XLVII – Call Me?

If you’re of a certain age group, you’ll remember life before your cellular phone. Back in the day when we had was a telephone, whose handset was attached with a coily cord, and which device was attached to the wall with another cord. Sure, when the power went out you could still use the phone, but you were tethered to one spot. Not to mention the sort-of game of “Russian roulette” you’d play when the phone rang. You had no clue who was calling. “Hello,” you’d blindly say to the person on the other end. It could have been a bill collector you were trying to avoid. If it was a prank caller, you couldn’t avenge the son of a bitch! There was one nice thing about the old corded phones: if you were ever pissed off at the person on the other end, you could hang up on them by SLAMMING the receiver back down on the phone. It was oh so satisfying! There were two flavors of corded telephones: rotary and touch-tone. Most people know what touch-tone phones are. You pushed buttons corresponding to the numbers, along with those familiar beeps, a different pitch for each number. But “dem rotary phones doe”.

rotary phone
Old style rotary telephone

For those who aren’t familiar with old rotary phones, here’s a little something about them. On the phone was a physical dial (hence the term “dialing the number”). The dial had ten holes, for the numbers 0-9. You put your finger in the hole, turned the dial clockwise until you reached this little metal hook, then released the dial. It would return to its home position. You then repeated the process for the remaining digits of the phone number. You also hoped and prayed the person you were calling had a lot of ones and twos in their number (quicker to dial), while avoiding lots of eights, nines and zeros (took forever to dial).

It wasn’t until the ’80s that cordless phones came into being. The base still was tethered to the wall, but you could walk around, phone in hand. However, there was a range limit. And the handset’s batteries needed to be charged. I guess cordless phones were the precursor to cell phones.

brick phone
“Brick” cellular phone. Big as a brick, and would only call.

Ah, the mobile telephone. They started out looking like a freaking brick. The display only showed a phone number, and they had a huge-ass antenna. Damn, those things were atrocious! But you were cool as fuck if you had one of those back in the day. Eventually, phones shrank, but antennas for some reason stuck around. In the early 2000s, the “must have” phone was the Motorola Razr. The “cool kids” all had one of those. Kinda reminds me of that song called “Cool Kids”. The chorus goes something like “I wish that I could be like the cool kids…’cause they seem to fit in”…Nah. I don’t want to be like the cool kids. The cool kids suck.

Along came 2007, and the cellphone world was turned on its ass with the iPhone. The year after that, Android phones were born. In fact, the first Android phone was made by HTC. It was called the HTC Dream, or the T-Mobile G1. I had one of those phones. They were cool for the time. Samsung got into the Android phone world in 2010, with the original Galaxy S phone. Nine years later, Samsung is in its 10th generation of Galaxy phones (the Galaxy S10 line), and Apple is also in its roughly 10th generation (now in its weird Roman designation of iPhone X line—written with an X, but supposedly pronounced “10”). I don’t care, I don’t say “iPhone 10-whatever”. I actually say the letter X. Sue me.

Millions of people love their iPhones. I have never owned an iPhone, and probably never will. Not because they’re bad phones, but when they first came out, iPhones were exclusive to AT&T. Since I’ve been with T-Mobile for roughly 14 years, I wasn’t going to switch over. So, I jumped into the Android party, and have stuck there ever since. Switching from iPhone to Android is a huge learning curve (I own an iPad, so I kinda know both worlds), and I really don’t want to have to do all the horrific switching and repurchasing apps and whatnot. It’s funny that different manufacturers are competitors, but they seem to be copying each other in many aspects of their software and functionality. In fact, the screens for one of the high-end iPhone X models are made by Samsung. Ironic, isn’t it?

One quirky thing about Android is their operating system naming scheme. The iPhone operating systems have been just sequential numbers (iOS 9, 12.3, etc.), while Android uses numbers, but also gives them a name—in alphabetical order and using a dessert name. Starting back with Cupcake, progressing through the alphabet at the current “P”, Android Pie. The next iteration will start with Q, but I have no clue what dessert starts with a Q. I think Android’s little mascot is a cute little bugger, the little green alien-looking robot dude. At Google’s headquarters in California, they have a collection of lawn statues, with the logos of different operating systems.

android marshmallow
Example of Google’s Android lawn statues. This one for Android 6.0, “Marshmallow”

Of course, who can ignore the price of phones anymore? The original iPhones were like $499 back in the day (for a whopping 4GB), and Samsung’s Galaxy S phone (the first one) was $199. Fast-forward to now, the iPhone XS Max runs at like $1500 for the 512GB model; if one were to buy the Galaxy S10+ with a freaking 1TB storage, it’d be a $1600 setback. No, I’m not a goddamned ad. I just put the high-end phones to show how outrageous phone prices are now. Honestly, who would need one terabyte on their phone? I have a 1TB hard drive on my laptop, and I can’t even fill that!

But then, as with all tech, cell phones have their downside. I mean, Samsung has had some headaches. Look at the Note 7. That phone was a bomb. Literally. Now, their $2000 Galaxy Fold phones are having issues. From screen issues to that ugly-ass line in the middle of the inner screen, I don’t think Samsung is gonna get very far with it. Who honestly needs a thick-ass phone that opens into a tablet? With that two grand you’d plunk down on one of those weird-ass phones, you could buy a lower-end phone and a tablet or laptop, and still have some change left over. Oh, well. Some people just have to have the absolute latest in tech, and others have more money than brains (I’d love to have that problem for a little while).

Ah, what would this world be without the ubiquitous smartphone? It’s a world where everyone has a camera/computer/50-other-gadgets-one in their pocket. It’s a world where a room full of people is empty, where everyone is digitally connected yet physically disconnected. It’s a world of literal paradox and oxymoronic society. Isn’t life just grand?

With everything said about phones, with all these digital connections we have, don’t forget about what and who’s immediately around you. The internet will long outlive us, and it doesn’t care about us. Be with your families, hug your kids, and go do something. Don’t text/browse and drive, be aware of your surroundings, be safe and be well.

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