Entry 219: Smart Phone, Dumb User

Well, April 11 is going to be a big day for me. It’s the day I have to get a new cell phone.

As you know, cellular law requires that you get a new phone every two years, on the very cellphone[1]day when you can get a discount in exchange for committing to pay whatever the wireless company tells you to for the next two years. I’m sure smart people can figure out their cell phone plans and the bills they receive, but, well, I refer you to the title of this post. The “dumb user” is me.

It’s just as well that I have to get a new phone on Thursday, as the battery on my old BlackBerry Curve seems to now have a life of about an hour and a half, which is only slightly shorter than the probable life span of the BlackBerry company, a once-proud empire which, like the Roman Empire and the British Empire before it, was destroyed by Apple and Google.

For months now, I’ve been really paying attention to smart phone commercials so that, come April 11, I will choose the best device for me. There is only one problem.

There is no device for me.

droid-cell-phone-ad[1]You see, the new smart phones are all about keeping you mobile, letting you do everything on the run, making sure you are connected to every person you know, every minute of the day, so that you don’t miss anything, as much as you may want to. I, on the other hand, am a mostly sedentary human being who pretty much leaves the house only to walk our dog Toby, who, frankly, would rather I just gave him a biscuit.

Want to know how I most often use my cell phone? I use it to tell me if I have e-mail, not when I am “on the road,” but when I am in the room next to where my computer is. That way, when I hear “YOU’VE GOT MAIL,” coming from my office, I don’t have to walk 20 feet to see who it’s from.

Did I mention that I am a sedentary human being?

So, as I said, I’ve been watching the smart phone commercials on TV, but they all look thephonetap same. They talk about the amazing things the phones do, like hail cabs, or shoot feature-length motion pictures, or piss off birds, or answer your questions about the meaning of life, or find your car in a parking lot, or send stuff from your phone to someone else’s phone when you tap the two phones together, which makes no sense to me, because if I’m close enough to you to tap our phones together, what do I need the phone for?

The thing is, I won’t ever use my phone to do any of those things, because, and I really can’t emphasize this enough, I hardly ever leave the house. And also, let me refer you once again to he title of this post.

motorola-h12-bluetooth-headset[1]Another thing: Some of these phones are so big, they’re halfway to being tablets, and I don’t mean aspirins. I would look ridiculous holding one of these devices up to my ear because, in addition to using my “mobile device” to identify the song playing in the restaurant I’m in, I might occasionally like to use it as a–what were those called again?–oh, right, PHONE.  I am told that users don’t mind the larger size because they mostly use Bluetooth headsets, but that doesn’t help me because I have yet to find a Bluetooth headset that stays in my ear. Besides, I don’t want to be one of those people who appears to be talking to himself while peeing at a public urinal so you (assuming you are of the male persuasion) use the urinal as far away from him as possible and then realize he’s got a Bluetooth headset in the ear you can’t see and is not talking to himself, but rather, is engaging in a conversation so important it must take place while he is urinating, which I’m sure the person he’s talking to considers to be a great honor.  Hopefully this guy will wash his hands before he presses the button to hang up, since the thing is in his ear! And, in any case, how do you hear the other person over the sound of the peeing and, more importantly, does the other person think you are calling from a very feeble waterfall?

This is something I would never attempt, because I’d be confident the headset would fall out of my ear and into the urinal.  I’d like to see what sort of app they have for that.

I’m also agonizing over keyboards. I’m kind of used to the keyboard on my BlackBerry. By blackberry-curve-8530-keyboard[1]“used to,” I mean it only takes me about 15 minutes to type a three word text message,* which I only do when somebody insists on sending me a text message. Still, I worry about touchscreen keyboards because, well, it just doesn’t seem right to touch the screen and what if I’m eating buttered popcorn?

And what about all the hand motions I’ll have to learn? I watch my daughter flipping her phone around and expanding the screens and shrinking the screens and swooshing from one screen to the next like it’s the most natural thing in the world. But, of course, her hand is becoming permanently cupped because she never puts her phone down. Do you ever assimilate all those motions if all you ever do is check your e-mail from the next room?

iphone_5_apple_ad[1]All the phones now have futuristic-sounding names like Droid or Galaxy or Stratosphere or Lumia, which makes me want an iPhone if only because at least it has the word “phone” in its name. I’ll probably get an iPhone anyway, because then I won’t need my iPod anymore so there will be one less gadget to carry around when I don’t go anywhere, and because that’s what my wife and daughter have, so they can tell me how to work the damn thing because, well, see the title of this post.

But then I have to decide…which iPhone. My daughter informs me that I shouldn’t get the latest model, the 5, because of my usage pattern, which indicates the need for something only marginally more advanced than a rotary dial. And besides, I’ve heard that the maps that came with the 5 had a small design flaw wherein users who wanted to visit, say, the Empire State Building ended up driving into the East River.

My daughter recommends the iPhone 4S, the last model, which doesn’t have all the rotarytechnology I’ll never use that the 5 comes with, but has a little more technology I’ll never use than its predecessor, the iPhone 4. Plus, it has an S.

So here I am, all hopped to go get myself a brand spanking new only slightly out-of-date iPhone 4S when I come across a story that Apple is only a couple of months away from launching the iPhone 5S, which will have all kinds of S the 5 doesn’t have and, is itself a precursor to an even newer model which will be introduced later this year.

Which means that almost before my new iPhone 4S is fully charged, it will be not one but three generations out of date.

Which will be plenty modern enough for me.

See you soon.

P.S. Coincidentally, April marks the cell phone’s 40th anniversary.  Why don’t we all celebrate by leaving the damned things home for a day?  (Note: This will not affect my usage whatsoever.)

*Longer if I try to use punctuation.

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