fits. 

Steven Jones (not verified)
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Let's check another cool

Let's check another cool feature off the list - Instant Messaging

This is something I just got into on my last Palm-based Treo phone before I traded it in for this Windows phone.  I count Instant Messaging among the most valuable applications I use on a daily basis to keep in touch with co-workers and friends.  When I finally freed up enough brain cells to look for a mobile client to continue my IM experience on the go, it didn't take long to find Agile Messenger from the folks at Agile Mobile.

Installing and setting up the client on the 6700 was breeze and within minutes I was plugged in to both AIM and Yahoo.  I don't have a lot of experience with mobile IM clients but this application satisified my immediate needs.  I was able to carry on multiple chats simultaneously across different IM systems without any troubles.  The controls are fairly intuitive but the real value comes from having that full slider keyboard at your disposal.

I will explore the rest of the features and report back but at first blush, this is yet another reason to love this phone - talk about versatility! 

Steven Jones (not verified)
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And now, the "piece I can't

And now, the "piece I can't resistance", the SlingPlayer Mobile, or more specifically, watching my TiVos on my phone.  I won't go into alot of detail about this magnificent device because there are many good Slingbox articles (like this one) that have already been written.  I will say that getting my hands on one of the first Windows Mobile 5 phones was largely influenced by the SlingPlayer Mobile application (which was still in Beta when I bought the phone).

The reason this is so compelling is because I am not only able to watch my TiVo on the phone but the Sling software gives me FULL control over the DVRs sitting at home.  I can program new shows, change channels, manage my playlist - everything.  And its fast enough to be useful.  I have two TiVos plugged into a single Slingbox and can switch back and forth between them right on the phone!

If you have a Windows Mobile 5 phone and are already in love with your DVR, then this is a product worth checking out

 

Sling on phone 

Doug Leeper
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I recently bought a PPC-6700.

I recently bought a PPC-6700.  I had to have high speed access when using it for work in remote places.  My work consists of me scoring my golf game in real time on a Samsung Q1 connected to the Internet via the PPC-6700.  I am connecting to my PPC via bluetooth and have not had a hitch with it.

To get this to work I had to upgrade the OS to the most recent version (OS 5.1.195 build 1487.2.0.0).  Once done no problem connecting.

 As far as battery life, I found a nifty little gadget that indicated 3 hours more with a AA battery.  Turbo Charge is its name.  It has mutiple phone attachments and is fairly inexpensive.

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