I have joined the dark side and purchased an iPhone, plus a rant about O2

Posted by under Electronics, Rants, on 8 July 2012 @ 7:06pm.

I have finally joined the world of Apple lovers and bought an iPhone 4S! For those who don’t know why, you should probably read my last blog.

Getting the iPhone was no where near as easy as it sounds, as I will explain now. But before I start, I advise anyone who wants to get one to go to a 3rd party store and not your network to get one…

Anyhow it all started after I was sick of the issues with my last phone, the LG Optimus 2X. I thought it was time to get myself a phone I knew I could rely on to work when the time came and to hold a signal when there was actually one present.

I’m with O2 and have been for 6+ years. I’m quite loyal to them as they’ve been very good to me and signal is generally good everywhere, so I thought I’d try my hand at a contract. I’ve never had one before as I couldn’t justify the cost. I’m on pay and go and I spend less than £10 a month on credit. What can I say, I’m not a heavy user.

The cheapest contract with a decent allowance and phone payment was £36 a month. Over 2 years that’s around £850 or so (off the top of my head). That was fair to me, so I decided to go ahead and order it. I got to the last page of the order and it said there was a problem and to try again or phone the supplied number. I thought I may have entered some details for my bank card incorrectly, so I tried again. Same response. I wanted the phone so I decided to call them. On the phone I said I had tried twice already. The rep checked this and she could see 2 failed orders but there was no reason provided for the failure. We tried it over the phone instead, and 20 minutes later we got the same outcome.

The O2 rep suggested that my card was being declined so I should contact my bank. I went along with it and called my bank and she would call me back in 20 minutes. My bank said that 3 payments for £117 had left my account and there was no issue their end!!! 3x £117!!! I was very annoyed. I waited for the rep to call back. 30 minutes later she did and I explained the situation. She was confused at what had happened so she went to get her supervisor. After a short time on hold she returned and said that it failed because I failed the credit check!

By this point I was very VERY annoyed. How can I fail the credit check? My credit score is flawless. Hell, I’m paying for a car on finance and I had no problem getting credit for that! I’ve never missed a payment and I’m full time employed. Unfortunately the data protection act means she doesn’t have any information as to why I was declined and there was nothing she could do about it. She was very apologetic but it wasn’t her fault. Anyway I said thanks and hung up.

I decided to screw the contract and decided to buy it out-right. Yup, the full £500 up front. I didn’t have much of a choice since I wanted to stay on the same network, but not knowing at this point it would have been better to go to a 3rd party store like carphone warehouse, I went ahead with the order.

What I should have said was I TRIED to go ahead with the order. I got to the last page of the order process and it failed to go through. Now I was pissed off with O2, so screw them. I’ll take my money directly to Apple instead. I went through the order process for the 5th time that evening and I was granted with another failed message. GAH!!! Then it clicked. My card was probably blocked by the bank because of the nature of the purchase. On the phone I went again to find out. 10 minutes on hold and I confirmed with the rep that it was indeed blocked. 5 minutes of security checks and it was unblocked and the order finally went through.

2 days later, the phone arrives and I’m once again a happy person (for the most part, there were some little niggles but I got those sorted by yesterday).

Anyway, I’m still not happy with O2 for those things. It’s strange how people with a perfect credit history can’t get finance, yet somebody with no history (lets take for example some 18-19 year old friends of mine) because they’ve never had credit before, can get one without a problem! The whole credit score idea is crap if there is no consistency to the way they accept orders.

Anyhow, the ordeal is now over and I have a phone that works properly for once. Lets see how long this one lasts, since I’ve had 3 phones in 12 months now (Blackberry, then the LG Optimus 2X, now the iPhone!).



A rant about Android and device manufacturers

Posted by under Electronics, Rants, on 8 July 2012 @ 6:38pm.

Well, this is one most of you knowing me wouldn’t have seen coming. Ever since I first tried Android I have loved it as a phone operating system. It’s such a powerful OS for a phone and allows you to do things you never thought possible on a small device like a phone. However, there are several flaws with Android that make it a very bad OS. Let me explain what I mean.

