Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Curious Case of the Deteriorating Technology

So I have this phone. It was handed down to me last year by my brother, whom it served faithfully for four years. That is to say, it is a five-year-old phone.

So, I have a five-year-old phone. Does it make calls? Yes. Does it text? Yes. Does it serve my purposes adequately? Not really. Now, "my purposes" do not in fact extend any further than a desire to make phone calls and send text messages. I do not need my phone to provide Internet access, or a fancy camera, or video games. I only need it to provide the basic, bare-bones, absolutely-minimalist functions that one expects from a phone manufactured after, say, 2001. That is it.

But this phone doe not really do those things. Oh, I can make calls from it, and I can send text messages, but the phone has taken it upon itself, mostly over the last nine or ten months, to make these actions as unpleasant and un-doable as it possibly can. To wit:

  • The reception is terrible. Most people can get service in the shallow basement in which I work. I cannot. Even if I go halfway down the stairs to the basement, and I'm near a window where I can see actual light and nature, reception is virtually nonexistent. Sometimes when I'm standing in a living room, or a kitchen---above ground, mind you---I still cannot send a text message or get a call. 
  • The battery life, or lack thereof, is something to behold. My brother gave me the phone with its original battery. It worked fine for a few months, and then suddenly died over the course of a few hours, like the Titanic. The battery simply stopped, and it would not hold a charge---I mean no charge whatsoever. For my birthday a short while later, my brother purchased a new battery for the phone and gave it to me. That was great, except that the phone quickly destroyed that battery's ability to hold a charge. I took it back to the battery store, they tested the battery, and they said it was in perfect working order. So it is not the battery that's the problem; the phone is simply draining it at an astonishing rate, even after a night of charging.
  • The text message system is a truly astonishing example of technology degradation. When I received the phone, the T9 system worked fine. For those of you who don't know about T9, it is a  kind of auto-spell setup that predicts which words you want to type based on the numbers you punch in. For instance, if you want to type "Go," you will type the numbers 46; as those numbers contain the letters "G" and "O" on the keypad, the phone will guess that you want to type "Go." T9 generally guesses the most common words from the set of numbers you punch in; if you want to type another word with those numbers, you can cycle through the options. Look at a numeric keypad if you need an example. It is a great system, except that my phone has decided to unlearn the words that I would normally use. It hasn't just un-learned the words that I "taught" it when I first received it; it has un-learned the words with which it came pre-programmed. For instance:
    • When I type out the numbers for the word "Could," the phone spells instead, "Anuke." That is a nonsense word, but the phone automatically selects it. I have to cycle through the options to "Could," which is, you know, a real word.
    • When I type "place," the phone instead selects "Slabe." Another non-word.
    • "Like" is now "kgle." 
    • "But" is now "288." 
    • "Yeah" is now "Webi." The phone generally un-learns one new word every couple of weeks and replaces it with a nonsense word. I anticipate a time when the phone will automatically revert to nonsensical words for every choice.
  • The Bluetooth function does not work. If I turn the Bluetooth "on," it simply does not turn on. 

And so forth. I imagine this is some sort of weird failsafe trigger that Sprint has programmed into its phones---if you keep a phone for too long, it will slowly but surely self-destruct so that you have to buy a newer, "better" phone. It is like a reverse conspicuous consumption, intended purely for the betterment of Sprint. 

Anyways, as soon as the contract is up (props to my mom, the contract holder), I'm getting out of Sprint's draconian service. And when I do, I will destroy the phone in spectacular fashion, and videotape it, and post it for the world to see. In the meantime, mourn for me. And if you do not hear from me for a while, it is probably because my phone decided to eat itself. 

1 comment:

  1. There is nothing wrong with Sprint, you ungrateful son. I've never had any other service since 1999 and I've never had a problem. Maybe you and Luke STABBED it or shot an ARROW at it or let REGGIE borrow it. This being said, I hope I am invited to the destruction party.