Love to hate smartphones

This isn’t a new subject for me as I’ve written several times on both sides of the debate. I’m now, after switching to my cheap Lumia (Windows 10 Mobile) and then switching back to my equally cheap Galaxy Express (Android 6), at the point of ditching smartphones all together. These devices, with their screens bathing our peepers in blue light, are taking over every aspect of our lives to where we are actually crippled when we don’t have use of them even for a few hours. A pervasive piece of technology that has invaded, without our knowledge, and conquered our lives right under our noses without us even giving up a fight. In many ways, you can take any classic alien movie, replace the aliens with smartphones, and the story would most likely hold up. I’d watch the movie titled “Invasion of the Brain Snatchers” that chronicled our plight against the invading smartphone intelligence trying to take over the world.

Here is the debate raging in my head right now regarding the next smart phone I’m considering to purchase sometime early next year, which will be an unlocked version regardless of my decision, if I buy one at all.

Apple (iOS)

As if, these devices are electronic versions of Hell. They’re locked down, impossible to tinker with and Siri will speak to you in a condescending tone if you attempt to make any changes. I’m not an Apple fan, never have been, never will be. They’re expensive and once you’re in that ecosystem, it’s extremely hard to get back out of it. I’ve helped more friends than I can recall get away from Apple in favor of Android. In one case, I had to literally burn all their music to CDR’s, then rip them back to a non-protected, non-Apple, MP3 format. A total waste of time, but at least he has a sleeve of 50 CDR’s as a backup.

Android

This has potential, but Google has completely fubar’d the ecosystem so far. One of the most fragmented systems known to man in terms of the number of versions still being used and extremely vulnerable. A lot of the features from Marshmallow and soon, Nougat, will go unused because Android developers need to make apps available that are backward compatible. There are 10 versions of Android that currently make the graphic below from Froyo (2.2) to Marshmallow (6.0).

shareofandroidversions

SOURCE: Statista

The fact that malware is actively targeting all version of Android older than 6.0 means that 81% of all Android phones are at risk or already infected. How can you call a phone that runs Android a smart phone with those kinds of issues? If Google can rope in all these fragmented OS versions and exercise some control over their ecosystem, I think they have a chance of actually continuing their success.

Blackberry (Android)

I’m not discounting these guys out just yet. They just announced a huge deal with TCL China, a phone manufacturer, to continue building devices with the Blackberry name and running a secure version of Android. They already had marginal success with the Priv, and are announcing unlocked phones that will be sold worldwide in early 2017. I would certainly snag myself an Android Blackberry with a physical keyboard if the price was right. They have certainly kept up with regular updates on the Priv and there is a possibility that these phones will get Nougat as well.

Microsoft (Windows 10 Mobile)

This is a real disappointment. They had a really good phone OS that started with 7.x that was different from all other mobile phone systems and just worked. The apps were a real pain but there were some really good developers that created third-party apps that often worked better than the native apps for iOS and Android. The first mistake was forcing everyone on 7.x to purchase new hardware to be able and run 8.x. Again, they had a really good phone OS that got better, and with a decent selection of hardware, Microsoft was on a good track to get some traction, then, then, nothing. Windows 10 Mobile was announced and once the upgrade phone list came out, a lot of top end hardware was left behind. What few die-hard fans were left just got the shaft, again, and essentially wrote off the entire thing. I was with them from 7.x, got a new phone to get 8.x, and was left with hardware that wasn’t getting Windows 10 Mobile. See ya Microsoft, I’m out. Chances are slim that I would purchase another, unless the rumors of a mobile phone being released that can run desktop applications actually comes true. Then I have a mobile phone replacement for my laptop.

Decisions…

To be honest, the whole idea of a smart phone has been lost on me. It’s a necessary evil at this time that is a constant distraction for me and everyone around me. My wife is utterly addicted and will often be glued to the screen and barely answer “Uh huh” or “Ok” when consumed by the screens content. She often complains of having trouble going to sleep, except on the nights that she doesn’t use the phone before bed. I’d agree with her if the observations didn’t tell me otherwise, case in point “Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?”

