Do I Really Want A Cutting-Edge Mobile Phone?

This is the question that perhaps all of us mobile phone users and afficionadoes–okay, mobile phone geeks–ask ourselves every few months (or even weeks). When the mobile manufacturers come out with their latest models, or when the telcos come up yet another new standard or technology to help us connect to friends and family from anywhere, there’s always this urge to upgrade or move over to the better network, or move up to a subscription plan with all the bells and whistles.

That ease by which you can simply move your SIM cards from phone to phone, and that you can move networks taking your number along with you (number portability), make it all too easy to just switch phones or networks. All too easy to splurge on that latest, thinnest, fastest phone with the largest touch-screen and QWERTY keypad.

Just the Basics

However, is it worth all the fuss to get the bleeding edge in mobile telephony? Sometimes it’s just the basics you’d want, after all. Mon of technopinoy.com muses,

I donâ??t want a fancy high-tech mobile device. I too just want a cell phone!

A phone is a communication device. Not an entertainment device. So speakerphone, headset, mute, caller ID, call blockingâ??basically all PHONE functionsâ??are important.

It’s all about going back to the basics, right? Well, for most of us, it’s probably a bit more complicated than that. It usually involves getting excited and itching to buy–and actually purchasing–the mobile with the latest and greatest in features and technology. Then after some time, the novelty of emailing even while you’re taking a piss and downloading Britney Spears’ latest single at the same time wears off. You’d go back to using your mobile phone as just that–a mobile telephone, for calling, sending SMS, and yes the occasional calendar entry and email. Of course there’s the glorified alarm clock part.

High tech in mobiles is great. However, once the honeymoon period is over, it’s all downhill for most people, I would guess.

A Case Study: Me

Take my case, for example. I consider myself to be a mobile junkie–or at least I was. I’ve been into mobiles since my high school days in the 1990’s (amateur radio before that). I’ve had my share of analog, bulky Nokias and Motorolas whose batteries did not last eight hours. I’ve then moved on to GSM digital phones that took in the entire SIM card (not just the cut-off portion). Man, these phones could be used as lethal weapons in times of dire need, if correctly handled. Eventually, I would move on to smaller, lighter phones which had longer battery life, better screens, larger memories, and were non-lethal-sized.

One observation I have is that I usually cycle between high-tech and utilitarian choices in my history of mobiles, or sometimes a mix between the two. When I’ve been a happy mobile user for some time, I would eventually read about a better, newer model, and, if I can afford it, purchase my own set. I then get to enjoy the fancy features I get from the new phone as much as I can.

Whether it’s GSM, WAP, POP3 email, GPRS, EV-DO, 3G, a cool calendar app and ToDo list, Windows synchronization, e-book reader capability, useless clock widgets, or any other added feature, I’d be exploring these to the max within a few hours of purchase. I’d be raping the phone (okay, pardon the term, but I believe this is what’s usually used in these cases) and pushing it to full potential.

After a couple of days’ tweaking, optimizing, configuring, and, sometimes hacking (thru flashing of modded software, or some other method), I would have the ultimate in mobile telephony–in my opinion, at least. My phone would be something that suits me well from the interface to the built-in apps, to the add-on programmes.

That’s until just a few weeks after, when I’d usually grow tired of having the ultimate in mobile telephony. I would graduate to just using my mobile for calls, text, and as an alarm clock I could never wake up to. So yes, it’s back to basics for me, save for the occasional, even rare, times I’d be using the advanced features I bought the phone for in the first place.

Then there are the times I would, on a whim, get myself one of those basic, spartan, cheap mobiles that only did calls and SMS. “Backup phones,” I call them–something convenient to have lying around when the “primary phone” (or phones) goes dead or runs out of juice.

The Trends, the Future

Howver, even with this high tech-low tech cycle, I would tend to think that I am still progressive in the way I use my mobile phones, simply for the reason that what’s high-tech and snazzy today may be basic tomorrow. For instance, digital was the high tech thing when analog was the norm. SMS used to be a rarely-used feature, but is now as popular as calling (especially in Europe and Asia).

For all we know, video-conferencing on mobile phones would be the norm five or ten years from now. Try two years–most networks would have upgraded their capacity, newer and more powerful phones would probably be cheaper, and consumers are likely to adopt new technologies. Or perhaps with EVDO-like services, mobile networks could render citywide WiFi plans moot.

Whatever the trends, you can count on some of today’s snazzy stuff to be pretty standard a couple of years down the road.

The Answer

So, to answer my question, do I really want a cutting-edge mobile phone? Well, I would always want the latest and the greatest. The next logical question would be whether I need the latest in mobile telephony.

That would usually depend on how much disposable cash I have in my wallet or in the bank.

And if I wanted cutting-edge or even bleeding-edge I’d probably get a Motorola RAZR (razor) or the upcoming SCPL (scalpel). Ouch!

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