diamond geezer

 Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm a smartphone slowcoach. I've only had mine for four months, whereas it feels like a lot of you have had yours forever. And it's fantastic, what my iPhone can do, things I'd never previously have been able to do out and about before. But it's not perfect, and there are times when my cutting edge 2006 model was better.

I like my iPhone, but I wish the battery lasted longer. The little power bar ebbs down during the day, even quicker if I actually use the thing, until by nightfall it's invariably reached critical. I've tried to turn most of the power-sapping background stuff off, but still the phone's life-juice fades away... 20% battery (dismiss)... 10% battery (dismiss)... death. My old phone could last for days, whereas my new one's life is measured more in hours. If I forget to recharge my phone overnight it's essentially unusable the following day, and that means carrying around wires and plugs if I'm ever away from home or I'm essentially incommunicado. It's great to have a mini-computer in my pocket, really it is, but when battery drain means I no longer have a functioning telephone in my pocket, that's not so great.

I like my iPhone, but I still haven't got the hang of entering text. The screen keyboard is too small for my fingers, and I keep missing the right letter or punctuation symbol when I tap it. I much prefer actual buttons, even when there isn't an entire alphabet of them, because with push buttons I can physically confirm I've hit one. Instead I sit there tapping 'on' instead of 'in', or 'yjrtr' instead of 'there', composing rubbish where previously I'd have been writing words. The iPhone's predictive text is very clever, entering what it thinks I ought to have written rather than what I actually did, but that's really annoying when it enters something I didn't want. I'm forever going back and deleting stuff, or reversing and trying again, merely to write what ought to be a simple message. I thought I'd get used to this. I'm not there yet.

I like my iPhone, but I don't seem to use it for messaging as much before. This key means of communicating with others is merely one of the things a smartphone can do, and as such it sometimes gets lost in the sound and fury. So many things flash up and beep that a text message can slip through without noticing, which is annoying when the information within is important. I've attempted to switch most of the iPhone's 'noise' off, but I'm still left whipping my phone out to check every vibration in case it's something I need to take notice of. And replying to a text is more of a faff than before - see "keyboard moans" above - so I suspect I do this less too.

I like my iPhone, but when I get it out at work it looks like I'm slacking. I may be simply checking if I've got a message, or sending a short text, but to my boss sitting next to me there must be the suspicion that I'm surfing the wider interweb, trawling an app or generally wasting time. And OK, sometimes I am, because I now can. But I never got a sideways glance when I whipped my 2006 phone out because it was understood this could only do relatively minor stuff. Nowadays I'm presumed guilty even when innocent.

I like my iPhone, but it's rubbish at realising I have a signal. Emerging from the underground or a basement meeting room or whatever, my old phone would immediately check for connectivity and join the party. Your phone probably does that too, as a matter of default. But for some reason my iPhone sits there without connecting, without even checking, like an inert lump. It says "No service" when there blatantly is one, when I'm in the heart of the biggest city in Western Europe, and continues to do this long after I've emerged from the tube. I've had to resort to ringing myself up and then immediately ending the call, which appears to be enough to jolt my phone into spotting there's an aerial nearby after all, then reconnecting me to the wider world. I'm doing this "ringing myself up" thing two or three times a day, and frequently discovering a text or email which came through 30 minutes ago but my phone couldn't be bothered to tell me. Maybe I have a duff phone, but it's not good to be kept off-grid until I force a connection.

I like my iPhone, but when I drop it, as I surely will, the world will end. I dropped my old phone several times, even hard onto the pavement outside Aldgate East station when some passer-by swept past and knocked it from my hand, and it still worked perfectly without a nasty dent anywhere. Drop a smartphone onto a hard surface from high enough up and it's dead, or at least seriously injured, because that's superior technology for you. I see all these people on the tube with horrifically cracked iPhone screens, like a spiders web permanently etched across their display, but I guess they soldier on because the cost of replacement is too hard to bear.

I like my iPhone, but I still haven't packed it full of lovely apps. I've added apps that looked exciting, only to find they weren't, and that's put me off rather. I don't have enough clever stuff on there that works when I'm offline, unlike you who probably has a library of entertainment at your fingertips wherever you are. I thought I'd have a better collection by now, but decent recommendations for non-commercial apps seem thin on the ground.

I like my iPhone, but I forgot to put it on charge overnight, and I only just noticed, and I'm going to have to go to work with it less than 50% full, and it'll probably die before I get home, and that's my Friday night arrangements wrecked if I'm not careful. Yeah thanks Apple, your phone is innately brilliant but your battery technology needs to catch up, else all I'm doing is carrying an expensive brick around in my pocket.

I love my iPhone, genuinely I do, it does so much, but I wish I loved it more.


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