Tag Archives: Sprint

Hashtag Phonechoice

It is with deep sadness and frustration (and more that a little anticipation) that I announce that I am ending a 15-year relationship. This tumultuous affair has had its ups and downs and threats of breakups in the past, but as with all relationships, things have usually worked themselves out. This time, however, there will be no reconciliation. I am ending this poisonous relationship once and for all. I am leaving cell phone carrier Sprint.
Now I have to decide which of the other carriers I will trust to provide me excellent customer service, great coverage and blazing fast internet speeds on the most reliable network. I know how marketing works, so I know I cannot simply do a comparison shopping expedition. This will require research, of which I have already started, but also it will require an intangible. I have established a metric that I am curious to see who can best meet.
In this day and age of social media, I am going to see which of the carriers best responds to my situation. I work in a customer service industry, so I know a bit about this area and I fully intend on holding the carriers to a high standard. I have started a hashtag #phonechoice to see who best responds to my need for service. Follow to see who wins.
I am waiting guys. Come and get me.

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The Path To Hell Is Paved With Forced Upgrades

I broke my phone the other day.  It had a problem reading the battery voltage and would spontaneously shut down because of low battery indicators, even though the battery was nearly fully charged.  The second time it did that in an hour, it met the floor with a bit more force than it should have.  Gorilla glass is tough, but it makes the most interesting patterns when shattered.

Dead Epic 4G

It has failed me for the last time.

Since it was almost two years old, I decided to upgrade to the new Samsung Galaxy S3, since it has many improvements over my older Epic 4G (Galaxy S) and the newest Android operating system.  Upgrading when a device is broken is a perfectly understandable and even expected thing to do.  But these days, it seems we are expected to upgrade everything even when we don’t need or even want to.
The morning after I brought home my new smartphone, my wife’s Galaxy S2 phone upgraded itself to Android 4.0.4 (AKA Ice Cream Sandwich or ICS).  This is not a bad thing, but it necessitated upgrading several of her apps as well.  Later that same day, I was working on my old Powermac G3 computer at work and I got several errors when I tried to watch videos from some tech and news sites.  It seems Adobe has upgraded Flash and the flash player in my G3 is no longer compatible with the codecs being used these days and Adobe is not making the updates compatible with Motorola based G3 processors like the one in my Mac.  Adobe is on the hook for another serious annoyance that pesters me virtually every single day: Adobe Acrobat Reader updates.  I get a nag almost every time I sit down at the computer to upgrade this software.  Java is another one that is almost as bad.  When I turn on my phone, I get anywhere from 4 to 40 app alerts from the Google Play (formerly Android Market) to update the apps on my phone, and periodically, my computer will prompt me to install new updates to windows.  It seems that software designers never heard of the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
(as I typed that line, Android just popped up with “updates are available” again, and I just updated last night)
Once upon a time, software developers wrote programs (apps in today’s vernacular) and spent a lot of time and money debugging them and tweaking them to make them as good as they could be.  When they released them, the software was packaged in a box with a user’s manual and the disks or CDs in jewel cases and a user took them home, installed them and that was that.  If a program was updated, it was a significant change in the user experience with additional features added that would prompt the change and it would more than likely cost money.  There were rarely “bug fixes” because most bugs were discovered before publication.  Oh, sure a few got through, but those were dealt with. With the advent of the internet, software companies found they could deal with the few bug fixes with a “patch” that could be downloaded, thus reducing expense.  This lead to more software being released with more bugs, since deploying the patches was easier and cheaper.
Now software is released and then updated within days of each other.
Upgrades are not necessarily a bad thing, many programs get significant new features or improvements in upgrades.  Antivirus software must update regularly to handle the ever changing threat of viruses and hackers.  However, some updates actually worsen or even break the programs by removing features or options with which users are familiar.  Apple removed the ability to format filenames in an earlier version of iTunes and Microsoft is going to alter media center software with the Windows 8 version so that it will no longer be a boot option and must be downloaded as an add-on rather than being included in the release.  These do not even touch the number of apps that are completely broken and stop working when an update is downloaded and applied.  Android wins the contest on this issue since developers have to try to make the apps work on various hardware platforms.
Back in the old days, when the hardware makers built faster machines, software makers wrote programs that utilized these faster processors and memory.  If a user had an older machine and they wanted to run the newer programs, they would need to get a newer machine (or at least upgrade the older machine if possible).  This was known as the forced upgrade path and Microsoft and Intel kept each other in business for years doing just that.  App developers don’t seem to be using that logic.  In fact, they don’t seem to be using any logic with these updates.
With the ever increasing amount of apps available on so many different platforms, it forces one to wonder why the developers can’t leave well enough alone.  If it works, leave it alone.  Most of the updates have no appreciable difference in user experience, add no new features and are indistinguishable from their predecessors.  If a developer makes a significant improvement to an app, fine, push the update, otherwise stop pestering me to update.

