Art of Proprietation

Monday, August 09, 2010

Bubba's got a new phone Samsung U640 Convoy

I finally broke down and got a new phone. I got it through the "new every two" program with my cell phone provider. My old phone was seven years old.

I got a new phone because my old phone, an audiovox 9155 from 2003, was getting terrible battery life and seemed to not be connected to the network unless I was actively dialing out. It resulted in a lot of missed calls and didn't alert me to waiting messages. I think that the roaming programming had changed enough that my phone was constantly searching for a tower. The reprogramming function, *28 or similar, did not seem to correct it. Since I actually had an extra 9155 I had bought for spare parts, I tested that and got the same result. I assume that changes in cell phone programming made the 9155 incompatible. It was also getting increaseingly difficult to get a decent battery for the 9155. Interestingly, the batteries were also getting increasingly cheaper. I think the last pair I bouhgt off Ebay were about $1 a peice, and all the batteries available were similar. Unfortunatley, the batteries were not quite worth a dollar each.

Looking through the offerings from verizon, the only solid phones available were blackberry's which would have meant adding data to my service and would have doubled my operating costs. I have no want for email or internet access on my phone, so I bit the bullet and got the folding Samsung U640 Convoy. It caught my eye because it had a 2 mega pixel camera and claimed to be ruggedized.

I am not going to critique the rugged aspect of it other than to say it doesn't feel an more solid than I would expect an average phone to feel. I have always believed that folding phones are inherently more at risk because of the hinged connection. My solid 9155 survived many falls on pavement so I am a little apprehensive of a folding phone. But since I didn't have any other choice, there's no sense bemoaning it.

The other thing that attracted me was the camera. It is the highest resolution camera of the phones I considered, 2 mega pixels. It works, and there is a neat panoramic function. But I do find the operation cumbersome. I snap a picture, wait for the ccd lag, wait for it to appear and then I have to remember to "save" it. If I hit the OK button for another shot, that is actually the default choice to "send" the picture. Sending puts the phone into the new message sequence. Canceling out of the messaging squence closes the camera function, I loose the original photo and I have to restart the camera app to take another picture to replace the one I lost. It would be nice if the default was to save the picture and go onto a new shot. The pictures themselves are mediocre. The resolution is 1600 x 1200, and the default contrast settings leave a lot to be desired. It's also annoying that to transfer pictures off the phone I needed a mini SD card. But it is better than not having a camera in my pocket.

So, after listing off a bunch of faults with the phone, it might sound like I am ranting about it. I am not. It has great battery life. The standard battery that came with it went the first week without needing a charge with my normal usage. It has reasonably good reception. The screen and menus are readable. It fulfills the purpose I bought it for. It's a phone. And I didn't have to upgrade the minimal service plan I have to add it. I did have to sign a new two year contract to get it for free, though.

I did add some things to it. As soon as I picked it out, I went to ebay and for under twenty dollars, I got a hard skin with a rubber outer finish to protect the flip out cover, a hard plastic clip on holster that protects the back, a 2 gig mini SD card for transfering pictures, an adapter that allows me to plug in a standard mini headphone jack if I want to use it as a mp3 player and I put a clear plastic film protector over the two screens. The skin and holster add a lot of protection in case it is dropped. The skin also makes the camera lens recessed and less likely to get scratched. The clip holster allows me to have the phone clipped to the top of my pocket so it doesn't fall down to the bottom with my keys, various screws, nails and other sharps and get scratched. I also should have ordered an extra charging cable. The cable uses a non standard connection to plug into a USB port for charging and transfering music (but not pictures!!). It would be nice if the connection on the phone were a mini USB so a standard cable would work. I am sure I will misplace the charging cable at some point and need to order one Johnny quick.

I am leaping into the future with this phone. Wish me luck.