Are you a Poser?

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Smartphones are the hottest electronic item as of the last year or so. With the iPhone and the storm of Android devices in the market, it’s almost impossible to ignore. Retailers are loving the traffic, and as long as the manufacturers keep pumping out new handsets people will be handing over their money. Advertisement is directed towards all demographics and encourage you to trade that flip-phone in for something more advanced and cutting edge. Don’t have a lot of money? No problem here are some low-end smartphones that will cost you little to no money (with a 2 year contract). Can not or do not want to sign a 2 year contract, well we have some prepaid smartphones for you as well! Either way, smartphones cost more to have than the average phone in the long run. Whether it’s with the cost for the phone plus the 2 years you will be paying for service with a more expensive data plan and perhaps insurance just in case you crack the screen or it’s stolen, add the potential purchase of applications from the App Store or Market, the carriers definitely want everyone to have a smartphone.  The question is not whether you need a smartphone, because we all know the answer to that. The question is: Why do you think you need a smartphone?

A middle aged man, we will call Arnold, had a basic cellphone for many years and had no desire for anything different. As days, weeks and years went by, he began to hear more and more about the iPhone being such a wonderful device. Finally one of his friends purchased an iPhone and Arnold had a chance to fiddle with it for a while. It was a fun experience and he thought that it was a great little toy, but not for him. Suddenly he began seeing advertisements for something called the Droid, yet he had no idea it was a phone until much later. Another year or so went by, and he began to feel his basic phone was dated and he started to feel embarrassed whenever he had to use it in public because of all the smartphones and their large glowing 3-4 inch screens being poked and prodded all around him. So one day he decided he wanted to get a smartphone. He went online to see what was all the rage. He was quickly overwhelmed with all the choices and complicated  explanations. There seemed to be hundreds of Android phones to choose from, but only one iPhone. He decided he wanted the iPhone, having already played around with it and it seemed like less of a hassle.

After talking with some of his friends about his interest in the iPhone, his friends had Android phones and discouraged him from going to the “locked down” iPhone. He had no idea what they were talking about. But he trusted their judgement and went with the Motorola Droid instead. Initially he felt good about his purchase decision. “No more dumb-phone for me”, he thought. But after the first few days of trying to use it, he wouldn’t admit it, but he was way out of his league and comfort zone. Making phone calls was easy enough and youtube seemed to work fine, but where are those apps that his friends were talking about? How do you erase all the icons on the home screen? How do you import contacts, and so on. Slowly, day after day, Arnold’s phone came less and less out of his pocket. It had become a basic phone to him.  Not because it was basic phone, but because Arnold had no idea what a smartphone really was.

I’m sure most of you know at least one person who bought a smartphone, but use it like a basic phone. Carriers love it. Thats what they want. No one uses their smartphone the same way everyday, but if you have Android, do you know what version you are running? Arnold did not. He still doesn’t know to this day. He doesn’t even know how to check to see which version of Android he is running. Same thing with a young lady who has a HTC EVO, she doesn’t even know how to turn the 4G on! I am in no way saying that just because you bought a high-end smartphone, you should know everything about it. No. Because I have a car, and I can’t tell you much about a lot of things under the hood. But, I do know how to pump the gas, adjust the mirrors and work the wipers and headlights! You know what I mean?

Shouldn’t you know something about what you are getting into before you get into it. I’m sure if Arnold could go back, he would have kept his simple phone. Now, he’s under a 2 year contract, with the most expensive Verizon with a powerful phone that he barely uses.

What about you? Are You a Poser?

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16 thoughts on “Are you a Poser?”

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  2. I’d raise another point, which is something I regret:

    Last year, my girlfriend wanted to get a new phone, and was looking at the iPhone.
    I had fiddled with the iPhone for a while, but found it a bit too “dumb” for my taste – being a power user and all.

    So I recommended she get the HTC Diamond. The design was stylish, which is something she values, it comes with video call (a thing we ended up never using), decent browsing, wi-fi and a GPS.

    Couple months later, she attested that she hated the phone. Everything had to be configured by hand, the phone would often crash due to incompatibilities, data plans were expensive and the phone kept wanting to sync e-mails / push internet / etc, which forced the data plan. Additionally, she never found a GPS software she liked or that would work reliably and without problems.

