My first encounter with a real smartphone


Updated: August 29, 2012

If you have a weak stomach, walk away now. Anyway, don't ask me when, don't ask me how, but I happened to end up owning a cigarette-pack-sized Android device posing as a mobile phone. No, it's not one of the latest and greatest Galaxies. It's just a simple, lower-end Android device.

In this article, I want to tell you how my first use of this technology went. I did own a Nokia E71 in the past, which could be considered a smartphone, and I do own a Nokia E6 right now, which is almost a full smartphone, but I've never had a popular, touch-only device in my possession. And so, this is your opportunity to learn how well Dedoimedo coped with something that can only be considered all the buzz of the first world.

Teaser

First 10 minutes

I got the device. Wow. It's a phone. I spent the first 600 seconds going into the various menus and changing things to my liking. We call this stage a customization. In my case, this meant removing all the crap shortcuts to a hundred useless applets and defining my Wireless networks so I would need not bleed my credit card by sending packets through the mobile carrier.

How did I feel? Well, I was familiar with Android from my Netbook attempt, and this trial was no different. The menus were fairly intuitive and simple to navigate. I did not need any special handbook to find my way around. A chimp could do it. Then again, several billion chimps are doing it daily, with great delight.

From the user interface perspective, ignoring the screen size that rivals my left gonad, Android 2.3, which would be the operating system installed, is fairly easy to use and configure. You do need to remember some of the less mundane settings, but come the counter ring at 10 minutes sharp, you will know everything you need to know. And thus endeth the first chapter. Excitement level: I couldn't care less.

Oh, I removed this useless garbage the very first minute:

Removed anti-virus

Android market

My primary use for mobile phones is to make calls and occasionally SMS. I also like to use their GPS functionality when possible. We will talk more intimately about GPS a little later, but if you can take your phone abroad and use it to navigate rather than paying an extra few shillings for a rent-a-car system, then Bob's your uncle.

All right, so my Sony Ericsson W19 does have a GPS. It also comes with Google Maps, unfortunately the Maps-powered GPS service is not available in my location. Thank you for classifying me as a second-grade world citizen.

I needed a different program. Preferably, one that does not need network connectivity, e.g. Nokia Ovi Suite, a free and stellar program that comes installed by default on Nokia phones. So I opened the market app, called Google Play.

You must sign in to use the market. No problem, I provided my credentials and started looking for GPS software. Instantly, I was overwhelmed by the available repertoire. And if you spend some time searching for reviews and recommendations, on a normal computer of course, you find out that there are virtually no GPS programs for Android that do not require network access. Of course, it's in everyone's interest that you be online at all times, spending bandwidth and your money. Everyone's but yours.

In the ensuing 14 minutes of search, I did not find anything of use, except Waze, which we did talk about in the past. A decent program all in all, and yes, it does need network access. But still, let's see what gives. Installed, tested, works. However, the cardinal question of using your GPS in the offline mode remains unresolved. I did find some potential candidates, but that's a topic for another time.

Installing Waze

I want to sign off

Done with the market, I went into the Accounts menu and attempted to sign myself off. This is what I always do after using any online account and service, be it Google or otherwise. Only, there was no Sign off button anywhere.

No sign off button Click to remove

All right. How about Remove account then? There's that option. I tried and then Google told me that applications are using my account and that I cannot remove it without resetting the device to factory defaults. The plot thickens.

Cannot remove account

The conundrum

Let me begin by saying - the following few paragraphs are not about Big Brother and whether I trust Google or not. If I did not, I would not be using their services at all, period. I don't really care if Google knows I searched for silvered glass dildos or how to install new themes on Xubuntu. That's not the issue. Privacy, security, that's bullshit.

What I found really annoying is the fact that I did not have a choice to sign off. That's what really got me pissed off. Not the use of my data, geo-location and whatnot. What angered me is the lack of choice. I want to be able to exercise the right to sign off or alternatively remove my account without any difficulty. A full add/remove, if you will. If I had that option, this article would not have come to life in the first place, and I would mostly likely have signed in later on and left it at that, a satisfied new chimp. Just like when you tell teenagers they can't drink, so they do the opposite. If Google gave me the option to sign off, I wouldn't. Not immediately, but down the road, I would have warmed up to this voluntary molestation. The paradox.

So is this's how it's gonna be, fine. Let's exercise some force.

How to remove my primary account

I spent the next 9 hours searching for tutorials on how to disable the primary account. There are two kinds of articles available - those that tell you how to root your device and then do as you please and those that are crap. Most of the articles, including an endless stream of Youtube clips are completely inaccurate and useless. Just one-man shows. Worse than not being created at all, as they made me waste my time.

So after not being able to get rid of my primary account using the conventional methods, I set about doing the other sensible thing - gaining root so I could Linux the shit out of this little device.

Root canal

Before you can root your device, you need to connect it to some other device, like a laptop, and then install Java and Android SDK and similar nonsense, and then run one of the many available popular root-busting programs. And hope for the best.

