Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Droid X Arrives, Phone Adventure Concludes

Note: This is a long blog post.  So feel free to read / disregard.  My phone is critical to getting the film finished, but to many of you it might not seem relevant.  I have been reading a lot online about cell phones in the past few months, and so some of this info might be helpful to others like me facing a similar decision.

My Droid X arrived yesterday.  I'm excited and nervous, hoping that I will have a phone I can live with for a while. 

I have started to rely heavily on my phone to keep me organized.  I was previously using my Blackberry Pearl, but switched to an iPhone in May to test it out.  Then I switched back to the Pearl, and now to the Droid X.  (Read the bullet points below for the details or lessons learned if you're interested.)  Here's hoping this is the last switch for a while!

Initial Reactions
My first reactions to the Droid X are positive, although I only got it last night.  It's sleek and shiny, although it's fairly larger than my Blackberry Pearl (which was small enough to fit nicely in my hand, purse, and pockets).  It's only a little bit larger, but when you've been carrying something smaller for two years, the difference seems like a big one.  Still, I am pretty stoked about it.

The screen is divine.  I will really enjoy the bigger screen while working on and sharing Abandoned Allies.  It will help me a lot by playing clips, music and the movie trailer (when it's ready).  I've also wanted to use my phone as a handy photography portfolio, so I can show clients and friends what I've been doing lately.  That will be great once I get it set up.

Also, because it's a Droid / Google phone, so it's already syncing with all of my Google stuff: Voice, Gmail, etc.  I rely heavily on them for keeping me organized because I can update it online or on my phone.  It's all connected, so there are no duplicate calendars (which gets too confusing).  This will also help me be much more responsive.  The past few months have been tough because I rely heavily on my phone to keep me on track, and I've been switching phones to find the right one for my needs.  All of that switching has made me frustrated because on several occasions, I've double-booked social events and missed some Google Voice calls and messages.  Truly annoying.

So, all in all, I think the Droid X will be a good fit for me.  I hear things about the phone self-destructing when you try to change some of the software, which is definitely a scary thought.  I've got more reading to do in order to fully understand that.  The battery also seems to get really hot, but perhaps I need the task manager, app-killer thing to prevent that.  The number of screens seems excessive, but I also haven't given it enough time to have a stronger opinion about that.  The only other complaint I have is a minor one regarding the pull tab when you first get the phone.

The Pull Tab
When you first get the phone, there's a bit of confusion about this tab in the back.  Here's a picture.  It says PULL but then underneath it says DO NOT CUT.  I'm not the only one that was confused by the label, thankfully, because it seems like it should be pretty simple/straightforward.

When you first get something that requires batteries, it usually has a pull tab that comes out (like in a watch or laser pointer, for example).  But when you get the Droid X, the battery is not shipped with the battery in the phone so you don't quite know what the pull tab does, especially since it also has a "do not cut" warning next to it. 

I looked through all of the materials that came with the phone, but couldn't find anything that mentioned initial set up for the Droid X.  In fact, I was a little surprised at how much was lacking on initial set up.  Finding nothing in the Getting Started handout that came with the phone, I looked online before I messed something up and found some forums discussing the pull tab. 

Other people were confused, too.  Some people had pulled the entire thing off, only to discover that's how you get the battery back out later.  One person had pulled the tab off completely, put in the battery, and then spent a long time trying to figure out how to get the battery back out.  I was so grateful for the forum discussion because I was sitting at home feeling like an idiot, so confused over the bad label design.  It was good to know other people were sitting at home with the same questions.

Once you put the battery in the phone, the pull tab seems to make more sense.  I've had a number of phones, none of which ever required a pull tab like this one so it still seems pretty dumb to me.  (Sorry to the guy who designed that feature, but it's pretty silly to have such a high tech phone that requires this little plastic pull tab just to get the battery out of the back.  You probably had a good reason for it, but I don't see it.  It just causes confusion for us.)

Regardless, I'm happy to have my Droid X in my hands and operating!

