Back in May I upgraded my phone from my very well used and rather battered old BlackBerry Curve to a new Samsung S4 Mini.
PurpleBerry owed me nothing. I’d used it for four years, day in, day out. It had travelled everywhere with me. We’d been to drunken parties in Europe and sober funerals in the UK. We’d experienced scorching heat in California and cloudbursts in Cambridge. I’d dropped, thrown, sat on and stepped on it. It was the last thing I saw as I fell asleep and the best way to get me out of bed the following morning with its horribly piercing and highly unpleasant alarm.
I needed a phone that was just as indestructible, tough, hardwearing and generally ‘me-proof’. It also should not be an iDevice of any ilk, because I have never had a great relationship with them. My iPod has only survived this long thanks to intervention by my husband, who gently removes it when I become upset with updating it.
Eventually I narrowed my choice down to:
- A Lumia Windowsphone
- A Nexus
- A Samsung
I looked at the reviews on various sites, then tried the phones on display. I also talked to my network’s upgrade team to see what they recommended.
PurpleBerry had been on an unlimited data, unlimited texts plan and cost around £15 a month. I wasn’t going to find that deal again, but I needed as close to it as I could get. Other non-negotiable features were that it had to be idiot-proof and should also have a document drafting facility, push email and a decent Twitter app.
My husband saw the purple S4 Mini first, exclusive to Carphone Warehouse on my existing network and not too far over what I had hoped to pay on my new contract. By this time I’d already narrowed my choice down to a Samsung of some kind, as a previous boss had recommended the brand. Plus they are Android phones, so have plenty of apps and widgets to keep me sane.
It took a few days for the new phone to arrive after I’d signed up for it, and once it did, I set about learning what it could do.
There are a few things I don’t like about it, but I’ll move onto those in a minute.
Firstly, the things I like:
- The apps and widgets (variety and ease of running). I can keep up with emails, freelance commissions and the news easily.
- Mahjong and FreeCell on the phone. Genius.
- The document drafting facility (Google Docs/Sheets with spellcheck and colour fonts).
- The fact that I can comment on news sites straight through the app.
- The feel of the phone. It’s smooth but not too slippery.
- The size. It’ll fit in most of my pockets and my handbag. It also fits in one hand easily.
- The fact that I can group all the cold callers/spam texters under one heading in the contacts listing so the next time they contact me it’ll show as Spam and I can safely ignore it.
- The zoom text facility which works on most sites (but not all, unfortunately. Some are not mobile friendly, that’s for sure).
Things I don’t like:
- I can turn on the Bluetooth way too easily.
- Why are the comma and the apostrophe on the second keyboard screen? They need to be on the main screen like they are on standard keyboards. Preferably right next to the full stop. I’m an old fashioned typewriter-trained secretary. These things annoy me.
- I can’t type properly with a touchscreen phone yet so that spellcheck in Google Docs is mighty useful.
- What is this obsession that developers have for knowing all my contacts and log history? I’d be happy with a paid-for app which didn’t need to know everything including my inside leg measurement.
- I miss automatic capital I, which PurpleBerry used to spoil me with. I begin to see why no one types with capital letters any more. And why they don’t use commas or apostrophes either. I’m used to computer keyboards which automatically capitalize I and after. A. Full. Stop.
Those few niggles aside, the phone was a good choice. It doesn’t drink battery too badly (unless I forget to log out of a game or the net before hitting an area without wifi) and it’s easier to use than I thought it would be. The camera is decent and the selection of apps and widgets will keep most people happy. Phone reception is good and when they ring me, people don’t sound like they are calling from Mars.
I will need to get one of those natty hard flip cases though, just because I am horribly hard on my phones. I have a bit of a soft spot for glitter cases but I think a flip case will serve me better than a bling case. Given that I broke PurpleBerry’s screen by standing on it, such a case may have saved the screen. I also have insurance for this phone, for the first time ever, because buying one from new if mine was damaged would be a real shock to the credit card and it’s the most advanced phone I’ve owned for which insurance was offered. My first Nokia was a color screen, polyphonic tone, internet connected temperamental 3510i beastie which went wrong 6 weeks into my ownership and never worked right again. Repairing it would have cost as much as buying another and there was no way I could afford that. A mobile phone has always been a long-term investment for me, paid for by lower monthly bills and longer contract tie in times. I replace my phones when they break terminally, which is at least two years after most other people have ditched theirs.
In an ideal world, I would like a Blackberry Curve outer body with Android software, as I miss my proper keyboard, but I dare say I’ll get used to the touch screen eventually.