I have been a cellphone user for probably close to 20 years now. My current cell number is still from NY, and I have lived in Florida for 12 years. it wasn't new when I moved here. I was an original AT&T customer.
Suffice to say, over this period I have owned more than a few different phones. The functionality of these phones over time has certainly grown by leaps and bounds, as has the size of the screen. But, ultimately, a phone is only as good as its ability to make and receive phone calls. If that is the measuring stick, my Galaxy S4 ranks as the worst phone I have ever owned.
I have owned iPhones from the iPhone 3 through the 4s. I had several Windows Mobile phones. I had Palm, I had Nokia. I had old clam-style phones, pop-out keyboards, multiple Crackberries. I have probably owned more phones than I can remember. But while they were not all as pretty or as big as the S4, they all allowed me to make and receive calls.
I know there are legions of fans of the Galaxy line. There is also no denying what a pretty phone it is or how sharp its screen is. There is no denying all of the apps available to it, as well as all of the bells and whistles it has. Even if I don't use more than half of them. The fact is that my S4 reminds me of an old car I had once.
When the Japanese car makers first started really making good cars back in the late 70's, I bought a Datsun B210. Some of you may not have heard of Datsun automobiles. Today, they are called Nissan. After my Datsun, my next car was a Honda Accord Civic hatchback. Both of these cars had some things in common. They were both very stylish for their day. As a driver, the dashboard was loaded with so many buttons and switches, different lights on the dash that I wasn't really sure what half of them did and I hardly used many of the ones that I did understand. Both cars got great gas mileage, which as a college student at the time, was really important to me. They were 5-speed manual, so driving the stick was a bit of a cool macho thing as well. But when I went to get on a highway and hit the pedal, both of them sounded like buzz boxes. In fact, they were. They just didn't have the power that my old Ford or Oldsmobile did. While they were not slow, they just didn't have the same acceleration. I feel the same way with my S4.
The S4 is the prettiest phone I have ever had, with the biggest, sharpest screen I have ever had. Lots of bells, whistles and features I never use. But if if you tried to call me between 11am and 2pm yesterday, I couldn't answer. If I was supposed to call you, I apologize, but I couldn't. You see, I was on the road and my phone decided to choke on my contacts again. Now, what do my contacts have to do with my phone working? Great question. You see, contacts are an integral part of how the phone works. Your favorites list, dialing numbers stored on your phone, even just the basic phone working as a phone are all tied to your contacts. So when your contacts are choking your phone, you can't use your phone. Besides the obvious "no phone for you" behavior, I know something is wrong because the phone gets so hot that my hands burn trying to hold it. Obviously, it is thrashing through my couple of thousand contacts, and this is making that buzz box overheat. I always used to carry extra anti-freeze with my Datsun. I don't know how to put anti-freeze in my S4.
This isn't the first time this has happened to me. I have already had to do a factory reset two times in the 4 or 5 months I've owned the phone. This was after stopping in the AT&T store thinking they would actually do something to help me. Factory resets suck. I need to reset and install my accounts, my apps, my settings, everything. It keeps me from having a working phone for hours at a time. I don't have the luxury of having an extra phone for these downtimes. But I haven't had to for years and years now. I don't feel, for what I paid and how long AT&T has had me locked up, that I should need a spare phone now. But I am looking into it.
I know what the problem is, too. My contacts and accounts are too much for this phone, even though I have the 32GB model with a 64GB SD card. My Google account is pretty active. I use Gmail, Picassa, Google Music (4k+ songs), Google+, etc. On top of this I have Facebook, Twitter, Youmail, Hotmail, iCloud and Exchange accounts. My contacts in total are probably around 5k. I have joined as many as possible from different accounts. It is usually on syncing my Google account contacts where my phone chokes.
BTW, this is not the only problem with my phone. For instance, when my friend Drew Immler calls me he always starts off with "Alan can you hear me." The reason is more often then not, though he also has an S4 on AT&T, when we connect the caller cannot be heard by the one of us receiving the call. I swear sometimes I think I am better with some tin cups and wire.
I know some of you are going to write comments with suggestions to fix. Don't load so many accounts, delete some old contacts, etc. The bottom line for this is that this is my digital life. I need a phone that can handle it. I am now locked into this with AT&T until 2015 and not very happy.
At the end of the day, the S4 is still a phone. If I can't use my phone as a phone to make and receive phone calls, it is not very useful for me. If that is the criteria to judge how good your phone is, my S4 is he worst phone I have ever owned.
As co-founder and Managing Partner at The CISO Group, Alan Shimel is responsible for driving the vision and mission of the company. The CISO Group offers security consulting and PCI compliance management for the payment card industry. Prior to The CISO Group, Alan was the Chief Strategy Officer at StillSecure. Shimel was the public persona of StillSecure as it grew from start up to helping defend some of the largest and most sensitive networks in the world.
Shimel is an often-cited personality in the technology community and is a sought-after speaker at industry and government conferences and events. His commentary about the state of security, open source and life is followed closely by many industry insiders via his blog and podcast, "Ashimmy, After All These Years" (www.ashimmy.com). Alan is now also a regular contributor to The CISO Group’s security.exe blog and podcast. Follow him on Google.
Alan has helped build several successful technology companies by combining a strong business background with a deep knowledge of technology. His legal background, long experience in the field, and New York street smarts combine to form a unique personality.
Disclosure: The CISO Group sells a software-as-a-service PCI compliance application called SAQPro. The company is independent and does not represent any other vendor's products as a reseller.
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