Only I almost failed to get my W19 connected to either a Windows or Linux box. Windows complained about missing drivers, and only after the sixth attempt or so, and after installing the very mediocre Sony Ericsson PC Companion did I manage to get the device recognized properly. On Linux, the things were even worse. No distribution managed to detect the Android as a raw device, when connected using the MTP protocol. I tried manually adding udev rules, to no avail. Android connectivity on Linux was nil.

Forceful driver install

No raw devices found

Back into Windows, I executed the highly popular SuperOneClick tool, which would always get stuck on the remount stage. Needless to say, the rooting attempts were unsuccessful.

Rooting in progress, failed

So I did the one sensible thing - I reset the device to factory defaults.

Post-trauma

Now, I did not have any contacts backups, naturally, because the PC Companion wanted to sync my address book with the contacts in Outlook. Why Outlook? Why would I want to have hundreds or possibly thousands of people that accidentally wormed their way into a  mail client added to my phone? And what if I'm doing this on a friend's machine or a corporate computer? What then? Add the entire world to my phone? Ctrl + A everyone?

The other functionalities were equally bad, so I did nothing useful before resetting the device. Which meant manually adding the fifty some contracts by hand, one number after another, using a touch virtual keyboard that provides no feedback. Which means no chance of semi-blind typing.

After I completed this step, plus the standard customization, I went about and created two fresh new accounts on Facebook and Google, one each. Both of these are so-called junk accounts, which I intend to use for those occasions where aggressive services must have my credentials, so to speak, but I do not wish them associated with my real productivity accounts in any way. For spam. And when I say spam, this means protecting me from spam, not the other way around.

So I configured a Facebook account as a primary one, and on top of that added the Google account, so that it can be removed whenever I want to. Always connected, eh? Here's what I have to say, Linus style:

Finger

The sad truth

The really sad thing about this is the following: My Nokia E6 phone, although it does have touch capability, allows you to use your phone with a cursor and a full physical keyboard, so you get the best of both worlds, plus you can type much faster and maybe even without looking at the keyboard. The buttons are also marked in English, Chinese and Hebrew, not that I need the other two languages, but still. The entire interface is far more intuitive, the GPS is free and can be used in the offline mode, USB connectivity is plug-n-play, the PC suite is a breeze compared to the Android. You want to sync your contacts only, do it. Done. You want to sync everything, done. Choose what and how you wish to manage your device, quick, simple, pain-free. And it doesn't have to be Outlook or somewhere online.

Nokia E6

Downloading maps

Integrated GPS only Using Nokia GPS

Then, you can also remain unsigned into any service if you do not wish to, or you can go online, it's entirely your choice. The battery life is way, way longer. My E6 can last almost ten days without recharging while the Android needs a dose of energy every two days, even with the network data transfer and Wireless disabled most of the time. And the sad truth - Nokia is failing, while this locked-down crap Android/iPhone thingie is all the rage. Idiocracy in every sense of the word. And it's arrived a bit before year 2500 as predicted.

And there's more. You cannot remove most of the apps that come preinstalled with your Android phone. You're locked in to a hundred different flavors of diarrhea. Most of the programs are shareware or come with ad banners at the bottom of the screen. Would you allow this kind of shit on your desktop? Surely not. It would be called adware or spyware, but on your mobile device, this is a revolution, only rivaled by the Polio vaccine.

That's the reality, my dear readers.

Conclusion

Is there an elegant way to put it? Probably not. But I've tried this brave new technology, and there's nothing, I repeat nothing, nothing at all useful about it. Not a single thing. While I laud the people developing code who manage to squeeze their stuff into tiny devices and all that, and while I can appreciate the global effort to try to bring people together and offer personally tailored services to individual users everywhere, I find the integration of this effort to be equal to a head-on collision at 250 kph with a spike-studded wall.

Smartphones are utter and utmost dreck. They are too small, too slow, too crippled, too much locked down. They are not even useful as a weapon against attackers - note, Nokia ones come with a titanium casing. Just a brick of plastic and metal that serve no purpose. You want a phone, you have better alternatives. No offline GPS, buy one then and save yourself the hassle of 400-dollar bills at the end of the vacation. You want games, play them on a proper PC. You want a camera, get a decent one. You can't even watch pr0n on smartphones, the screens are so tiny, for pity's sake. Imagine that, an Internet device and no pr0n. Oh, humanity!

So I truly wonder what the morons of this world see in this garbage. How can people be so delighted about something so monumentally flawed, beats me. Oh yes, you can move your finger up and down, left and right. Big fucking deal. Chimps can use tools, too. You can browse, OMG. What a revelation. Four inches of screen equity, plus ads. What a deal.

If you gave your mediocre children that much false attention and love, they would each grow to become Einsteins. And let's not forget the feces stains that originate from your use of said devices while voiding your bowels, which add to the overall health and flavor.

Please, please, universe, a cosmic gamma ray burst, any day now.

Cheers.

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