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06 July 2014

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of cell phones and smart phones

    In the last year or so I have had such cell phone issues!
    A few years ago the cell phone contract my parents had taken out for me expired. As a self employed person, with no definite income, I decided that it would be highly unwise to get a new contract. If I run out of money and can afford a cell phone bill for a month, then with prepaid system I just stop paying. However if I had a contract, I could not just stop paying.

    So I converted over to a prepaid system. No problem. After a while, my life being as it is the old Nokia 6301i that I had died a rather undignified death.

    Thus I shopped around and found that the new cell I wanted was a Nokia Xpress Music 5130 (this was before smart-phones were available and affordable to the general public), so I bought one for myself at PEP Stores for R700 and enjoyed my new phone.
    It was lovely, it had an awesome music system, with dedicated music keys. It had a basic camera function. And it had the basic internet functions, so I could access my emails, facebook, and even twitter on it.
     The best part though, was that it was nokia, nokias throughout cellphone history have predominantly been the Indestructible make of cell phones! Boy did that xpress music phone live up to that legacy! That phone went with me everywhere, sometimes unintentionally. It got dropped on the roadside, it got dropped at the beach, it fell in a bucket of water, it got chewed on by babies (I was baby-sitting) and horses, it got covered in food & dirt. There were even times it fell out of my pocket while I was riding horses at high speed and I had to go back and fetch it. But I regularly cleaned it, and it survived most everything.
    However, phones are not made to last forever, sadly. And after about 3 years, when I would drop it (being the butter fingers that I am), I would pick it up with a new dent or crack, eventually after 4 years of having this phone and everything I put it through it gave its last pitiful ring. What an incredibly sad day that was!

    So began the hunt for a new phone.
    In the time that I had had the Xpress Music, Blackberrys had come into fashion, Smartphones had become affordable to the hordes, touch screens & qwerty keyboards had become the norm, and everyone either had bbm or whatsapp.
    With almost all of my friends preferring the use on Instant Messaging via whatsapp or bbm and moaning at me on a regular basis for not having it, I caved in and bought a blackberry curve 8310 off of BidOrBuy!

    Blackberry Curve 8310
    So, on the plus side, my Blackberry had a decent camera, and I had unlimited internet access for R60 a month. I had a facebook app, a twitter app, gmail and BBM.
    On the downside, I could not use my BB as a modem for the pc. It was an older model (although never used), thus it was slower and just really a rubbish phone. It had the dreadful trackpad, and a ghastly qwerty keypad.
    It didnt allow me to personalize my ringtones, and was NOT user friendly.
    I lasted one month using that phone before selling it. I discovered when trying to sell it, that because it was imported and was from china, it didnt have the correct legalities and thus shops like CashConverters were not allowed to buy it to resell it. However I was told as a private person, not a shop it was legal for me to sell it. Which fortunately I got it right.

    The day I sold it, I spent a good 4 hours at the mall going through every shop that had phones for sale! I now had a criteria of what I needed.
  1. Preferably Nokia - easy to use, and virtually indestructible
  2. Regular old T9 keypad - which I had been using since I was 12 and could type a message really fast. Which I wanted because 50% of the time I am using a cell ohone while I am riding a horse and need to type without looking.
  3. No touch screen - I had heard so many bad stories of touch screens and  if the screen dies, pretty much you have no use on the phone.
  4. Internet access and whatsapp was definitely required.

  5. Eventually after hours of legwork (literally) I decided on the Nokia 206. I bought it at Clicks for R699.

    Nokia 206
    Ah, what a relief it was to be back to the T9 keypad that I could work almost in my sleep. I loaded all my contacts, put in my memory card and my sim card and I was set. The only downside I could immediately see was that the Nokia 5130 had the dedicated music keys, and this one did not. But it had good sms & phone functions, it had whatsapp, facebook, gmail and twitter all as apps! It also had a semi decent camera.
    However within a few weeks I discovered a few seriously disappointing negative traits about this phone. It had almost NO INTERNAL MEMORY, and therefore one I had just a few smses/phone numbers/call logs, it would stop working until I reset to factory standards! Its preloaded Facebook app crashed every single time I attempted to use it, and because it was factory loaded, I could not update it or uninstall it. It had a number of games apps (and I havent played cell phone games since back in the day when we had snake) that were also factory loaded and could not be uninstalled! So it was full of useless apps that were taking up all its internal memory!
    Because its internal memory would make it stop working, I would regularly miss very important phone calls (like the 20 odd missed calls from mom that make me panic!) and whenI would reset to factory settings, all my loaded data, contacts, stored smses, etc were deleted!
    This phone was supposed to work for me, but wasnt working. I cannot say how disappointed I was in the Nokia corporation for this so called "smart phone".

