Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A great-grandma phone

My mother is thinking of getting a smart phone. She has one of those indestructible flip phones that makes and receives calls. Does it very well. But, she wants more.

She likes to text. Yes, there's a 78-year-old woman in southeast Georgia that stays in touch with her daughters and grand-daughters (and grand-sons, too, I suppose) by texting. Of course, on one of those little flip phones, If she wants to say "Thank you," she has to type 88,444,22,666,555,###,9999,6966,888. And, if she accidentally goes too far, she has to keep pressing until it goes back around. You remember those days, right? Well, that's called "Wednesday" where she's from. It's also called "Thursday through Tuesday."

Well, she thinks she wants a smart phone. Everybody else has one, and she don't want to be left out. And she's not sure what she wants to do.

She's thinking about an iPhone, but they're just so expensive. So she's wondered about one of those Samsung Galaxy S4 phones. But they're expensive, too. Her oldest daughter has one of those DROID MAXX RAZR things. One of those phones where words are spelled all capitalized and wrong. She doesn't want one of them, because she sees where my sister is always on the Facebook complaining about it, and she doesn't want to spend a lot of money on something to complain about. There are lot cheaper ways to find something to complain about.

Now, last summer, I sought out some advice for myself and many of y'all suggested the Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4. Of course, some other phones were suggested, too, and they sounded good. I ended up getting an iPhone 5, but not because I ignored the suggestions. It was because I went with a smaller carrier that had a limited selection. I actually got a Samsung phone from the carrier, but they didn't have the really good ones (no Galaxy S3 or S4) like y'all suggested. And, boy did I find out there's a difference between the Samsung Galaxy and the Samsung SomethingElse. Ended up replacing it with an iPhone 5, and been happy.

Well, my mother is on Verizon. And they have a good selection of phones. I just want to make sure she's happy with whatever smart phone she gets. I'm going to suggest an iPhone (based on my personal experience), or a Samsung Galaxy S4 (based on the rave reviews y'all and others I know have given). I'm also going to show her the rest of the suggestions y'all made last summer. But, since that was nearly a year ago, and lots of things happen in a short time in the technocracy world, I'm going to ask y'all again if there's currently another phone she needs to consider.

What, if anything, should I add to the list:
  • iPhone
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
What else goes on this list?



  1. I'm sure this will elicit hoots of derision from some, and perhaps some poo-flinging as well....

    But both my wife and I have had Nokia Lumia 900's for the last two years, and we really like them. They just work. And if you live/work in a Windows environment, they work seamlessly with it. Outlook, Lync for im-ing, etc.

    And they are tough. I dropped mine when I missed putting in my pocket. Dropped several feet onto asphalt. Barely scratched one corner. As for the "iphone has so many more apps" crowd, one gets over the novelty of apps for everything quite quickly, and the most useful ones have equivalents for Windows phones. For what it's worth...

  2. I used to have a Samsung Conquer. I liked it. The Galaxy S4 was awfully large, so I got the S4 Mini. It still fits in my back pocket. There is an option to set the Home screen mode to "Easy", which has a simpler layout and larger icons. That might be good for your mom until she gets the hang of the smart phone thing. :)

    Good luck.

  3. Aren't those Windows phones wonderful? I love my Zune.

  4. I've been using a Galaxy S4 for a while and think it's a very good phone. The S5 was just announced, but other than being faster and having an even higher resolution camera there's really not much to it. Its best feature is that it will drive down the price of the S4.

    My concern recently with the Android phones is privacy. With Google getting more and more invasive with each successive update I'm becoming less and less thrilled with it - not because the OS is fact it's getting better and better, but because it's getting harder and harder to so much as fart without Google knowing about it. The newest iteration of Android wants to link all your accounts, Google+, continuous location tracking...I don't like it. My wife ran into a problem with this. She was recently issued a new credit card number due to the whole Target thing. She had a trail account for some service which was about to end and start charging her more than the intro rate and she had no intention of continuing the service. She figured "well, my credit card number changed, they won't be able to charge me and they'll cancel". Not so fast. The gmail account she used to sign up was linked to her PayPal and Wallet accounts...and the company was able to get the NEW credit card number and continue to bill her WITHOUT CONSENT or notification. When we called them, they said it was all in their EULA and Google's terms of service allowed them to give this company her new credit card number...for her convenience.

