Getting a new cell (mobile) phone
This week I got a new cell phone (or mobile, as they call them in the UK).
For the last month or so I’ve been getting messages from Vodacom saying that it was time for me to “upgrade”. So I went along to see them to renew my contract.
It’s nothing fancy. It’s the cheapest offering on the list, the Top-up 75s contract, which costs R89.50 a month. You get so many calls included in the price, and if you run out, you can buy a top-up of air time. Over the two years I’ve had it, I only once had to top it up, and that was when we went on holiday and were making a lot of calls. So it’s quite adequate for my purposes.
The contract includes a new phone, but since it is the cheapest contract, there’s nothing fancy about the phone.
The old phone was a Nokia 2760. It was one of those folding jobs, where the screen and keypad are protected when it’s in your pocket, so it doesn’t begin phoning out when you bend over, or blow your nose, or fasten the car seat belt or something.
But they didn’t have any phones like that any more. They offered me a Nokia 2330 classic, which has an exposed keypad and screen. Like the old one, it had a camera, but unlike the old one, it has an FM radio. Cool, now I can listen to the radio when I’m not driving around in the car. and respond instantly to those phone-in talk shows.
So I renewed my contract for another two years, and brought home the new phone, switched the SIM card from the old one, and began exploring what it could do. Apart from the radio, and Bluetooth, it seemed it couldn’t do anything better than the old one, though the screen was a bit more readable. But some things it did a lot worse, the camera for example.
Now one of the things I like about modern cell phones is the built in cameras. I’ve always liked to have a “notebook” camera, and before I had a cell phone with a camera I had a cheap fixed-focus film camera to carry around and take photos of anything interesting just “for the record”. That is considered strange and quirky behaviour by some people, like the guy who got all uptight when I took a photo of a Dutch Reformed Church in West Park because I thought it typified a certain style of ecclesiastical architecture. The Nokia 2760 has an adequate camera for such “notebook” purposes. Nothing fancy, not very high resolution, but good enough for blog work. Actually I was quite impressed with its capabilities for available light photography in most unpromising circumstances (see Notes from underground: Cellphone cameras).
But not so the new one. Its pictures are fuzzy and out of focus, and no good for anything at all, not even blog work.
While it’s not great, one can at least read the titles on some of the books, and recognise the objects on the shelf. It was also taken by artificial light, with a fluorescent light at the other side of the room.
And that one, taken with the new phone camera, by daylight with the curtains open, in more favourable conditions, is worse than useless. You couldn’t use it, for example, to record a car accident — if you took a photo of the car that bashed into yours, chances are you wouldn’t be able to read the number plate. So it turns out that the “upgrade” was actually a downgrade. Technological advances are sometimes retards — two steps forward, and one step back.
Oh well, I’ll take it back to the shop and see if they can give me something a bit better. But I’ve already put the SIM card back into the old phone, and put an old prepaid SIM card into the new one, to be used in emergencies, like when the other phone’s battery needs charging. If they won’t change it, it’ll do for lying in the bed and listening to the radio or something.