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My new toy

No, not my Mac. That’s a topic for another day. :-)

I don’t normally talk much about  mobile technology because I tend to feel that I’m nowhere near an expert on the topic. Besides, there are plenty of other resources on the web for getting more qualified help.

That being said, I recently upgraded my phone, and I’m so pleased with the results that I wanted to share.

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Before: Motorola Razr

For the last two years, my mobile phone has been a Motorola Razr. It’s been a good phone – exceptionally light and quite capable.

I’ve traveled with it and used it as everything from a camera to an ebook reader to a MP3 player to even a mobile hotspot.1

One of the problems with the Razr, however, is its battery. For Razr to be as thin and light as it is, the battery had to be relatively small. As a result, the battery life was never that great. After two years, my phone was typically dead by the end of the day and that’s if I wasn’t using it much.

Oh, and the battery cannot be replaced. My wife’s Razr Maxx addresses this problem somewhat by including a bigger battery – at the cost of being a thicker, heavier phone.

On top of all of that, as applications become more and more functional, the phone itself began to slow down appreciably. Most notable was the Amazon Cloud Music Player. I have a very large collection of music in the Amazon Cloud, and the player took forever to load – presumably as it updated the offline database of my music.

All that (and a little bit of phone envy on my part) came together to have me paying close attention to the end of my two-year contract with my carrier. The day after that passed, I ordered a new, replacement phone.

Galaxy Note 3 HomescreenAfter: Samsung Galaxy Note 3

My new phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I’ve had it for a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be happier.

My initial battery tests shocked me. With light use after three full days, the battery had decreased to only 25%. I probably could have gone the better part of another day without a recharge. While I know that heavy use will drain the battery much faster, I’m now fairly confident that the phone will actually last longer on those heavy-use days – not something I’ve experienced in the past.

My applications are fast and smooth once again, including the Amazon Player. That’s not because there are fewer apps on the phone either – when I transferred to the phone, I allowed it to automatically transfer all of the apps that I had installed (a convenient side effect of going all-in with the Android/Google ecosystem).

Interestingly, the Note is actually larger than the Razr – it has a bigger and (to me) more readable screen. I did have to stop by a store to see the phone in person before upgrading online, just to make sure that it would fit my pocket. Even though it’s bigger, it feels just about as light.

Oh, and the battery is replaceable. That’s awesome and bodes well for the next two years – perhaps even more. I don’t think I’ll even commit to a phone that doesn’t have a replaceable battery again.

My carrier: Verizon Wireless

Mobile carriers generate a lot of passion among many people. Some absolutely loathe their carriers and others passionately love them. And that’s true for just about every carrier out there.

I’ve been with Verizon Wireless for probably well over a decade now. The single biggest reason for me is coverage. When I do travel, the coverage that I need is almost anywhere I happen to be.

In fact, I rely on it. There’s more than coverage in the big cities where just about any carrier will do. I found a couple of years ago that Verizon covers a couple of the state parks that my wife and I visit fairly regularly. This actually gives me the opportunity to go more often and stay longer, knowing that I’ll be able to connect and deal with just about any issue that comes up online. In some cases, it’s just a relocation of Ask Leo! World Headquarters to a beach (which is awesome to be able to do). In other cases, it’s a true vacation.

I’m not a huge Verizon fanboy, but they’ve done well enough by me for long enough that it’s my expectation that I’ll be with them for a while.

At least the next two years, I guess. :-)

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Footnotes & references

1: Side comment on using it as a mobile hotspot: what I’ve found is that having a dedicated USB dongle as my laptop’s mobile connectivity solution is actually much speedier. It’s the same network and same data plan, even. It just appears that the dedicated device is able to push data through more quickly. I have yet to test this against the new phone.

15 comments on “My new toy”

  1. I totally get the battery thing. That’s probably the biggest reason I didn’t get an iPhone. In fact today the battery went dead when I was on the train. I just switched in the charged one. Couldn’t do that on an iPhone.

    • I’ve heard that about Apple products before: biased opinions though. Yet another excuse among many to not get them.

  2. I love the way the Play Store syncs my apps on the cloud. My old HTC Sensation was getting a bit flaky and I just restored to factory settings. I logged on to Google and it synced all of my apps. Some installed automatically and others were listed in the Play store as my apps and I had to download them manually. The whole process took 30 min.

    I had a similar experience when my Kindle Fire was misbehaving. I reset to factory settings and logged in to Amazon. That whole process took about 10 minutes.

    I think that’s what Microsoft is shooting for with the Windows 8 and Office 365 models. If you reinstall your OS or get a new machine all of your apps will follow you on the cloud.

  3. My iphone 4s is a long way from being dead, but I won’t be getting another i-thing to replace it. I loathe how Apple doesn’t let you view the file directories and “bones” of the OS unless you resort to jailbreaking it. (Google “iphone Other data” for tales of woe.) Samsung is at the top of my replacement list.

  4. I have a extra battery for my Samsung phone and purchased an external charger (cheap) from Ebay. Now I am never without power. Because of the second battery, I almost never plug my phone into the wall. Just pop my extra battery into the phone. I do power off before changing batteries. I also will never buy a phone that I cannot replace the battery.

  5. We are losing our ability to communicate clearly because the trend is towards acronyms rather than words. Because of this grammar is disappearing. Texting is great but let’s not get stupider because of technology.
    I’m just sayin!

  6. Well, nuts… this fine thread is a week late! I JUST bought 2 Consumer Cellular Motorola Moto G phones, our first foray into ‘smart’, from a little, tough, 8 year old Samsung/Alltel/Verizon flip phone.
    I know I’m odd, but I use a phone mainly for talking (i.e.; two people communicating by voice). Moto G has a non-replaceable battery, so I’ll probably read up on how to delete power-sucking apps that I’ll never use. I have an iPad and desktop to play games. Hope I get another 8 years from this one!

      • You can buy an portable charger external battery pack which is a rechargeable battery with a USB output which you can use to recharge your phone. It’s somewhat bigger than a cell phone battery, but it works in a pinch.

    • It’s funny, because this phone is actually fairly large for a smartphone (large screen) – and I decided it’s only inconvenient when I actually talk on it – which is rarely. :-)

  7. I am not thrilled with any of the big 3 cell phone providers.

    Verizon – Back when I purchased the Motorola V710 (I think in 2004) for $400 it was the top of the line phone. Verizon disabled many of the features to make the user pay for their features. I considered this to be akin to paying your car manufacturer to use the radio or the phone company to use your answering machine.

    AT&T – My name couldn’t get any easier but AT&T could never get it right. My first name was always Jesse J Beck Jesse J Beck. Somehow they merged my last with my first. A simple accident but because nobody ever caught it, it made me feel like nobody cared and just a number to them.

    Sprint – I am currently with Sprint. Can they get friggen 4G LTE already!? They always say “it’s coming soon” but it never does. I am in the Denver area. They are nice enough on the phone but so were the other 2.


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