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Upgrading Your Cell Phone Is a Lot Like a Kardashian Wedding

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The first time I laid eyes on Samsung's Galaxy S3, it was love at first sight. The anticipation leading up to my early upgrade was almost unbearable. I couldn't wait to get that sleek, little baby in my hands. So much so, that I was telling everyone I could about how cool this phone was, how fit and trim it is, and, in the weeks leading up to the big day, I kept going back to the store to play with it. If, for some inexplicable reason, I couldn't get down there, I would simply stare at it online. Yes, this courtship was special. This was definitely love, and we were born to be together.

When the big day finally rolled around, we exited the Verizon store arm in arm, as happy as could be. But, alas, just like Kimmy and Kris, the honeymoon was short-lived. As, less than twenty-four hours later, I wanted to smash my "new bride's" head into the wall and go back to my ex. Apparently, dating my S3, and actually living with it, were two different things.

Having said that, can someone please explain to me why, more often than not, the "smartest" companies do the dumbest things? Never mind, it's rhetorical.

Case in point: Back in '09, I bought a new Hyundai Santa Fe that came maxed-out with DVD player, GPS, AWD, and an AC outlet in the back you could plug a blender into and make margaritas, if you so desired. However, little did I know, if you wanted to plug in your iPod -- easily long-established as the world's most popular music device -- you were shit out of luck. Apparently, this brand new, mid-size SUV was equipped with everything -- except a simple auxiliary jack. WTF??!!

Turns out, Hyundai was one of the last companies to make their vehicles iPod compatible. Keep in mind, this was only a few years ago. Even the Toyota Yaris, a glorified golf cart, had an aux jack. Yet, this forty-thousand dollar "mini-SUV," with all its bells and whistles, could only play mp3s through the FM radio... in mono. It sounded like you were frying bacon. In one ear.

Not being able to play my iPod in my new car, when every other vehicle on the planet now could, was like building the space shuttle and leaving the windshield wipers off. Of course, Hyundai eventually got the message, the very next year, an aux jack miraculously appeared on all of their new Santa Fe's, along with a USB port, multi-phone adapters, and an ATM.

I wish I could've been part of the focus group at Samsung the day they tested the Galaxy S3. I would've been doing back flips on the table and throwing myself against the two-way glass, in an attempt to try and get them to delay the release of this latest offering until it was sufficiently ready. And, by "ready," I mean, the company wasn't taking one step forward and two back.

I don't know about you, but, when it comes to gaming, or which quad-core processor they're using this time around, I could give two hoots. "Holy Cow!! It's the 4.30dxids-disp! That's gonna make it look so much prettier when the Voice Search feature says "Failed."

Personally, most of the time, I appreciate the simpler features on these new, mobile, life-sustaining devices. But, for as long as we've had cell phones, it certainly seems, with each new "upgrade," there's a downgrade. For instance:

Compatibility:

Regarding my new S3, I was shocked to learn it's not compatible with Macs. You might say that's Google's fault for designing the new Android system, but, the problem is, my two-year-old Droid Charge, which is also Android, is compatible. This begs the question, "Why, on earth, can the old one do it, but the new one can't?"

File Transfer:

Because you can't simply plug the S3 into a Mac and begin working, you now need to download a file transfer app. The problem that arises, aside from the fact your new, supposedly easier phone has already added an extra step to the process, is the Android File Transfer app doesn't allow you to "preview" your files. Thus, if you're like me, and don't bother naming every single picture or video you take right when you take it, you end up looking at a bunch of meaningless numbers! Consequently, the only way to see what these files actually are, is to first drag them to your desktop and wait for them to transfer. Then, and only then, are you able to view them and decide what to do. Considering I used to plug my Droid in and preview files, no problem, this would appear to be a major flaw.

Extremely interested in what the folks in Samsung's development department were thinking, I gave them a chance to respond. When they did, they mentioned nothing about the old phone being compatible, and simply recommended using cloud services to manage my pics and videos.

The problem with using clouds, such as Dropbox, is, if there's no WiFi signal available, you're out of luck. And, if you use your 4G to transfer this stuff, your data plan will surge past its limit faster than you can say "bankrupt." Not to mention, renaming files on a website, or an app, is much more time consuming than doing it right from your desktop. One step forward...

