A few years ago, Julie’s husband Jack and I had a conversation about all the little things that irrationally irritate us. Julie sat there watching us bemused. Eventually she broke in, “But these things don’t matter.” To which he responded, in his usually absolute way, “Just because it doesn’t matter, doesn’t mean it doesn’t drive you crazy.” So true. This weekend, I had to overcome one of these.
For a while now I’ve been needing to replace my Palm Pre. The phone is two years old for me and three year old technology. It was a little glitchy from the start. The sound quality when talking on the phone wasn’t exactly crystal clear for the person on the other side. The period button stuck so I had to do without it most of the time. Every so often (and sometimes more often), I had to take out the battery and restart her so she’d unfreeze or open an app correctly. But these were all minor things, all understandable issues for Palm’s first generation smartphone. Most first gens are kinda glitchy. The older she’s gotten, the less reliable and compatible (with apps and whatnot) she’s been. As my contract has neared renewal, all of my friends and family members have been prompting me to get a new phone. I kept saying I was going to but then stalling.
Despite all her flaws, I love my Palm. It seems like when people tell you why they love their smartphone what it usually amounts to is “It’s a smartphone.” They love that it does everything a smartphone does: offers lots of apps, notifies them about all of their accounts and messages from facebook and email to text messages and twitter, syncs with facebook and/or Google for contacts and calendar, etc. They love their iPhone because they think it has the most/best apps and is faster/easier to use. Or they love their Android because they think it has the most/best apps and is faster/easier to use. That’s not why I love my Palm. I’ll admit, in those areas, she isn’t the “best.” But what I love about her is the experience the designers created.
My love affair with my Palm was truly love at first sight. From the moment I locked eyes on this phone, I knew it was meant to be mine. I was actually looking at it because a friend was interested in it. I’d just intended to give him feedback about whether or not I thought it was a good phone for him. When the webpage opened up and I caught a look at the phone, with screenshots of how it operates, I immediately thought, “This isn’t your phone. This is my phone.” I’ve never had that reaction to any piece of technology before.
Everything about this phone is attractive to me. It’s the perfect size and shape to fit comfortably in your hand. It offers the tactile experience of typing instead the lacking experience of using a virtual keyboard. It was, I believe, the first smartphone to offer multi-tasking and non-interruptive notifications. As much as I love these features, I also love how my Palm notifies me with its cheery little icons and that to close an app I could just flick it off the screen. I adore how uncluttered the main display is (as opposed to both the iPhone and most Android phone whose display screens are noisy and packed with apps)… I could keep going on and on about how my Palm looks, feels and operates in a way that completely satisfies me. I was never so excited to get a new phone out of its box and play with it.
I don’t want to insult iPhone or Android but I find the experience of both of those phones, in contrast, lacking. Sure, they offer more applications with less glitches. They have even adapted now to have a lot of the features that were unique to Palm. What they don’t offer me is an operating system that is as bright, cheerful and enjoyable as my Palm. Nor a phone that contours so comfortably to one’s hand.
While I wasn’t won over to my alternatives, this weekend I had no choice but to choose a new phone. My Palm finally gave up its ghost. Basically. It stopped properly answering phone calls. Since my cell is also my work phone, it has to function. I needed a new one fast. Getting another Palm would just be foolish now that HP killed the whole OS (something I don’t think I’ll ever forgive).
During the summer, Jack almost had me believing I’d love an iPhone (though it took him letting me know I could jailbreak it, or hack it to change the way it looks, for that to happen). I was going to just order one and be done with it but my dad was convinced I’d prefer an Android. He made a deal with me that, if I hated my Android, when his phone came up for renewal he’d get an iPhone and we’d swap.
As I’ve said before, my dad is an IT guy. While he’s not very into gadgets, his coworker and friend Daniel is. The guy knows about everything you can about Android phones. So, we had him recommend a phone for me. My criteria was that it be around 4,” have an 8 mega pixel camera and be under $100 with a contract renewal (I don’t like big phones and my budget is constrained–I also just got a new pair of glasses). He recommended a few and I chose Droid Raxr Maxx.
For an Android, it’s pretty lovely. But that first day I hated it. Every time I looked at it, it made me so angry I wanted to cry. Or throw it up against a wall and shatter it. Everything about it pissed me off. From its ugly boxy icons to its sharp thin body. I had a long laundry list of complaints I just barely managed to keep myself from posting on facebook.
“You’re not my daughter who has a hard time with change, so I’m struggling to understand this.” My mom told me that night. I’d made it clear that I wasn’t in a mood to have a real conversation, unless they wanted to hear complaints about my new phone. She didn’t get why I hated it so much. I’ll be the first to admit that the extremity of my reaction was ridiculous. I was obsessing about things that don’t really matter. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t drive me crazy.
Playing with my phone that night didn’t exactly ease my annoyance. It’s easy to use but still has some frustrating features (what I mean by that, of course, is that it doesn’t let me do things that my Palm did. Like I could easily, as in it was an actual option, set any song on my phone as an alarm or ringtone. That option is not readily available – ugh! This is just one of many examples). No matter how small the differences, they all felt earth shatteringly unbearable.
What helped was getting Instagram.
As of right now, the only phones that Instagram has apps for are iPhone and Android. That’s among the reasons they were the only competitors for me. I knew that I’d enjoy following others on it and sharing photos myself. While you might not be able to tell it from this blog, I’m a very visually oriented person. The majority of blogs I follow are photo blogs. I know I’m not a first class photographer so I try to spare you my attempts but photo sharing on Instagram is a little different. It’s a fun way to bring others into your day without having to fain you’re a world class photographer.
Being able to add that app began to brighten my mood and warm me to this phone. I’ve had it for three days now and continued to customize it. While I still don’t love it like my Palm, I’m coming to like it. It’s a good thing that, despite my insanity, I’m very adaptable.
One big perk is that now you all can enjoy Instagram with me! Along the side, I’ve got pictures from it (though I have to share them on here through flickr because wordpress.com doesn’t allow me to display them directly off Instagram yet :() If you click on the button below, you can follow me directly on Instagram.