Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Best and Worst Phone, Ever

Last September, I expressed a vague desire to own an iPhone 4. I have owned a lot of different phones over the years, all of them chosen for me by someone who closely follows the latest in hardware, and I have usually been pretty happy. I have had issues with AT&T’s coverage, which has not improved for me since the mid-1990s when I got my first Nokia phone. I could take you on a tour of where I consistently drop calls (405 South and Federal Avenue E, for example), but that might be even more boring than I am willing to be on this blog.
Instead of an iPhone 4, I was given a Sony Ericsson Xperia.  Research had revealed this to be the newest and one of the best of the Android phones.  Reviewers liked its large screen and Sony design quality, and we were still clinging to the idea that we could have cool stuff not made by Apple. I turned the phone on in mid to late September. Probably the most complex and interesting thing I ever did with this phone was install the Amazon app and buy a book while I sat at a coffee shop. It took some pretty decent pictures, but I have to say that a high-end phone that does not take good pictures these days would be hard to find. I was able to read my Gmail account any time I wanted, but my other email never worked properly, requiring me to manually ask it to refresh two or three times before it would download mail, if it would download mail at all.
I put a few apps on it, like Facebook, which lacked a number of editing features that I find really important, like turning a picture or adding a caption. I patiently upgraded the software, thinking it could only get better. If “better” were “hotter,” then it could be called “better.”  I found that if I made even one phone call it needed recharging by 3 pm, which is the one time of day a busy mother needs her phone to just work.  Running out of battery might have been something I could work around if the phone worked well as a phone, but it was hard to answer, hard to dial, froze when I got a text and sometimes dropped calls because the operating system crashed.
Texting may not be your cup of tea, but it is how the busy mother tracks her offspring today. My family got tireder and tireder of SMS gibberish from me, and I don’t just mean auto-correct hilarity.  Texting with this phone requires a kind of patience that modern products no longer require. Opening an SMS conversation with someone I exchange texts with frequently caused the thing to go into a self-reflective meditative state often ending a program crash.  Laggy, buggy and frustrating: who has time for this?
Today, I bought an iPhone 4, with service from Verizon, and started the process of porting my number to it.  The Xperia will go into the pile of other discarded phones, where it will stand out for being the shiniest and most promising in addition to being the one used for the shortest amount of time.  I have a name for things like this, which look like they are going to be amazing, and then disappoint: rubber candy.

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