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Bug Cellphones

How Did My Stratosphere Ever Get Shipped? 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the satisfaction-is-not-guaranteed dept.
Bennett Haselton writes "How did a $400-billion company ship millions of units of a phone with a calendar app that displays the wrong date, a texting app that can't reply to group texts, a screen capture function that doesn't work, and a phone app that won't let me use the keypad unless the speakerphone is on? The answer, perhaps, suggests deeper questions about why market forces fix certain problems but not others, and what to do about it." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

I've been using either a Samsung Stratosphere or a Samsung Stratosphere 2 from September 2012 to the present. Where to begin?

  • If you open the calendar application on the Stratosphere 2, it usually highlights tomorrow's date as "Today," and lists tomorrow's calendar entries as your list of things to do "Today." Here is a picture of my phone's screen taken on June 2, with the calendar app displaying "Today, Mon, Jun 3 2013" — despite the phone knowing the correct time is 9:22 PM on June 2.

    Strangely, in the morning the calendar app would display the correct day as "Today," but would switch to the wrong day some time in the afternoon, and eventually I decided that the calendar app was probably using Coordinated Universal Time to decide what "Today" was, which is 9 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

  • You'll notice that these images are not screen captures, but photos taken with another phone. This is because some time between the Stratosphere 1 and 2, the screen capture function broke — every support site says you're supposed to be able to take a screen cap on a Stratosphere by pressing the Home and Power buttons at the same time, and that works on the 1, but not on the 2.

  • If someone else sends a text to multiple recipients including you, the Stratosphere gives you no indication that it's a group text, and there's no way for you to see the other recipients or reply to the whole group. (I had a lot of awkward "What, you were asking everybody, not just me?" moments before I realized what was going on.) Other users have been complaining about this for months, and it apparently affects more Android phones than just the Stratosphere.

  • The built-in camera refuses to take a picture if the battery is low — it just says "Warning: low battery" and exits. Yes, I know they think they're doing it for my own good since the camera is a battery hog, but a few times I've wanted to take a picture where it was well worth using up a half a percent of my remaining battery life or however much it would have taken, but the phone wouldn't let me. That should be the user's decision, dammit.

  • When I was in Canada last week, if I tried sending a text message longer than 160 characters, the phone would tell me that the message sent, but it would actually fail silently and never get delivered. I'm not sure whether to blame Verizon, Android, or Samsung for this one (or just, you know), but in the end someone has to take responsibility for the product, and the phone telling you that a message was sent when it actually got lost, is a complete fail. If it doesn't work, fine, give me an error message, but never tell the user a message got sent successfully if it didn't.

  • During a phone call, the on-screen keypad doesn't work unless the phone is on speakerphone. If the speakerphone is off, the screen goes dark after about 1 second of inactivity, making it impossible to enter an account number or anything else. I can avoid this bug by turning on a speakerphone (which is how I know it's a software bug, not a problem with the touchscreen), but this is a pain if I'm in a public place and don't want to annoy everyone around me who would have to listen to all the voice prompts. (The phone's software seems to be following a rule like: "If the speakerphone is not on, then when the phone moves away from the user's face, assume the user is not actively using the phone and let the screen go dark" — where the bug is that it doesn't make an exception and keep the screen on if the user is actively pressing keys on the keypad.)

At first, these and many, many other bugs produce a state of mind that transcends annoyance to reach a kind of genuine curiosity, where you're asking "How did this happen?" not rhetorically, but because you actually want to know. But eventually the surprise wears off, and you're just left with bugs that are disproportionately aggravating because they obviously would have been caught during even the most basic UI testing. They're aggravating to me not because of how much they get in the way (you eventually get used to them), but because the existence of those bugs conveys a certain lazy attitude towards finding and fixing bugs at all.

I realize this is not a logical reaction. The aggravation you feel towards a bug should depend on how much the bug actually interferes with the user experience, not on how easily the manufacturer should have found it. Rationally speaking, the biggest problem with the phone right now (and the reason I'm having to mail to back to the manufacturer for a replacement) is that the charging port spontaneously broke, so that unless the micro USB charger is plugged in exactly right, the phone can't charge (even if you get it right and form a connection successfully, the connection breaks if you move the phone half an inch). Needless to say, that's exasperating — but it's hard for me to get mad at Samsung over that, because it's not an easy defect to catch at the manufacturing stage. On the other hand, if the calendar app displays the wrong day, I would say that someone should be fired over that except that probably nobody was assigned to do that testing in the first place.

I also posted questions about each of these problems on AndroidForums.com and AndroidCentral.com (those links show all questions recently posted from my username on each site), which have so far received hundreds of "views" but no replies. I mention this because some people think that if you do run into problems like these, all you have to do is post a question and The Community will help you out with a workaround. Nope.

