Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On making space, and buying a new phone

On my last spate of travel (to Palo Alto, Brussels, and Grenoble), no less than three people talked about their recent switch to a phone that I hadn't even heard of before two weeks ago. Sometimes it feels like I live in a cave. Which is silly - I used to live in the woods, but I've never lived in a cave. I do, however, work a lot, which is sort of like living in a cave.

During one particular dinner on this trip, a colleague asked me what part of my job I enjoy, and I couldn't answer. (Allow me to briefly define "enjoyment" as: taking satisfaction in the results of my actions.) Now, I have plenty of reasons for what I do, all of which would make for another blog post entirely. I'm quite passionate about my work.... And yet, none of that seems to be resulting in enjoyment lately.

Anyway, what mysterious phone was this, that seemed to be delighting my colleagues? The OnePlus One.

Oh, I should provide a little backstory for why, at this particular time, I might care about a new phone: my HTC One (m7) has been acting strangely for several months, but as I did not have another working phone with the same SIM architecture, I had not wiped and rooted it yet.

So while I was on the road, I did some research on this new phone, waded through the hype, then waited to get an invite or catch a promo on their twitter feed (the latter panned out). Home now, I have spent the last two days playing with it -- and, as I write this, I have just finished rooting my old phone. Here are some observations and random thoughts:

The OnePlus has the highest attention to detail and build quality of any phone I've used yet. The build is better than the Samsung and HTC phones I've had. Hand-feel is great; there's no fear of it slipping. Even the package it was shipped in was sleek, durable (but recyclable and made from recycled paper), and easy to open.

The case is slick, adding shock protection and a screen cover without feeling like it adds bulk.

Cyanogen has come a long way since I last used it (~2yr ago). Really.

Google Hangout is an overinflated app that still does what I want, most of the time.

A tool that let me selectively copy-and-restore apps (just the ones I want to keep) across phones would really help. Google's "re-install all the things, now sign in again" approach is not ever what I want on a new phone. This is just as bad of a user experience now as it was in 2009.

I am going to carry two phones (one work, one personal) again. Haven't done this in five years, but I need to build a little more separation between work and life, then make more time for having a life, and this is how I'm starting.

With a new phone.


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