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Cellphones Communications Handhelds Networking United Kingdom Wireless Networking

Cellphones Really Are Not As Good As They Were 10 Years Ago At Making Calls (telegraph.co.uk) 215

whoever57 writes: If you ever thought that your cellphone does not make calls as well as the cellphone you had 10 years ago, you may be right. The UK's Ofcom (roughly equivalent to the FCC) tested cellphones and found that many needed a much higher signal than the standards recommend in order to send and receive data. This applied to 2G, 3G and 4G connections. Confirmation bias has me nodding along; Google Fi has been dropping a huge percentage of my calls lately, and I've been unfairly reminiscing about the good old days with a heavy Nokia 5100 series phone.
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Cellphones Really Are Not As Good As They Were 10 Years Ago At Making Calls

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  • Antennas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hardhead_7 ( 987030 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @10:52AM (#51049187)
    It's not really a mystery. Phones used to have external antennas, and now they're not only internal but the phones themselves have mostly metal cases (because it feels so much more "premium") with a tiny plastic window for the antenna because that metal blocks the radio waves. This is textbook "form over function" design.
    • Re:Antennas (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @10:59AM (#51049267)

      Also, there's a ton more of them these days and they're sending and receiving a massive amount of data, which necessitated switching from the old analog AMPS network to increasingly complex digital networks and opening up much higher frequency bands which don't penetrate as well.

      It's like saying "WiFi routers were better 10 years ago" because back then you had the whole 2.4GHz band to yourself.

      • Re:Antennas (Score:5, Informative)

        by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @11:08AM (#51049355)
        RTFA: "top-of-the-range smartphone is not as good for basic communications as the mobile you used a decade ago.

        ...a handset costing a fraction of the price typically provides better signal performance for voice calls and texts. "

        So your comparison is wrong. It's about basic functionality that the newer phones perform poorly. Read the article sometime.
        • I was aware of TFA, but 10 years ago typical phones (in the US at least) weren't even 2G. I was adding network changes to the list of reasons phones don't work as reliably as a decade ago, sorry if it was misleading.

          Speaking of TFA, it would be nice to have the actual numbers from the study. In the article they focus on the worst number in each category... which isn't that useful statistically.

          • My mobile phone in 2001 was a TDMA (digital) phone. And that was 14 years ago.

            • Hell, the first mobile phone I ever owned (~1995) was digital! GSM launched in the early 90s after all.

              By 2005 most phones were so-called 2.5G (GPRS/EDGE) and many had internal antennas. I had a clunky rudimentary smart phone at that point (don't even remember the brand) ... it had a web browser but it was so unusable (small, low resolution screen) that email was about the only thing you'd actually want to do with it. It took the rise of the iPhone and Android phones a few years later to make the mobile web

        • by Lennie ( 16154 )

          This is sparta... I mean slashdot. We don't read articles here. Are you new here ? ;-)

      • Re: Antennas (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @11:15AM (#51049413)
        That is not what the tests were referring to in the article... Devices need a significantly higher signal to maintain a connection than the standards recommend, and some reference platforms for chipsets are closer in line with the standards, but themselves are *a little* high, others *a little* low. As such, OEMs are taking what is essentially a known good chipset, coupling it with an antenna design that is more insulated or otherwise inferior for some reason, at which point creating a less capable communications product - for some reason.

        With regards to devices like the 3 Google Fi phones dropping calls when they don't on other providers... Perhaps it's more a byproduct of the additional overhead of routing voice calls as data to account for the 2 cellular carriers or wifi hand-off that can take place, treating the call as VoIP between the handset and the server as compared to legacy deployments that did not have the added complexity or potential points of failure?
        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          Standard signal strength was a littler higher in the past as well. Modern cell phones have to use less permitted power to cut through more noise.

        • coupling it with an antenna design that is more insulated or otherwise inferior for some reason

          Not inferior, but just a tradeoff in characteristics. Dimensions being one of the characteristics, and bandwidth being another very key one. My current phone supports 8 different bands. I'm willing to guess that wasn't as big of a problem 10 years ago. I still remember dual band or triple band phones being advertised.

      • AMPS was longer than 10 years ago. Sure, it technically still existed, but it was too expensive for anyone to actually use. Most people were on digital systems by then.

