I’m not sure anything since the Ipod has had a great electronic cultural impact than the Iphones.  The blogosphere is alive months of even a full year out trying to predict when the next Iphone model will be released and what features it will have.  On release day Apple fanboys&girls will line up outside authorized dealers sometimes several days in advance to get their best shot at being one of the first to get this “must have” electronic icon.  And then the review sites, newspapers (yes, there are some left) , magazines, everyone jumps on the bandwagon with their take on the newest Iphone.  It’s a two year cycle between the last one just released, and the next new ones release date and Apple does their best to ensure we never stop buzzing about this huge money maker (for Apple) during this entire two year cycle.

 

I’m not sure anything since the Ipod has had a great electronic cultural impact than the Iphones.  The blogosphere is alive months of even a full year out trying to predict when the next Iphone model will be released and what features it will have.  On release day Apple fanboys&girls will line up outside authorized dealers sometimes several days in advance to get their best shot at being one of the first to get this “must have” electronic icon.  And then the review sites, newspapers (yes, there are some left) , magazines, everyone jumps on the bandwagon with their take on the newest Iphone.  It’s a two year cycle between the last one just released, and the next new ones release date and Apple does their best to ensure we never stop buzzing about this huge money maker (for Apple) during this entire two year cycle.

 

Friends, family, clients, everyone can’t help but show you, over and over again, how cool their new Iphone is and how they can’t live without it.  And then you have the Android phones which in sales numbers have caught up and passed the Iphones, Windows phones (huh?), Googe phones (really?) and some others all trying for their piece of this very lucrative market.

 

Friends, family, clients, everyone can’t help but show you, over and over again, how cool their new Iphone is and how they can’t live without it.  And then you have the Android phones which in sales numbers have caught up and passed the Iphones, Windows phones (huh?), Googe phones (really?) and some others all trying for their piece of this very lucrative market.

 

And when I say lucrative I mean lucrative!  In America you’re phone and data plan can cost you in excess of $2500 annually with most paying in the $1500 range.  Sure, after many court cases they costs for these data plans have went down somewhat, but I think $50 a month is about the cheapest I’ve seen.  And with the multilayered taxes that gets bumped up to $70-$75 and then of course your wife and kids and mother-in-law back in Nakon Nowhere must have one too.  I’m not joking when I tell you I know several small families whose cell phone bills and phone costs exceed what a payment would be on a brand new Corvette!  But that’s okay,. you’ ve gotta have one.  Right?  Well..  not exactly.

And let’s talk about battery life.  An entire industry has been invented to supply chargers of all types to recharge your smartphone.  Apple for some obnoxious reason known only to them and a few howler monkeys in the Amazon don’t allow the consumer to change out their batteries much less carry extras for use in the field.  WHEN your battery starts to go flat or bad you’ll be sending it back to Apple for a rather stiff replacement cost.  And the batteries don’t last the average person a full day!  You need to charge them at your desk, in your car, and coffee shops and restaurants have started offering charging ports to bring in customers.

These small computers masquerading as a phone drain batteries at an alarming rate.  Heck, they’ve even exploded in pockets alarmngly close to the family jewels.   Even if you’ve installed icons to turn off your Bluetooth, hotspot, GPS, and wifi.. you’re still lucky to get a full days use.  And don’t you dare talk on that phone or you’ll need to charge it in under two hours.  How obnoxious is that for something so “high-tech” and so expensive?

I’ll admit to being a smartphone owner for the last several years.  I wanted to see what all th e buzz was about and I even reviewed my HTC Desire hereAt first I was delighted to have all these features in such a small package.  Heck, I could browse websites, do email, check moon cycles, take pictures, and even make phone calls!  But let me tell share how I felt two years later:

 

I’ll admit to being a smartphone owner for the last several years.  I wanted to see what all th e buzz was about and I even reviewed my HTC Desire here:  At first I was delighted to have all these features in such a small package.  Heck, I could browse websites, do email, check moon cycles, take pictures, and even make phone calls!  But let me tell share how I felt two years later:

 

I might use the internet and moon cycle capabilities once every 2-3 months.  I couldn’t really “reply” to my emails with any degree of thoroughness because the keyboard on smart phones are too small and not very fast and the screen is too small for composing.  Text messages I think were one of its strong points, short limited character messages seemed ideal for these keyboards and screens.  Yet, I only send/receive 2-3 text messages a day.

