Cellphone 2: Blue In The Tooth

Well, that didn’t last long.

I took my coveted Z200 for a walk around the block a few days ago, and decided it wasn’t going to work out. It was very pretty, and the interface was exactly what I wanted, but it wasn’t, well, it wasn’t bluetoothy enough for me. And its infrared only sort of worked but didn’t really, and the USB cable didn’t work at all. And it had no Java, and virtually no memory, and it was slow, so slow. It wasn’t going to work out, so I had to break it off. It’s too bad – it was a really, really pretty form factor, a great UI, but it was just as dumb as a cellphone can get without being a walkie-talkie.

So I moved over to a Siemens CF62, a phone that did almost what I was looking for, and came with a camera, but boy howdy, the Siemens people need some professional help with their user interface design in the worst possible way. I know that the UI for every phone is different, but when the “Send This SMS Message Right Now” button and the “Delete The Previous Character” button are right next to each other, and on the other side of things the “Options For This Call” and the “Hang Up This Call” buttons have that same adjacency for absolutely zero good reasons and all kinds of bad ones, well, that’s three strikes right there. And to me, that looks like the kind of problem that’s symptomatic of a much deeper institutional problem than just a bad front-end. After cutting off two calls and sending three unfinished (in one case, barely started) SMS messages, I felt no regret whatsoever sending it back to the shop.

Oh, well. So much for clamshells.

The next phone that met the criteria of supporting bluetooth and a PC connection that had some hope in hell of working under Linux, having a UI that wasn’t obviously designed by a chimpanzee with Down Syndrome and not looking like badly-assembled glossy plastic ass was the next Sony-Ericsson model up, the t-six-ten. And it’s pretty sweet; there’s a few obvious kinks in the UI, and the buttons you’d most want to be user-configurable just aren’t, but so far I can live with that. I can move stuff on and off it painlessly even with Linux, the reception is good, the headset that came with it was pretty good too. The built-in camera is, I will admit, kind of fun and the SMS works pretty well once you tell it not to show all of its T9 suggestions in an ugly scroll window. It even has an plug hidden in the back for a much, much bigger antenna, if I ever want that; the only thing that I really want that it doesn’t do is come in the same shape as the clamshell Z200, which is a little disappointing. There’s a Z600, you might say, to which I reply that it is twice the size of the Z200, costs three times as much as the t610 and eight times as much as the z200, and it looks like a babboon’s ass might look if the babboon had a piercing. And I’m not in the market for pierced babboon ass of any size, at any price.

The thing that made this entire escapade in phone-swapping cost me nothing but time is the fact that Fido give you fifteen days to do that, hassle-free. Which is nice – most places (Bell, Telus and Rogers, if memory serves) give you fifteen days or fifteen minutes on the phone, whichever comes first. Which, you’ll sensibly observe, blows. Like my man Rob, I heart Fido very much, so it’s a damn shame that Rogers is buying them. Talking to them about my problems doesn’t hurt at all, and then the problems get solved. What’s not to like?


  1. Posted November 17, 2004 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Microcell, Fido’s parent company, is now a property of Rogers. As a result, I’ve had terrible service of late as the networks are merged. I hope it improves.

    I use a Sony Ericsson T68i right now, and one of the biggest irritations to me is that I can only store one number of each type for one person. For instance, if someone has more than one home number, I have to make a separate address book entry for them. Does the T610 have the same limitation?

  2. Mike Hoye
    Posted November 17, 2004 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    No, the t610 has pretty good contact management – each entry gives you space for a couple of phone numbers, and lets you set one as the default. That part’s pretty good.

    The part that kills me is that you can’t customize the default behaviours of the directional knob in the middle or the three (four, including the one dedicated to the camera) buttons on the side of the case. And the one on the sides, in absolutely prime real estate, do some really stupid things – the thumb button connects you to WAP and the other two (plus and minus) just tell you your own phone number. The knob-up takes you to your internet browser, which is somehow different from WAP but just as useless, and it costs money and you hit that button by accident all the damn time.

    That is to say, the most useful real estate in terms of personalization and customization can’t be personalized or customized in any way, which makes it almost useless.

  3. Posted November 18, 2004 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    The limitation of one number per name is a SIM limitation, and not a phone limitation. If you change your phone to use internal memory for names instead of SIM memory, you’ll lose that limitation, but there’s an obvious downside to doing that.

    Rogers now completely owns Fido, so expect Fido to become a “discount” brand of Rogers with the associated deliberate service castrations. Fido’s city coverage has always been light-years ahead of Rogers, but Rogers has had better countryside coverage. Rogers customers can now freely roam on Fido, using our capacity in the city, and Fido customers will have to pay an additional $5 to get Rogers roaming. Etc.

  4. Mike Hoye
    Posted November 18, 2004 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Yes, I’ve noticed the “fuck the new kids” mentality that’s saturating my coverage these days. One of the great joys of Rogers is that periodically, my Fido phone will switch over to Rogers’ coverage, which automagically completely bones all of the seven-digit numbers in my address book. “The call you are trying to make is not a local call” my white local ass; I had to go through all of them and set them to ten digits, so that they worked reliably. I don’t know how goddamned hard can it be to get that right, but my suspicion is “not hard at all”. But I’ve learned that once I look down at that handset and see the word “Rogers”, I’ve just lost.

  5. Mike Bruce
    Posted November 18, 2004 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    I got a T610 (or maybe a 615…same thing) a couple of months ago. Good phone.

    I did spend about twenty minutes trying to figure out how to customize the directional button. I was kind of confused when I realized that I couldn’t. It’s such an obvious thing, and the defaults aren’t super useful.

    It’s not an ideal phone, but it’s notably better than anything else the T-Mobile store had. I feel like my eyes are going to melt when I look at the Nokia phones.