        • by afidel ( 530433 )

          Actually AT&T turned off the last AMPS networks on February 18, 2008, the reason is that TDMA (Digital AMPS) reused the AMPS network but broke each AMPS channel into 3 TDMA carriers. Though it was about 10 years ago when the fee for staying on TDMA went from $5 to $10 a month which was enough to push me off of Cingular and onto T-Mobile prepaid.

      • by dave562 ( 969951 )

        This right here. Back in the day, and by that I mean the 1990s, you had a whole channel to yourself when you made a call. At the time, we bitched about call quality and dropped calls, but looking back on it, it was pretty good. The biggest hassle was only getting one side of the conversation. Either you could hear them, or they could hear you. But if you got a good connection, and stayed stationary / on the same cell site, you were good to go. Moving between sites got kind of dicey. Ah, memories...

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Also, there's a ton more of them these days and they're sending and receiving a massive amount of data, which necessitated switching from the old analog AMPS network to increasingly complex digital networks and opening up much higher frequency bands which don't penetrate as well.

        Exactly.

        10 years ago, a handset would have maybe 3, or if you were lucky, 4 bands. Most of which were reasonably resonant with one another (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) so you could invest in basically one big antenna that can be tuned

    • Re:Antennas (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @11:28AM (#51049533)

      It's not really a mystery. Phones used to have external antennas, and now they're not only internal but the phones themselves have mostly metal cases (because it feels so much more "premium") with a tiny plastic window for the antenna because that metal blocks the radio waves. This is textbook "form over function" design.

      I'm with you against the whole form-over-function bullshit that's swept the mobile device world in the last 10 years, but I wouldn't necessarily call out internal antennas as the problem.

      For one, frequencies are higher permitting smaller antennas. Voice channels are digital, and compressed, meaning lower data rates. And, quite frankly, if you can support data at megabit levels (which you can even at like -100dBm), you can support 44khz/16bit voice, let alone the unbelievable low bandwidth codecs we use.

      I think it has more to do with the simple fact that people don't use voice as often, and manufacturers are putting their development effort elsewhere. This leads to problems like incorrect microphone placement, non-functioning noise cancellation, radio firmware bugs, poor process priority management, etc.

      In the old days, I'd choose a phone based on how well it made calls. Now, it's literally the last thing I check, if I even check at all. Screen quality, data rates, processor performance, storage and RAM, internal sensor array and battery life are all far more important to me, and I suspect this is true for many, if not most. Even if it's not true, I think it's what manufacturer market research suggests, and so we are where we are.

      • Re:Antennas (Score:4, Informative)

        by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @11:36AM (#51049629) Homepage Journal
        Frequencies have barely changed. In 1999, European cellphones topped out at 1.8GHz, and US at 1.9GHz. In 2015, both are now at 2.1GHz, barely 10% higher. So that's not it.
        • AMPS ran at 800-900mhz, though.
          • Yes, but AMPS has not been the only mobile phone system in the US now for more than 20 years. Virtually all phones in the US have had to support frequencies close to 2GHz since the late 1990s.

        • Quite a few North American carriers use 2600 MHz (2.6 GHz) spectrum, although that doesn't change your point that much.

        • Frequencies have barely changed.

          No but the use of them has. The phone I had in 1999 supported one frequency. It also didn't work overseas as it wasn't a "dual band" phone as advertised back then, or a "tri band" if I wanted to go crazy and head to the USA.

          My current phone supports 8 bands between 800MHz and 2.1GHz. Regardless of how you want to cut it creating a wide bandwidth antenna involves more tradeoffs than creating an antenna that supports only a narrow bandwidth, whatever the centre frequency is.

      • It's too bad that the market is mostly flocking to compete on screen size, camera quality, processor speed, etc. and not offering choices like: good voice quality, 7 day battery life, rugged / waterproof.

        It's even worse due to the disappearance of landlines - used to be you could always make a decent quality call on a twisted copper pair landline, but the VOIP interface has crept all the way out to the handset in most cases now, the VOIP quality is nowhere near as good as it used to be, and my hearing is ge

        • by afidel ( 530433 )

          good voice quality
          HD Voice absolutely blows away GSM AMR or any of those generation of codecs, heck it's better than POTS (G711 ulaw) by a large margin

          7 day battery life
          My Note 4 can go 21 days if I put it into ultra power saving mode

          rugged / waterproof.
          Droid Turbo 2, waterproof, shatterproof, oh and 48 hour regular use battery to go with your above point.

          The fact is if you want something with specific characteristics you can probably get it so long as you don't require flagship specs.

