If you wanted to buy a new phone and you were trying to make up your mind which one you wanted, what things would you be taking into consideration to help you decide which one was right for you?
Here are the things I want to be thinking about:
- Quality of the screen and the user interface.
- Usability of the keyboard.
- How long does the battery last? Is it removable?
- How well does it interoperate with different systems (e.g. MacOS, Windows, ‘net-based systems)?
- How much does it cost?
- What are its dimensions? How much does it weigh?
- What frequency bands does it work on, and what data formats (GPRS/EDGE/3G) does it support?
- How much memory does it have, and what kind of memory cards (if any) does it take?
But every single time I go to a review by so-called knowledgeable people about the latest and greatest phones, you know what they talk about?
Mobile phone carriers in the US.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are quite a few people living in the US, and that quite a lot of them are interested in mobile phones. But it is also a known fact that the mobile phone situation in the US is, to put it kindly, howling mad.
So from what I can gather, in the US there are three main carriers: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. That’s about all I know, other than I think Verizon don’t use GSM.
But you know what? These don’t matter to me one little bit. I do not care one jot about them. Because I live in another country.
So which phones have which features? You really have to read past the reviews to find that out. Half of the stuff in your average review is about how you can’t make phone calls and use the internet at the same time, or how tethering doesn’t work, or how the coverage is crap in some parts of San Francisco. Worse – most of the comments are along similar lines.
Get over it people.
For a start, the only country that seems to suffer from this archaic system, is the United States of America. In most countries in Europe, you can buy a particular phone on several carriers, and for the most part they use GSM (unless you are talking about Japan, where it’s like a whole nother planet). So the only things you need to know about the carrier is whether the phone is compatible (which frequency bands do they use?).
In many countries in Asia, mobile carriers don’t subsidise phones, so you go to a local market and buy the phone you want (which is never locked to a single carrier), then either plug your existing SIM card into it, or go and shop around for a carrier, by looking at what they offer.
So in most of the world, you can pretty much buy a phone off the shelf and just use it. Pre-pay, post-pay, take your choice.
The disadvantage is that you pay full unsubsidised price for the phone, which can be a LOT of money – but you should remember that modern ‘smartphones’ are extremely powerful small computers with good screens.
If you ever feel the urge to write a review of a mobile phone, don’t keep banging on about the carriers. Most people in the world probably aren’t interested in which carriers you can use, or their limitations.
Personally, I want to know the details of the phone.