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My Cell Phone Becomes Useful February 24, 2013

Posted by Peter Varhol in Software platforms.
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Since cell phones are actually computers these days, this title is slightly misleading.  But I am done having to work around the limitations of my old and flawed device.  This started a couple of days ago.  Actually, it started much longer ago.  My old HTC Merge, a US Cellular phone, had a very limited ability to actually make and receive calls at my home, in southern New Hampshire.  I generally couldn’t make calls from most places in the house, and when I could, it indicated that the phone was roaming.

But my problem was that the phone stopped making or accepting calls at all.  Instead, I got a message indicating that the phone was tethered to no network.  Almost three hours on technical support over two days with US Cellular led to a belief on their part that it was due to a switch on a nearby Sprint network.  I was asked on multiple occasions how long I had been outside of the local coverage area (not at all).

I finally hoped that a new phone would solve my problem.  The salesman at the local US Cellular store took one look at my Merge and said that it was a problem with the phone; specifically that the antenna wasn’t working properly.  I came away half an hour later with a new Motorola Electrify 2, running Ice Cream Sandwich.  It works so much better, it’s not even funny.

There are a few things that I learned here.  First, don’t trust technical support, even if they sound like they know what your problem is.  Try to confirm independently.  Had I not contacted a separate support group through Twitter who offered me different advice, it would not have occurred to me to get a new phone.

Second, if things with your gadget or software don’t seem right, they probably aren’t.  In retrospect, the old phone never worked properly within my local coverage area, and I should have recognized that.  I was fooled into thinking that roaming was my normal mode of operation, because it is when I travel, and even when at home I’m at the edge of the local coverage area.

Last, don’t accept substandard performance from your gadgets.  They are better than that today.

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