    Now she mostly uses it as a phone and to check her e-mails.

    Should’ve recommended an iPhone for her. 🙁

  3. That’s right, blame the poor soul who’s bombarded with ads for smart phones and who may well perceive that they’re “falling behind” if not equipped with the latest must-have device.

    I think this fellow would have been a lot more functional with an iPhone. At least he could find coherent advice and assistance. The “walled garden” has its drawbacks, but the iPhone is easier to deal with and you can always corner a Genius at the Apple store if you need some help.

    Instead I’d pull the choke collar on the idiots that steered the poor guy into an Android for no good reason. I’m a former iPhone user who now uses a Droid X and although I like the phone and its abilities, I wouldn’t have steered the guy toward Android except if this fellow’s travel and local ATT coverage made the iPhone a poor choice.

    So you might take the guy to task for not diving in and learning how to better use the Droid, but some people have lives. And if this fellow is a friend, why not sit down, ask him what tools he’d really use on a smartphone, and spend a few minutes helping him make a few things work? I don’t mean doing a verbal data dump either, but doing a good turn for someone who’s not a “poser”, but someone who’s not tech savvy enough to deal with the very mixed bag that’s Android OS. Don’t you think it’s the least bit dic*ish to chastise this guy for not knowing what rev OS he’s running? With push from Verizon, my version could have changed while I’m typing this.

    People matter more than tech.

  4. It does not matter how advanced or open (vs. locked) a phone is. It is the user’s experience with it that counts. My wife and I went out shopping for smart phones for both of us. I am open to Android, Windows mobile or iPhone. My wife, however, felt more comfortable with the iPhone than the others. She also understand how to use it. The Windows and Android phones are too complicated for her. As the result, we both got iPhones.

    Note that I am a software engineer, so I have no problem with understanding any of them. My wife, however, is a casual user (think email, web, facebook) and she picked iPhone because she can learn about it and up to speed quickly.

  5. I need a smart phone, I don’t “think” I need it. I use it every day: email, quick web search, map and direction, grocery shopping list, photo and video camera, taking notes, …

  6. @BJN no its not dic*ish in my opinion. I am in no way saying that a person isn’t deserving of having a smart phone just because he can’t figure some things out immediately. However, if you are using a computer, do you know what OS you are running? If all you do is check email, do a little web surfing and listen to music, would you get a Alienware PC? NO. But that is your choice no matter what. But you wouldn’t recommend that a person get one of those for those basic functions.
    I know for sure, many people get these phones for the look rather than anything else. That’s their choice. But there’s something to Poser purchase. Carriers eat better. That’s why you have so many crappy Android Handsets on the market. Who do you think would buy one of the crappier handsets? Certainly not someone who has done his homework.
    I have shown this guy countless things for his phone, but he has since become uninterested in learning or using it beyond the basic functions. My argument is this: We all have to learn, why we are getting something, do we really know what’s involved, and are we willing to put forth the effort? Otherwise you buy a smartphone because everybody else has one. In order to feel less inferior or hip? @Hai the only things you “Need” is food, clothing and shelter. Everything else is a bonus.

  7. Donald Schoengold

    When I got by Droid, Verizon was doing a deal and my wife could have upgraded her totally dumb phone for free. She was not interested at all. First if all, we would have had to pay for 2 data plans instead of the 1 for my Droid. Second, she has no interest in using her phone for anything except a phone.

    So, I am satisfied and she is satisfied.

  8. I think it’s a lack of research and general common sense/excess of cultural significance placed upon technology/up-to-date fancy shiny machines on the part of many people.
    My dad -has- a crappy motorola, but he couldn’t even figure out on it how to turn off the predictive text, nevermind it was a google search away for me, even if I’d never touched the phone before. He also has an ipod nano he doesn’t know how to update, put music into the itunes for, or even make playlists.
    My mom? Same thing. Has an ipod touch, can’t figure out how to do anything but play music on it, nevermind all the other amazing things it can do and the fact she can use it for keeping track of groceries rather than the backs of envelopes.
    Same with my sister getting an iphone 3gs literally two weeks after I got mine for christmas–I had it, she decided she wanted it because it was a shiny new gadget and she assumed that it was somehow ‘better’ because it was an iphone–it didn’t text any better, it doesn’t do calls any better(for her at least), it doesn’t do anything beyond check her facebook most of the time.