I may just say f**k it and get a flip phone to keep the people who need to get in touch with me (in case of that elusive emergency) happy. We’ve lived on this planet much longer without smartphones than we have lived with them, how quickly we forget…..

#android, #apple, #smartphones, #technology, #windows

I’m so done with smartphones

While fighting with my mobile phone last night, I contemplated throwing it against the wall to make the insane frustration stop. Having paid for it off-contract though, I quickly put that action out of my head. This, you see, is my first mobile phone with Android as the operating system. Saying that I’m underwhelmed with its ability is an understatement. We’ll get to why I have switched in a bit. Recalling all the awesome phones I’ve had in the past few years (list below), the Android tops my list of “meh” as far as my love for the phone. I’ve listed these in order of my ownership, newest to oldest, the numbers in ( )’s is my personal ranking of these phones. #1 and #2 I would gladly take back if they were still relevant and not obsolete.

  • Samsung Galaxy Express Prime / Android 6.0 / (9)
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 / Windows 10 for Mobile / (7)
  • HTC One M8 for Windows / Windows Mobile 8.1 / (1*)
  • Nokia Lumia 920 / Windows Mobile 8.1 / (2**)
  • Samsung Focus / Windows Mobile 7.8 / (5)
  • Blackberry Bold 9700 / Blackberry OS6 / (2**)
  • AT&T Tilt / Windows Mobile 6.1 / (8)
  • Samsung BlackJack / Windows Mobile 6.1 / (4)
  • Palm Treo 650 / Palm OS / (6)
  • Various analog non-smart phones, too many to list

*I’d still be using this phone if HTC and Microsoft had decided to upgrade it from Windows 8.1.
**A toss-up honestly, physical keyboard (BB) is on-par with superior build quality (Nokia).

What’s striking about this list is that phones, some used over a decade ago, rank higher than my current phone. My current phone is literally being used out of necessity as the specifications are definitely in the “budget” range making any task painful at best. I’m still paying off the HTC One M8 for Windows (previous posts, here (towards the end of the post) and here, have all the background detail) and refuse to get a newer phone with payments until the HTC is paid off…. in July 2017. Despite me ranking the Lumia 920 equal to the Blackberry Bold 9700, I would choose the Blackberry (assumption is that the OS on both of these would be current to make the choice relevant). That was my tank, always reliable, and just worked. I hardly ever had to reboot it and it had 3-4 days of battery on each charge. The last phone on that list above that could do that was the Palm Treo 650, the true champion of durability tankness. I’m still a little disappointed that Palm couldn’t keep up with the mobile device market.

I’m using an Android phone now because Microsoft has flipped off this fan for the last time. They’re pointing a finger at HTC for not updating the M8 and HTC pointing a finger at Microsoft for not updating the M8 was the last nail in a slowly built casket. Windows 10 for Mobile is a damn good operating system and up until I stopped using the One M8, the previews ran flawlessly. As much as I hate to admit it, there was a lot of “workarounds” required to do all the things you can easily do on Apple and Android OSs with a simple app download. I managed though and was hopeful that Microsoft had finally turned the right corner and was building the ecosystem that was required. That didn’t happen. Focus has been turned elsewhere and Windows 10 for Mobile has been relegated to the “we also have this” pile. The downturn of desktops/laptops for the 8th quarter in a row paired with Android claiming over 80% of the mobile market, I fear that Microsoft is slowly heading down the same path as Blackberry, HP (webOS), and Palm (which a purchase from HP didn’t save). Sure, Windows 10 is fantastic, been setup for long-term support, and unified experiences across multiple platforms…… but those platforms are, in a sense, dying. The only platform that is growing is the tablet/2-in-1 market, barely, but mobile phones, rather, mobile computers are taking over. Microsoft has failed to innovate and penetrate this market, and 2017 is going to be a pivotal year for them if they can’t get the rumored Surface Phone released.

