Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My journey so far...

P.S. This is a pre-script, added to warn you. tl;dr. There, good deed done. Now its your fault!

My first encounter with it, up-close and personal, was when I was still in college. I still remember it in quite a bit of detail...

It was probably sometime in 1998 (or was it 1999?) and I was busy lolling at home during a weekend when the phone rang in the house. Those were the days when we had one phone in the house, a land line, and it was in the living room right next to my dad's spot (you see, the whole "you are sitting in my spot" thing that Sheldon Cooper is famous for these days is just a rehash of what my dad did for close to two decades back then. His reasons, of course, were not the same as those of Sheldon's). So of course my dad picks it up and then calls out saying it is for me. I rush down (from my room upstairs) trying to figure out who it might be. I take the phone and it is from one of my closest friends in college who has never, ever called me on the phone (till then) and she asks me to immediately hang up and step out of the house. A little confused, I step out and there she is at my gate grinning widely and waving it, her brand new cell phone. It was one of those early Nokia thingies with the stubby antenna housing sticking out of from the side which housed the extensible antenna. That was probably the first cell phone in our college and we were all pretty excited. Excitement by association! You didn't have to have it, as long as you had a friend who had it and you could flaunt the friendship. That's how we rolled back in the day! Same thing happened with one of the guys who had his own car and another couple of guys who got their first bikes. But the cell phone was more exotic at that time.

I would eventually get my own but only after I had finished college, got a job and started seeing that I was probably one of the few people on the floor not having one. I went 4 to 5 months before giving in to the perceived peer-pressure. Off I went into the closest mobile phone store I could find and after much consideration walked out with a Sony Ericsson T100 with the blue trim, a sim card from one of the two operators I was aware of at that time and one of those fancy (for the time) belt pouches with a velcro'ed flap to hold my phone in it. That was the best bit. I used to feel that I was one-upping my peer-pressure-applying peers every time I took my phone out of the pouch with the flair of a Clint Eastwood drawing his 6 shooter with practiced nonchalance (that’s what I hoped I looked like!). It took me a while to wise up to the fact that a phone which was not even 10 cms tall would never make for a good 6 shooter! Anyway, the best part about getting that phone was revealed to me later when I met the smart one for the first time and she had the same phone in hand! A Sony Ericsson T100 with red trim! I guess, somewhere in my subconscious, that was when the first seeds of romance were sown and the rest, as I say, is the last decade of my life. Coming back to my cell phone, the T100 was my loyal weapon of choice for quite a long time seeing off the challenge from three different holsters, a fair number of drops, numerous encounters with my keys, incessant messaging (SMS was free; calls were charged. You do the math!) and the odd call. After what seemed like an eternity of hard knocks (4 years and some change) the keypad gave up. It was then that I decided it was time to get a new phone.

Enter the Samsung E250. This was a phone I knew I was going to buy even before I decided to buy a new phone. When I saw it first, I still had the T100 but the slider in the E250 had caught my attention. You see, it brought back memories of the phone from the movie “The Matrix” which was pretty impressive in my book and the E250 slider was the closest that my purse would permit me to emulate it. So E250 it was at the first opportunity I got to get a new phone. Unfortunately, me growing out of my Neo phase happened to coincide with me getting the E250 and the appeal of the "schlick" whisper of the sliding mechanism wore off pretty fast. Not to say it wasn't good as a phone though. Moreover, it had a camera! Oh. My. God. A camera on my phone was the kind of upside you bank on in a prospect when your main reason for investing in it goes bust. Anyway, the camera made up for whatever else that I thought it lacked. It lost out to the T100 which was sturdier and more comfortable to type, it definitely was not the phone Neo used and it was definitely not even the next best thing out there but it put a camera in my hands along with the phone and all else was forgiven. Oh, I should tell you here that I never once used that camera. I just felt great that it was there if I wanted to use it (just like having a Nuclear deterrent option, you know). I lived with it for a couple of years but it became increasingly obvious that it was not up to it. The only thing it didn't have a problem with was ... I don't think there was any area which escaped. The sliding mechanism, the key pad on top of the slider, the number pad, the speakers, the battery, the screen - all of them saw the inside of a maintenance shop at some point. I persisted with it because it was just about adequate for my needs at the time - keeping in touch with the girlfriend. But after one too many issues with it, I had to bite the bullet.

And that bullet was the Blackberry Curve 8320. That was the beginning of my still-on-going dalliance with smart phones. Yep, some people wouldn't call that phone smart but then I am not some people. I was a little intimidated getting this one because to me it represented power. I had so far seen it only in the hands of the big and mighty at work. And in the hands of the smart one. In fact, the 8320 that I got was the smart one's which she had handed off to me to start a brief fling with an iphone! Yep it was back then and I guess, somewhere in my subconscious, that was when the first signs of Blackberry's impending doom started becoming visible and the rest, as they say, is the resultant slow death of Blackberry that we have been living through. Again coming back to the phone in hand, I slipped my SIM in, powered it up and there it was, MY blackberry! I could feel the proverbial power course through my hands till I realized it was the tingling sensation you get when your hand is starting to go numb (I was lying on my side resting on one hand). That minor false positive aside, I was feeling pretty good about it and spent a bit of time trying to get familiar with it. The trackball was a slippery thing, the UX was totally new and most of the stuff was not where I expected it to be. But the best bit about the phone was the key board. You don't call it a key pad when it has a full QUERTY layout and a SHIFT key for good measure, no sir. That key board fit my hand like a glove and till date that's the best typing I have done on a non-laptop mobile device. It had a conference call feature which was pretty nifty (by my standards) and in time I also figured out how to set up my mail box for office mails. Yay! I was finally joining the big and mighty! That last part however turned out to be a big mistake. The self-imposed compulsion to immediately look and respond to your mails as soon as the light starts blinking soon wore out whatever excitement was there. It started becoming bad enough for me to get rid of the mail box from the phone and let my laptop take over the sole responsibility of being the mail man. The blackberry became just another phone in my hands and very soon it was starting to show its age (I was the second owner after all!). It was that time again, time for me to move on.

