New Phone On The Way

So I’m finally getting a new phone, and taking the plunge and getting a smart phone, no less.  I’m replacing my old LG Chocolate with an HTC Trophy, which as I am typing this, is currently riding shotgun with some anonymous FedEx driver, getting ready for glorious times ahead with Marty.

In case you’re not up on your phones, the HTC Trophy is a Windows Phone 7 phone.  I tried out the iPhone 4, and though I like my iPod Touch, I just can’t get that far in with Apple at this point, and it annoys me that everyone has them.  I also tried a handful of Android phones, and while I liked some of the features they offered, it all seemed a little janky.  I think I’m just kind of tired of thumbing through pages of tiny icons.

Finally, I tried out Windows Phone 7, and frankly, I like it.  It’s different, but not pointlessly so.  It’s got a sharp look, and it’s all simply coherent and snappy.  Also, since I had an upgrade coming from Verizon, and since they were doing some kind of online promotion, I got the new phone for only $50.  This is my golden parachute for if it doesn’t work out, but I have high hopes for it and don’t expect that to happen.

But before you get all huffy and start hammering out a comment on why I should have gotten Phone X instead, let’s share a moment reflecting on the things I won’t be missing about my old LG Chocolate.  If we can’t love the same thing, let’s hate the same thing, alright?

1. The navigation wheel.  Visually, the shiny navigation wheel on the face of the Chocolate is actually interesting.  It makes the phone look like it will be fun to use, and lends it a foreign air of functionality.  You don’t know what the wheel does or how it would feel to use it, but you suspect that it makes things easy, and that there might be many hidden uses to that wheel that your mind couldn’t possibly have imagined.  The wheel even gives the phone a retro-iPod look.

Sadly, the wheel is not awesome.  Not even remotely.  Instead of being a touch-based input, like the iPod of old that it pays homage to, or even the other four buttons on the face of the phone, this wheel is exactly that: a wheel.  It’s a piece of shiny plastic that your thumb has to actually rotate to work, and it’s not easy to find the right place between way-too-sensitive and turning-the-wheel-around-three-times-to-get-the-menu-to-move-ahead-one-item.

When the phone is unlocked but no menus are invoked, the wheel also has the added benefit of opening the useless calendar widget.  This widget does nothing but show the current date and time, which you could have already seen on the home screen behind it, and it runs poorly to boot.  So poorly, in fact, that if you accidentally leave the widget open for long enough for the phone to lock again, it stops actually telling the time, freezes up, and then the phone actually takes a minute or two to close it later when you realize what happened.  As you might imagine, this is loads of fun when you’re trying to make a call quickly or you just want to see what time it is.

2. The awful spell-checking.  Or more precisely, the spell-checking dictionary auto-add feature, which is impossible to access.  Though there aren’t that many words that aren’t in the dictionary by default, occasionally you have to enter your own words in the LG Chocolate 2, which isn’t all that painful an experience; you just put the phone in a different text entry mode, type the word, and then continue your text.  When you do this, the phone adds your new word to its internal dictionary.  So far so good.  Later on, when you use the word again, it’s easy to use because the phone will help you fill it in automatically.

Unfortunately, the auto-add feature isn’t particularly smart, so there are many instances where you don’t want it to add something, because you’re not going to type it all the time, but it goes ahead and does it anyway.  Further, it remembers capital letters and treats periods and commas as part of words, so if you are using a word for the first time at the beginning or end of a sentence, the dictionary entry for that word will always be that way.

There also doesn’t seem to be a weighting system for how often you use words, so for example (and this is the one I hate the absolute most), one time I pressed the buttons 9, 6, 8, 1 to type out the number “968y” with a comma at the end.  Now, every time I type the word “you”, (also 9, 6, 8) and then add a period to the end (1), the Chocolate 2 replaces my perfectly ended sentence with “986,”.  Nevermind the fact that I’ve typed 9, 6, 8, 1 hundreds of times now, and only once have I ever wanted it to be “968,”.  It suggests this to me every time.  And so far as I can tell, there’s no official way for going in and deleting the entry from the phone’s internal dictionary.

If LG added this feature to the phone to make me want to throw it as far as I possibly can every time it happens, then let me be the first to say that they did a fine job of it.  A damn fine job.

3. The missing 4 key.  I think this one was probably a sign that my time with my LG Chocolate 2 was drawing to a rapid close, but a few months ago I was furiously texting, and I felt something odd happen beneath my left thumb.  The hitherto solid, mostly immovable, and always reliable 4 key finally decided it was time to abandon ship, severed its bonds with the glowing rubbery button below, and ungracefully fell to the floor below.  Since then it’s been weird typing words that use the letters g, h, or i.

I don’t blame 4 for finally giving up.  I don’t really even text that often, but I probably would have fell off the Chocolate 2 long ago, if I were 4.  I’m proud of him for sticking around as long as he did.

4. Non-sending text messages. Over the course of the last half year or so, my Chocolate 2 has become increasingly unwilling to send out my text messages, sometimes making me cancel the text and try to send it two or three times before it works.

It’s an annoying problem, and it’s made worse by the fact that one often doesn’t watch his phone after pressing the Send button to make sure the text actually gets sent – it’s assumed that it is, the phone is locked and put away, and the Text Messenger goes on his merry way.  Quite often I respond very quickly to texts, only to find out an hour or so later that my efforts at fast text turnaround were in vain; the message did not actually go through, and the person expecting a response is now pissed off, and/or wondering what happened to me.  If I want to snub someone by not responding to their text, I’d rather do it on my terms, than have my phone decide for me when such snubbing is appropriate.  Especially since my phone does not seem to be good at making these kinds of decisions.

I’m hoping this isn’t a problem with Verizon itself, but nobody else I know who has Verizon has this problem, so… there you go.  I think this problem might actually stem from my dropping the phone a few times during its years of service, but hey, then it’s a design/engineering problem.  Still not my fault.  Things that are my fault wouldn’t fit well in this list of faults anyway, now would they?

 5. Crap OS.  Maybe it’s called Qualcomm BREW, or maybe it doesn’t even have a name.  Regardless, I’m calling it Crap OS because it’s a crappy operating system.  From the aforementioned calendar widget issue to the many times where I haven’t been able to delete messages from the phone (because the inbox got too full… that makes sense, right?), I’ve experienced a lot of annoyances with this OS.

About the only thing I like about Crap OS is that it’s generally simple, and since Verizon seems to have it on all of their non-smart phones, it makes it easy to pick up and use virtually any of those phones, once you know your way around.  My phone also had a few themes to change the feel of the OS, and they actually worked pretty well too, I will say.  Still, I don’t think I’m going to be lamenting the upgrade any time soon.

Let me close this list by saying that, despite my ranting here, I actually don’t hate the LG Chocolate.  It has many flaws, like just about every mobile device out there, but it did its job well most of the time, so in a way, I’m still sad to see it go.

Anyway, that’s the long and short of it.  A new phone is on the way, and I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ll report back here (and elsewhere, I’m sure) when I get it.  Anyone else out there have an HTC Trophy?

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