Friday, April 15, 2005

Motorola phones suck 793289 6887

I have a Motorola V525 mobile phone and it is the most stunningly ridiculous phone I've ever had the displeasure to own. This model along with the 300, the 600 and a few other similar ones seem to be quite popular but I hate them.

The first problem is that my phone has no key lock. Of course you might think that it's a clamshell so it doesn't really need one - except they've gone and put raised buttons along the side which allow you go to silent mode with just 2 clicks. Many, many times I have taken my phone out of my pocket to find that it's now in silent mode and I missed a call or a message.

Sticking with those outer buttons, 1 of the 2 quick clicks you need to get into silent mode makes a horrible, loud <BIDDELY-BEE> noise, which is not exactly what you want if the film/meeting/lecture has already started. On the plus side, when you hear this noise coming from you pocket you know that your wallet/keys are in process of changing your phone to silent mode. It became a bit of a running joke because at least once a day - when I sat at my desk or into my car or got up to walk around or even just moved a little bit - my workmates would hear <BIDDELY-BEE> followed by me swearing as I turned my phone off silent mode again.

The last noise related problem is that this is possibly the quietest phone I've ever used, I frequently can't hear it ringing and if there's any background noise, I can't hear what the person on the other end of the line is saying.

I was working away from home for the last few months and so I was using text messages quite a bit. This phone is just atrocious for text messages. It has the iTAP predictive text system. I didn't really like Nokia's predictive text when it came out but once I got used to it, it was great. Unfortunately Motorola's implementation has some problems that make it a real pain.

First off, it uses the 1 key for punctuation which is fair enough but when I type "Something" and then press 1 it thinks I want to say "Something1". Not "Something." or "Something!" or any other sensible attempt to predict what I'm trying to type. Who on earth puts a 1s at the end of words on a regular basis?

This "1" problem wouldn't be so bad if it was consistent, I could just press 1 and then * some number of times to get the symbol I want and pretty soon I'd get used to it. Unfortunately Motorola's system is "smart" and remembers what you did the last time, so if the last time I typed "Are you there?", the next time I type "there" and press 1 it will offer me "there?". This might seem like a good idea until you realise that phones have a much better memory than humans. I have no idea what punctuation mark I used the last time I typed "there" so I have no idea what to expect when I press 1. The options I'm offered will be different for every word every time. So instead of knowing that 1* will get me a "." and 1** is "?" and 1*** is "!" I now have to pay attention whenever I want punctuation. I can't ever get used to it because it changes every time.

This "smartness" is also the reason why whenever I type "28" on my phone I get "bu" instead of "at". At some point in the past I was typing some Chinese into a message, I typed "28" and pressed the * button until I got "bu" (it means "not" in Chinese) and from that day one, my phone has been convinced that I want "bu" every time I type "28".

Stupid stupid stupid!

Finally, I can type faster than my phone can handle. What the hell is going on there? I thought this sort of thing stopped with the old Nokia 5110 bricks. This thing can run Java games, surf the web and encode/decode GPRS signals but it can't keep up with me typing. That's just not on.

There are a few other annoyances that I won't bother listing. The phone is so bad that when I got home, I've switched back to using a borrowed Nokia with big, bubbly, rubbery keys. I don't really like it but it does what it's supposed to without making we swear at it.

So now I will take the only revenge I can and encourage you not to buy Motorola phone, there have obviously been no serious usability studies on iTAP or these phone in general. They are just being dumped out there with the latest polyphonic, java, midi, gprs buzzwords and not much else.

Here's a little poem called Hello Moto... you bastard

My mobile phone from Motorola
is such a pain in the hole-a.
It's quiet when it shouldn't be,
in meetings it goes <BIDDELY-BEE>.

iTAP's smart predictive texting
couldn't really be more vexing.
It's slower than that kid at school,
you know, the one who used to drool
and always had some dried up snot on
his top lip (had you forgotten?).

If I ever meet a Motorolan,
from Argentina to Syrian Golan,
I'll grab my 525 real fast
and shove it up his puckered <BIDDELY-BEE>.
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