          • HD Voice: how do I ensure that I get HD Voice as a codec without controlling both handsets and having them on a supporting carrier? It's a shame that we've dropped below POTS quality as the baseline.

            Battery life: can you receive calls or texts when in ultra-low power saving mode? What's your boot up time to make a call? My moto feature phone from 2006 would go 24hrs x 7 days in "standby" without charging which included being able to receive text and photos and take incoming calls, talk time was measured

            • by afidel ( 530433 )

              Yes in ultra power saving mode it can send and receive calls and SMS, it can even send and receive email and browse the web, though your actual battery life will greatly depend on how much you use it. What it doesn't do is color, background data, LTE, or allow any background applications.

        • Well, FWIW, you might want to give a high-end bluetooth headset a shot, if you haven't.

          Bose, plantronics.. anything above $50 has substantially better speaker and microphone quality than you'll find on a handset these days. It's still to great, but it's better.

          • Well, FWIW, you might want to give a high-end bluetooth headset a shot, if you haven't.

            Bose, plantronics.. anything above $50 has substantially better speaker and microphone quality than you'll find on a handset these days. It's still to great, but it's better.

            Can you give some model numbers and maybe links?

            I'm needing to be on a bluetooth headset for work most of the day..and can't find one that give good microphone enough for me to sound 'normal" to folks on the other end.

            I currently have the LG Infi

            • They're big and geeky looking, but the BlueParrott B250-XT has an awesome noise-cancelling mic. I can drive down the highway at 70mph with the windows down and the person at the other end won't hear a thing except me. The sound quality on my end is a little peaky, but otherwise it's been a pretty decent headset. Ridiculously long battery life too.
          • Agreed, I've often thought that a 7" tablet with bluetooth phone capabilities is what I really want to carry, but they haven't edged the market quite that large yet.

            Even with a decent audio interface, the carrier quality is still all over the map - some have HD voice, but most don't. Skype over 4G is a good way to get high quality with a lot of people, but good luck getting my 70 year old mother to use that instead of the dialer keypad to call us.

    • If the case is metallic, so what prevents them from using the own case as an antenna?
      • Apple tried this a few years ago with the iPhone 4. It didn't work out so well [knowyourmeme.com]. Simply holding the phone in the "wrong way" made it drop the connection.
        • Um, Apple did not use the case as an antenna; the phone did have internal antennas. Some users reported problems with reception but of all the iPhone 4 users I knew, none of them had problems.
          • Um, Apple did not use the case as an antenna; the phone did have internal antennas. Some users reported problems with reception but of all the iPhone 4 users I knew, none of them had problems.

            It was a huge problem for lefties. I had this phone. The antenna was not the entire case, but the band around the edge of the case. And there were three antennas there. The problem was that for left handed people, a natural grip would cause your hand to bridge the gap separating two of the antennas (wifi and cellular). I could watch my iPhone 4 drop from full bars to 1 or none just by changing my grip.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              The antenna was not the entire case, but the band around the edge of the case.

              No. This is incorrect. You can order the cellular antenna [ifixit.com] as a part. The wifi antenna was separate.

              • The antenna was not the entire case, but the band around the edge of the case.

                No. This is incorrect. You can order the cellular antenna [ifixit.com] as a part. The wifi antenna was separate.

                That antenna is strictly for CDMA. The only two providers (almost in the entire world) that use CDMA are Sprint and Verizon. But I was wrong. IT was two antennas, not three. See for yourself [anandtech.com]

            • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
              Well if you sinister lefties would just learn to use the correct hand....
        • ... if you didn't use a headset, and and you contorted your hand uncomfortably to bridge that gap while holding the iPhone to your ear, after licking or otherwise intentionally wetting said hand to make it more conductive, whilst placing a call in an area that already had sub-par reception.

          Sure, Apple could have handled it better from a public relations perspective. But, when not in intentionally contrived circumstances, it was a very difficult issue to replicate. I had an iPhone 4 and never had the issue

      • Attenuation. As it turns out, antenna size and shape actually matter.

      • mostly because physics doesn't work like that. You can't just add metal to an antenna; to get specific frequencies you have to have specific lengths. There's quite a bit of math that goes into antenna design...you can read up on it here [wikipedia.org] if your interested. Modern antenna use fractal math to bend the required length into a tiny package.
      • Re:Antennas (Score:5, Informative)

        by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @01:49PM (#51050953)
        Since most of the replies to you so far are smarmy, I'll try to answer your question.

