Update: by a strange coincidence, about 24 hours after I posted the observation that my Android phone browser was better for browsing the social web than anything on my PC, Rockmelt launched a socially-focused desktop browser that at first glance seems to solve all of these problems. Twitter and FB integration front and centre, easy sharing of links - these are all of the things I was increasingly using my phone, instead of my computer, for. If timing really is everything for start-ups, at the moment my phone browser seemed to be overtaking my desktop in social functionality this couldn't be more timely.
Original post: Increasingly my first point of contact with the web is Twitter. It tells me what my friends are doing, most important news finds its way to me on there and most of the things I want to impart seem to lend themselves to the format. And increasingly I find myself turning to my phone to do this. Even when my laptop's in the room. Even when it's already switched on and running.
What am I using? Android on Tmobile's HTC Desire (this thing, give or take eight months). Reading 140-character tweets with shortened hyperlinks works just fine on the tiny screen, and the main benefit I find is the very rapid "share" function with a couple of clicks lets me tweet, or email, or Facebook, any web page.
Pretty much any website that's properly run (quite right, not including this one then) has a mobile-optimised version now that's comfortable to read from the screen. I've got webmail, multiple blogs, Twitter, Livejournal and SMS all on one screen, which is more than I can say for my PC. It takes photos so I can upload them straight from the device - can't be long before DSLRs ship with a SIM already in there, but as it stands my Sony a230 has to be connected to a PC before I can start sharing the images which already feels like dinosaur technology I can hardly be bothered with. And very occasionally I use it to make or receive a phone call too, which while I could easily live without it is a nice bonus feature.
I've played with iPads and other tablets and they're no replacement for a proper computer, nowhere near. I need something I can type a thousand words on and the iPad isn't it. But I'm already using my phone, most of the time, as a slightly-too-small computer with a slightly sub-spec camera because it's quick and convenient and always on and always there. A slightly larger version that, might occasionally have to make a phone call but most probably could do without that feature, would be a lot better most of the time. So next time I upgrade my phone, I'm probably going to go with something that's not really a phone at all. And that's the space that the iPad, or to be honest something a bir better and smaller with a good camera and that actually can make a phone call at a pinch, might actually be useful for.