Also, lest you think you can do away with these bugs by downloading third-party replacements for all of these apps, I spent part of an afternoon downloading different texting apps to see if any of them would fix even part of the problems I had with the built-in one. None of them worked much better, although several of them displayed pop-up ads over every third incoming text message, and most of them did not play nicely with each other, giving me no way to disable them so that their notifications would double and triple up on top of each other for every received text. So I gave up. Even if I thought I might eventually find a better app for texting, I didn't have time to test multiple replacements for every built-in default app that didn't work.

Farhad Manjoo has a column up at Slate arguing that the reason many Android phones suck is that they're laden down with adware attempting to extract more personal information and money from the user. I'm sure that's part of the problem, but I can't see how the manufacturer is making any money off of the bugs I ran into; they were just being lazy.

The problem, I think, is that phone manufacturers know that phone reviewers (and users, when they're choosing between models in the store) will focus on easily quanitifiable attributes, such as size, weight, battery life, and the number of megapixels in the camera. The number of aggravating bugs in the user interface is not something that is easy to compare across phones (and in any case would not be printed on the box). Thus market forces simply don't favor the development of a hassle-free interface, because in most cases the phone manufacturers wouldn't be rewarded for it.

And — I don't consider this too much of a stretch — this is where it connects with larger issues for me, because I've been arguing for years that the free market will usually fail to fix certain types of problems, often in the context of threats to free speech and civil liberties, especially if the user lacks information they need to compare multiple options. A major argument in favor of Net Neutrality is that the typical user wouldn't realize it if their ISP were throttling access to certain sites; they would just think that the remote site was responding slowly. Since that information would be hidden from the user, "the marketplace" won't solve the problem on its own. Similarly, every time I say that my Circumventor mailing list keeps getting blocked as "spam" by Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, or AOL (despite being 100% verified-opt-in, natch), someone tells me that if the free market is blocking my emails as unwanted, it must be because the users don't want them. That the free market might make a mistake (in this case, because users don't have full information about what is getting blocked as spam), doesn't occur to them. I think the belief in the infallibility of the free market, is one of the most widespread fallacies of our era — people who would never make the mistake of confusing correlation with causation, have no problem thinking that if a product or service gets blocked by a third-party intermediary, it must be because the end user didn't want it.

And so when I'm staring at my Stratosphere's calendar telling me that tomorrow is actually today, it brings out my aggravation not just towards Samsung, Google, and Verizon, but towards all the people I've heard over the years claiming that the marketplace will automatically reward good products and punish bad ones. If there weren't so many people who believed that, maybe we could have collectively put more effort into rating phones according to their usability, knowing that the "invisible hand" of the marketplace was not likely to solve those problems on its own, and maybe these bugs would have gotten fixed. Instead, the "marketplace" focuses disproportionately on attributes like dimensions, weight, and processor speed that are easily quantifiable.

So perhaps the solution — seriously — would be for some third-party review company to rate each new phone on the Stupid S#!% Index. They test the phone under normal usage, and each time they run into an idiotic bug like the calendar application not knowing what day it is, they file it under Stupid S#!%, and after some fixed period of phone usage they count up all the problems and rate the phone under the Stupid S#!% Index. For greater precision, you could compile multiple scores from different users for each phone and take the average. Now you have a quantifiable rating that can be used to compare one phone to another, and could incentivize manufacturers to do more testing on their phones in order to get a better Stupid S#!% Index score.

The message that Apple keeps pushing about the iPhone, after all, is essentially that it would get a good Stupid S#!% Index rating. In his keynote address at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs repeated the words "It just works" like a mantra — unlike, presumably, everyone else's stuff. iPhones don't score well on price, openness, or compatibility with other companies' products (I always have to tell people that my car charger is not an iPhone charger, it's a literally-every-other-smartphone-in-the-entire-world charger) — but all of that scarcely matters to some people as long as It Just Works.

Well, I couldn't tell you. I can't test an iPhone under normal usage because I'm too addicted to the Stratosphere's slide-out keyboard, which enables me to type much faster than a touchscreen but which only comes on a few Android and Windows phones, and not on any version of the iPhone. Maybe I'll try one more time to make the switch to a touchscreen while my Stratosphere is in the shop.

Yes, these most First-World of First World Problems — especially the bugs specific to the Stratosphere — only apply to a small fraction of the population. But it should be a lesson for anyone who thinks the "free market" would prevent this sort of thing from happening.

Meanwhile, every time I hear an ad talking about how "thin" some new phone is going to be, I just want to say to the phone the same thing that I want to tell all the anorexic girls in nightclubs: You're already thin enough. So stop worrying about being thin, and just try to work on not being so f@#$ing stupid.

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How Did My Stratosphere Ever Get Shipped?