To be real honest after two years I used this full featured smart phone 99% of the time for texting and voice calls (remember voice calls?) And I’ve been disappointed with the call quality of every smart phone I’ve tested and I’ve used/tested over 100 of the most popular models.  Not one of them had the crisp clear voice quality of my old style Motorola flip phones.  A feature I did enjoy was the “hotspot” so I could use the data on my data plan through my smart phone to supply internet to my small laptop I’ve been joined at the hip with since I got it. 

 

 

Let’s review:

After two years I felt pretty much raped by smart phone prices and data plan monthly fees/taxes and very irritated towards how they’ve seeped into our culture and became so important, where most of these people who considered them the most important used them for personal use only.  What a huge amount of the family budget for a personal device!  And people are camping out outside stores in the snow to get one of these?  No wonder our countries have so many problems.

And after two years I found myself using the following features 99% of the time:

a. Voice

b. Speakerphone

c. SMS text messaging

d. Internet connectivity to my laptop

e. Alarm clock

 

The Epiphany –

Rummaging through one of my “tech drawers” looking for a new screen saver for my smart phone I ran across my old Motorola L7i candy bar phone.  I was drawn to it and when I picked it up and held it in my hand it felt so small and light compared to my smartphone.  I remembered carrying this one around in my back pocket for 3-4 years, sitting on it, abusing it, and it never failed.  It was only in the drawer because society told me I needed a new smart phone that I think cost me 25,000 baht in Bangkok.  What was I thinking?

 

Rummaging through one of my “tech drawers” looking for a new screen saver for my smart phone I ran across my old Motorola L7i candy bar phone.  I was drawn to it and when I picked it up and held it in my hand it felt so small and light compared to my smartphone.  I remembered carrying this one around in my back pocket for 3-4 years, sitting on it, abusing it, and it never failed.  It was only in the drawer because society told me I needed a new smart phone that I think cost me 25,000 baht in Bangkok.  What was I thinking?

 

I remembered my Motorola L7i Candy Bar phone being pretty decent at texting, it connected my bandwidth to my computer via either Bluetooth of a much fast 1 foot long USB cable.  The alarm was easy to use and the speakerphone superb.  Most of all I enjoyed its outstanding call quality especially when paired with my Plantronics Bluetooth headset.  It felt so small and sleek and my fingers remembered the buttons without thought.

Soon I was over on my computer trying to find a new battery.  I found several off-brand batteries but from experience I knew if I wanted the battery to last for years without issue I needed an original.  But there were none available.

And then I came across a newer Motorola model, the U6 PEBL (Pebble), a small smart looking flip phone with a one handed magnetic release I remembered admiring 5-6 years ago.  I found it on Amazon brand new with 4 bands which covers all the bands used worldwide, a factory battery, manual, charger, charging USB cable, and little else for $42.00.  They sold optional factory batteries for $12.99.  I bought two.  Two days later UPS dropped off a small envelope and my new Motorola U6 PEBL was inside.

 

And then I came across a newer Motorola model, the U6 PEBL (Pebble), a small smart looking flip phone with a one handed magnetic release I remembered admiring 5-6 years ago.  I found it on Amazon brand new with 4 bands which covers all the bands used worldwide, a factory battery, manual, charger, charging USB cable, and little else for $42.00.  They sold optional factory batteries for $12.99.  I bought two.  Two days later UPS dropped off a small envelope and my new Motorola U6 PEBL was inside.

