Actually, that’s not entirely true. He does own a cell phone, but he says it remains in his car’s glove box and is never charged. This earth-shattering confession came from a guy I met at a volleyball game earlier this week. I was using my iPhone to capture a teammate’s contact information and he asked me about my iPhone to see if he should get one himself. He said he didn’t have one – later amended to the uncharged-in-glove-box story – and was curious about whether or not the iPhone would help him with his business. I was thoroughly confounded. A business owner without a cell phone? In 2009? What?
It used to be that I’d get phone calls from people who had mistakenly dialed the wrong number. We’d do that awkward verbal dance – I would ask them again who they were trying to reach and they’d play along, only to apologize once the error was clear and then abruptly hang up. I’d occasionally get someone rude, demanding to know my name instead as if I had had the audacity to have this number instead of it belonging to one of their friends.
While visiting family in San Diego the weekend before last, my sister-in-law handed me her new cell phone, asking me to show her how to do a few things since, somehow, my day job dictates that I know everything about every cell phone model currently on the market. Of course, it doesn’t, but I give it the old college try when someone hands me their cell phone anyway. Hers happened to be an exceptionally basic flip phone from Verizon. And it stumped me.
My internal geek monster has driven me to find the most feature-filled and cool smartphones in the past several years. As a result, I’m used to my phones being able to slice, dice, and chop, all at the same time if necessary. Her phone doesn’t. There was no Bluetooth and no camera. The screen was tiny and I couldn’t find a video/music player or internet browser on it anywhere. It had a dedicated 911 button and 3 large buttons that spelled I-C-E right below that itty-bitty screen. It was hideous and thoroughly functional all at once and I died a little inside when I touched it.
I can grasp that not everyone needs a multifunctional phone that can do everything. My husband is a prime example – he is more or less satisfied with the 6-year old Razr that I got him for Christmas so long ago (he asked for it – surely you wouldn’t think that I picked it out for him?). He uses it as a phone first, then as a text message reader to get through the barrage of texts I send him on a daily basis, and he needs nothing more from it. I see it, but I don’t understand it. I’m supposed to be a smart girl (at least according to my grades and standardized test scores from the days of yore) but I cannot wrap my mind around why someone wouldn’t want to be able to check their email, take a picture of something funny you see and send it to someone else right away, make up your shopping list, watch a YouTube video, or read an ebook on your phone. Why would you deny yourself this kind of functionality willingly? Does. Not. Compute.
Once I digested and made peace with the severe limitations of my sister-in-law’s cell phone, I reset her ICE contacts (which she had accidentally set to the wrong person), changed her husband’s ringtone so she would know right away when he was calling, and set up several speed dial contacts for her. She is an intelligent woman and could definitely have figured this out on her own, but simply lacked the time to mess around with it between work and managing 3 young children. Not to mention the fact that I gave one of her children a bloody nose while I was there, adding to her general level of busyness. Um, to be clear, the bloody nose was was an accident involving a baseball, an overzealous Aunt Marianne enjoying the ability to put a little heat on a throw a bit too much, and a setting sun obscuring said child’s vision. Aunt Marianne is deeply sorry and promises never to do that again. Ever. And that goes for manhandling her sister-in-law’s depressingly barren cell phone as well. That’s all I have to say about that.
I’m typing this as I fly to Vegas for to cover PMA for work, sitting in the very last row on the plane in a window seat (I was saved from the middle seat at the very last minute – thank you, wonderful Delta gate employee for finding an alternate seat for me!). My beloved MacBook Air has the screen brightness turned down to the second-to-last level in an attempt to conserve battery life so it will last as long as possible on this 5-hour flight to Salt Lake City.
Indulge my cattiness for a moment – there’s a faux-blonde college-aged girl next to me who has an iPhone and she’s left it on, sending text messages until take-off and trying to check her voicemail while we’re in the air. I haven’t quite made up my mind about asking her to put it into airplane mode. I’m not quite sure if she doesn’t know it has an airplane mode or if she just doesn’t give a damn. Frankly, I expect a bitchy response if I ask and the last thing I need to do is get my ass in trouble on a flight dealing with a spoiled brat next to me. Ugh.
I promised in my last blog post to talk about what I saw at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago. Right off the bat, I’ll say there wasn’t anything that immediately tempted me away from my iPhone 3G. Most notably, I got to see all of the new HTC devices up close thanks to an appointment with a company rep since they weren’t all on display at their booth on the show floor. I saw the Magic, Touch Pro2, and the Diamond 2. I spent the most time with the Magic and the Touch Pro2.
The Magic was impressive and I do think it should have been the first Android device released instead of the clunky and chunky G1. It was about the same length and width as the G1 but was much thinner without the keyboard, of course. It was a glossy white with a brushed metal strip on the back that surrounded the camera lens. It had a firmware edition that included an on-screen keyboard since it lacked a physical one. I typed on it a little and it wasn’t as intuitive as the one on my iPhone, but adjusting the predictive text settings may fix that, though I did not try this with the demo unit I was handed. I was disappointed, however, that Android doesn’t come with any more applications out of the box to fully flesh out its PIM capabilities, like notes and tasks applications. I’m sure there are alternatives in the Android Market, but it would be nice to have official Android ones that will sync with something. Of course, my iPhone can’t throw any stones without a native tasks application either, or a desktop complement to the Notes application. (Sigh)
If I were into Windows Mobile devices, the Touch Pro2 would have been deemed thoroughly sweet. Alas, I am not of the Windows persuasion in any way, shape, or form and I was only enticed by the hardware – the screen is gorgeous and the keyboard was far nicer than I expected. They managed to make a device that should feel huge feel not much larger than an iPhone.
I saw some Samsung, LG, and Sony Ericsson phones, all of which seemed to be aimed at the iPhone. I did handle the Samsung Ultra Touch and LG Arena and while they were both pretty with lots of touchscreen eye-candy and haptic feedback buzzing, they were still not even close to the polish and ease of use of the iPhone’s interface. Of course, take the words of this Apple fangirl with a grain of salt, all ye who are not Apple fans.
Probably the next most exciting phones after the HTC ones were the Nokias. I spent time with the N86, E75, and N97. The N97 has 32GB of memory and really seems to be Nokia’s attempt to unseat the iPhone. The software on the demo models was not final nor fully functional, but I really didn’t get any wows out of it at all. It’s nice and I’m sure it will be a slick device when it’s released, but the new Symbian OS version it’s running is still quite unintuitive and frankly unattractive compared to the iPhone’s. Try again, Nokia.
The Garmin Asus G60 was pretty neat – it really seemed, as you’d probably expect, like a Nuvi GPS device with a phone tacked on. If I were a frequent traveler who needed GPS guidance often, the G60 would be high on my list, but I don’t and what I can get on my iPhone 3G works for me just fine.
To shamelessly plug my day job, I did a bunch of first impression reviews at Mobile World Congress and you can read them all if you are incredibly bored or love cell phones as much as I do. I did 9 in total: Nokia N97, Nokia E75, Nokia N86, HTC Magic, HTC Touch Pro2, Sony Ericsson C903, Garmin Asus G60, LG Arena, and the Samsung Memoir. For the record, I really like my day job. 😉
(In case you’re curious, I never said anything to the girl next to me on the plane. I generally assume the worst about people, particularly when they’re angry, and I had visions of her dumping her Delta-supplied cup of soda on my MacBook Air “accidentally” in retaliation. That definitely would not have been worth it.)