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  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:38AM (#44456865)

    The correct way is to hold it over a trashcan and unclasp your hand.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:57AM (#44457091)

      I know you're joking but I can't help but see this in another light, and that he is holding it wrong (or at least having expectations/experiences that are down to his doing)

      1. The calander MAY be set to work day, such that once the work day is finished it show's you tomorrow's tasks today.

      2. I got nothing on this.

      3. As for Group Text, I've never known any phone to say I'm not the only recipent. Does SMS even facilitate this? I think it's a case of the user not understanding this isn't a web based technology and wanting features he see's in the G+ and Facebook.

      4. No pictures on low battery - this may well be to prevent the phone dying at a critical point which, were power to cease, would brick the phone. Should bricking the phone be the users descreation is another question.

      5. I don't know enough about this, but, as admitted, could be down to other parties and not the phone. So sounds like adding it just to increase this list.

      6. This actually sounds like a smart feature i.e. you want to still here the call even if you're typing digits in. But given the use case of being in public I agree that it's a pain. A case of being too friendly perhaps.

      Please understand that I'm playing devil's advocate. Not being a fanboy or whatever.

      I'm also not familiar with the particular device but that I can think of credible alternative explanations for 4-5 out of 6 of his claims doesn't help his cause.

      Also, WARNING ANECDOTE, I've broken a number Micro USB connectors on various devices (of various manufactures) leading to the issue of losing connection unless held just so.

      Anyway, just my thoughts.

      • Somewhat OT, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of third-party sources to repair micro USB connectors. I don't know if it was a manufacturing issue, but the micro USB went on my Samsung & HTC at about the same time. For around $30 to $40 each, I was able to get them repaired.

      • by robmv (855035)

        3. As for Group Text, I've never known any phone to say I'm not the only recipent. Does SMS even facilitate this? I think it's a case of the user not understanding this isn't a web based technology and wanting features he see's in the G+ and Facebook.

        Same here, never seen that, it could be some SMS extension added by the carrier that needs a special SMS client

        4. No pictures on low battery - this may well be to prevent the phone dying at a critical point which, were power to cease, would brick the phone. Should bricking the phone be the users descreation is another question.

        Or there is not enough power to turn on the sensor. Many circuits can behave badly or break if you don't supply the correct minimum power, so you may be right

      • 2. cynogenmod does, and I believe it's just using the stock 4.2.2 messaging app.
        • by chihowa (366380)

          I think it sends the multi-recipient messages via MMS. Every time I've received a message like this, they were always MMS and 'replying to all' sent out another MMS.

      • by sjames (1099)

        1. It still fails the principle of least astonishment. Calendars don'tr work that way and people don't expect them to. They especially don't expect tomorrow's schedule to be called today's schedule. I'm going to have to go with bug here.

        for 4, it may actually be impossible to power up the camera when the battery is low. The battery's voltage will also be low at that point and there's only so much boost the power supply can manage.

        For 5, I suspect that the message is being dropped on the floor by some interm

    • by msauve (701917)
      He's dealing with it wrong, then complaining about "free market failures." It's got a warranty. It's defective. Tell them to fix it or refund your purchase price. Complaining in a forum is doing it wrong.
    • by vux984 (928602)

      As this was story by Bennet Haselton. Our only correct response is to mark it SUPERFAIL, and move on to the next one.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:38AM (#44456869) Homepage Journal

    Next you'll tell me that sometimes budgets get cut while demands increase.

    • by kramer2718 (598033) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:09AM (#44457245) Homepage

      I have been pulled aside by a very high level manager, told to put all of my development on hold and implement entirely new functionality for a large enterprise product

      This functionality required three months of team effort to develop properly + another two weeks of due diligence, pre-release testing, and deployment. And then he told me to get it deployed in three weeks.

      That's how this can happen.

      • by boristdog (133725)

        And...any of us here who work for any company can pretty much tell a similar story.

        "You say that project will take a minimum of 2 years and 4 people? You have 6 months and we might let some other people help you now and then. Oh, and you need to continue supporting all of our other software and hardware issues in the mean time. I'm putting these goals on your annual review, if you don't meet it you get no raise this year."

        And people wonder why engineers burn out.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:42AM (#44456933)

    this is where it connects with larger issues for me, because I've been arguing for years that the free market will usually fail to fix certain types of problems

    Sorry, but that is WAY too much of a stretch.

    The free market has fixed this problem - there were bad glitchy phone UI's in the past, and eventually the iPhone arrived exactly because all phones had these "lazy" errors all over the place. The iPhone originally was built to be a device where the functions it supported as a smartphone were really thoroughly tested and refined.

    Now of course we have Blackberry 10, and Windows Phone too - each of which offer very carefully tested environments in which to use a phone.

    Market forces are not about fixing one model of a phone, they are about a phone eventually arriving that solves a problem competitors have not addressed. Your problem is that you are looking for stability in a system whose primary purpose is not stability - Android came about in part to address the issue of phones being more locked down than some people like.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:54AM (#44457075)

      Are you a troll or just dumb?

