The latest on mobile phone manners

Tony Long:

Look, the world is not your personal playground. Do not share with us your musical tastes; do not share with us your latest wheelings and dealings. In public places, you have an obligation to hold up your end of the implied social contract by not imposing yourself on those around you. This is crucial to a civilized society and just because technology allows you to act like a braying ass in public doesn’t mean you should do it. Quite the contrary, in fact. You need to be more aware of your surroundings than ever.

I particularly liked one suggestion:

Ditch the ring tone and put the phone on vibrate. The only person who cares about an incoming call on your phone is you. Don’t worry, you’ll feel it. (It feels go-o-o-od.) Most ring tones are not only intrusive, they’re inane.

One feature I like on my phone, and I’m sure it’s on most new phones, is the option to have it simultaneously vibrate and ring. My phone vibrates first, then starts the ring tone, so I can usually nab it when only the first couple of notes are playing. It’s also dead simple to change from “Vibe & Ring” to “Vibrate” when the situation demands (church, movies, restaurants).

The fact that most ring tones are inane is why I roll my own. My “standard” ring tone is the opening twenty-two seconds of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. When strangers hear it, I always get a knowing smile, or a quizzical look that says, I know that melody, but I can’t quite place it… It’s certainly unique, and I won’t confuse it with anyone else’s ring.

Which brings me to my own mobile phone usage tip: change your ring tone from whatever the default is. (If you can; I realize older phones still in use may not have that option.) I don’t know why, but I find it irritating when the default Moto or Nokia ring tone goes off. Find something else. Please.

VZW needs a new ad agency

Am I the only one that thinks the new “It’s the network” series of commercials for Verizon Wireless are actually more annoying than the old “Can you hear me now?” commercials?

Update: Okay, I am forced to admit to a redeeming quality of these commercials. Tom’s passionate defense of them as funny via IM made me laugh. “Perhaps goth angst doesn’t translate to Texan” has to be the IM quote of the day.

v551 highs and lows

As promised, what follows are my impressions after two weeks with the phone.


  • The built-in camera has a resolution of 640 x 480, and is way better than the pitiful, why-even-include-it camera on the T616. Of course, the T616 was old when I got it 18 months ago…
  • I like having MP3 ringtones. On the night of July 27th, I launched Audio Hijack Pro, and captured, via iTunes, the first 20 seconds of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” This is now my default ringtone. (To show you what a super guy I am, if you want it, here it is, saving you the time and effort of doing it yourself.)
  • The screen is bright and clear, even at the default settings for brightness and backlighting, which I have yet to tamper with. The keypad is easier to use, and I much prefer the five-way navigation key to the joystick employed by Sony Ericsson.
  • It has worked flawlessly with my SE Akono Bluetooth headset.

If you want to remain in good-news-only bliss, then don’t read the cons after the jump.

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The new Phischphone

So earlier this week, I decided I had had enough. The Sony Ericsson T616 was obviously having issues with its Bluetooth hardware, as it continued to drop connections with a brand-new Sony Ericsson Akono HBH-602 Bluetooth headset. It is very frustrating to be in the middle of a conversation with someone, then suddenly you can’t hear them and they can barely hear you, because the phone dropped the Bluetooth connection with the headset, and picked up the call itself. And the phone is in one of the cargo pockets of your shorts.

I stopped by my local Cingular Wireless store, where I have always gotten excellent customer service, and the sales guys know what they’re talking about. I extolled my tale of Bluetooth woe to one of the guys, and informed him I was in the market for a new phone.

First, the bad news:

The way Cingular works its contracts is that you are locked in to that contract. There’s no coming in and getting a new phone with a new contract, unless you want to pay the termination fee, which runs between $125-200, if memory serves. Thanks, but no thanks. If I wanted a new phone, I would have to pay full price.

Now, the good news:

I have insurance on my phone. My phone is damaged. The Bluetooth hardware is flawed. I can file a claim, and for $50, receive, within two business days, a new, comparable phone. (Didn’t I tell you these guys provide excellent customer service? Pity more wireless shops, including other Cingular stores, aren’t this on top of things.)

I was told it was unlikely I would get another T616. The sales rep and I were both hopeful I would get a Sony Ericsson T637, which was the model replacement for the T616.

So Tuesday evening I called up the third-party insurance provider Cingular uses, filed my claim, agreed to the $50 charge to my next monthly statement, and was told they did not have any comparable Sony Ericsson phones available to ship. My heart began to sink. I was getting a Motorola v551, the most popular phone in Cingular’s line-up, according to the rep on the phone.

The phone arrived at 3:30 PM CST on Wednesday. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it, though the druthers I do have ensure I will not be getting another Moto phone in February, when I am “eligible to upgrade” with Cingular. (At the 21-month mark of a two-year contract, Cingular is then willing to sign you up for a new contract, and you can get a new phone.) Full impressions, and the aforementioned druthers, on the phone in an upcoming post.

Wherefore art thou, Bluetooth headset?

Great. After multiple usage so far today, it would appear the aforementioned problems with my Akono headset were not the fault of the headset at all. (Still, mucho kudos to SE for the replacement; at least this helps clear it up.)
It looks like the problem is indeed with my T616. The phone is out of warranty. This is, as the Fontosaurus would say, the suck.

Sony Ericsson rocks

More than a month ago, my Sony Ericsson Akono HBH-602 Bluetooth Headset stopped syncing with my T616. I could get it to connect to the phone via Bluetooth, but the BT connection would drop out randomly, and often. I finally got around to calling SE tech support on this issue. I told them I was sure it was the headset, not my phone, as I had no issues syncing the T616 via Bluetooth to my PowerBook or Cube.

I was issued a RMA number, and given an address in the DFW metroplex to ship the headset to. “Just the headset, please,” is what the rep on the phone told me. No problem. Just the headset. This, of course, happened just before the long July 4th weekend, when we were traveling to and from New Orleans, so I didn’t actually ship the headset out until Friday the 8th.

Today, my replacement headset arrived, via FedEx. Not only did my replacement headset arrive, but I got the entire headset kit! In other words, they just pulled a retail box off the shelf and shipped it to me. So I got an extra AC adapter–that works with the T616 phone, too–and some more of the color plates, which I won’t use. (I stick with the silver.) Kudos to Sony Ericsson!

iSync 2.1 breaks T616 synchronization, sort of

After reading Colin Robertson’s report that his Sony Ericsson T616 would no longer sync with his PowerBook via iSync, I set out to test this myself, since I have the same phone.

I have a 12-inch, 1 GHz PowerBook running Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.1, and I had just installed iSync 2.1 yesterday when it was released by Apple. It was then that I noticed I hadn’t synced my PowerBook with the phone in a while, though the ‘Book had synced with .Mac.

When I attempted to sync the two devices, iSync told me it was unable to do so with the T616. I decided to remove it as a device, then re-add it. iSync picked up the phone during its device scan, but informed me it would be unable to sync with it.

I then turned to my other Mac, a 450 MHz Cube still running 10.3.9. I added the phone to the older version of iSync installed there, and it synchronized with no problem.

About half an hour later, I decided to revisit the PowerBook’s iSync version, and this time, the software recognized the phone, added it as a device, and synchronized with it. Since then, after making minor modifications to some contacts, I have made two more successful syncs with the T616. It would appear one simply needs to remove the device from iSync, wait a bit, then add it again.