These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For: One Woman’s Search For A New Phone

My phone crapped out on Sunday.

Truth be told, I should have seen it coming. The phone was 2 1/2 years old. I keep phones beyond the new-every-two eligibility date because I don’t like the idea of just tossing out a miniature computer because I feel like getting a new one. It’s my grandfather’s spirit alive within me, but my grandfather was kinda quiet so within me he’s blended with a hefty dose of The Muppets’ Statler and Waldorf. Point is, I had the phone a while, and I had drop-kicked it a time or 27 in those years, and that was starting to show. And it’s my only phone, because I joined the legions of people who have shunned landlines in favor of fewer bills. Saturday, while I was lost and trying to find my way to a violinist to rehearse the music for my cousin’s wedding, I learned that, as of exactly that morning, any attempt to use the web browser on my average-intelligence phone simply shut the whole operation down entirely. By Sunday, the touchscreen no longer sensed touch. I could answer a call, but I couldn’t place one.

Game over.

I solicited recommendations on Facebook and of course was met with an onslaught of “Get an iPhone!” I knew this would happen, but you see, I’m a bit of a contrarian when it comes to things everyone is doing. It took me forever to join the aforementioned legion of landline-rejectors. If everyone jumped off a bridge with their iPhones, I would simply use my outdated Garmin to navigate around the traffic jam they had caused by parking their cars on the bridge. I like to root for the underdog, and I feel like every phone and software company that’s not Apple is the underdog these days.

Alas, I walked into the Verizon store fully prepared to buy an iPhone, since, as one friend put it, “There’s a reason everyone says, ‘OMG I love my iPhone!'” As soon as I came in the door, I was attacked by two or three hungry salespeople (one of whom, I soon realized, actually wanted to push Verizon Fios on me, a conversation made more awkward by the fact that he was significantly hard of hearing and had a speech impediment as a result). After learning of the 25 minute wait, I sat on a bench until my name was first on the screen of people being served – like at a deli, only with names instead of numbers, which I don’t like. I don’t like a bunch of strangers in a store that sells GPS-tracking mobile communication systems knowing my name. (Side effect of Stalker Syndrome).

You have no choice, really. Your phone is dead and your mother simultaneously landed in the hospital because she fell at the ice cream parlor and whacked her head on the ground and gave herself a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and also traumatized her grandsons, all in the name of two scoops of Rocky Road, which she shouldn’t be eating anyway because she’s teetering on the edge of Wilford Brimleyitis (true story – she’s fine now and I plan on blaming every ridiculous thing she ever says in the future on her head injury), and so you need a new phone.

Do you know how hard it is to sit somewhere and wait for something for 25 minutes when your phone is broken and you are therefore cut off from the world entirely?

(That was irony.)

When the salesguy got to me, he made quick work of dispensing with the idea of an iPhone. I know – how is that possible? Well, I didn’t want the iPhone 4S – at $170, there was no way in hell. The 5 is coming out next month, which means any price I would have paid for any iPhone would be too much come the release of the 5. So the salesguy steered me to the Samsung Galaxy 3S, another smartphone that’s the highest quality they sell (he says). But it had a $200 pricetag. No go.

So we lit on the LG Lucid, a Droid phone boasting 4G compatibility. iPhones are all 3G, and Verizon is switching its network over to 4G. That means conceivably (I was told), when that switchover is complete, the Lucid will be better supported than the iPhone.

The Droid, he said, can do all the things an iPhone can do, if not more. In fact, I’ve heard tell that there’s no limit to what Droid can do. The salesguy said the Lucid Droid has talk-to-text — something the iPhone 4 does not have (the 4S does). Hmm, thought I. Helpful, given how much I drive. And text. The Lucid Droid has tons of free apps made for both it and the iPhone, so I’m not losing out on that at all. And it even does FaceTime, except it calls it Tango, which is a free download for anybody with any kind of smartphone. So my brother-in-law can’t give me crap about not getting an iPhone for purposes of video chatting with Twin Nephs. Interesting. 

But… but… everyone says the iPhone is better. Everyone says it’s awesome.

Oh, he Lucid is fifty bucks?

