Just a bad phone UI design

I had to pick up another mobile phone number, so I went looking for a basic phone to get to put it on. I called my cell provider, AT&T, and was pointed to the LG CF360. The physical design is good. It feels solid, the sliding is smooth and locks/unlocks easily. It’s got Bluetooth support and has a micro-SD slot.

The UI is an utter piece of crap, and that is an insult to crap, which can be put to good use as fertilizer.

It’s a fornicating phone, being able to access my call log would actually be useful, so what ever brain dead software “coder” working in what ever sweatshop he/she/it deserves to stay in decided to leave that functionality out.

If I ever get my Razr back from one of my kids, I’m moving the SIM card over to the Razr.

Two new Android phones

AT&T is finally carrying an Android based phone, this one is made by Dell, and called the Mini 3. This phone has been selling overseas already, so the specs are pretty well known. 3.5-inch 640×360 display, Bluetooth, 3 megapixel auto-focus camera with flash, microSD, and GPS.   Two things catch my eye, no WiFi and and microSD support.  So that is the bad and good points right off the bat.  No WiFi was one of the major complaints about the Crackberry Storm.

The inclusion of a microSD slot is a big, big plus.  The lack of an additional memory source is the biggest strike against the iPhone hardware, IMNSHO.

The other new Android phone is Google’s own Nexus 1.  We’ll see how long that name lasts.  The estate of Philip K. Dick is already taking legal action against the name.  Otherwise, this is an impressive bit of hardware. It sports a one-gigahertz processor, a 3.7-inch display, a five-megapixel camera, light and proximity sensors, and dual microphones that allow for noise cancellation.  Woot! This phone also has a removable battery!  The serious road warrior can pack a spare for emergencies.  The phone itself only has 512 Meg of flash memory, but it comes with a 4 Gig microSD card.  The phone will support up to 32 Gig in that slot, so expansion is available.

You can buy an unlocked phone direct from Google fro $529.

New iPhone hardware

According to Fortune Magazine, Apple is building 5-6 million new iPhones at their Chinese factories.

The rumor is to expect two new models in either June or July.  One will be faster, with more memory and a better camera at least. The other would be a step backwards, a less powerful, but cheaper model.

Another issue facing Apple & iPhone users is AT&T’s 3G network. It seems AT&T is a bit nervous about millions of new 3G phones hitting it’s network this summer and is rushing to upgrade in order to handle the load.

Another reason to stick with the old hardware

AT&T decided to change the data plan rates with the second gen iPhone. The data plan I have with my first gen is a flat $30 a month charge that includes 200 SMS text messages month. I’m not a big text user, so that is more than enough.

The new plan doesn’t include SMS text messaging. It’s $30 a month pluse $0.20 per SMS text message. That’s coming and going. Someone sends you a text and you are tossing two dimes in the jar for your next bill. To get that 200 messages a month, AT&T now charges $5 a month.

AT&T isn’t alone in this price gouging. Most of the other US cell phone carriers are doing similar Evil to their customer basis.

Why is it Evil? IMNSHO, it is because a SMS text message is just data traffic. No different from sending an email from your phone. Hell, even your voice traffic (i.e. old school phone calls ) is just data traffic now.

The cell phone carriers are charging more for SMS text messages because kids are sending them more than crack addicts are looking for their next fix.

As one pundit (either Leo Leporte or Glenn Reynolds I think) put it, his daughter views her cell phone as primarily a texting device that can, in a pinch, be used to actually talk to people not hip enough to text.

One of my kids had just over 350 text messages on his monthly bill. That’s incoming as well as outgoing, and he claims he isn’t a heavy text user. At $0.20 a pop, 350 text messages translates to an additional $70 on your bill. All of a sudden, paying an additional $5 or $20 a month for a texting package isn’t so bad.

Unless you keep in mind the words of Malcolm X, “When someone sticks a knife six inches into your back, and then pulls it out two inches and claims he’s doing you a favor, don’t believe him.”

Two Hours to buy an iPhone

That is just too long.  I called ahead, made sure that the local Apple Store had the phone my wife wanted in stock.  We get there, on a Wednesday night, and have to wait for a blue shirt to free up.  When one of the blue shirts finally does free up, he manages to get the new iPhone assigned to my number (I have a gen one iPhone and see no reason to upgrade), instead of my wife’s number.

Of course, they can’t fix the problem there, so we have to hike to the AT&T store, wait twenty more minutes for someone there to free up, and then another 45+ minutes for the AT&T rep to reset my account back to the way it was.  That should have taken five minutes, tops!

Instead, it was a major operation.  The AT&T rep had to program a new sim card for my phone!  Then the obnoxious process of having to register my iphone through iTunes once again.

So over half of my time was wasted because Apple screwed up my AT&T account, and I still don’t have the iPhone I came there to buy for my wife.

I understand that AT&T wants to make sure it makes its money back on the iPhones it is paying part of the cost on, but they have gone to new lengths to make the process difficult and un-consumer friendly for those of us who are actually trying to buy the Apple iPhone legally.

I’ve been a customer of AT&T Mobile (as they are now calling themselves) for over a decade.  I have five numbers on my account.  Never before have I run into a case where I was trying to sign up for a more expensive service plan and AT&T refused to take my money.

Until last night.  AT&T’s ovewheleming desire to make sure they squeeze every penny out of the iPhone rates means that they are putting the screws to long time loyal customers like myself.

The only bright point was that someone at the Apple Store finally figured out what customer service was. I managed to get the iPhone for my wife, with it actually assigned to her number, after just over two hours.

I’ll talk about the anti-consumer changes AT&T made to the rate plans later.  That’s a big reason I’m sticking with first gen iPhone.