The idea of phone companies listening to their customers is perhaps an oxymoron, but I haven’t given up hope.
Browsing Verizon’s list of supported cell phones, I was struck by their obvious lack of needs-based segmentation. Like most carriers, they seem to be preoccupied with the market for feature-packed Swiss Army knife style phones-cum-camera-cum keyboard. Voice quality seems to be an after-thought…
I’ve been looking for two years for a simple phone that makes no compromises when it comes to voice clarity or audibility (or ease of dialing). To no avail.
When you read their customers’ reviews of the current generation of mobile phones, you can’t help but notice that there’s a community of frustrated Verizon subscribers out there who just want a simple phone that delivers on the basics really well:
- Long battery life
- Clear voice quality — no muffled audio, no “hollow tin can” voices, no clarity problems caused by the carrier’s over use of compression — delivers a great audio experience for both caller and the person called — natural sounding voice
- Easy-to-use buttons when dialing numbers, even for people with “normal” size fingers
- Won’t turn on, dial randomly or “speed dial” when dropped into a purse or backpack
- Visible caller ID so you know who’s calling you
- Simple but elegant — no unnecessary frills that consume battery life or add ounces to the carrying weight
This is a phone optimized for the human voice — not for texting or replacing your camera or camcorder.
As more and more people ditch their landlines, I’m sure there will be increasing demand for such a phone — at least among Baby Boomers who still value spoken conversations and person-to-person dialogue. What it truly means to be “social.”
And no — we don’t need a 911 panic button right in the middle of the screen or keypad. (Verizon’s previous keep-it-simple phone was obviously aimed at technophobe seniors.) I bought one for my husband — but he made me return it as soon as he saw the 911 button. He was embarrassed to be seen at work carrying a phone clearly designed for senior citizens.
Yes, I use (and love) an iPhone for work. It’s usually good enough for making or receiving calls, but can be disappointing when it comes to audibility. The speaker is still too quiet at times (even with the new iPhone 3Gs).
Placing calls with an iPhone can be a hassle for those times when you just want to make a quick call, and you don’t want to mess around with Apple’s UI to search for your contact. Or you’re out in broad daylight and can’t see the on-screen keypad. (Or you’re a scofflaw and want to dial the phone while stopped at a red light.) And you haven’t yet read the manual to learn how to program your phone for voice-activated dialing.
Or like me, your family uses Verizon so you want to make and receive personal calls on the same network your family uses.
My Motorola Razr is wearing out. Over time the keypad buttons get sticky (I’m now on the second phone — same problem). These sticky keys cause repeated misdials. Sadly, there’s nothing in Verizon’s line-up that motivates me to replace it (or re-up for another two years).
I just hope that one of these days Verizon will delight me (and people like me) with a phone optimized for the human voice. And ease of dialing.