Cellphone Frustrations

Since I was 15, I’ve owned a cellphone of one kind or another. This past summer, as most of my regular readers know, I made the jump to the smartphone world with my purchase of a Google Nexus One. This was an expensive purchase, but one that I didn’t mind making under the impression that my purchase would be rewarded with a device of a higher caliber than those peddled at the cellphone vendor stores. Unfortunately, I was somewhat wrong in that assumption. More after the jump.

Starting in mid-August, my Nexus One smartphone started rebooting itself sporadically. Finally at the beginning of September, I put a call into HTC to see if there was anything I could do about this issue. A few factory resets later, HTC finally decided that the problem wasn’t any software on my phone, and requested that I either send my phone in for repair or do a swap to get a replacement phone. I opted to do a repair, and did without my Nexus One for a few weeks. I was happy to get my phone back late last week, only to find that it could no longer connect to AT&T’s 3G service.

Honestly, I was just a little skeptical at first. I thought that the connection would surely pick back up eventually, as I’ve had issues before where the 3G service has not worked. AT&T was nice enough to work with me for an afternoon to try and sort the problem out, but all they were able to determine is that everything appears to be working fine from their end.

So, after who-knows-how-many hours spent on the phone dealing with technical support people, I’m exhausted – and left to wonder why can’t it just stinkin’ work?

Before I made the jump to my MacBook laptop, I had a tower computer that I constructed myself. It was probably more expensive to do it that way, but at last I could ensure that I was purchasing quality parts, and for the most part I didn’t have any problems. Sure, there were a few situations where stuff went down the drain – but in the number of years that I used that computer I can count on one hand the number of times the entire system failed on me with no warning.

So I beg the question: why is it so hard to build something with enough quality that it can stand being carried around for more than 3 months without breaking? Is this a concept difficult for people to grasp? I think not. So why do they do it?

Well, I would venture to guess that to build a phone with enough durability to last longer would probably increase the average retail price up to about $800 (keeping in mind that it’s about $300 or $400 now), and the truth of the matter is that our society would rather buy something at a cheaper price and dispose of it when it breaks – than shell out the cash required to build something quality – and it’s a sad truth. We live in the day and age of “when it breaks throw it away” and “they don’t make em like they used to”. This is reflected in many areas of our electronics market, and quite frankly, it’s somewhat annoying.

I, personally, am ready for the day when good design trumps the bottom line. I’m ready for the day when customer service call centers don’t have to hire people that don’t understand what the term “customer service” actually means. And I’m ready for the day when I can purchase something and know that when I throw it away will be my decision. Is that really too much to ask?