So … after last week’s discussion about TracFone and whatever URGENT ACTION item it was doing such a lousy job explaining … problem solved.
Recap: All they were saying, without actually saying it, was that my 2G phones are about to become obsolete. The fact that they weren’t actually saying it, and the fact that any contact with TracFone other than buying and adding airtime is always painful threw me a bit.
But by Sunday, I had a nice little touchscreen 3G phone — $7! — that did everything my old phone did, but could also send and receive photos and had a virtual qwerty keyboard for texting. (This is why I turned down two kind offers for free phones; I really wanted that qwerty keyboard.) All set, thank you!
Not only that, but the process of transferring the old phone’s activation and minutes to the new was quick and easy. Five minutes on an automated call (no conversations with anybody in Mumbai). Two hours later … done.
Interestingly, I was also given the weekend’s use of a somewhat elderly Android smartphone: “Use it, play with it, break it if you like.” I’ve made calls and viewed photos on friends’ smartphones, but never cared to own one myself because they are such major wreckers of privacy.
But avoidance of smartphones puts me behind the curve when it comes to writing intelligently about them. So I was glad to mess around with one freely for a few days.
I hated a couple of major things, but loved a lot more.
Hated: The fact that Android — the “superior” phone OS that lives on something like four out of every five smartphones — is an even more naked Google Evil (TM) than I’d imagined. Fully half the phone’s functions seem designed to force the user onto Google, be identified, and give away any concept of personal privacy.
Appalling. First thing I did was hunt around and turn off geolocation and all the “helpful” report-to-Google functions. But I could see that without setting up a Google account and downloading apps, a person would be losing many of the advantages of having a smartphone.
Yet, oh my, the price of some of those supposed advantages! Even if there are workarounds. Who wants to spend their life engineering workarounds — and still never knowing how many other Google-designed or Google-approved data leaks you’re carrying around in your pocket?
Loved: The fact that, with a TracFone smartphone, airtime cards not only give “triple minutes” (as that 3G phone does), but in addition give triple number of texts and triple MBs of data. Wow. On my old 2G (double minutes) phone and the 3G phone, all texts and browser time come out of the “minutes” budget. So this is huge.
And there I sit with a backup phone that has well over 2,200 minutes on it … which would become 2,200 minutes, plus 2,200 texts, plus 2,200 MB of data if I picked up a $30 smartphone.
Oooooh, that’s gonna be hard to resist …