    That is what I think she means about posing–buying something, to appear smart, techy, and because it’s expensive–only because it’s expensive–like the N-gage or similar crappy gimmick phone, almost, but not because it’s the best for what you need. Similar to my mom asking if I could get an Apple computer for her–I explained that they’re expensive and for what she does–which involves checking weather, facebook, and her bank account, she doesn’t need much more than a basic laptop, 2gb of ram max, it doesn’t need a massive harddrive. The expensive part was part of it, especially when I said she could get what she needed for much, much less. It’s part of my main problem with people who only ever use something like an alienware or similar high-end computer on dial-up and only once a week. What’s the point? It’s a shiny computer, it’s a status item, makes people feel powerful, like somehow they gain some sort of credit by buying this expensive gadget.
    I have a jailbroken iphone, and recently had to do my sisters because she noticed I had done mine–she didn’t even know what it entailed, and I made her sit down and at least be in the vicinity while I explained it. She didn’t listen, she didn’t understand, she didn’t care, she just wanted new text message alert sounds. That’s it. It’s the same for my dad and my mom when they want something done to their phone–new background, new text message tone, new ringtone, nevermind that they can tether their phone to their laptop(I’ve done that previously when I had an AT&T Tilt), or if they can use it as a calendar and map, or note-taking device, or even as a casual gaming device or for reference(I have wikipedia,, a spanish dictionary for class, imdb,, and several “inspiration” apps like Brainstormer and Inspiro on mine).
    My sister? facebook and myspace apps, and a few others for photography since she uses the phone to upload photos directly to her facebook. I’m the one who recommended the photography apps, and now the jailbroken apps she uses for texting and tweaking the phone–she never researched any of the apps that a jailbroken iphone can use. So that’s the most complicated her phone gets.
    She really doesn’t -need- an iphone to do that, though, it’s easy to use, but there’s other, less expensive and less data-hungry phones she could get that update and upload pictures to facebook.
    But she wants an iphone for what it represents. People who don’t research what they need in a phone deserve to pay the “no-research” premium for not looking at their options or considering any phone besides the ones they see on the tv box. It’s your money, people.

  9. I believe also, people judge other peoples success by looking at their phones. Some girls might assume that any guy with a really old phone simply cannot afford a new one.

    Though girls do not understand guys in that area. I wear my shoes and shirts till they fall apart lol, does not mean i do not have the money for new ones.

  10. I’ve tried several smartphones.

    N-Gage & various S60 things. Long boot time. Irritating to hold. Promise as a gaming platform unfulfilled.

    Nokia N96? Grew to hate Symbian software deeply. It can sort-of do stuff, but not exactly elegantly. Navigation, web etc irritating. Didn’t use the extra features as much as I might have. Got irritated by the long boot time (my current smartphone also has a long boot time but I make more effort to keep it charged because I use it more, so I don’t boot it up so often.

    Decided I hate touchscreens.

    Blackberry. Used several models. Loved the design of the keypad, responsiveness much better than Symbian, better task-switching and UI for turning different networks on and off. Horrible web browser. Too business-identified for an ordinary user.

    Nokia E61/E71. Keypad as good as a Blackberry, which made it far more comfortable to use. Not terrible.

    Apple iPhone. Makes sense as I’m a Mac user anyway. Lockdown doesn’t bother me as a trade-off for things I actually want (a computer with a sense of identity; straightforwardness of knowing that hardware, software and accessories are designed for the machine I have got). Can I cope with a touchscreen?

    Surprisingly, yes. Although I love well-designed Qwerty hardware keypads, I use the iPhone enough (and the UI is well-enough designed) that I’m not that bothered. Surprisingly for US kit, the predictive text feels as usable as any European phone, because they’ve put a lot of work in.