      This is not an android issue, I have many android devices that do not have these issues.

      • It's only an Android issue insofar as Android is open enough to let people ship a super cheap phone that is not well tested... you can (and some do) ship Android phones that are very carefully tested.

        Basically I am just saying that the market has long ago fixed the problem of crappy phones in spades. There are tons of rock-solid reliable phones now. So to buy a poorly tested Android phone does not mean the market has failed, it means you suck as a buyer. I've never even heard of the phone he mentioned, h

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          That is a phone targeted at teens that primarily just want to text each other. It is designed to be cheap enough that a parent might actually buy it. That is all.

    • Sorry, the problem with the declaration The free market has fixed this problem is that it only fixed it AFTER I spent my $500 on a really crappy phone...
      • Sorry, the problem with the declaration The free market has fixed this problem is that it only fixed it AFTER I spent my $500 on a really crappy phone...

        No, the free market fixes the problem when no one else buys their phone after you spent your $500 and told the rest of us about it. That's the other part of a free market society that some people forget: risk. You weren't forced to but a new phone without researching it first and if you were the first to buy it you just took a risk and in your scenario, it was a bad one.

      • Sorry, the problem with the declaration The free market has fixed this problem is that it only fixed it AFTER I spent my $500 on a really crappy phone...

        The free market fixed crappy phones long before you bought yours. There were phones that existed that addressed your problem before you made your purchase.

        Your problem is that you were not using the information the market gives you to make choices based on the criteria important to you.

        But you won't make that mistake again, right? Thus the market works ov

    • by meustrus (1588597)
      I wish I could just mod this -1 Troll. Because it's not good to feed the trolls, I would encourage others who disagree to simply ignore and wait for those free market moderators to fix this. If the free market works that way, that is.
  • Free market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garett_spencley (193892) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:45AM (#44456969) Journal

    1) No one, not even the most "hard core" fiscal conservatives / libertarians, claim the free market is "infallable." The free market is individual human beings making individual economic decisions without coercive interference from others. Human beings are fallable, thus the free market is "fallable."

    2) 3rd party reviews = free market. What is not free market is when government creates oversight organizations / watchdogs through taxation and uses them to enforce laws and regulations. Examples are the FCC, FDA etc.

    3) As imperfect as it may be, at least when a company releases a major catastrophe of a buggy product they get penalized with support and replacement costs, bad PR and a market that will think long and hard before buying another product from that company.

    4) There is nothing stopping anyone from implementing your suggestion for creating better cellphone reviews. That's the beauty of the free market. The fact that no one has done it (as far as we know) does not hint to the free market's imperfections, it means there is a business opportunity waiting to make someone some money.

    • Re:Free market (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:51AM (#44457029)

      On #1, most libertarians with economics backgrounds take the position you take, but there is also a sort of pop-economics style of libertarianism with market-Panglossian views that's fairly widespread. That view tends to believe that unfettered markets allocate resources with optimal efficiency, and any observed problems are traceable to a state-created distortion.

      They are perhaps the libertarian analog of certain kinds of spiritual environmentalists, who believe that if we only left "nature" alone, all ecosystems would be optimal and perfectly balanced, and any observed problems are traceable to a human-created distortion.

      • by suutar (1860506)
        in a way, those environmentalists are right. All observed problems are traceable to human activity - observation. :)
      • On #1, most libertarians with economics backgrounds take the position you take, but there is also a sort of pop-economics style of libertarianism with market-Panglossian views that's fairly widespread. That view tends to believe that unfettered markets allocate resources with optimal efficiency, and any observed problems are traceable to a state-created distortion.

        Well ... I know that's out there. But I'm pretty sure I see that view much more often posed as a strawman, not as someone actually holding it.

    • by Dracos (107777)

      No one, not even the most "hard core" fiscal conservatives / libertarians, claim the free market is "infallable."

      Too bad there are few if any actual free markets in existence, even though it gets invoked to support just about any argument. Might as well claim the free market is "magical" while you're at it, like unicorns.

    • by sjames (1099)

      There are plenty of Libertarians who treat it as infallible by suggesting it is all that is needed. Some even pay lip service to the idea that it is all too fallible but then resume hand waving.

      3rd party reviews would be free market if they happened. And if wishes were horses, every man would ride.

      If government actually enforced implied warranties of fitness and merchantability, vendors might actually get penalized with support and replacement costs, but it doesn't happen nearly as often as it should. Tha

  • Blackberry Q10 (Score:3, Informative)

    by g8oz (144003) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:45AM (#44456971)

    If you want a keyboard that badly try the Blackberry Q10. Its not terrible.

    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:50AM (#44457013) Homepage

      If you want a keyboard that badly try the Blackberry Q10. Its not terrible.

