Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Amazon Trail - Choosing an Effing Cell Phone

The Amazon Trail

Choosing an Effing Cell Phone

Hoo boy, all I want to do is get a new cell phone. Our contract is up and our old phones keep their battery charges about as long as a gay bartender gets to stand still. For a week now, instead of disassembling the patriarchy or doing something equally useful, I have spent my evenings researching this little purchase.

What I really want is to sign on with CREDO, which donates to progressive causes. I was with them for years, but when I went all-cell-all-the-time, they didn’t have coverage for my area. Now they do. It’s too late, though, as everyone I know is on Verizon, which means no charges for talk time. Verizon is said to be the undisputed king of coverage, another factor I deem important. It’s unfortunate that for Verizon customers not in the market for a smartphone, the pickings are sparse.

Is choosing a phone this hard for everyone? In the recent olden days, I’d get a free Nokia and be thrilled. Verizon doesn’t even carry Nokias anymore, although I’ve read they are the most reliable phones. Hmmm – connection there? Last time we got the very adequate Samsung Alias. A friend has the Alias 2 and loves it. Samsung has replaced it with the Zeal.

The names they give phones are unreal. Well, except for the Samsung Reality. But, no, really, the Fascinate? Intensity? Octane? Gravity, Citrus, Flipout, Charm? Who exactly would buy a phone because it’s called Eternity? Maybe it’s got a speed dial to someone’s Galaxy?

Here’s what I want in a phone. First, no required data pak! I’d rather send the $30.00 a month to Credo to help fight the Defense of Marriage Act. Second, a QWERTY keyboard; texting has become the communication mode of choice for enough people that I, gritting my teeth, have begun to text. Unless a phone has a cute little slide-out, touch screen or dual-hinges, texting is an onerous task.

But why pay to, essentially, e-mail someone? One answer is that not everyone is wired into a computer, smart phone or tablet 24/7. Or maybe I jst lke the txtng language, with its short-cuts and appealing, Twitter-like brevity.

I texted my niece, an enthusiast of the medium, and asked what kind of phone she has. I expected her, as a Gen Xer, to be somewhat of an expert. “I forget,” she tapped back. How could someone forget? I study major purchases like a little boy with baseball stats. I may never forget the specs for the Kin Two “m” which started as a smart phone and has been downgraded to a feature phone – with benefits, like Wi-Fi.

I posted a friend at work, also a Gen Xer. “I have an LG with a keyboard,” she e-mailed back. OK, maybe, I thought, her husband picked out her phone. She said she really liked it, so I was interested enough to send her a list of LG feature phones to see if any sounded familiar. “It just says LG,” she replied. Maybe I should ask a Millennial, like Wonderboi, but I’m pretty sure Millennials all have iPhones.

My third, and final, requirement for this new baby, is that it doesn’t call people from my pocket. I stash so many objects in there that the phone keys have to be covered. My sweetheart carries her phone in a back pocket or else leaves it lying around the house never to be found again, but it never calls me by mistake.

I’d be concerned about battery strength if it wasn’t a lost cause. It'd be logical that strong, clear sound would be a priority for telecommunications manufacturers. It’s not, but you can’t get that kind of information from reading the company web sites. You have to wade through consumer reviews that rave or rant or curse or ramble. If I’m lucky, I get a pretty rounded picture of the pros and cons of a specific phone. Sometimes the reviews warn me off, sometimes they give me both a problem and a fix, but mostly, they just confuse me. Techie reviews are even worse. There is much tossing around of undecipherable concepts like dumb phones, sim cards, removable memory, GSM and jailbreaking.

Next to an iPhone, the gadget I most admire is the Samsung Convoy, a ruggedized phone built to military specifications and oh so butch. Apparently butches don’t text as it has no usable keyboard. I’m stuck with a scrap pile of poorly reviewed devices that Verizon offers in an obvious ploy to force customers to choose smart phones and pay higher monthly fees.

Maybe it’s time to build a better mousetrap. A rugged little machine with fabulous voice clarity and easy texting that we could dub the Gayphone. It would come in lavender or lavender camouflage and the default ringtone would, of course, be Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way.”

Prfts wd go 2 gay orgs.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2011

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