Epic Phone Shopping

Well, after milking my aging BlackBerry 8830 World Edition for over three years, it started to get buggier than usual, and I decided to replace it. Let me explain a little. My BlackBerry never worked quite right. Jennifer and I bought identical BlackBerries just before the release of the original iPhone. We were looking for stability and usability that we conjectured would be lacking in the original iPhone upon its release (I still feel like we had a mixed win on that bet). From the time that I took it home, my BlackBerry exhibited odd behavior. It became a matter of habit for me to check the network connection when I hadn’t received an email in a while, to see if I needed to do a battery pull and a cold boot. The phone would literally decide it had no connection at random and could not be consoled beyond a very complete power down and reboot.

When I complained to Sprint, they told me that it was a hardware/software problem versus a service problem, and that I should take it up with BlackBerry customer support. They kindly provided the phone number to the BlackBerry hotline, and I attempted to call. Repeatedly. There is no BlackBerry customer support. It’s simply a phone line attached to a recording that tells you how important you are to them. I stayed on hold for hours. I drained my battery on hold. Eventually, I gave up on the concept of BlackBerry customer support and filed it away with Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and perfect employment. It is fictional and no more than a happy lie. I made due with the knowledge that I was going to have to do a battery pull five to ten times a week. Jennifer had a phone identical to my BlackBerry, but hers performed more or less flawlessly.

Jennifer and I went to an amusement park where we rode water rides. These weren’t the slides where you deliberately immerse yourself in bleach brine, suspend the knowledge that it has an extremely high urea content, and slide down a tube, but they were raft rides and log rides where you’re probably going to get splashed a little, but you maintain a position over the water. We didn’t think much of the phones or the danger they might be in. Both phones got wet. Jennifer‘s phone didn’t think much of the water. Mine didn’t care.

It’s not that her phone went into a smoking and sparking death or anything, it just slowly stopped working. The controls one by one stopped functioning correctly. The applications one by one started getting quirky. My phone soldiered on, as good as it had ever been, buggy and fussy as ever. So, we decided to get her a new one. We couldn’t afford to replace both phones at the same time, and I have to admit that I felt a little resentment that it was the proper-functioning phone that got fried in the drink. Why oh why couldn’t it have been the phone that never had worked right?!?!? It’s not that I resented my wife getting a cool new phone, it’s that I still got stuck with the short-bus BlackBerry. But, we got her a Palm Pre that she loves using to this day. And on the up side, her old BlackBerry functioned well enough after the fact that it’s made a fine battery charger and extra battery for my phone.

She’s kind of had my ‘next’ phone picked out for a while. For a long time, she was convinced that we would get an HTC Evo for my next mobile device. Replaceable (and expandable) battery, Micro SD slot, 4G, mobile hot-spot, multi-touch screen, and a fast processor sum up a few of the attractive features on the EVO – several of which still make me shy away from iPhone lust. Sorry, I’m just not drinking the cool-aid that says that I’ll never have to replace my battery, that I don’t need my phone to have a >1-day battery life anyway, or that the storage space that comes with the phone is plenty. That’s like a car salesman telling me that cup holders are more important than horsepower – not for anyone to decide but me. So sorry. I did have one additional complaint on the EVO. Like the iPhone, it has no physical keyboard. I read excellent reviews about its on-screen keyboard, but those things just creep me out. My fingers need to feel buttons sometimes.

Enter the Samsung Epic. Comparing the HTC Evo and the Samsung Epic side by side can cause a headache if you aren’t careful. They are nearly identical in almost every way. Some of the more minor differences that I observed are that the Evo has a newer version of Android than the Epic, nominally larger screen, and comes with half the storage space, although their capacities for expansion each top out at 32-gigs. The processor speed is the same between the two, though they are different families, and the Evo with hotspot eight devices vs five on the Epic, and similarly the primary cameras are five megapixels on the Epic to the Evo’s eight. How many megapixels do you really need to shoot from the camera in your phone, anyway? My first camera phone didn’t shoot in full VGA, but it was useful enough. If I want good pictures, I’m going to grab Jen’s Nikon anyway. The two major differences I noted between the two devices were the two that made my decision.

The Epic has a four inch wide, slide out, QWERTY keyboard. Win! The Epic also has an AMOLED screen. Let me tell you, I never thought I would be able to describe the display on a phone as beautiful, but this one is that. The contrast is shocking. Blacks are black. Colors are vibrant. It is gorgeous. The resolution is incredible. I wish every other screen I had to deal with was this sharp and clear, i.e. TV, computer monitor, theater screen, etc. The final price tag on the Epic was a little more, but well worth the extra for the keyboard and the advanced screen technology.

I have to admit that I do miss the push mail on my BlackBerry, and its incredible battery life. But, that’s all. My phone will cruise the internet like a big box, it plays videos (including Flash – take that, iPhone fanboys!), I can update my blog or The Holster Site from it, I can IRC on it… The list goes on and on. Needless to say, I’m happy with the upgrade. Now, I’m probably going to have a couple of BlackBerries for parts selling on ebay. Which I can do from my new phone, incidentally.

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