      I saw those new billboards just this morning. "Blackberry: It's Not Terrible".

      They're a bit of a step up from last month's campaign, "Blackberry Q10: At Least It's Not The Playbook."

    • If you want a good Android phone with a physical keyboard pick up a Motorola Droid 4 if you are on Verizon or a Motorola Photon Q if you are on AT&T or Sprint. These are the best physical keyboard phones that have ever been made, and unfortunately, probably the last the way the market is looking. I still use and love my Droid 4 even though there are many newer and faster touchscreen only phones available these days.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:54AM (#44457073) Journal

    I've been using either a Samsung Stratosphere (S1) or a Samsung Stratosphere 2 (S2) from September 2012 to the present.

    The v2 wasn't yet available in September 2012...

    So there are several options:

    • Bennet is such a total tosser he doesn't know what version of a product he bought.
    • Bennet buys and hates a phone, then buys and hates its sequel.
    • He bought S1 seconds before the S2 came out, meaning he both ignored market rumors AND customer reviews (S1 did not review well, basically it only got some attention because it had a keyboard, otherwise, look elsewhere). Meaning he is an idiot which he could have known wasn't very good and then bought the sequel seconds later.

    Bennet then complains market forces don't fix some things... indeed they do NOT. They do NOT fix stupid customers buying crap they hate with good money.

    If I piss in your face and you hand me 50 bucks, then next day give me 50 bucks to piss in your face again... market forces tell me to piss in your face.

    Does he even know what market forces are? Does he even grasp the concept of voting with your money?

    Frankly his long list of complaints has to many "user is an idiot" elements so, having googled a few reviews, I am left to conclude the phone isn't perfect but the majority of his issues are imagined or over dramatized.

    Similarly, every time I say that my Circumventor mailing list keeps getting blocked as "spam" by Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, or AOL (despite being 100% verified-opt-in, natch), someone tells me that if the free market is blocking my emails as unwanted, it must be because the users don't want them. That the free market might make a mistake (in this case, because users don't have full information about what is getting blocked as spam), doesn't occur to them. I think the belief in the infallibility of the free market, is one of the most widespread fallacies of our era — people who would never make the mistake of confusing correlation with causation, have no problem thinking that if a product or service gets blocked by a third-party intermediary, it must be because the end user didn't want it.

    AH... it alls becomes so clear now... this guy is a spammer and can't grasp that the market does INDEED work. I do NOT want his spam, I want Google to filter my email and if I didn't want that, I wouldn't use gmail.

    The market works, it just sucks when it doesn't work FOR you but against you. But that doesn't mean the market doesn't work, it just means the market doesn't like you. He doesn't want the market to fix things for everyone, he wants the market to fix things for HIM alone so HE can spam freely.

    Well fuck him AND his crappy phone he bought a year after it had been reviewed as a crappy phone.

    Buyer beware.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:58AM (#44457109)

      If you buy broken product rev 1 and broken product rev 2 then the market works great. You want a broken product and it provided it.

      Submitard is either trolling too hard or just a "I can count to POTATO" type.

    • Does he even know what market forces are? Does he even grasp the concept of voting with your money?

      Nah. His failure to research the product he'll spend his hard earned money on just proves his point that the market doesn't fix problems for you. You see, there's a little bug in human firmware I like to call, "Shut up and take my money!" [youtu.be]

    • The moment where he assumes people want whatever sophistry he's peddling in his emails and then attributes it to failures of the "free market" when all major providers mark it as spam was especially precious.

      More likely, he had people "opt-in", not realizing what they were getting, and then read a couple of them and hit "mark as spam" rather than bother to look for his unsubscribe link.
    • by sessamoid (165542) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:34AM (#44457653)

      I've been using either a Samsung Stratosphere (S1) or a Samsung Stratosphere 2 (S2) from September 2012 to the present.

      The v2 wasn't yet available in September 2012...

      You fail Sentence Parsing 101.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Nah. The GP's point was that if he didn't like the first version, he shouldn't have bought the second. Reasonable, if they guy isn't a reviewer. If his job is a reviewer then it's not such a reasonable comment.

        FWIW, most of his points are quite good, and not even controversial. There are many things that the free market is lousy at fixing. (Yes, I know that there is not now, and never has been, a really free market, but that's beside the point.) In particular, companies have adapted to reviewers of p

    • by tgd (2822)

      If I piss in your face and you hand me 50 bucks, then next day give me 50 bucks to piss in your face again... market forces tell me to piss in your face.

      Ahhh, where's my wallet!?

      Oh wait, what site is this? Crap! log out, log out, log out!!!!