Sir Switch-A-Lot
There are a lot more details about this phone adventure. Obviously, you can skip this next section if you're not interested.  It was a serious waste of time on my end so I can't say that I blame you for skipping it; however, because every minute I spent on this cell phone ordeal could have been spent on video editing, I feel obliged to document the madness.  Anyway, here's what has happened since May 2010:
  • My two year contract with Verizon ended, which meant I could finally try out the iPhone.
  • Verizon didn't offer me much to stay with them (just a "new every two" $50 discount on a new phone), so I switched to AT&T in May.
  • For the next 20 days, I tried the iPhone and AT&T's service.  In that short span of time I had more dropped calls than I have had with Verizon in nearly two years.  Seriously.  It was beyond annoying.  As glorious as the iPhone is--and it's a thing of beauty--I'm still using the phone as a phone and absolutely hate having my calls dropped.  They also released the iPhone 4 just after I'd purchased the 3GS, which is particularly annoying.  Why didn't they tell me to wait for the new one?  Also, the iPhone doesn't play well with Google Voice, which I've been relying on for a while.  Finally, the coverage plan meant that I was paying more per month than I would at Verizon.  That's more strikes than you get in baseball.  I was done with it.
  • Before the 30-day cancellation period ended, I called Verizon to ask about coming back to them.  Through a series of several conversations with several reps, I was finally put in touch with someone in their Win Back Department, and offered a deal too good to turn down.  The rep I talked to there was very kind and helpful.  Three cheers for great customer service!
  • AT&T reps, on the other hand, were beyond frustrating throughout the whole process.  I ended up with a bill that was three times higher than it should have been.  It took nearly four and a half hours, five or more reps, and several days to resolve the problem.  One fellow, in particular, was so rude that I was nearly in tears by the time the problem was finally resolved.  Really, AT&T, you should be ashamed.  I think big companies like that end up with a lot of inefficiencies and the customer ends up paying for the resulting overhead.  There were a lot of steps that could have been taken to prevent these problems.  Now I have had such a bad experience with AT&T that I was almost hostile to the door-to-door AT&T salesman who tried to convince me to give the company another chance.  No thanks.  That definitely won't happen any time soon.  Every time I see their commercials and logo, I cringe because of the frustrations I went through recently.
  • After the switch back to Verizon, I thought everything was finally in order.  Then I got mail from Verizon about my contract and plan that was contrary to what the rep on the phone told me.  I called Verizon again, and the problem was solved in half an hour by one very kind person.  Dear Verizon, keep up that great customer service and you'll continue to have my loyalty.
  • The latest chapter involves a battle between Droids.  I came back to Verizon knowing I would get a good deal towards a phone that is Verizon's closest comparison to the iPhone.  They recommended the Droid Incredible, but it was on back order.  Then the Droid X came out before my Incredible arrived.  So, in another series of phone calls to Verizon, this issue was also resolved. 
  • FedEx delivered the Incredible and the X at the same time, but thanks to help from my roommate I was able to catch her before she got back in her truck.  I signed for the X and sent the Incredible back to Verizon.  And now I finally have a new phone!
Lessons Learned
Here are some things I wish I had known months ago.  Enjoy.
  • Putting a note on your account.
    Phone reps won't believe most of what you say, even if you're being honest.  If a store rep makes a promise, be sure they put a note on your account about it.  That way, when the company messes it up later, and you have to call their phone center to have it corrected, there's a note telling the phone center representative about that promise.  (Making a film about broken promises, I find this lesson in dealing with AT&T's madness hugely ironic.)
  • Buy what you need. And have confidence in that.
    When I bought my car, the salesman kept trying to "put me in" a sedan or an SUV.  All I wanted was a cute little thing to get me from Point A to Point B, with the utmost fuel economy in a certain price range.  Similarly, cell phones and usage plans can easily be much more than I need (and even more than what I want).  This implies that you have to figure out what you need/want before you start shopping, which is obviously a good step.  I'm now confident that I have a cell phone and plan that is exactly what I need and want.  Win!
  • The latest and greatest will be outdated in five minutes.
    Minutes (ok, it's probably more like days) after I bought my new iPhone, a newer version went on the market.  Days after I ordered my new Droid, a new one went out on the market.  I can handle not having the latest and greatest, but only when it doesn't come out immediately after I've made an investment.  It's kind of insulting, really, when it comes out so immediately.  Perhaps I'm just stuck somewhere in between being an average consumer and a tech girl.  While shopping, it's better to lean towards the tech geek side so you don't get jerked around.  Or just get what you get, and be happy with that.
  • Read forums and reviews.
    During the past few months I have read countless reviews, comparisons and forums about cell phones.  They really gave me great information about what to expect, and explained a lot of things I didn't understand.  Read as many trust-worthy product reviews as you can, then go into a store to test it for yourself.  Keep in mind, though, some of the reviews will be incredibly helpful, but they are opinion-heavy and you have to filter out what's right for you.  After getting my phone, I was so grateful to read the forum conversation about that dumb pull tab!  Of all the things I learned about the X before it arrived, this wasn't even on my radar.  None of the tech geeks covered this in their reviews and videos, but all of them took the time to show the box it came in.  I knew about what to expect thanks to these reviewers, but this silly little pull tab left me confused.
  • Talk to the Win Back Department.
    If you leave a company and want to come back, be sure you're talking to the right person in the right department.  No one was really willing to help me until I got to the right department.  Finally someone in Verizon's Win Back Department was a wonderful help.  She was very kind and helped me make sure I have what I need to be happy with the company's service. 
There are a lot of other lessons, but this post will be entirely too long if I include them all.  I'm super happy that this adventure is coming to an end.  I can now use my phone on a daily basis and get on with getting on, as they say.  Happy to be back with Verizon, on a plan and phone that meets my needs, I can finally get back to wrapping up Abandoned Allies!


the Rab said...

Great tips. You are awesome for sharing your experience step by step. Wish more people were like you!

Camden Watts said...

What a sweet thing to say! Thank you, Ryan. :)

Cord said...

Great post Cam. My contract is up in August with Verizon and I have heard so many AT&T nightmare stories, I would never sign up with them. I just know the second I get a new phone, Verizon will announce an iPhone.

Thanks for all the good tips. Let us know if you are still liking the X over the next couple of weeks. Looks like a great phone.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently waiting for my Droid X and want to thank you for your post. I'm glad I made the decision to stick with Verizon and now I know how to handle the pull tab. Great post!

Camden Watts said...

Cord, I am with you! I just know that they'll get the iPhone in a few months now that I have the X! While I've heard plenty of AT&T horror stories, I have heard a few positive ones. They are few and far between, but the good ones are actually pretty great. I, however, will not be giving them another shot any time soon. I'll definitely post an X follow up as I get more and more used to using it. It's pretty great so far!

Dear Anonymous, glad you enjoyed the post. Hope your X arrives quickly. Let us know what you think of it!