My First Smartphone

That’s what is written in bright, bold graphics on the box here. It suggests that once a precocious youngster has outgrown their first book, first games console and first teeth, they progress onto a device that places one in the middle of an informational tornado, while mysteriously beeping, flashing and generally showing off. But in a nice, trendy, friendly manner.

So what must a grizzled IT veteran of twenty plus years think of such a marketing ploy? A man who once single handedly disconnected the entire Hungarian International Phone System*, threatened the then boss of Direct Line with the sharp end of his screwdriver, and delivered an email solution to a country who’d previously communicated by the use of a racing goat**?

Before answering that, let’s examine what it replaces. A brick of technology that attained the dubious honour of having me crave the return of the first dumbphone. It too arrived in snazzy packaging declaring that it would solve every communication problem I’d ever had, and some I didn’t even understand. A proud boast instantly debunked when the mute button conspicuously failed to silence my children.

I could forgive it that since they’re resolutely impervious to any communication method not involving chocolate, club penguin or a ritual beating***. What I cannot condone however is its’ utter uselessness at everything else. The central plank of rubbishness is a richly engaging interface powered by scone crumbs. Let me furnish you with an example, the phone rings – well first it sort of shudders, random lights flash before a cheery chirp announces an incoming call – I press the “answer” button (not as easy as you may think with the oh-so-designed black on black symbols).

Does this simple action connect the call? Does it fuck. Nothing happens, nothing, the phone continues to trill, I start to tap desperately on the “tactile touch management input environment” which triggers an cessation of all noises, a vibrate-y death rattle and a dark, unresponsive phone. The call has long gone, but entertainment of sorts can be had watching this triumph of miniaturisation finally respond to my hundred key presses.

The best ever was adding a contact “Mr gsgjas;igdshah;shg;gs” with a voice tag of “OH FOR FUCKS SAKE“. Worse still is the iPod Wannabee graphics which apparently allow one to “move, spin and shuffle content.” But all I want to do is answer the sodding call. Anyway, SconeCrum(tm) technology is always about ten minutes behind whatever your last key-press was, so it’s instructive to take a piece of fresh paper, point the phone camera at it, then cut it into random pieces and shift them about with your hand to try and show it what you were hoping for.

Talking of the camera, that has a delay so comically long that your picture of a happy child standing outside a sweet shop will finally render into a picture of a world long since depopulated by humans. I could go on, no really I’ve not started on the STUPID half touch/half stylus/all insane control system that pre-assumes you have three hands, four hundred fingers and the dexterity of a concert pianist. Or the fact the random screen dimming that creates an impossible puzzle of how to unlock the phone in any type of sunlight.

Let me summarise instead. It’s tat, expensive shit for the technologically vain, violence inducingly slow and breathtakingly useless at absolutely everything. The GPS still thinks it’s in Southampton when you’re on the moon, the web browser is so ball-achingly turgid you yearn for the communications goat, and the switch between horizontal and vertical modes is measured in the kind of dying epochs that has you lying sideways on the floor rather that switch horizons on the screen.

When I returned it at the end of a similar rant to a young innocent who had hitherto been happily squeezing his spots and pretending to be some kind of mobility expert, he remarked it was ringing and did I want to answer it. I *may* have been slightly sarcastic in my reply stating “oh that’s from about three weeks ago, they’ve probably died by now

So how do I like “my first smartphone” with it’s cheap plastics, absence of any type of “hybrid input ergonomics“, small screen and massively restricted functionality. Well I wasn’t so sure, until it allowed me to answer a call without any histrionics whatsoever. My caller was surprised to the point of apology “oh sorry, I was going to leave you a message, I didn’t think your phone worked“.

It didn’t work. As a phone, an email device, a lawn dart or anything remotely useful whatsoever. I’m regressing back to stupid technology, boycotting the new, steering well clear of marketing attempts to merge toasters and televisions. I’ve no face to book, not tweet to twat and no network that needs socialising. I don’t need the bastard love child of a laptop and a phone to make my life miserable, I have the building works for that.

And the weather forecast for the CLIC. There’s another thing, at least stone tablets would work underwater.

* 7 lines in total, if I remember correctly. It was quite a long time ago

** They’ve still never really forgiven me. Whether it’s for the curse of email, or what happened to the goat, I cannot be sure.

*** Okay that’s not true. Well not often, anyway.

4 thoughts on “My First Smartphone

  1. Alex

    If I had written it on my phone it would have simply said “fck usls gng fr beeeer”. You could argue quite an improvement.

    Dan, no should have bought a megaphone. And just shout like everyone does on the train when they have a mobile phone. Scorpion put is too good for them.

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