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Why buying a cool smartphone is like choosing a spouse

Choosing a smartphone is like landing a spouse: friendly advice can confuse you writes Madhavan Narayanan.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2010 21:48 IST
Madhavan Narayanan

We were discussing cars last week, and when I mentioned a value-for-money brand, my auto expert colleague piped up.

“But that has not gone through the crash test,” he said. “Safety problem.”

Really? By now I take auto freaks and gadget geeks with a pinch of salt because they specialise way too much, but seeing smartphones flood the market, it is time to acknowledge their importance and air a simple thought: look-alikes don’t act alike.

At the weekend, I met a friend who flashed a fancy phone.

“iPhone,” I asked. “No, it is an LG Chocolate,” she replied. “But it gives me some trouble.”

I might have jumped to conclusions because LG is a late entrant into the business, but then, my Nokia E71 also hangs up on me sometimes.

I simply switch it off and then on (a trick learnt as an old Windows user). It comes back to life, but I do think we need to get some smart consumer thinking into smartphones.

Now that everybody from Nokia to Micromax and previously unheard of brands makes phones that are similar in looks and applications, how do we look beyond the looks and ensure we get sturdy value in the old engineering terms?

I am talking of battery life, reliability of the software platform, safety, and other engineering features.

Geeky reviews in trade magazines read like medical reports at a speciality hospital — experts understand them, the rest are confused.

So I joke that choosing a smartphone is like landing a spouse: friendly advice can confuse you. When you are drawn by cool features or easy accessibility, there are issues related to reliability and long-term life.

Unless you are rich enough to junk a smartphone or geeky enough to learn new features or transfer files, phone numbers or data frequently, it pays to buy a handset that lasts a long time.

Cellphone launches have become akin to Bollywood movies these days: there are a couple of new ones every week with similar stories.

Perhaps we need a simple rating system akin to Bollywood releases.

You can always differ with the critic, but it does get us somewhere.