    So...yes, it's a great phone. It's convenient, but there are dangers associated with having all you online presences linked in one convenient location. Furthermore, I think my personal information and habits are worth more than Google is offering for "free".

    Since I'm an I.T. guy, I rooted my Galaxy S4 and run a Google-less Android version on my phone. I also know how to block access and permissions of individual apps. Most people do not. Apple does pretty much the same thing.

    i think my next phone will be a Windows Phone. At least Microsoft knows enough to stay out of its' users' business...they're happy if you just buy the product. Their business model appears to rely on sales of a product rather than giving away free services in exchange for invading your least for now.

  5. I had Droid and now have a Samsung. The Droid is way better.

  6. I take a lot of steps to keep Google+ out of my S4. I made a dummy account just to run the phone and keep my contacts list, and I spent a good couple hours going through the settings to minimize Google's presence in the phone. The one I have to really keep an eye on is the GPS. That sucker likes to turn itself on. And, call me paranoid, but every photo/video I take with my S4 - when I transfer to HDD, I run through a file-stripper to make sure there's no geotagging on it. Because, I know that setting says off, but I've wound up with geotagged photos anyway.

    And, I'm pretty old school about my tech. I won't do anything credit card/banking related via phone. Call me paranoid, but that just seems like asking for trouble. (I also resisted wifi for a good half-decade until the tech evolved with enough security to merit my satisfaction.) I haven't rooted my S4 yet because I'm afraid of screwing it up, but I'm going to get the help of the IT guy at my office with that.

    Before we switched to S4's, I bought my wife the Motorola Atrix HD back when I bought the S2. She, a woman who really just wanted it for basic cellular usage and the occasional angry birds or recipe finder, was really pleased with it. In terms of pure opinion, I have a loathing of Apple products that borders on irrational. I played with my buddy's 5 when he got it and, honestly, it just seemed inferior - even when I was still rollin' with the S2. He even ended up agreeing with me when he played with my S2. I'm fairly convinced that people only buy Apple products just so they can say they have them.

    It's a superior status symbol, not a superior product.

  7. Jimmy says:
    March 12th, 2014 at 11:35 am

    "Aren’t those Windows phones wonderful? I love my Zune."

    And on cue, here are the poo-flinging Apple fan-boys.

    Run along and let the adults talk, m-kay?

  8. Personally, I'm not a fan of the cheap quality of Samsung phones, or the way they try to improve ruin Android with their customizations. I've been a Nexus guy, who switched to the HTC One Google Play Edition for the awesome build quality. I'll probably hang on to that until at least the next Nexus phone.

    That said... Samsung recently announced the Galaxy S5. Which means that the Galaxy S4 will be coming down in price.

    Oh, I also maintain that the HTC One is still a good choice. Android and a big, beautiful 1080p screen, but with an aluminum body that's more like an iPhone that other Android phones. And although no official announcement has been made, rumor has it that it's going to be replaced with a newer model too, so again the older model should be pretty cheap now.

  9. @blarg You're kidding yourself. Bing search, Nokia/Bing Maps, mandatory Microsoft account to use Mail, Calendar, and Market. The only difference is that Microsoft gets your data instead of Google.

    Not saying that Windows Phone isn't without it's merits, but additional privacy isn't one of them.

  10. If all she wants to do is make texting easier, just about any phone will do. Also, most phone cameras are interchangeable at this point, unless you're a serious photographer. If she wants internet, productivity, music, games, etc., still plenty of options. I got LG G2 on cyber-Monday deal. Bigger, stronger, faster than S4, better price. Love LG's extras they skin onto Android OS/UI. But with S5 out soon, carriers will start deep discounting to reduce stocks of S4s, and there's nothing wrong with S4, especially for the typical granny. S4 might even be too much phone, and she might have to upgrade to a data plan to get it, which gets expensive on Verizon. FYI, I'm on T-Mobile because I'm using 12-16 GB of data per month. T-Mobile is running deals where they will pay your current carrier's termination fees if you switch over.

  11. Phones are sucky and boring.

  12. @7: Nope, not an Apple fan. Was just trying to make joke that Basil would like.

    I've been here since 2007. Ain't "running" anywhere. Too old.

