Jenni’s New Phone

Two years ago in September, my wife and I purchased new BlackBerry 8830 phones. I had pined after a smart phone since the early Treos hit the market years ago. When we got our BlackBerries, it was really the first time we could afford such a luxury because: 1 – we were never before well-off enough to spend any significant amount of money on such a silly thing and: 2 – it took until about then for them to become affordable to anyone. We looked at the iPhones and were unimpressed with their first-generation, not to mention the high price of service plans to make them work. We were attracted by Sprint’s 3G network, and the BlackBerry’s capability for push mail. our service contract was expired, and we used that advantage to negotiate a really good deal on the new phones.

Jenni’s BlackBerry performed nearly flawlessly and was always boringly reliable. It sent and received email, and she could very nearly deplete the battery with no ill effects. Mine, on the other hand, has been a basket case since day one. After about three months with the phone, I was looking forward to replacing it. As a matter of routine, if I take the battery much below 20% power, the phone will terminate all services, and I will have to charge it, shut it off, perform a battery pull, and cold-boot it to get service again. There are other times that my phone will terminate service to the same results for no apparent reason at all. At best, I’ve been able to run it for a week between performing this ritual. At the worst, I’ve had to do this three times a day for a week.

I have complained to Sprint, and had them throw their hands in the air. They have recommended that I call BlackBerry Customer Service. I have dialed the number, and held, and held, and held. I am convinced that there is no such thing as BlackBerry Customer Service. There is simply a phone number with looped hold music on the other end, occasionally interrupted by a recorded voice telling me how important my call is. I kid you not, I once spent HOURS listening to that hold music in the hopes that I could get my phone to work properly, once and for all. On the basis of their elusive Customer Service alone, I would recommend that one not purchase a BlackBerry. Like an Italian sports car, my BlackBerry has performed beautifully when it is working, but requires a lot of attention to keep it there.

But, I digress. Two weeks ago, we went to Jenni’s company picnic at the local theme park. We rode roller-coasters and the Ferris wheel. We had our son chauffeur us around in a golf cart that was rebodied to look like a Ford Model T. We also rode the log ride and the rapids raft ride. Those last two rides were a mistake. I didn’t imagine that a little incidental moisture would harm a phone – especially one mostly covered in one solid piece of silicone. Alas, the waters were determined to claim a victim that day. Ironically, my crappy phone is no crappier than it was before we left the house that morning. The victim claimed was my wife’s BlackBerry, which until then had operated flawlessly. At first, the push-button under the scroll ball gave up its reliability. Then, the keyboard required more robust pushing to operate. Finally, the phone stopped ringing for incoming calls (but not for emails or text messages), and the phone expressed through its GUI that it was in pain! Icons started switching places, disappearing and reappearing. Hidden icons were no longer hidden. In its death throes, it was clear that we needed to replace the phone.

Jenni has been wanting a Palm Pre for some time now. When she found out that she was eligible for an upgrade, she said that she wanted to think more seriously about getting one. She read reviews, studied its strengths and weaknesses, and compared it to the third-generation iPhone. We played with demo models in stores, and read more reviews together. We have seen very few legitimate complaints about this phone. Still, with a vacation on the way; a car that needs bodywork, exhaust work, and front tires; more equipment to purchase for our Appleseed shoot in the Fall; we agreed that the timing was not right for purchase of a new smart phone. And then, tragedy struck her old phone. Of course, our equipment protection plans do not cover water damage.

Jenni got her Palm Pre. I know that she’s been wanting one, and I don’t think that she deliberately sabotaged her old phone to get one (although I will joke). What really irks me is that of the two phones, why oh why did it have to be the one that has always worked right? We could not afford to get two new phones, so I’m still using my crappy BlackBerry. My limited experience with the new Pre (on the rare occasion that I can pry it from her fingers) has been very positive. I believe that I may actually like it more than the iPhone. I certainly like the fact that Sprint is about to unveil their 4G network, now that AT&T has just almost settled into their 3G network.

I have to admit that I am a little jealous beyond the fact that her phone was still working fine and mine never has. Even so, maybe there will be something even cooler by the time we’re ready to upgrade mine. I believe we may employ some resealable bags next time we are going to be in a wet environment. They really ought to make these things weatherproof…

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