Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mobile phone problems? Patience will be your undoing.


Image credit: Samsung
As I write this, Samsung is selling its Galaxy S6 edge+. They've moved on. Meanwhile, I'm limping along with the defective Galaxy S4 that I paid too much for (in order to avoid a contract lock-in) and was too patient with.

Why? It's a beautiful phone and it works well... well, when it works. And seeing as I paid a lot, I'd like to squeeze what use out of it that I can, even, sadly, at the risk of having it freeze and reboot in the middle of its job.

From the very beginning it ran hot. I didn't mind the feel of it in my pocket on a cold day, but I admit to feeling anxiety whenever I pressed it to my face. I'd read about laptops and mobile phones with exploding batteries and I hoped it wouldn't happen to mine. For all I knew it was normal for a screen this side to generate a lot of heat, given the small package. So, I didn't panic. I waited for firmware updates that might fix the problem, assuming it was a problem, or... God forbid, a recall notice from the manufacturer.

But nothing happened... until the phone was about 13 months old. At that time, I noticed that it was occasionally unable to detect the SIM card, necessitating a reboot. It wasn't too troublesome that winter, but became so increasingly with the return of warm weather.

Last summer, the phone would reboot as many as a dozen times per day... and my SD card unexpectedly died, losing a lot of music and photos in the process.  I was troubled, but too busy to think on it much. I'm the father of three, plus had several aging pets at home. I replaced the SD card and pledged to back-up content more often. What could I do? It was past warranty.

June 2015 saw another firmware push from my wireless provider and it only got worse. "The 'upgrade' of my Galaxy S4 to Android 5.0.1 ruined it," I tweeted. "Awful battery drain, frequent overheating, & freezing video. Help!".  No reply from @SamsungCanada.  What could I do? Past warranty. I replaced the battery with another original Samsung one and pressed on.

Even now, with winter weather in full force, it still fails to detect the SIM card at least once a day. Twice today, so far.

For whatever reason I decided to complain on Twitter again. This time @SamsungCanada was kind enough to reply but the response from 1-800-SAMSUNG was just as I expected. One year warranty. Further attempts to engage @SamsungCanada, including a link to this post, have not been responded to.

There's a lot to love about the S4. It's thin and sleek. It doesn't feel underpowered. But as I quipped in the midst of my complaint "Looks like a Porsche; dependable as a Yugo." But I hate the bloatware of Samsung apps that I can't remove, only disable. I hate that I wasn't a heavier user: I probably could have made the S4 show it's true colours within the year of warranty.  Instead, it cooked my SD card and I pre-emptively replaced the battery myself, part out of disappointment with the low life, part out of fear that it might eventually catch fire.

For the retail price of this phone, I deserved better. The "Life Companion" that Samsung advertised should surely have given me more than a year of faithful, dependable service.

Some people have had success with some DIY padding inside the case. Didn't work for me.

All that to say, I've purchased my last product from Samsung.