In those days, I had my mind set on a Nokia N8 either in black or silver. I went into the store, tried the N8, walked out of there with the original HTC Desire and for the next few years was using the Sony Ericsson X8 to take my first steps into the world of touchy feely phones. Confused? Let me back up a little. Remember I had taken over the blackberry when the smart one moved on to an iphone? Well, the iphone got stolen and she bought a white X8 as the replacement. That was my first brush with Android and my first brush with a touchy feely phone which was not the iphone. Moreover I had a soft spot for Sony phones given my experience with the T100, so the X8 was met with a lot more enthusiasm from my side than did the iphone. I was still using the BB at the time and was getting more smart phone savvy by the day (which basically means that I started noticing the fact that increasingly people around me where getting touchy feely with their phones while I was still clacking away on the BB keyboard and I was ok with it). Having such easy access to the X8 also gave me a peek into the world of Android with its "apps" and "widgets" and "Market" and what not. It got me researching for my next phone online and that is how I fell in love with the N8! It looked unlike any other phone on the market at that time and it was by Nokia (who had a reputation of making rock solid phones in both the literal and metaphorical sense). There was also the Desire which was one of the new kids on the block from the Android stable, with its simple, clean cut design and the promise of a bigger screen than anything either of us were used to. When the time came to replace the BB, I was set on the N8. In the store however, we saw the Desire, tried out both the phones and put the cash down for the Desire because Symbian was already dying and the smart one liked the sleek Desire better than the bulky (in comparison) N8. That's how I went to buy the N8 and walked out with the Desire. And by the time we reached home, the smart one was smitten. She was like, "Can I use the HTC phone? Pleeeaaaaaasssssseeeeeeee!!". That's how the X8 ended up being my next phone. Irrespective of that, I was firmly into the world of Android and smart phones and the whole touching, pressing, swiping thing started feeling a bit more natural. I also started keeping track of the happenings in the world of smart phones. The iOS vs Android debates, Apple vs Google arguments and the fun that Apple and Samsung were having in various courts of law around the world became staples and I learnt that Jailbreak, Root and Brick were not necessarily what I knew they meant. The X8 stayed with me through multiple jobs, some exciting times and most of my travels until I suddenly found myself using some other phone.

This was the first time in my cell phone journey that I had switched phones for no real reason. No performance issues, no repair troubles or anything. But I replaced it anyway because there was something better which became available. The HTC Desire! That was time when Samsung had just established itself not just as the undisputed 800-lb gorilla but a veritable king kong in the market and HTC was making a concerted effort to get back a firm foothold in the Android world. They planned to do that by unleashing their first ever "One" series of phones. The One X was the flagship which received most of the spotlight and accolades and comparisons and stuff but the real gem was the One S. It was sleek, sexy, powerful and affordable (in comparison!) and the smart one was smitten once again. So, cut to her birthday later in the year and voila! A brand new black HTC One S neatly wrapped and presented. Consequently, out went the Desire from her purse into my pocket. It was no longer the same new, mint condition phone I had unpacked a couple of years earlier. It was a battle hardened piece of machinery which eventually got pushed to its limits, rooted and ROM'ed. Coming from the smaller and mostly un-molested X8, the Desire was bigger and better in all ways. I was more smart phone literate than ever (I knew a lot of popular sites from which to get Android news!! That counts right?) and felt confident enough to take the next step with it. I boldly put it under the knife for my first rooting experience; followed that up by installing the first custom ROM (XDA forums FTW!); followed by me running amok among the settings and app installations and un-installations; followed by installing and trying different custom ROMs and more tinkering with settings. I finally ended with restoring the original ROM and settling for a rooted phone, with apps that I know I use and a custom launcher. It’s got a single dent and scratch near the volume keys as a tribute to all the times it has been dropped on different surfaces, the battery has been replaced once and is threatening to die on me again and running out of space is a near daily irritant but apart from that it was great ride, a ride which came to an end a couple of days back.

I have finally got my Nokia. Not the N8 but an equally good looking phone nonetheless – a black Lumia 925. I am entering the world of windows phone and am starting to figure my way through it. So here’s hoping for less frustrations, less drops and scratches and dents and an all-round easy ride with the new phone. Fingers crossed.

As the smart one wanted me to point out, the 925 was actually bought by her for me. It is brand new and is mine and mine alone.


Sakina Adeeb said...

you forgot to mention the Nokia Lumia 925 is actually brand new and the smart one chose it for you!
Just forget me when you had to remember me :P

Vishnu Prasad said...

Didn't forget. :)

See, I updated!