    Zippity Do Da.

  13. My wife and I have been with Republic Wireless for a little over a year and a half. We could never afford to have two iPhones or similar smart phones, with the huge data charges, etc., so Republic Wireless is a godsend. It works like this: the company has one phone model that they have modified to operate as a sort of hybrid cell phone which uses WI-FI whenever possible and cell phone service when it must, just as hybrid cars use electric when they can and gas when they have to. If your hip mom has a wireless LAN at home, this would be perfect for her.

    Because here's the cool part: we buy the phones for $300, and then the service is just $10/month. (The plan varies from $5-up, depending on whether you want 3G service or not.)

    Last year's phones were Motorola Defy's, and they SUCKED. This year, they have the Moto X which is better in every way. I love this phone.

  14. P.S. or just google it.

  15. @9 I don't use those apps. when you use a "free" product you pay with your personal info. Currently I use a paid standalone mail client with imap support. I use a paid stand-alone GPS application with offline maps that doesn't even need a network signal to work. I do my searches through startpage, using a browser, with appropriate privacy and opt-outs enabled.

    What I'd really like to see is a pocket computer like my laptop that makes phone calls. Currently this is sort-of possible by installing Cyanogenmod without the Google framework, but you really have to know what you're doing, you could brick your phone, and it's not supported.

  16. Tell great-grandma to wait 30 days until the Galaxy S5 comes out. I'm not sure what the carrier discount will be, but since she still has a flip phone, I would imagine she is eligible for an upgrade.

  17. Well, I am an admitted Apple fan, and I would avoid all flavors of Android phones simply because with Google, you aren't the customer, you're the product. As painful as it is to say, the Microsoft offerings are actually pretty good, though they are really having to play catch-up in a market dominated by the iOS and Android bases.

    The older iPhone models are free or really cheap on-contract, and 4S or later should still be a good device.

  18. i neither have nor want a smart phone and most of what i know about them i learned here, from you, or from steve green at vodkapundit. but do know a little about getting old, both personally and professionally. pay more attention to key size and lighting in a unit for a 78 year old than you would for yourself.

    @7 zipity, jimmy was a adult when you were sucking your thumb.

    Run along and let the adults talk, m-kay?

  19. Try a blackberry z30. 5 inch screen and rock steady o. s. And you can load android apps.

  20. I'm with you, jw. My phone is one of those flip-ups that just basically acts as a P H O N E. It works fine when I want to C A L L and actualy T A L K to someone.

    But then, I'm an old howdy-doody fuddy-duddy. Zippity zappity zoo.

  21. Um. I doubt that Jimmy and jw. I watched Oswald assassinated on live TV. I owned my own business for 16 years, and pulled the plug on it 16 years ago.

    So, apparently I'm not the only one making some assumptions here...

  22. Verizon has several phones that are normal phones but have slide out keyboards. That might be just the thing for your grandmother, especially if she has no interest in apps. I had an LG Envy for over 2 years and really liked it

  23. @20

    i really don't care what your birth certificate says.

    if i may quote someone, somewhere:

    Run along and let the adults talk, m-kay?

    or apologize to jimmy

  24. @21 Rockin' John

    what model, do you remember? that sounds and looks intriguing. to what (and why) did you move?

  25. Look jw, I was just responding to the inevitable Windows and Microsoft bashing, and lo and behold, there it was.

    If you don't like it, I have a rats ass I can give you.

  26. Hey! Y'all stop fighting. You realize my mother is reading this so she can get ideas about what phone to get. And y'all acting like that. Don't make me stand y'all in the corner.

  27. ...and sorry Basil's mom. I'll try to play nice now.

  28. @24 - So, did they ever make a phone that uses the Commodore OS? I really liked my C64...

  29. Commodore?? Now why wouold anyone want to use all that newfangledy tech?

    I say stick with the good ole Amstrad or Tektronics. Nothing tops serif fonts on a green screen.

  30. @27 - That was probably the OS of the phone Zack Morris made every high schooler want.

  31. It seems to me that the iPhone is easier to use than the Android but an Android phone is more customizable. I would tend to think an iPhone would be better for your mom.

    I believe that they both have the ability to take something you say and turn it into a text message. Your mother might find that handy.


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