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My Entrance into the Mobile World.

The title says it all. Tomorrow, after work, I’m going to the store, where a brand new smartphone awaits me. I was seldom one to have the latest gadget, so I’m surprising even myself with this purchase.

 

Before going into more details, let’s see what my mobile history is:

December 2006 to June 2012:

Some Nokia phone. After some very deep research in the far confines of the interwebs, I found out that I can type *#0000# on the keypad to know what version it is. It’s a Nokia 2610 (wiki).

I rarely use the phone – I bought it when I bought my first car (a Toyota Corolla 2007) because, you know, just in case. The phone has a tiny 128x128x16b screen, doesn’t have a camera, has virtually no usable function, and it can take me five minutes to text-reply “Hello!” on the user friendly keypad.

I still have it today, it works great for my needs (even after almost six years of being hanged on my belt), and I will pass it on to my parents, who don’t have any mobile phone. They can use it, you know, just in case.

I didn’t have any contract. I was with Rogers, but was buying a 100$ pay-as-you-go card once a year (about 9$ a month). Since it was more like an emergency phone, the amount in the account tended to go up. Right now, it’s at about 70$, due to refresh in January.

It has scratches and a part of the screen looks like it met a metal grinder, but I’m still very surprised about the sturdiness of the phone.

 

September 2011 to January 2012:

My boss got a new iPhone 4 (wiki) and didn’t know what to do with his old iPhone 3G (official page of the iPhone 3GS, also wiki of the 3G).

Since a few months before, I was starting to like the idea of having my own smartphone, and I had no idea whether I wanted an iOS (Apple) or an Android (Google). I accepted his offer to give it to me, and tried it, while keeping my old Nokia.

I didn’t get any contract with a carrier, and my idea was to try it for a few months until my 5 years old nephew’s birthday (in late January), when I would give it to him to use sometimes as a camera.

I liked the phone – maybe too much. Since I was connected only to wi-fi, I couldn’t use it outdoors, but I had a good idea of what it could do. I liked to have something so tiny, yet so technologically advanced in my hands. I played with Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, again sometimes too much. I found myself too often browsing reddit for an hour, in my bed with the lights turned off (just one more page!), when I should have been sleeping. Overall, I liked the user experience (like most people who like Apple do). Things were logical and intuitive most of the time. This thing was getting addictive.

My boss sent me to Britain January 2nd, and of course, I brought the phone with me. It really helped me in Edinburgh and London when I didn’t want to bring my huge Canon EOS 40D (wiki) with me.

I got back in late January, just in time for my nephew’s birthday party. By then, I had already made up my mind (just before leaving for my business trip, actually) that I would not give it to him. Right after christmas, I had read on the Internet all the stories about kids and teens actually angry and pissed at their parents for not buying them the new iPhone 4S (link will work until they release a new iPhone, also wiki). They were cursing at them for not giving them a 600$ phone that costs 50$ per month. One was mad that he/she got a white iPhone instead of a black. One was angry because he/she got a car, but not an iPhone. I was speechless in front of such materialism.

Being the person that I am, I decided that I would not give something so powerful to a kid, something that had so much potential to brainwash him into being a consumer zombie. Should he fall in the future like most do, I didn’t want to be part of it.

I also didn’t keep the phone, because my original intent was to try it until I give it to my nephew. I gave it back to my boss. (Since it was gathering dust in the office, I took it back and gave it to my parents in May 2012, for them to play and tinker with.)

But the real reason why I gave it back in late January was to see if I was addicted or not. If I was, I knew I would not buy a smartphone (at least for a very long time), and would keep my trusty Nokia.

Turns out I wasn’t.

 

June 2012:

Since early 2011, I had started to look at the possible smartphones out there. I read the tech news about the new mobiles (both phones and tablets). I saw a friend make many calls when the iPhone 4 came out to find one, I saw the Samsung Galaxy S2 (wiki) come out in 2011, watched the Apple conference to show the new iPhone 4S, then the Google Galaxy Nexus (wiki) came out in December 2011. And then the HTC One X (wiki) in February. All better than the previous.

For almost a year and a half, I kept asking myself: “Do I want Apple or Android?

The phones were getting exponentially better and better. “Should I wait a bit more?” Apple released the best phone, then it was Android, then Apple… It was a never-ending war.

Then the Samsung Galaxy S3 (wiki) was announced in early May 2012, set for a release in late May in Europe, and sometime in June here in Canada. I didn’t particularly fell in love with it – just knew that it could do what I wanted out of a phone. The rumors about the iPhone 5 (to be released in September?) were going strong, with the general consensus that it would be a revolution in the mobile world. I decided to go with Android anyway (I can’t see what could be so incredibly special about the next iPhone).

I waited a month for the Galaxy S3 release date, and went to the mall to find the best carrier. After comparing prices and services for about two or three hours, I settled on Virgin Mobile. If I pay most of the phone, I can have a 20$ per month contract including 50 minutes, 50 text messages, and flexible data (I pay for how much bandwidth I use, between 10$ for 100MB to 30$ for 3GB). 30-40$ per month didn’t seem too expensive, considering.

I went to the Virgin Mobile kiosk to put my name on the waiting list (only 4 days left). I’m the second on the list, and they will (should) receive about 6-8 units. Then they offer me a Samsung Galaxy S2 until the next Wednesday (tomorrow), and after inquiring that they are not trying anything funny, I accept it.

I’ve been testing it for three days, and am very satisfied so far. The thought has crossed my mind to keep this S2, and keep the 280$ difference, but what the heck – I’m there, and this is my first smartphone, and I didn’t buy any luxury in over two years. (The Galaxy S3 is a 680$ phone, which costs me 480$ with my contract.)

 

When I got home with the Galaxy S2, I opened it and tested it nonchalantly, almost not caring. I didn’t feel this addictive tingling you too often get when buying something expensive (what the marketers have so carefully brainwashed us to feel – the need to pay for something you don’t really need). I was surprised that I felt nothing. Was it because that specific phone was not really mine, or because I am finally free? I’ll be able to answer that tomorrow, though I have a feeling it’s 70% the former.

Also, I chose white! A month ago (even a week ago), I would have been surprised by that. The Galaxy S2 they lent me was white, and I liked it. It feels more simple, more minimalist. More like me, if you can understand that.

 

This will then be my first “real” phone. I played a bit with an iPhone 3G and a Samsung Galaxy S2, all of which have prepared me for tomorrow evening. If everything goes well, I shall try to post regularly about how I feel towards the Galaxy S3, what I like, what I hate… I’ll be a beginner, so hopefully the learning curve will be shown post by post as you follow them, if you will.

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