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Mobile Agony and Ecstasy

Upgrading mobile phones


My phone died a week into May. I knew it would happen, expected its demise last August under the unwritten rule of planned obsolescence when my two-year contract was up. I started checking out all the new phones when I started getting all the notices that I was eligible for a phone upgrade, and those started coming before my contract expired, in fact.

However, I got caught up semantically. Upgrade meant better, I thought. I could only imagine better equated to a new and improved version of my phone, to which I was rather partial. In the cellular world I suppose I am a relatively late bloomer, having resisted until the end of summer 2010 even getting a mobile phone, and then before I became so enamored with it I had to first learn how it worked.

My grandchildren eventually taught me how to use it, taking pity on me and, I suppose, despite their exasperation with my smartphone stupidity and impatience with my utter lack of intuitive technological competence. We received them all the same day; they got their phones out of the boxes and had made several calls and texts before I figured out how to turn mine on.

With their expert tutelage I was soon able to make calls, text, and read the news with ease and aplomb. Not wanting another mobile learning curve, I had no desire to get a different phone when it was time to, though I started looking for a new improved version of the one I had because I thought it was something I had to do. Turns out I didn’t have to get a new phone when my contract expired or a new contract either for that matter. I kept paying my same rate and checking for a better phone for months. I read the tech blogs and learned my brand was coming out with a new model in October. New: yes. Better: not necessarily or comparatively.

Jelly bean, ice cream sandwich, cutesy clever operating systems were batted around the blogs like investment advice from Warren Buffett. Eager to get upgraded I disappointedly discovered the makers of my phone’s new model had no plans to sweeten its operating system before releasing it in October or possibly November—rumors of a delayed release began filtering in.

My old phone lasted me through the winter, the long and seemingly unending winter, through which I continued to check out new phones, read the blogs, and toy with the idea of a completely different operating system—maybe I should try all three: BlackBerry, Apple, Android. Still unable to make a decision I continued to use my old phone. Then, when it was time—a week into May—I knew exactly what I wanted after researching continuously online and in person for months. I went to my carrier and got a latest-greatest six hundred dollar smartphone for ninety-nine dollars because, luckily, I was still eligible for an upgrade and under no contract. Had I not spent so many hours researching and agonizing over the selection process I might not have gotten such a sweet new smartphone or saved five hundred dollars; and though I adore my new phone I can’t say what it is—I’m not one to kiss and tell.

What I can tell you is the team at Alaska Business Monthly has put together another really great magazine once again. Enjoy!

—Susan Harrington, Managing Editor

This article originally appeared in the Alaska Business Monthly June 2013 print edition.
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