    It’s the best walking navigation tool I’ve used yet (considering dedicated GPS is generally optimized for cars), and the GPS chip is as good as the separate Bluetooth device I used with my other phones. Web browsing is as good as you’re going to get with a small screen. It’s not as good a games console as the DS, but it’s usable and always there (and new games are coming along all the time at impulse-buy prices). It’s not as good a camera as a standalone camera, but ditto. It’s an answer to questions I didn’t know I could ask, like ‘what if I could snap barcodes of books in the bookshop and instantly check how much cheaper they’d be on Amazon?’ or ‘given the fact I have mislaid my iPad but I know it’s in the house, can I use the cloud to find it?’

    Given that I wouldn’t use Android because I personally don’t like the ‘lots and lots of different hardware’ idea one gets with the Windows/Linux/Android worlds, the iPhone is currently the ‘I will stop using this smartphone when you pry it from my cold dead fingers’ one for me. I found the oothers more or less usable, but my day-to-day life crept onto the iPhone the way it didn’t with the others.

    It’s not perfect (it’s currently got an annoying synchronization problem (like every other handheld I’ve used since the original Palm had at times), some of the predictive text seems to default to US, and I wish it had a hardware screen rotation lock like my iPad (need to look up how to do that; seriously considering keeping my iPad non-multitasking because I love the rotation lock so much).

  11. @JonelB exactly. The Carriers Love it! that’s why you see sooo much advertisement for smartphones now. It’s Status for a lot of people. Which to me is a Poser. You only got it because it looks like the thing to do. Over priced items being purchased by those who dont know, or dont care, or both. That’s their right, but i think that only encouraged more crapware, and bloatware which is what we are seeing.

  12. I’m still saving for a iPhone. It’s very expensive.

    I’m still using my old nokia e90 (which was expensive years ago) as a wifi access point (using jokusoft) in combination with me iPod.

    Maybe one day I’ll trade them both in for a iPhone.

    No Android for me (to much hustle for me) and now more symbian (touch hustle too to get everything going).

    The user experience the iPod gives me is better then anything else I have used before (e.g. Palm, Windows mobile, symbian).

    On my iPod I use more functionality then before with less trouble to get it working.

    If only the iPhone wouldn’t be so expensive….

  13. Hi Arnold,

    Your geek friends screwed you by talking you into buying an Android, which is designed specifically for geeks and mystifying for everyone else. If you’d trusted your own instincts and bought an iPhone, you’d be singing a very different tune right now.

  14. I am apparently a cellphone Luddite. I use my phone as a phone. It has no keyboard, no camera and no touch screen. It does not fold, flip or slide. It is just a phone. And I have already severed my land-line, so it’s my only form of vocal communication. I don’t want a smart phone. I think they have many cool features mind you. But the up front cost and monthly upkeep is just absurd to my mind.

  15. I think consumers have been ‘forced,’ yes, ‘forced’ into purchasing these over-complicated low-battery-life POS touch screen phones. In the UK, that’s pretty much the only thing currently on offer in shops.

    One shouldn’t have to plug a phone into a wall every, or every-other day. Phone signals shouldn’t cut out. Screens should not go to Standby unless I CHOOSE it should. The vibrate should let me know I have a call coming through, even if it is in my pocket and not on my desk…

    Basic functionality is being overlooked…

  16. I think the market has become quite different in the UK (and possibly Europe) in that the cost of the cheaper Android smartphones (Wildfire / LG Optimus One) is around the same price as a dumb phone (you get the phone for free and you get the same minutes, texts, and you get data). Thus i don’t see why one shouldn’t get a smartphone rather than a dumb or semi-smart phone even if you aren’t going to use all the functionality, as it costs the same.

    I can’t understand why people say Android is more complicated to use than iPhone – it isn’t. You can use your android phone the exact same as an iPhone – don’t put any widgets, folders, apps or switches on the desktop, just use the menu button and hey presto it works just like an iPhone. I think where an iPhone is easier is if you are a heavy itunes user due to its native syncing – but even then an app from the market will give you wireless syncing with itunes for Android. When people ask me for their advice on what smartphone I would suggest for them, one of my first questions is always to query how heavy an itunes user they are as I find this is often a good indicator of whether they should even consider another option.

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