Friday, July 07, 2006


Yet Another Cellphone Hunt, and so soon.

No, I didn't return the RAZR V3c.

My wife's cellphone contract ends soon and I'm looking for the best deal I can get for her. The criteria is different of course, and now, so soon after the last purchase I'm hopefully a bit wiser. This time I don't want to buy a cellphone which is replaced by an upgraded model within a month. Also, my desire for high tech needs to be balanced with ease of use and practicality issues. The simplest route would be to get the Motorola RAZR V3m, as the V3c is quite easy to use - except outside in sunlight where the main (internal) screen washes out in bright light, and is totally unreadable.

Verizon's choice of phones is somewhat limited. Sure they have Smartphones, and Camera/Video/Music phones and simple phones. But there are no Sony Ericsson models and Nokia has stopped making CDMA phones. Basically the big names are Motorola and Samsung. Then there is LG, which used to stand for Lucky Goldstar, but now on the company's website it seems they prefer "Life's Good" (Good for the company's owners/shareholders or for their customers?).

At first my main criterion was for Tri-mode phones - in the CDMA world this means phones with analog roaming capabilities. The idea behind this is that the old Analog networks pretty much cover the whole US, so if you travel a lot (or surprisingly, just around Long Island) you should always get a cellular signal, even when their is no digital signal. Anyway, after owning three Motorola cellphones in a row (including the Motorola RAZR V3c), with a detour into smartphones with the Palm Treo 600, I naturally first looked at the Motorolas.

To my surprise, the only Motorola tri-mode cellphone currently available for Verizon is the Motorola V325. I don’t particularly like it, but it got added to the shortlist. The only other tri-mode cellphones were some LGs. Verizon has very few analog-capable handsets. Sprint, on the other hand, carries a large number of analog-capable handsets. However, from my personal experience with Sprint's customer service, or lack there of, I would not deal with them again.

The Sprint story:
The first cellphone I owned in the US was a dual-mode Samsung on the Sprint network. I didn't use it much, as it was mainly for emergencies (cellphones were regarded as a required safety device in South Africa). Then the earpiece stopped working. Of course the phone's 12-month warranty had expired. I phoned Sprint's Customer Service, who basically said "Sorry, there is not much we can do, come in and buy another phone and sign up for another contract". Instead I saw a free phone advertised with a years contract with AT&T Wireless, and signed up with them. Of course when I called to cancel my Sprint month-to-month account, they decided they could offer me a free phone. Too late, I told them.

To get back to Verizon, I read somewhere that they were scaling back their Analog network. So I began looking at their "All Digital" handsets.

Another cellphone hunt continues...

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