Cell Phone Hell

After I wrote about my experiences last month about switching my cell phone carrier from Sprint PCS, I ended up choosing a 1-year contract with T-Mobile and ordered a Sharp TM150 from Amazon.com. Boy, was that a mistake.

I’m quite happy with T-Mobile. Their customer service people have been very helpful when I called to get more information about what my options were after I realized that the Sharp TM150 was truly a terrible phone. It’s quite unbelievable that this phone only ships with a single default ringtone. It’s even more unbelievable that the default ringer is very quiet, leading to numerous missed calls because I was in the other room or the phone was in my pocket without vibration turned on. After an hour or so of reading the user manual I increased the volume to its maximum setting and it still did not help. I quickly learned that if I wanted just a simple, loud ring, I would be forced to shell out $2 for each one through T-Mobile’s RingTones service. Since I have never been and never will be one of those people who will pay for the “hip” new ringtone, I flatly refused to even consider this option. T-Mobile should have realized this and shipped more than a single default ringer with the phone, or at least have shipped it with a few loud ringers for folks like me who don’t care for the Crazy Frog stuff.

This past weekend my girlfriend and I drove up to Mystic, CT for a day away from NYC. While there the display screen on the Sharp TM150 went blank, though pressing buttons would make beeps. The phone could still send and receive calls but there was no way to browse menus unless you had them memorized. I tried turning the phone off and on again a few times, took the battery out and powered it back on. The blank display screen was there to stay. By this time I had already decided to return the phone to Amazon.com for a refund, so the failure of the display screen only solidified my decision.

I also realized too late that the Sharp TM150 was incompatible with my Mac OS X laptop, so there would be no way to import an address book from my Mac unless I did it by hand. How tedious! I then realized that there is no easy way to get my pictures off the phone and onto my Mac. I loved the fact that the Sharp TM150 has a 1.1 megapixel camera that takes awesome pictures, but it’s completely useless to me if I can’t export them directly to my Mac. I then realized that if I wanted these pictures off my phone I would be forced to use T-Mobile’s online photo album service, which costs $3/month for 20 picures. Suddenly, the idea of having a cameraphone was not very attractive to me.

Now I am stuck with T-Mobile for a year, which I’m not too happy about. I’ve ordered a Blackberry 7230 so that I can do more of my email remotely. My girlfriend has a Blackberry, so I know what to expect. Of course, I think she secretly likes the idea of me having a Blackberry so she can email me more frequently. It should be here in a few days.

Final Note: I realize that by going with a Blackberry, I have to add the Internet option to my plan which adds $20-$30/mo onto my total cost. There might be a combo plan or something I can switch to that will save me money, but there’s no way for me to price it right now as T-Mobile’s Plans & Services portion of their web site is down.

I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever have a decent experience buying a new cell phone.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at May 31, 2005 01:25 PM

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