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The worst phone ever

One thing I have been procrastinating for the past three months is a review of the Sprint HTC Touch Pro2. The reason I have been procrastinating this is because I did not want to write a bad review without trying to get better results through various means. I have determined through exhaustive testing of all features and functions that there are no better results to be found. The Touch Pro2 is the worst Sprint phone I have had the displeasure of using.

I have been a Sprint customer since 1998 (I think…it was the weekend they launched the service in Houston) and I have upgraded my phone on average every 18 months to two years. Each upgrade was just that: an upgrade. I found a better phone with more features than the previous model. The first phone I had was the first model that offered both digital and analog service and it was the first model to offer what they called back then the Wireless Web. I thoroughly enjoy that phone and got my money’s worth out of it. Each phone since was more compact, had better battery life and—this is important—built on the same features as the model that preceded it while adding new ones.

The last phone I had was the Mogul. For my money, it was the best phone Sprint ever launched. I skipped the Touch, the Touch Diamond (though I got one for my wife and she loves it) and the Touch Pro. These models did not offer enough of an upgrade to make me give up my Mogul The only improvements I was looking for were a bigger screen and more RAM (and longer battery life would be nice too). The Touch Pro2 was announced by HTC before Sprint, but the specs that HTC touted were phenomenal. It had more RAM, a faster CPU, better CCD for the Camera, and the biggie…a huge screen. I was quite excited at the prospect of this phone. I checked the forums and websites regularly to find out the date of release for the TP2, fully intending on getting it as soon as it was available.

Well, I did. The day it was available for sale, I ordered it.

I shouldn’t have.

When the phone arrived, it came without a carrying case or headphones. The only accessories that Sprint included was an extra stylus and the USB cord/charger. I figured I could get a case on my own, so while inconvenient, it was not a deal breaker. However, that was only the first of the problems I would face.

Before I go into the problems, let me first talk about the good points of this phone. It has a huge screen. It is almost as big as the old PPC6600 phone with its full PDA-sized screen. This was a definite plus for me since the Mogul’s screen was causing eye strain. The TP2 also has great sharp graphics and good color; a must for phone photography. It has a slide-out keyboard with well spaced keys for my fat fingers. The screen tilts for movie playback, which aids in viewing. It has the Touch Flo 3D shell running on top of Windows Mobile 6.1—WM 6.5 is promised as a free upgrade soon. The shell has some cool features such as a stock ticker, a weather app, and a favorite contact app. The shell’s tabs also interact with several of the main applications like Sprint Navigation, the Calendar, Sprint TV, and many others. The phone also has a MicroSD slot for added storage, 3.2 megapixel camera, Speaker phone with additional microphone and an annoying magnetic sleep/wake function.

This last feature is one of the more annoying problems I have. The phone wakes in its case constantly, which enables the screen to launch apps or worse, make calls or send texts while in the case. This wouldn’t be a problem since Windows has a lock function in the today screen. HTC’s Touch Flo bypasses the today screen, however, so the lock function is not available unless you disable TF3d.

The other annoyance is that the TP2 has only four buttons and they are not mapable in most apps. The D-button is gone with this model, and the Mogul’s scroll-wheel (which I grew to love and can’t live without) is not on this model. The only user interaction is the touch screen, evidently to make it more iPhone-like. The TF3D may be touch-friendly, but WM has a way to go before it can get by without hardware navigation; and WM is still at the core of this phone. Besides, most applications still need d-button navigation.

Another annoyance: the slide-to-answer feature of the phone. I would just like to push a button to answer a call, not swipe my finger. Since this phone has an accelerometer, the screen rotates when the phone changes orientation. This causes a lag in response which has made me miss several phone calls. This leads me to one of the biggest problems: the memory. HTC did something with memory management and the cache to supposedly speed up some functions. I have not seen any speed increase, in fact, the phone actually seems slower than my mogul and uses memory even more inefficiently. This phone has more than double the memory, but has a smaller percentage available at any given time. I had to reboot the Mogul at least 3-4 times a week. I have to reboot the TP2 at a minimum of EVERY DAY to release memory.

The problem is not with Microsoft, and not solely with Sprint. I lay the blame squarely on HTC’s shoulders for this debacle. Maybe they hamstringed it to leverage their “Hero” android-based phone. Whatever their reasoning, they delivered a dud of a phone—one that I cannot recommend to anyone. I am sorely dissatisfied with the Touch Pro2, and am seriously thinking of leaving the WM platform for either an Android-based phone(not HTC’s), or—if Apple breaks with ATT’s exclusivity agreement—an iPhone in the future.

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