The Amazon Trail

The Amazon Trail

Choosing an Effing Cell Phone

            Hoo boy,
all I want to do is get a new cell phone. Our contract is up and our old phones
keep their battery charges about as long as a gay bartender gets to stand still.
For a week now, instead of disassembling the patriarchy or doing something
equally useful, I have spent my evenings researching this little purchase.

What I really want is to sign on with CREDO, which donates to progressive causes. I was with them for years, but when I went all-cell-all-the-time, they didn’t have coverage for my area. Now they do. It’s too late, though, as everyone I know is on Verizon, which means no charges for talk time.  Verizon is said to be the undisputed king of coverage, another factor I deem important. It’s unfortunate that for Verizon customers not in the market for a smartphone, the pickings are sparse.

Is choosing a phone this hard for everyone? In the recent olden days, I’d get a free Nokia and be thrilled. Verizon doesn’t even carry Nokias anymore, although I’ve read they are the most reliable phones. Hmmm – connection there? Last time we got the very adequate Samsung Alias. A friend has the Alias 2 and loves it. Samsung has replaced it with the Zeal.

The names they give phones are unreal. Well, except for the Samsung Reality. But, no, really, the Fascinate? Intensity? Octane? Gravity, Citrus, Flipout, Charm? Who exactly would buy a phone because it’s called Eternity? Maybe it’s got a speed dial to someone’s Galaxy?

Here’s what I want in a phone. First, no required data pak! I’d rather send the  $30.00 a month to Credo to help fight the Defense of Marriage Act. Second, a QWERTY keyboard; texting has become the communication mode of choice for enough people that I, gritting my teeth, have begun to text. Unless a phone has a cute little slide-out, touch screen or dual-hinges, texting is an onerous task.

But why pay to, essentially, e-mail someone? One answer is that not everyone is wired into a computer, smart phone or tablet 24/7. Or maybe I jst lke the txtng language, with its short-cuts and appealing, Twitter-like brevity.

I texted my niece, an enthusiast of the medium, and asked what kind of phone she has. I expected her, as a Gen Xer, to be somewhat of an expert. “I forget,” she tapped back. How could someone forget? I study major purchases like a little boy with baseball stats.  I may never forget the specs for the Kin Two “m” which started as a smart phone and has been downgraded to a feature phone – with benefits, like Wi-Fi.

I posted a friend at work, also a Gen Xer.  “I have an LG with a keyboard,” she e-mailed back. OK, maybe, I thought, her husband picked out her phone. She said she really liked it, so I was interested enough to send her a list of LG feature phones to see if any sounded familiar. “It just says LG,” she replied. Maybe I should ask a Millennial, like Wonderboi, but I’m pretty sure Millennials all have iPhones.

My third, and final, requirement for this new baby, is that it doesn’t call people from my pocket. I stash so many objects in there that the phone keys have to be covered. My sweetheart carries her phone in a back pocket or else leaves it lying around the house never to be found again, but it never calls me by mistake.

I’d be concerned about battery strength if it wasn’t a lost cause. It’d be logical that strong, clear sound would be a priority for  telecommunications manufacturers. It’s not, but you can’t get that kind of information from reading the company web sites.
You have to wade through consumer reviews that rave or rant or curse or ramble. If I’m lucky, I get a pretty rounded picture of the pros and cons of a specific phone. Sometimes the reviews warn me off, sometimes they give me both a problem and a fix, but mostly, they just confuse me. Techie reviews are even worse. There is much tossing around of undecipherable concepts like dumb phones, sim cards, removable memory, GSM and jailbreaking.

Next to an iPhone,the gadget I most admire is the Samsung Convoy, a ruggedized hone built to military specifications and oh so butch. Apparently butches don’t text as it has no usable keyboard. I’m stuck with a scrap pile of poorly reviewed devices that Verizon offers in an obvious ploy to force customers to choose smart phones and pay higher monthly fees.

Maybe it’s time to build a better mousetrap. A rugged little machine with fabulous
voice clarity and easy texting that we could dub the Gayphone. It would come in lavender or lavender camouflage and the default ringtone would, of course, be Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way.”

Prfts wd go 2 gay orgs.



Copyright Lee Lynch 2011

April 2011

10 Responses to “The Amazon Trail”

  1. 1 Debby November 30, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    I’m with you, Lee. I’ve been researching phones, too. I don’t need a smartphone, just a keyboard. Can’t find one that has good sound quality. What’s up with that?


  2. 3 lynchly November 30, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    I ended up with a freebie Samsung Continuum. I love the universal web access, but not the fees!


  3. 4 connie ward November 30, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Lee, what a great idea, you build it–we will buy it!!!!!


  4. 6 Renee Bess November 30, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Lee, your story sounds awfully familiar. One year after my two-year hitch with my Verizon contract ended, the top section of my flip phone (which was oh so trendy when I bought it) flipped off of the bottom part. Because I’m pretty adept at reading cues, I knew it was time to buy a new phone. I entered the Verizon store, stared down the teenage salesclerk and mumbled something about not wanting to own a phone that was a gazillion times smarter than I am. His response was to show me an instrument whose keypads were larger than the letters on the top line of an eye doctor’s chart. I appreciate a sense of humor as much as the next person, so I just laughed for a few seconds. Then I got down to business and asked if he had the LG model I’d spent the last four months researching. He did. I bought it along with an additional “insurance plan” my partner (wearing a smirk on her face)assured me was a waste of my money. No doubt sensing an opportunity to double his commission,the eye chart kid then sold my partner a phone. Without a moment of research time, nor an additional cent for an insurance plan, she abandoned her old model and bought a brand new one. The next day, as she transferred a load of laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, she let out a blood curdling scream. Her brand new phone was as clean as a whistle…and as dead as the Phila. Eagles’ chances of going to the next Superbowl. Her first new phone had been free. Its replacement was not. To this day, my face has been smirkless.


  5. 7 Sheri Campbell November 30, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Lee, Praise be to you for so clearly defining my issues with these phones in a few words. I am rebellious at this point. I didn’t have one 20 years ago and still was successful in my life/career. Now I laugh when folks ask for my cell number and I don’t have one.they seem stunned.
    Renee Bess-You are a very smart woman…no smirking..Of course, if she reads this you are dead meat. .I get the insurance plan on everything..and the pay off has many times come in handy.


  6. 8 Devlyn Sixtyseven November 30, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Just one word from this Gen X’er ‘IPHONE’!


  7. 9 Reece December 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    I’m not a big mobile phone user, and I went pay as you go back in June. I have saved myself at least £120 in the last 5 months alone an would recomend for any person who is a light user, you might as well try as you have nothing to lose. In the UK I recomend giffgaff if you go pay as you go, as they use the O2 network but the charges are cheaper.


  8. 10 JJ January 5, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    After reading your post, I just had to chuckle because I’ve been there too. I am a Gen Xer and I get so irritated with my smartphone. I miss the flip phones simplicity. I would definitely be second in line foryour version of a GAYPHONE. 🙂


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