Dear Mobile Phone: Please Quit Showing Off and Just Do Your Damn Job.

by Joey deVilla on March 6, 2007

In an article in The Guardian titled My new mobile is lumbered with a bewildering array of unnecessary features aimed at idiots, Charlie Brooker complains about his Samsung mobile phone:

It seems to have been designed specifically to irritate anyone with a mind. It starts gently – a pinch of annoyance here, an inconvenience there – but before long the steady drip, drip, drip of minor frustrations begins to affect your quality of life, like a mouth ulcer, or a stone in your boot, or the lingering memory of love gone sour.

I understand his frustration.

The features offered by the more expensive mobile phones offered by my provider — Bell Mobility (whose motto could be “great signal, not-so-great phone selection, semi-amusing TV commercials”) — or any provider, for that matter, don’t seem worth the added expense. Hence I went with a relatively simple phone: a near-bottom-of-the-line Samsung that doesn’t even feature polyphonic ringtones. The only “special features” of the phone that I’ve ever used are SMS text messaging and the alarm clock function (it’s handy when travelling). The only feature I wish I had was Bluetooth syncing with the Address Book application on my Mac laptop.

Like many people, I’ve been using my mobile phone as a pocket watch. This phone even has an extra display you can read when it’s snapped shut, which is perfect when you just want to know what time it is.

With all the other mobile phones I’ve had, being cut off from the network didn’t mean that I was also cut off from knowing what time it is. Those phones would simply rely on their own clock. Not my current phone: when I’m in the subway and the network is inaccessible, the phone doesn’t show the time. Instead, it displays an animated dish antenna and tells me that it’s attempting to find some phone service, as pictured below:

Samsung mobile phone displaying its “Looking for Service” animation.

This annoys me to no end. I want to know the time, and all the phone wants to do is go “Ooh! Look at me, boss! See how hard I’m working for you, boss! Pleasepleaseplease buy more Samsung products!”

Thanks to this, I’ve grown to become annoyed with the animations that the phone insists on playing whenever I turn the phone on or off. Must it display the Bell Mobility logo whenever I turn it on? Trust me, I know that my phone service is Bell Mobility: I get a bill from them every month. (Bell Mobility, if you really want my attention, how ’bout you pay me every month instead?) Almost as annoying is the animation that plays when I turn off the phone — an array of cubes that shrinks and rotates to display the message “Powering off”. Although I know that it’s good to have some kind of feedback, my reaction to this over-the-top animation is “I knew that — I pressed the ‘off’ button, didn’t I?”

It’s been a while since I’ve gone phone shopping — is it this way with all mobile phones, or just the Samsung ones?

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