BBye Sprint

I just cancelled the service and sent back the Samsung A920 phones. (This is the same phone that Sprint is sending to the influential bloggers with their ambassador program.) On the plus side, they would ring at the house. Also a plus, they could charge from the included USB cable.

Unfortunately, those were all the plusses, and that’s not enough for a $100 phone (after rebates and 2 year commitment).

To back up a bit, my three needs for a phone are:

  1. Works well enough at the house for reasonable calls.
  2. Syncs with iSync.
  3. The ability to somehow get my laptop on the internet for casual use, a few times a month max when I’m waiting for the ferry and need to send/recieve email or do ssh like things.
  4. Totally not important, but I’d like to have a Jason Webley ringtone.

Service at the house is hard, as we’re in a very marginal areay for anybody but possibly Nextel. Syncing is important if I’m changing providers, but not so much if I can just swap a sim card. And laptop internet is nice, but it’s certainly not an everyday need, more like a few times a month.

Back to the phone. The phones would ring, but it was very hard to hold a conversation indoors at the house. And it didn’t get all that better with better service — even when I had conversations on the mainland, they still seemed to have dropouts. Even my Tmobile phone can hold conversations outdoors.

The USB cable, while a somewhat useful charger, was nothing else on the Mac. No drive mounted, no use of the phone as a modem, no recognition that there was anything pugged in. Yay.

It paired with the Mac reasonably easily over bluetooth, but that’s about the extent of the bluetooth interop I saw. No iSync with the address book (which is why I wanted a bluetooth phone in the first place), although apparently there is a way to send individual vcards to the phone. No way to get them back off again. I couldn’t browse the phone, nor was I able to send any html, jpeg, or mp3 without getting a message that the file type was unrecognizable. For reference, this particular phone has a web browser, camera and mp3 player.

As far as I can tell, the only way to get a ringtone, background picture, or music on the device is to buy it from Sprint — ringtones expire after 90 days, music can only be played on the phone, and I’m sure that there’s some hitch about background images. Just goes with the territory.

And finally, there’s the internet issue. All the messages on the net say that for OSX, pair it, dial #777, and you’re on. Any PowerVision (evdo) plan is enough for casual use. Well, that didn’t work for me — I kept getting authorization errors. After three calls to tech support, several updates of my phone’s settings, repeated mentioning of the specific error number, and lots of testing that I could connect to the net with the built in browser, I got a tech who said, “Oh, we don’t know about laptops, you need to talk to advanced tech support.” Who took 10 seconds to tell me that I need a $40/month plan that’s not even listed to use the phone to connect the laptop to the net. (fwiw, the data plans are 15,20 and 25, as far as I can tell from the web site.) (and free for the ambassador type people)

That’s right, advanced tech support is the only one that could tell that error #57 (or whatecver number it was) meant I wasn’t spending enough money for it to work.

I guess another plus is that the camera didn’t suck, but since I never pulled an image off the phone, it’s hard to tell if it didn’t suck at 200×300, or really was a 1.3 megapixel camera. Compared to the Razr I had briefly and the Nokia 3660, the camera was great. Note that camera isn’t in the requirements.

I also don’t really like the design decision of putting a color lcd screen on the outside of the phone, then to conserve battery power, only leaving it on for 30 seconds at a time. Plain mono lcds are readable for the outside, and take nearly no power to leave on. I’m probably missing the settings for ‘answer the phone when I flip it open’, and ‘answer when I press any reasonable key’. I’m also missing the setting for ‘turn off the bloody animation’ and the theme that actually has any display contrast.

So back go the phones. I can’t justify (yet) $40 a month for internet access the few times that I’m on the ferries without the family. And I can’t justify voice plans when I can’t use them where I live and work.

To put this in perspective, I had Razrs from Cingular for two days a couple of weeks ago. Syncing took 5 minutes to set up when I was on the ferry. Never did get laptop internet working on those phones either, but then I never really got reception at the house. The Nokia 3660 (Tmobile) also has no reception here, but it syncs easily, has slower GPRS internet (or just plain old modem) and can take any old .wav file as the ringtone.

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