Some serious thought has been invested in moving back to a simple, dumb, flip phone that costs $30. If it breaks, just get a new one and move the SIM card. I can buy over 25 flip phones for the price of a Samsung Galaxy S7 and I don’t have to be locked into a stupid finance agreement with my carrier. It would also only cost me $14 (with taxes) per month for a flip phone compared to the $40 (with taxes) per month I currently pay (there are 7 lines on our family plan). Something to be said about not being 24/7/365 “connected” to the world.

#android, #disconnecting-from-technology, #flip-phones, #smartphone, #windows-10-for-mobile

An open letter to Microsoft and HTC

The History

I’ve been using Microsoft Windows Phone (now Windows 10 Mobile) since the first release of the OS after the appalling Windows Mobile 6.5.  Here is a list of the mobile devices that I’ve owned, all running Windows Mobile:

  • Samsung Focus (Windows 7.x)
  • Nokia Lumia 920 (Windows 8.x)
  • HTC One M8 for Windows (Windows 8.x, 10 preview)

Current Status

It’s just been announced that at this point there is to be no update to Windows 10 Mobile for my HTC One M8 for Windows.  This is a technically superior phone to the Microsoft Lumia 640 (that’s getting the update btw) that I purchased mainly for the fact that the hardware would easily get me 3-5 years of efficient usage or more.  In fact, I’ve been running the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview for over 6 months without any major or minor issue found.  This is my daily driver AND is used for work as well through the BYOD program at my company.

The Rub

This says it all:  HTC M8 Is The Latest Windows Phone Model Not Getting Windows 10 Mobile

Open Letter to HTC

Dear HTC,

I’m disappointed that you have not stood by your products in the last several years.  You’ve developed some fantastic hardware that can easily be classified as flagship devices, however I’m concerned that you’re missing a huge market that I personally think is about to explode.  Supporting a device for two years is just that, supporting it.  Dragging your feet and delaying a response to customers on an upgrade, regardless of mobile OS, is just plain out manipulative.  At this point in time, I will never own another HTC device and will actively discourage family and friends from purchasing an HTC device.  I’m disappointed in you as a company.

Open letter to Microsoft

Dear Microsoft,

Our relationship goes back to Windows 3.0 on my Packard Bell 486.  I’ve continually used a system that has had OS’s from Windows 3.x, 9x, Me, 2000, NT, 7, 8 and now 10.  It was an easy decision for me to jump on the Windows Mobile wagon as everything I ever used was called Windows or was from Microsoft at some point in time or another.  After the announcement that the HTC One M8 would not be receiving Windows 10 Mobile, which at almost 2 years old is still superior to the Lumia 640, is very disappointing.  In fact, its downright shitty if I’m being honest.  It seems that it was based on Insider feedback, which I personally always answered honestly, usually positive though as I worked through the minor issues with certain apps or services.  A techie does that.

The fact that now you’re not supporting a large fan base and leaving them out to hang stuck with Windows 8.1 on hardware that can easily support Windows 10 Mobile isn’t a good move.  I’ve championed Windows 10 for both PC and Mobile and now am questioning your commitment to making the Mobile part even the least bit successful.  It would seem that you’re focusing on the business market, which is what Blackberry did, we all see how that ended up.

My plea

I urge you, HTC and Microsoft, release Windows 10 Mobile for the M8 and let the phone users decide if they want to upgrade.  The Insider Preview has been running on this device for months without a lot of issues (that I’ve seen at least), the least you can do is release a version that can be used.  I still have over a year before I can get a new phone and having to face that year on Windows Mobile 8.1 just sucks.

Fix it, or I’m going to Android.

References for this letter:

  1. Windows Insider
  2. Microsoft
  3. HTC

#android, #htc, #htc-one-m8, #microsoft, #windows, #windows-10-mobile