Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gratification versus Denial

I post these various life-challenges for your entertainment - and maybe receive some constructive feedback.  Here's the latest one:

Dad, I want an iPhone.

There was a time where I would have dismissed my son's request outright.  I saw Apple and their iOS as totally incompatible with the familiar Microsoft Windows environment I had based my life and career on.

Then I received a Nook tablet as a gift from my parents.  I researched it, rooted it, loaded a variant of Android onto it - and was sorely disappointed at the performance.  But, it was a free toy and for what it was designed to do (display e-book files), it was great.

But that left me wanting more from a tablet.  So, I turned to "the enemy".  Not because I saw their product as superior, but I saw them like a condor sees a fresh roadkill.  See, I'm all about saving money and learning.  I already posted about my exploits repairing iPod touch music players.  This one skill led to another skill - repairing iPad tablets.  In much the same circumstance, eBay is LOADED with people selling their broken devices.  There is no shortage of broken iPads to buy and an almost limitless supply of new, inexpensive replacement parts.  I've refurbished about eight tablets now - I know what potential mistakes can be made and the methods to correct them.  That's how the Apple slithered its way into my life.

So, from a serviceability standpoint, the Apple products are high on the list.  They are the most-popular phone which means they are the most-commonly broken and, in turn, the most commonly-repaired.  If I've learned one thing it's that kids will break their stuff - I know, because I was one.

Back on topic.  I have to now research cellphone plans for my son.  I've already interrogated my social circles about appropriate ages for a child to have a phone, data plans, pricing, quality of handsets, etc.  I had a few options:

1.  Add a new phone to my existing plan
2.  Purchase a prepaid phone from a separate carrier
3.  Ditch all the mobile phones and start fresh with a new carrier

While option 1 may sound like the most-convenient solution, it really wasn't.  I'm still part of Sprint's nearly-extinct SERO plan.  It still remains the best deal today - which is why Sprint wants to kill it.  They've essentially locked the plan and prevented any phones newer than the William Jefferson Clinton Administration from participating on it.  I've hacked this handset, tried a third party version of Android on it, tethered from it,  hotspotted it - it's lived a very productive life for a phone.

But now, faced with this opportunity of upgrading (that would be option 3 A.K.A "The Scorched Earth Directive") - the warts are starting to become apparent.  I'm cursing every dead battery each morning.  I can't load anymore games or apps onto it because the company closed the phone's marketplace.  Nobody writes software for this handset anymore.  It wasn't meant to be a capable social phone or a GPS.  I view my years of stretching life out of this device as entitlement - and now I want to collect.

I want reliability and security first and foremost.  That means:  battery life of 8 hours (24 hours standby), no missed calls, no dropped calls, immediate text or voicemail receipt.  The call quality doesn't have to be pristine, but when my wife leaves me a message on the phone, I want to see it that very second, not ten or fifteen minutes later (yes, we suffer through this).  AFTER that's established, then we can get into the other features - GPS and social networking, NFC and tethering, expandability and third party software - my list goes on.

Remember that joke about how the iPhone is great at being everything, except being a phone?  Yeah, me neither.

It's a lot to consider.  My son and wife have faith in me and my research, so I want to get this right.  I've already got a couple handsets and data plans in mind.  After this, we'll be more-connected with each other and to the world.  And instead of updating this blog in a basement, I can be doing this from a beach towel.  Indeed, my new smartphone's sole purpose will be to make y'all jealous.

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