  • Date problems (Score:5, Informative)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:55AM (#44457077)
    If you have an Apple developer account, have a look at the WWDC session video about dates. Handling dates is difficult. The simple difficulty is about the fact that you have absolute time and calendars - if we talk to each other on the phone, the absolute time is the same for both of us, but our watches may show totally different times if one is in the USA and the other in Australia; that's what the "calendar" is there fore. But not only the hour might be different, but also the day, depending what calendar you use. And that's just the easy things.
  • by Mr Krinkle (112489) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:55AM (#44457081) Homepage

    It's running a newer version of Android.
    All the new android phones take a screenshot by placing the "blade" of your hand on the side of the screen and sliding it across the screen.

    Calendar issue, Not sure, but I'd wager there is a setting like you said using the wrong timezone. there are 300 calendar apps. I use google's and have never had an issue.

    Group texts are NOT BUILT INTO SMS. It's kind of a kludge and iMessage from apple makes it worse because group texts in iMessage are not even SMS. They use data and the apple servers, so you get all sorts of weirdness there.

    When you were in Canada, using a foreign service, it maybe have been rogers, or whatever that blocked it as their roaming contract doesn't cover that. No telling why that failed. I wouldn't blame that on the phone.

    Camera not working. there is a good chance that using the flash could kill it, also risking the battery going incredibly low and damaging it. This setting can be changed I believe without rooting, but definitely with rooting.

    The display turning off IS a setting, also make sure when you go to type, you don't cover the light sensor on the front. It wants to turn the screen OFF when you put it to your head to talk to save battery and avoid your cheek pushing buttons by accident.

    Overall score for your rant, Meh. Nice long rant, but you obviously didn't spend as much time googling as you did writing that.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Screenshot is vol down and power on my phone running 4.2.2. What phone uses the method you are talking about?

      • Not sure about others, but I know the Galaxy S3 does...
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Typically, many Samsung models use this method, starting with the Galaxy Note.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          This shit needs to end, google should put their foot down. You can add your own way but remove the android defaults is just confusing.

    • You may be right about the screen shot; I'll try that if I get another Stratosphere II. But if there's no way for the user to discover it on their own, and Verizon tech support (who supports the phone) doesn't know how to do it, and all of the pages that come up on Google say to do it the old way (which doesn't work), and nobody knew how to do it in any of the forums that I posted in, then it doesn't do much good unfortunately.

      Calendar -- I'm sure there *are* workarounds for a lot of these bugs, but the
      • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:54AM (#44457943)

        I'll try that if I get another Stratosphere II.

        I'm not sure I'd do that if I were you. I read a rant by a guy on Slashdot who said his experience with the Stratosphere I and II had been awful.

      • I agree, the calendar thing, seems overly stupid.

        the screen shot thing was in all the google commercials etc.
        I'm really surprised no one from VZW or on the forums suggested trying that.

        As for the turning off when you move it away, I'll borrow the line from Jobs, "you're holding it wrong" :) I have a feeling the mounted the light sensor somewhere that when you go to type on it, it thnks you are putting it back against your cheek.
        My Epic, (galaxy 1, very similar to the stratosphere 1) was like this. DROV

        • In the name of science, I just tried making a call holding the phone only with my thumb and forefinger around the edge of the phone where no light sensor could possibly be, and the screen still kept going black after about 1 second when I was trying to enter numbers on the keypad.

          The screen shot feature was in a commercial? Well I fast-forward through commercials. But in any case that seems like an odd thing to feature in a commercial, since it wouldn't be the first feature that most users care about.
    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Calendar issue, Not sure, but I'd wager there is a setting like you said using the wrong timezone. there are 300 calendar apps. I use google's and have never had an issue.

      If he thinks that Pacific Standard Time is 9 hours off of UTC, then yes, he's using the wrong timezone, and it probably isn't the phone's fault. PST is UTC-8. PDT is UTC-7. He's somewhere out in the Pacific between San Francisco and Hawaii, which means, all wet.

  • Its because management shoved a shitty product out the door without letting the engineers finish their job.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      Based on many engineers I know, the job is NEVER finished. They can always keep improving it. So apparently what you see is a kind of "product snapshot" in progress, because management wants to deliver something NOW, instead of wait 10 years for it to be nearly perfect for what the market wants THIS year.

  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Friday August 02, 2013 @10:57AM (#44457103)
    You should be thankful it wasn't PC-based software from Samsung. What I got with my last Samsung phone was bad enough that it made me wish I was still using Sony's MagicGate.
  • Your phone is from the future!

    Well that, or it came from a very strict timezone; you can only live 30 years.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:09AM (#44457243)

    Almost everything you are describing is a productization issue. These types of issues exist, randomly, from phone to phone, because each phone is separately productized by the partner vendor. Generally, the productization, even between single letter/digit hardware versions from the same vendor, end up being handled by different teams, so there is typically not a lot of consistency here. There are vendors who are exceptions, but they are rather rare. Samsung is not one of those vendors.

