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I Hate Linux

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I600 Smartphone Experience

As some may know, I've been having issues with my wireless carrier for a time now. The phone I purchased back in August has developed some serious issues. Often when I speak with someone on it, both sides hear a horrible amount of static, often requiring nearly screaming in order to be heard. To give you an idea of how bad this is... when I dial someone, 9 times out of 10, I hear this static while it is ringing, even with 4 full bars of signal.

For reasons that I will not go into, simply replacing the phone with one of the same make and model is not an option.

After some talk with my carrier, we came to an agreement for me to upgrade to a Samsung I600 phone (yes, the Smartphone). It arrived Friday and I was quite excited by the possibilities of it.

Not long after activating the phone while playing around with it, I decided to try my hand at programming for it. Minutes later with the Smartphone 2003 SDK installed, I had a quick and simple application that I built with C# loaded onto the phone and working fine.

Things began to be less friendly when I noticed the signal strength I had was not too stellar, often showing a single pixel of strength (the first 'bar', and so small it didn't look much like a bar) and during the few phone calls I made and received that night, the other party often couldn't hear me.

Later, I decided to call my carrier and see if they could identify any problems remotely. They couldn't. As far as they could tell, the phone was performing just as it should. Having a suspicion though, woman I was speaking to put me on hold for 10 min while she talked to some official techs.

During this on hold time, I pulled out my last two phones from this carrier and put them on a window sill, side by side along with the new I600 and compared signal strength. 4 full bars on the 3 year old (to me) phone that I'm back to using now, 4 full bars on the 9 month old (to me) phone with the static issues, and 2 very small bars on the I600.

When she returned, she told me they had found what was wrong. Where I was at the time was within the coverage of at least two towers, and I was on the outer edges of one of them. Rather than be intelligent and do what it is (presumably) designed to do and use the stronger signal, the phone was using the weaker signal.

The solution suggested by the techs? Manually specifying the tower that I am using.

Being puzzled, and shocked, I asked how often I would have to change that setting and was told that that I would have to change it whenever I moved out of the coverage area of the previously specified tower.

Shame I commute ~50 miles to work each day. Changing the tower at least twice a day is not an option. I informed her of this and told her I would be sending the phone back and reactivating the 3 year old phone that I brought out of mothballs due to the issues with the 9 month old one.

I was rather looking forward to having my own version of the Scoblephone, shame my carrier uses only CDMA and the bigger TDMA/GSM carriers do not officially have services out here in South Dakota.

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