 

Taking it out and holding it in my hand I noticed how natural it felt.  Opening the manual I noticed it would do the following things I needed:

a. Great voice quality

b. Superb speakerphone

c. SMS text messaging

d. Internet connectivity to my laptop via Bluetooth or USB cable

e. Alarm clock

 

Taking it out and holding it in my hand I noticed how natural it felt.  Opening the manual I noticed it would do the following things I needed:

 

And some features I didn’t need:

a. 6 included games

b. A full featured phone book that connects to my Outlook email client and syncs with my contact last (okay, okay, I’ll use this..)

c. Calculator, datebook, voice records

d. Voice recorder, one button record

e. One button camera

f. One button video camera

g. Much more..

 

And some features I didn’t need:

 

I also noticed the battery was good on receive for 250 hours or 10.5 days!  Talk time of six hours.  Wow!  I don’t get that many calls so I could go for over a week without recharging if I needed .  And I could probably talk myself to death all day and still not run out of batteries.

This flip phone is small and covered with a nice smooth tactile finish which is non-slip and easy to use.  The LCD is big enough for what it does and there were a ton of ring options for my calls, texts, reminders, etc.  The front OLED strip would tell me who was calling or texting without needing to open the phone.

For $42 it was a fun experiment but I don’t think I was ever prepared to use it.  Maybe it would have made a nice backup phone for travel overseas.  But now.. now I was looking at my uber-expensive smart phone and back again at my Motorola PEBL U6.  The wife walked by and looked and I covered it up quickly lest she get the idea she’s getting my smartphone.  Not so quick..

With a happy sigh I reached for my smartphone and pulled the SIM card and was soon powering up my Motorola U6 PEBL.  With the help of the saved VCARD file from the smartphone and a free Motorola Tools program I’d soon transferred my entire contact list to the new Motorola U6 PEBL.  I selected my wallpaper, ringers, designated my speed dial contacts, and 10 minutes later I was done.  Even my Bluetooth headset was paired.

 

ith a happy sigh I reached for my smartphone and pulled the SIM card and was soon powering up my Motorola U6 PEBL.  With the help of the saved VCARD file from the smartphone and a free Motorola Tools program I’d soon transferred my entire contact list to the new Motorola U6 PEBL.  I selected my wallpaper, ringers, designated my speed dial contacts, and 10 minutes later I was done.  Even my Bluetooth headset was paired.

 

And then it rang.  I could see it was a friend without opening the phone by looking at its front panel OLED and sticking my Bluetooth headset in my ear I pressed the button and said “hello.”   My friend started in with a 3-4 minute rant about his boss and I didn’t hear a word.  Or rather I heard every word, crystal clear, full dynamic range, beautiful sound.. but I was enjoying the new Motorola U6 PEBL so much I forgot to listen.

 

And then it rang.  I could see it was a friend without opening the phone by looking at its front panel OLED and sticking my Bluetooth headset in my ear I pressed the button and said “hello.”   My friend started in with a 3-4 minute rant about his boss and I didn’t hear a word.  Or rather I heard every word, crystal clear, full dynamic range, beautiful sound.. but I was enjoying the new Motorola U6 PEBL so much I forgot to listen.

 

It’s been two weeks.  I’ve bonded with my PEBL and I won’t be going back any time soon.  At least none until smart phones and the corresponding data plans get real with their prices, they becomes smaller and easier to pocket, battery life increases to at least seven days, and the call quality becomes the phones priority.  It is a phone after all.

I’m as high-tech as the next guy.  I use and teach the latest digital cameras, build custom high-end computer workstations for clients, I’m an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, a true Audiophile, and if you go through my car or house you’ll notice I have more high-tech devices, home networks, computers, dual monitor workstations, etc. than the PC-World and CNET offices combined.  But we’re talking about a phone here.  Phones make voice calls as their primary purpose.  Or they should if they want me to buy one.

