Meredith C. Carroll: Picking a new phone, or how to trigger a headache
February 7, 2008
It’s been a rough week. Not because fallen pop star Britney Spears’ hospital stay for a mental evaluation was extended (hallelujah!) or because Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul didn’t fare so well on Super Tuesday (shocking!), but because who knew that a cell phone weighing 2.82 ounces and standing 3.88 inches high could be such a pill.
The contract I have with my cell phone provider allows me a new phone every two years. The first headache set in when it came time to choose a new model. I knew I needed to choose wisely. After all, the phone will be my near-constant companion for 730 days, unless I break it sooner and my dad has to send me one of his old phones, which is a distinct possibility since I seem to drop my phone daily. (Strangely, I never seem to drop my indestructible keys or my even more indestructible wallet. Just my very destructible phone.)
I spent the last two phone-buying cycles avoiding anything gadgety. The more features a phone has, the more things are apt to break when dropped. But after years of teasing from my sister’s husband about my phones that always looks as if they were made in the same era as Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone, I decided maybe it was time to graduate from the simplest model available.
I didn’t get the top of the line. Nor did I go with the middle of the road. Still, the phone I got is closer to the middle than the bottom. It has some sort of music player and it has a camera and a video camera. I’ve graduated to an early 21st century cell phone at long last.
After I picked out the phone came the task of entering the numbers from my old phone. The process of which, if I were prone to migraines, totally would have triggered one.
Besides the agony of physically entering the information using the tiny keypad, I realized as I scrolled through my contacts that there was a fair amount of people I hadn’t talked to in a while. Former work colleagues, friends with whom I had grown distant ” or just distant enough that did I really need their work, home and cell numbers in my cell phone?
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Do I transfer their numbers? Or am I ready to admit there are just some people I’ll either never talk to again or will speak to so infrequently that I hardly need their numbers programmed in my phone? On the other hand, do I transfer the numbers of the people who I’ll probably never call, but whose names I might want to appear on my caller ID so that I can avoid talking to them if they call me?
Then there are the numbers I know I know. Like my work number, my home number, my parent’s numbers. Do I bother programming them in? Do I put them on speed dial? My phone can hold 999 speed dials, which is totally absurd. First of all, I only have, like, 50-some odd contacts in my phone in the first place. But let’s just say I had 999 contacts. How would I ever possibly memorize the speed dial number assigned to each person? In the time it would take me to scroll around to find each speed dial number, it probably would be faster to look up the number in an actual paper phone book and then just dial it.
Then there’s the ringtone. I only have 11 factory preset options. Among the 11 options, not one even remotely resembles the ring I’ve been using for the past four years on my last two phones. So I keep missing calls and giving everyone around me dirty looks when my phone rings, assuming it’s anyone else’s phone but mine. And they’re all giving me dirty looks because I’m the annoying person letting my phone just ring and ring.
Despite the aggravation of the new phone though, it was time. Even set at the highest level, the ringer on my old phone sounded at best like a faint noise from a faraway place. The vibrate mode more closely resembled the groan of a dying bee than an actual buzz. And the whole exterior casing was cracked, and just weeks ago, it finally snapped apart.
Still, it’s not heading for the cell phone graveyard just yet. A friend recently dropped her cell phone in the toilet and she isn’t eligible for a new one yet. So, she’s going to use what’s left of my old one. My only concern now is if with my sleek new phone, do I really want to be associated with someone whose phone doesn’t even have a microSD expansion slot?