Take Apple. iOS on the iPhone is tailored to the iPhone devices very closely. It was specifically written for those devices and because of this it doesn’t have compatibility issues. This makes it very stable and less prone to bugs because Apple control the software for a limited number of devices and they maintain it continually.

Now take Android. It’s got to be built for hundreds of different devices by different companies. Each of these companies must modify it to work with their phones at the driver level for their devices. The problem behind this is that it’s not just drivers that need modifying. They also insist on bloating Android out with their own crap bloatware and apps that most people probably don’t want or need. This makes it very prone to bugs and makes it unstable in some cases. Android device manufacturers however, do not appear to maintain the operating systems and drivers for their devices. They release one version and that’s it, job’s a done one, wham bam thank you very much for your money. Then they move onto a new phone and do it al over again.

The problem with Android’s approach is that there is no maintaining in this system. Once the phone is releases, it will probably never see any updates in it’s entire life because it’s such a short lived device the manufacturer does not think it needs maintaining. This sort of thinking needs to stop! Android is never going to be a good phone operating system unless Google themselves take some form of charge over it. They need to think like Microsoft does with their Windows operating system. Provide a base operating system and let people install drivers for specific devices instead. That way any bugs in operating system are Google’s responsibility and any drivers are the responsibility of the device manufacturer (or the chipset manufacturer).

If you’re going to make a device like a PC, it needs to work the same way. Windows itself is 100% stable, it’s the drivers and 3rd party hardware that makes it unstable. The same generally applies for Linux too. If Android worked this way as well, I think it would make the perfect operating system for phones.

Lets take my old LG GT540 and my LG Optimus 2X as a prime example for my basis. These phones both have very nice hardware (at least they did when they were released). I thought both phones were very solid (both still work despite the GT540 being a few years old). However they both had bugs that made me decide to get rid of them.

The GT540 had a bug in the stock ROM software that prevented data from working properly. When data connected, phone calls and text messages were prevented from coming through. Of course this is useless when it’s supposed to be a phone. Besides that the phone is not bad at all. A little laggy at times, but again this is a software issue as a reboot solves it as it gets a fresh reload.

Google need to adopt the same development method as Windows and Linux for Android

The Optimus 2X also had a bug that was present on the stock ROM. If you lost signal, sometimes it would not come back (even in a perfect signal area) until you rebooted the phone. It happened more often when you were in a low signal area, such as my work place, that meant it struggled to get signal. It also had another bug where the wifi would not stay connected when the screen was off, despite the option being set to “never turn off wifi”. Again this prevented the phone from being used properly. I tried another ROM on it (Cyanogen) and the same issue occurred. I narrowed it down to the baseband software (the firmware that allows the phone and radio to communicate with one another). If this were a hardware issue a reboot would not solve it. I am also not the only one to experience this issue as it’s all over the Cyanogen forums and nobody has a fix thus far.

So as you can see, Android has some serious bugs that simply should not be present. Other phones also have issues. Take my friend Tom as an example. He went out yesterday and bought a HTC One S. A brand spanking new Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) phone that is a full 2 versions up from my Optimus 2X. Within hours he had issues with it. The wifi was glitchy and would not stay connected properly, and he could not delete synced contacts from Facebook. The wifi bug was documented online after a quick search with a “fix due in a future release”. Great, so until then he has to use expensive 3G data to go on the Internet on his device.

These bugs would not exist if Android took more control over the operating system, releasing patches and bug fixes when issues were found. Anything out of their control such as drivers can be dealt with more seriously by the manufacturers. This setup would make for a much more stable operating system. It’s proven to work, just look at Microsoft Windows and well supported distributions of Linux.

So I call out to Google (if anyone is listening) to employ this development method for Android. It’s a fantastic operating system, but if my phone won’t work as a phone, then it’s useless to me. For that reason I have moved away from an Android device as my phone and over to a phone I know I can rely on – an iPhone 4S.

Read my next blog for more on my iPhone purchase and the stories behind it.