 

I’m as high-tech as the next guy.  I use and teach the latest digital cameras, build custom high-end computer workstations for clients, I’m an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, a true Audiophile, and if you go through my car or house you’ll notice I have more high-tech devices, home networks, computers, dual monitor workstations, etc. than the PC-World and CNET offices combined.  But we’re talking about a phone here.  Phones make voice calls as their primary purpose.  Or they should if they want me to buy one.

 

I’m never far from my 2.4 pound SSD, i7 equipped Lenovo x201s laptop, or any number of other devices to compute, text, or do more with than any smart phone can do.   I’ve already determined that even a tablet doesn’t fit my needs nearly as well as my laptop.. so why am I carrying around a smartphone for?  Exactly.

 

I’m never far from my 2.4 pound SSD, i7 equipped Lenovo x201s laptop, or any number of other devices to compute, text, or do more with than any smart phone can do.   I’ve already determined that even a tablet doesn’t fit my needs nearly as well as my laptop.. so why am I carrying around a smartphone for?  Exactly.

 

One more thing.  I mentioned several times I don’t make that many calls.  Some business calls which I try to make from home where I use my Magic Jack Plus, and a few personal calls.  My total cell phone charges, all the voice I need, all the sms text I need, and the few times I need computer access via my phone for my laptop, runs me $99 a year.  No, I’m not pulling your leg.  Go to T-mobile’s website and navigate to their prepaid plans and you’ll see 1000 minutes, good for a year, are $99.  Buy it on sale and you’l get 15% or 150 additional minutes.  My wife and son have their own MagicJack Plus accounts and numbers and they also get by on 1000 minutes a year.  For a family of three we’re spending no more than $300.00 for all the sms texts and voice calls we need.  Not bad.

 

One more thing.  I mentioned several times I don’t make that many calls.  Some business calls which I try to make from home where I use my Magic Jack Plus, and a few personal calls.  My total cell phone charges, all the voice I need, all the sms text I need, and the few times I need computer access via my phone for my laptop, runs me $99 a year.  No, I’m not pulling your leg.  Go to T-mobile’s website and navigate to their prepaid plans and you’ll see 1000 minutes, good for a year, are $99.  Buy it on sale and you’l get 15% or 150 additional minutes.  My wife and son have their own MagicJack Plus accounts and numbers and they also get by on 1000 minutes a year.  For a family of three we’re spending no more than $300.00 for all the sms texts and voice calls we need.  Not bad.

 

What about you?  I challenge you to do this:  Pull out your phone invoices, add up your data plans, call plans, phone costs, for all your family members.  What’s your total?  Is it worth it?  I suppose it is if your work demands the functionality or voice minutes, but for many of you I think you’ll find you can get by on much less.  Even less than I use.  They have several pre-paid plans and mine is the largest, you might need less.

Stop letting your friends and family and the advertising we’re hit with 24/7 tell you what you need and take the time to review what YOU really need.  $42 for the phone, unlocked, worldwide compatibility, a battery that lasts 10 days, and more.  It’s hard to beat.  And the malls at your local Thai mall are full of even better deals.

 

Stop letting your friends and family and the advertising we’re hit with 24/7 tell you what you need and take the time to review what YOU really need.  $42 for the phone, unlocked, worldwide compatibility, a battery that lasts 10 days, and more.  It’s hard to beat.  And the malls at your local Thai mall are full of even better deals.

 

Yes, I’m aware with how you’re “measured” in Thailand and many western countries, and I realize the latest smartphone makes you part of the “in” crowd.  If an old style flip or candy bar phone meets your needs, then dare to be different.  Set a trend.  And save a pocketful of cash in the process.  After all, nothing impresses more than cash so don’t give yours away to the local phone companies unnecessarily.  Go retro.  It feels great!

 

Yes, I’m aware with how you’re “measured” in Thailand and many western countries, and I realize the latest smartphone makes you part of the “in” crowd.  If an old style flip or candy bar phone meets your needs, then dare to be different.  Set a trend.  And save a pocketful of cash in the process.  After all, nothing impresses more than cash so don’t give yours away to the local phone companies unnecessarily.  Go retro.  It feels great!