I’m Just Waiting for the Phone

Intrinsic in daily life here is the mobile phone. You’re just not going to get very far without one. I arrived on this continent cheery and bright-eyed, and soon I began shopping for my own gateway to the social world. I bought a chip at one store, a phone at another and (after a brief “whoops we forgot to unlock your phone!” moment I was on my way. It was a Sony phone, and, well, it had problems.

The software for the phone wasn’t great, leading to me missing a lot of messages, but the hardware was worse. Sorry, Sony, that’s three strikes. I’ll never buy another of your products again. Tired of my complaining, my brother ceded me his old phone when he upgraded. Now I own a Nokia N-80 (I think). Holy crap is this thing fancy! It has features and capabilities that I am only beginning to discover. It’s a really nice piece of portable computing power. The problem: it’s suicidal.

The phone has a face plate that slides up and down, which is a pretty good way to hide unnecessary controls until you need them. Unfortunately, the sliding action also unlocks the keypad, and it doesn’t have to slide very far. I would say that when I pull the phone out of my pocket the keys have been unlocked more than half the time. That would be bad enough but when unlocked the phone often goes into a coma which requires rebooting. And today, when I needed to send a message, any attempt to access the messaging features were unresponsive. The software on this phone is simply not stable enough.

Someday there will be a phone, so robust, so straightforward, that I will be able to use it happily. The buttons will work properly. The software will be there when I need it. When I pull it out of my pocket it will be sleeping happily and the battery will still have life. When I throw it in my pocket I won’t worry about my keys scratching it up. This will be the God Among Phones. When this phone walks down the street in phone-ville, all the fancy-ass phones will step out of its way in awe. “What’s that, mommy?” a timid child-phone will ask, only to be shushed by its fearful guardian. “That’s the phone that actually works” mother-phone will reply. The little child-phone’s eyes will grow round. “Ooooohhh…” it will say. “I want to be like that when I grow up.”

I promise you, little phone, that no one wants that more than I.

4 thoughts on “I’m Just Waiting for the Phone

  1. I just sent Steve Jobs an email. It said simply this:

    Remember when you made a laptop out of bulletproof plastic that kids could just throw in a backpack without worrying? I want the phone version of that. I could never own an iPhone the way they’re made now. They don’t work with pockets.

  2. Once upon a time, we had an old Motorola Flip-Phone that might as well have been made of steel. We dropped it (sometimes in water). We stepped on it. Somehow it even once got itself tangled up with the seat-moving hardware of our vehicle, creating nasty-looking cracks all over its face. But it never quit working.

    Unfortunately, all it did was make and receive telephone calls.

    We now have another Motorola that also has stood up to a lot of abuse, that does more, but not all of the things that you want.

    It seems like there is a trade-off between features and durability. I notice that Toshiba is advertising a phone that is supposed to stand up to great levels of abuse while also having lots of features. But I don’t know how accurate those advertising claims are.

  3. My phone has survived the lake, a serious crash, the expedition’s tires and the scratches don’t show that much. Of course the online software is slow and clunky, and it doesn’t have a user replaceable chip and it doesn’t work on European network. Otherwise, it’s great.

  4. Two words Jer, “Man Purse”! I figure it’s not so much the phone as your abusive pockets (nothing more to add in the G Rated world here).

    *whistles and wanders off*

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