  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:16AM (#44457335)
    The "Free Market" not only does not fix things, it ensures that broken things come out continuously

    Int the free market, your phone problems are fixed by you buying a new phone. Maybe the new phone will work, maybe it won't. If not,you are free to continuing to buy phones until you find one that works. Then the bad phone maker are free to go out of business.

    That is the ugly dark side of libertarianism. Your car explodes because of a defective gas tank? Acter enough people know about this, the car sales slow, and the manufacturer might go out of business.

    You'll still be dead.

    We need to strike a balance between over-regulation and the completely impractical wild west approach that might have worked in the early 1800's. I

    • by idontgno (624372) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:36AM (#44457679) Journal

      ^This.

      The Free Market, like Natural Selection, doesn't solve an individual's problems. The solve the (market's|species') problems, slowly, while leaving behind it a thick trail littered with the corpses of failed individuals.

      Adam Smith may have identified the Invisible Hand, but it has Darwin's fingerprints.

    • This has the ring of plausibility, but isn't this an unfalsifiable statement? Because then no matter what crappy products are produced, it can be written off the free market in action.

      My hypothesis is more falsifiable -- it was that for attributes that are easily quantifiable (size, weight, battery life), phones in the same price range will stay more or less competitive with each other, while for attributes that are harder for the user to perceive right away (aggravating bugs in the UI), there will be ou
  • Yet you used a completely new product from before the release, if I understand correctly from the release date of the Stratosphere 2 (Nov 2012).

    For both video games and phones and indeed any complicated piece of hardware one must wait. This is a hard learned lesson for me as well. I played Skyrim without bugs... six months after it was released. I've skipped other games and phones entirely. Markets are not instant feedback devices that make every product perfect, they are feedback devices that tell us which products are best.

    There are some problems that markets can't fix... monopoly, regulatory capture, etc... Buying complicated technology without waiting for early adopters to pay the break-in price is another one of them.
  • Free market. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jellomizer (103300)

    I don't think you understand free market.

    Free Market doesn't prevent selling junk. It is a free market you can sell what you want, Junk or something great.

    However if the product fails to meet customer expectation they may not buy the product, buy an other product from that company and give a negative recommendation about the product. So other people can choose not to buy the product. As it is a free market they don't need to buy it.

    The problem isn't Free Market. But the biggest supporters of free market

    • The irony is that the solution he proposes, "would be for some third-party review company to rate each new phone on the Stupid S#!% Index." In other words, he's proposing a market based solution that already exists. One thinks first, of course, of Consumer Reports, but there are countless publication which review products as a business. It looks rather like he didn't even bother checking reviews.
    • by Moof123 (1292134)

      Effective marketing is often cheaper, easier, and more profitable than good engineering. Nuff said.

  • by Bomarc (306716) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:30AM (#44457563) Homepage
    For some reason, PM's (especially those at larger companies) think that developers create code that works. Frequently -- at best there is a "let the customer find it, well fix it on the next revision" attitude, however more frequently there is a "just bury the problem all together". Another one is -- hire QA form China (I've seen this fail time and time again). They (the PM's) think these actions will save money -- and it never does. Lost customers, lost business relations, lost faith in company, products that just don't work.
    A recent example in Slashdot : Twitter - is hiring. Look at the number of job openings for QA -- just THREE, and all of those are developer based (technically SDET's). Number of "testers" is zero. Number of testers should be 3 or 4 developers to 1 QA (max). Any ratio with a testing staff less than this and you (your company/product) are asking for trouble. Twitter has an 85 to 3 ratio (Yes, they might have 20 testers sitting around waiting for work from development that will be hired, but I don't think so). Think about those numbers for a minute. How many companies have a "Quality, that doesn't even make it on our radar" attitude? Surprisingly, most of them. Frequently these same company's actually resent meaningful testing.
  • by avm (660)

    Seriously. The ending to this article is one of the best last words I've seen in awhile.

  • They'll ship [wikipedia.org] anything.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:51AM (#44457891) Journal

    I realize this is not a logical reaction. The aggravation you feel towards a bug should depend on how much the bug actually interferes with the user experience, not on how easily the manufacturer should have found it.

    No, quite the contrary, it's a very logical reaction. I find consistently that the care a company takes in the little things reflects the care a company takes in the big things. A company whose software has really obvious and easily caught bugs almost certainly did not do a great job at designing the hardware either, hence your broken charge port (which should always be the single most robust component of a phone, because it is the most heavily abused).

    Case in point, I recently shipped back a Canon 28-135 lens (two copies) because of severe lens creep. I tend to assume that if the tolerances on such a user-visible component are that sloppy, the tolerances on other components that are less visible are probably equally sloppy, and such sloppy tolerances are likely to result in severely diminished life expectancy.