Sold.

Bonuses: LGs are great products, insurance is cheaper, deductible is cheaper, no upgrade required on my service contract and it’s a more durable phone if I, say, drop-kick it a time or 27 while I own it.

Ninety minutes after walking in and trying to learn sign language to talk to the cable rep, I walked out with a gizmo that probably could have done it for me, plus its cover and a car speaker for hands-free happiness. I had to immediately go to work, so apart from using it to call my father and find out how my mother’s brain was doing, I didn’t get to play with the phone much. But late in the night, I got to talk to the coworker everyone had told me was the guru of all things Droid.

He was. He was like Obi-Wan Kenobi to my R2D2. And he was my only hope. Since everyone else had an iPhone and didn’t speak Droid.

He taught me all kinds of handy stuff, like, um, how to get it to make a call. Also how to aggregate similarly-themed apps (news apps, entertainment apps, etc) into folders to keep in one central location rather than paging through my apps all the time. He recommended really good apps. He showed me the Google voice bar, which I can talk to and basically get the phone to do everything from sending a text to navigating to making lasagna from scratch. So what, I didn’t know how to find my text messages by the time I had to leave?

Once I figure that out, I’m gonna program it to beam Wilford Brimley into my mother’s kitchen to yell “Diabeetus!” every time she picks up something she shouldn’t eat.

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17 thoughts on “These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For: One Woman’s Search For A New Phone

  1. A very enjoyable post to read, even by someone like me who is retired, lives in the boonies, has no need of a cellphone, & doesn’t even answer the landline half the time…

  2. “I’m a bit of a contrarian when it comes to things everyone is doing.” Oh yes. Glad to hear it. And I’m very pleased you didn’t go over to the dark side. I have a Galaxy II Skyrocket and love it, but I’m worried the the iPhone SS is going to come and take it away as the result of the recent patent litigation. I’m pretty happy with Android but it’s a little more like the wild, wild west … Google doesn’t keep a stranglehold on their developers like Apple does. My Google voice bar doesn’t understand me, but who does? Enjoy.

    Glad your Mom is OK …

    • I really am contrarian. Sometimes it bites me in the butt. You’ve got an interesting point about the patent, but I’m sure they won’t steal your phone. 🙂 And yes, Android is definitely less tightly controlled. I happen to equate that with a freedom to choose your uses, where Apple tries to wrangle you into submitting to their way of doing things. And yes, I’m struggling a bit to be understood. Sigh. Story of my life.

      • You and I are very much alike in this particular area. You used exactly some of the same phraseology (e.g. – equate that with a freedom to choose) that I would.

  3. I love my droid! But mine is a couple years old, too, and I was thinking about going over to the IPhone when this one dies. I wouldn’t do it, but it just seems like so many accessories are made for IPhone. However, in the app department, droid is certainly catching up. When I got my phone, there were some apps that I couldn’t get, but now it seems that everything comes out for both kinds of phones. I sure hope you enjoy your new phone, and also find your text messages. 🙂

    • Apple is definitely dominating the market. The other day I went looking for a car charger at Target and everything was designed for Apple products, incompatible with my phone. Grr. Turned out, the Motorola Bluetooth speaker I’d bought has a universal charger, so I can charge my phone with that. I’m getting more comfortable with the phone. Still some bugs I need to work out but I’m getting there.

  4. I’m not there yet (smart phone), but when my current phone gives out, I’ll go for a droid. I’ve already lurked around the Verizon store some (not quite ready for a sales-person yet). And I loved your lead-in: “These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For.” I’m such a Star-Wars groupie. We took the kids to see the first episode of Star Wars fourteen times!

  5. Andriod phones kill iPhones. Cheaper, twice as fast, better interconnectability and the Galaxy’s have 33% bigger screens. Plus, they aren’t made by Apple, so you don’t walk around with the :I’m a chump sign around your neck that owing an apple product gives you!

    • I do feel rather triumphant at being happy with a product that’s NOT what everyone else just HAD to have. This must be the result of my mother pretending to get me Sergio Valenti jeans when I was a kid, which were in fact just jeans from Sears.

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