    So back to shopping around for a phone after just 3 months :-(. Can I say I was getting despondent?
    I looked around at shops, as I had decided I was now going to bite the bullet and get a decent smartphone. However all the retail shops were either giving them away dirt cheap on contract, or terribly over priced on prepaid. So I looked online and found a few good phones on BidOrBuy again. This time I did even more homework on them, googled them and checked out all the positive and negative reviews. Knowing that imported phones are difficult to resell if I am unhappy with them, I eventually settled with getting a dirt cheap Chinese import called Doogee, I got the Doogee Collo 2, and it only cost me R750.

    Doogee Collo 2
    This was my first experience with a real smartphone! 4" touch screen, duel camera, android 4.4 operating system, apps downloaded from google play store, duel sim card!
    I joke with my friends and say this is my Dodgy imported phone. But it seems to work really well.
    I downloaded the facebook, twitter, and whatsapp apps. Thats when I discovered its not the phone but Facebook's bad programming that makes the Facebook app rubbish! *uninstall* It also has an internal GPS card and google maps installed.
    My only gripe is that only after I got the Doogee, did I discover that it too has the problem of pathetic internal memory! Oh joy! Because of this, the amount and type of apps I download is very limited. However I was able to "backdoor" download Instagram, yay!
    I have had this phone for a decent 9 months, and other than frequently having to clear the memory, it has worked well for me. It has been dropped on the ground several times, and only when I dropped it while at the physio the once its screen cracked. However it still works well.
    I can play videos on it and it has a good music player.
    I have gotten quite attached to the Duel Sim feature, as cell phone usages cost quite high in south africa. So I have the best deal I can find for sms & phoning via 8ta on the one sim, and the other sim I have is a vodacom which has an incredible deal on the data usage.
    The doogee has its own internal wifi hotspot so I can connect my tablet to the net at the same time too.

    I have been a bit frustrated with the internal memory issues though, I mean thats the main reason I got rid of the Nokia 206!
    So about two months ago, I began searching for a different phone, one with a decent internal memory but still under R1000.
    Eventually I found the Samsung Galaxy Star, which had incredibly good reviews, good internal memory, and was a decent price. So I got it at Game Stores.

    Samsung Galaxy Star
    The first thing I discovered, much to my disgust, about the Galaxy Star, is that it takes one (yes I'm spoilt with duel sim) MICRO sim. So, because I dont want to lose my number or my current awesome deal, I allowed my sim card to be cut.
    Its a smaller phone, so fits much better into my pocket. It has plentiful internal memory, so it could download bbm, whatsapp, the (new and improved) facebook app, twitter, gmail, instagram and even an antivirus app.
    It also has a choice of android qwerty touch pad, or T9 touch pad.
    It has never yet told me I have too little memory space to take a photo, load a new contact or download an app.
    I'm not fond of it though. My Doogee has a bigger, better resolution screen. The Samsung works seriously slow, so yes it has bbm, but it takes me half an hour to write a message and send it. Its camera has ghastly specs, not that I really utilize my cell camera as I do have a point and shoot camera, but still......

    So currently although I have the Samsung, I still have my Doogee and I put both sim cards into that most of the time. I use the Samsung off and on, but I am actually looking to resell it pretty urgently.
    I will admit that I was a bit peeved and jealous when after watching all my cell phone woes for the last year, my dad learnt from my mistakes and got himself a really nice prepaid package with a cell phone from Neotel for R1000.
    His package included 24gigs to use in 6 months, as well as a 4", Android 4.4, duel sim smart phone. It has 4gig internal memory as well as space for a memory card. Unfortunately he's had his phone for about a month now and it too is starting to give him hassles, its been dropping calls and losing messages rather randomly.

    So my conclusion is that unless you're willing to pay R3000 or more for a decent smart phone, the chances are if you can make your old style nokia last, keep it! Whatsapp, bbm, instagram and all these other awesome apps are not worth the cellphone woes I've had for last year. And unless some whealthy benefactor decides to sponsor me with a decent smart phone, I'll carry on with my cracked screen Dodgy Chinese import that works alright for me.

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