Picture Gallery:

Moving right along, while everyone at Samsung was focusing on improving the camera, they apparently forgot to think about how to improve the gallery. Again, they designed the space shuttle with the ability to 'Facetag' your friends and instantly email pictures to them. An amazing technological achievement. But, what about the simple stuff? Like, if you take pictures of all the places you visited this summer, and you want to put them in an album called Vacations, you should be able to, no problem. Then, when you click on it, you can see all the sub-folders, e.g., Mexico, Hawaii, etc. This is something that the $20 BlackBerry curve can do, yet, the new $700 S3 can't. Why? No clue. One things for sure, with all the new futuristic technology, it can't be because the development team can't figure it out. In fact, when presented with the question, the Samsung developer tried to sell me on the new Note ll -- a tablet/phone not out yet, which has sub-folder ability. To them, the S3 is already obsolete! (To be fair, rumor has it, even the iPhone4 can't create sub-folders in the gallery, nor can the immortal iPhone5.) Nice goin', guys. You left the windshield wipers off.

Camera Lock:

Another great feature my obsolete Droid had was the ability to "lock" the phone while in camera mode or watching video. This was a great feature to have, as, when I'd show my little nephews videos of themselves, they would immediately go to grab the phone and push all the buttons on it. But, because it was locked, they couldn't. No matter what they touched, the video would play, uninterrupted, and I could relax without having to reset it every two seconds. That feature is gone, too. So is the ability to pause video while recording. Meaning, if you were at a baseball game, you could record, hit pause, wait until you see something worth capturing again, hit the record button again, and again, and still end up with one, cohesive playback, instead of five different ones. Au revoir. At least I can unlock the home screen using only my face.

S Voice:

This is the feature that is supposed to rival Siri. If it works 40 percent of the time, you should consider yourself lucky.

Phone:

Let's not forget the phone feature, itself. After all, at one point, this was its main function. Again, the S3, gives you options to increase volume when its in your pocket, reduce the background noise during a call, and even customize the EQ during a call. Yet, with all the possible sounds and options, you only have two when it comes to the tone of the keypad; a "bloop!" water droplet sound, or nothing. How they changed this feature and removed the standard push-button tone, is beyond me. Who the heck wants to hear a water droplet every time you push a button? It's a phone, for Christ's sake. Not a leaky faucet! Oh, and in case you decide the constant water noise is making your bladder anxious, and you'd like to select vibrate only... you can't.

Another minor, yet still-annoying feature that also mysteriously vanished, is the keypad popping up automatically when your call is connected. On my extinct, fossilized phone, when I dialed voicemail, and the prompt asked for my password, the keypad was already there. Now, on the S3, you have to hit the keypad icon to make it appear. Granted, a small action, but, why do away with it? It adds one more thing you need to do while driving, and there's no way it would take up the ray gun app's needed processing space.

Apps:

I can't really comment too much on this part, as I could care less about all the crazy shit out there that keep fourteen-year-old's glued for hours. However, once again, my email app worked fine on my old phone, but, on the new, hyper-space S3, half the folders don't appear. Not wanting to see only half my email files, I was forced to download K9. Admittedly, it's AOL, but still...

The one thing I do a ton of, is texting, and, the app I use the most, is GoSMS. But, as an added bonus, according to Samsung, it's not compatible with Android's new Ice Cream Sandwich O.S. Thus, you routinely get two notifications for one message. Because it's an outside developer, for a change, it's not Samsung's fault. Still, not being compatible with one of the biggest texting apps on the market doesn't help matters much.

Google Voice
:

This is the one thing I love about the new phone. Google Voice improved tremendously from previous models. The words appear almost as fast as you speak them, and the accuracy is much better. Hooray!

You may ask, with all these problems, why not go back to the Droid? Simple. Because that is a piece of shit, as well. The speaker phone sucks, and the O.S. is completely unstable -- routinely opening apps or windows not even selected. Also, because the processor is slower, it would take forever to open galleries with a lot of pictures, or switch screens or apps, etc. To think, you actually have to pay an upgrade fee to your carrier for the privilege of being tortured by your new wife.

It seems, no matter what brand of phone it is, like an empty-headed celebrity, as good as these things seem to be from afar, once in your possession, they usually end up being far from good. I, for one, am going back to my beeper.

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