    Well, I couldn't tell you. I can't test an iPhone under normal usage because I'm too addicted to the Stratosphere's slide-out keyboard, which enables me to type much faster than a touchscreen but which only comes on a few Android and Windows phones, and not on any version of the iPhone. Maybe I'll try one more time to make the switch to a touchscreen while my Stratosphere is in the shop.

    Helpful tip: You can buy cases for iPhones that include slide-out keyboards. You do have to charge the keyboards separately, but IMO that's a small price to pay for a phone that knows today isn't tomorrow. :-D

  • They were using the blackberry release model, force the release and then hurry up and release updates to often.
  • by Moof123 (1292134) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:56AM (#44457967)

    Like evolutionary forces, the free market ensures the survival of the fit (good enough to keep going), not the fittest as so many people have erroneously come to believe. Unless a product is bad enough to sink a company, the company will stumble on with the same folks making the next generation of products. Bad management almost assures that even if the company halves in size as the result of a string of bad products they will not actually fix their internal company problems, as management can hardly tell a good employee from a terrible one (heck they look on the mirror daily and fail to immediately quit for the good of the company...).

    So the free market will never drive companies to perfection, only weed out the weakest serial non-performers at best. Even then, those weeded out are weeded out based on profit, not product excellence (see: Firefly). At worst bad companies will have other large operations that will let them subsidize terrible behaviors for decades in their badly run groups (see: Microsoft).

    A lot of this boils down to the engineers often having neither a clue there is a problem, nor the power to do anything about it when they have a clue. A group of good engineers can be powerless in the face of an awful product roadmap managed by a pointy haired buffoon. See Putt's Law for many more details.

  • As I learned from my Galaxy S and then from reading other peoples issues with other Samsung issues, Samsung will release a buggy product (not necessarily a sin in itself) but will then stonewall, refuse to admit that the problem exists, promise solutions "soon", fail to deliver solutions that solve the problem and then just ignore the issue until it goes away.

    I will never buy a Samsung product again that hasn't been out for a while. And then I will read to find out what bugs and issues there are with the pr

  • Samsung software is just bad. Kies may be the single worst piece of desktop software I've used in a decade (I'm sure there's worse, but I haven't used it).

    Whenever I get a new phone (currently an S3) I wait a couple days to see if anything has improved, then rip all the Samsung crap off it and it's like a whole new (har) phone with better performance and much better battery life. And it's stable. Uptime on my S3 is currently at 46 days; T-Mobile sends me a support text every week warning me to reboot it or

  • Easy Answer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Friday August 02, 2013 @12:51PM (#44458775)
    The answer is really easy. You do not have a flagship product. You have a product meant to fit a hole in the low end of the market. Why pour large sums of money into polishing a turd? If you want a better experience but don't want to spend much money, go get a legacy Galaxy S{n} or equivalent flagship line from another vendor.
  • I have a Samsung Charge. Getting your phone and all it's issues sounds like an upgrade to me. Samsung may do well in other products, but they make poor quality phones.
  • I'm amused that someone is still talking about the Samsung Stratosphere. The first model was obsolete nearly as soon as it came out, in the sense that Android 4.0 came out a week after the Stratosphere, but the phone never received an update past 2.3 (the two it did receive brought it up to 2.3.6). I've never used the Stratosphere 2, and it sounds like that's where most of Bennett's complaints are coming from. One the Strat 1, I've never experienced the calendar bug, and the screen always comes back on w

  • Not as smart as a smartphone, but it had looked like it would do enough for us; but even what was on there didn't work right. And in particular, basic Bluetooth didn't work right, which was the deal-killer. So my wife broke down and got an iPhone, like her sister's whole family and her brother's whole family, and every feature she tried just worked, and now she's a happy little Appleist like the rest of them. Happy being the important part.

    I work in embedded systems, with over 10 years in telecom prot
  • Are these issues with Android itself? How is this issue not showing up in other phones then? Or did Samsung go out of their way to "customize" Android on this phone, and shit up everything they touch? Why do carriers and manufacturers go out of their way to do this? Are they retarded?

  • The free market has fixed the problem. It's called the iPhone. Or if you don't roll that way, a newer Android phone from any number of other suppliers. I hear HTC makes a heck of a phone. To not engage in the free market (i.e. not buy the better product) and then complain that the free market isn't solving your problems seems like self evident stupidity to me. Just sayin.
  • by Descalzo (898339) on Saturday August 03, 2013 @12:38PM (#44465971) Journal
    If you start a Stupid Crap website, I'll visit it. Every time a friend or acquaintance asks me what they think about the phone they're thinking of buying, I'll direct them there. Every time someone comes to me and says, "Look at my sweet new Statosphere 3!" I'll say, "I don't know, man. I was looking at StupidPhoneBugCrap.com and how do you like your calendar?" and then I will encourage them to take the phone back. That's the free market at work. Now if I can beat you to the punch and create such a website, I'll make the money and you won't. Thanks for the idea, dummy!

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

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