        An antenna is not just a piece of metal. It's a resonance chamber. When you were a kid, you probably sloshed water back and forth in the bathtub. If you did it at the right frequency, the waves would get bigger and bigger, and eventually slosh over the sides getting your mom and dad all wet.

        That's exactly what an antenna does. The EM waves passing through the antenna sloshes electrons back and forth. If it's just the right frequency (called a resonance frequency), the sloshing gets bigger and bigger, creating a stronger signal for the electronics in the phone to pick up. Other frequencies don't create as big a sloshing (or any sloshing), so the amplifies amplifies signals close to the resonance frequency relative to other frequencies. The effect is very pronounced [wikimedia.org] if designed correctly, and allows you to easily pull out exactly the signal you want from a sea of EM noise. What determines the resonance frequency? The size of the bathtub, or the length of the antenna.

        You can't use a metal case as an antenna because it's too broad. The resonance frequency along a diagonal would be different than along the edge, and your "antenna" wouldn't tune out a lot of the other frequencies you consider to be noise. You can get around this by using just the edge of the case (Apple tried this). But then anything conductive which touches the antenna (like your hand) can alter its resonance frequency, causing it to not work anymore as an antenna.

        So the best antenna design is still a metal wire of just the right length so its resonance frequency matches your cell phone carrier's frequency, mounted internally so as to isolate it from contact with other conductive items. Wrapping that wire inside a metal body creates a Faraday cage [wikipedia.org] which blocks out EM signals, making reception (and transmission) worse. That's what's been so frustrating about all these bloggers and reviewers who failed high school physics who think metal makes a phone "premium". No it doesn't, it makes it a Faraday cage which is pretty much an anti-radio, the worst possible thing you could do to a phone. Save the metal cases for jewelry boxes. Plastic or carbon fiber is the best material for a phone (or radio) case.
        • Your answer was by far the best explanation for the case, thanks. I knew of course that is not so simple to mount an antenna but I was not knowing the details of how complicated it really is
        • Plastic or carbon fiber is the best material for a phone (or radio) case.

          Except carbon fiber is conductive.

    • It was all downhill after the Nokia 3210..
    • Antennas, the reason? Cellphone communications have always been expensive. At the beginning of the mobile phone era, the subscribers fee had to cover the cost of the new infrastructure etc... Then, 15 years later, while the number of subscribers exploded, the monthly cost to use a cellphone is still high. Sure, there were some technological improvements, but did the carriers largely upgrade their infrastructure to cope with all that traffic? Or did they make sure to keep the milk cow alive?
      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        They've had to put up massively larger number of towers to keep the cell size down enough to provide good bandwidth per user and they have to provide WAY more bandwidth per site which requires fiber upgrades and expensive network equipment to provide.

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      This is textbook "form over function" design.

      Even excluding performance, this is majorly at play in the shape of phones. They are all now flat rectangles, sized for use as a touchscreen rather than holding to the side of your head and talking. That alone makes them pretty shitty for making an actual phone call. Add in a protective case to muffle the speaker and mic, and yeah, my old Motorola clam shell was much better as a straight phone.

    • The external was a simple coil/linear antennae. The new antennae's in phones use a design that is "Fractal" in nature. This "Fractal" nature for antennae's leading to a much larger signal gain over traditional antennae was discovered by a German Boy Scout working on his Ham radio license. He experimented with different designs, and found a clear signal gain the more he made the antenna fractal in nature (he didn't immediately understand that it was fractal, but, he had the data plotted against various desig

  • Living in Houston, TX with Verizon as my provider; I've never had a dropped call while talking (hands free) and driving for over an hour in and around the city. Perhaps it's just the increase in cell tower coverage and technology, but not having dropped calls is a massive, HUGE improvement over what it was 10 years ago!

    • Yes - yours. It will depend on your coverage but I have definitely noticed signal strength has not improved.
    • Living in Houston, TX with Verizon as my provider; I've never had a dropped call while talking (hands free) and driving for over an hour in and around the city. Perhaps it's just the increase in cell tower coverage and technology, but not having dropped calls is a massive, HUGE improvement over what it was 10 years ago!

      Back in the analog cell phone days, coverage in my hometown seemed about as good as it is now. However, call quality on analog cell phones was far better than modern devices. No digital VoIP sound ever. And no, I don't recall ever hearing any "static".
      Analog was great for transmitting analog information (voice) but you can't oversell the spectrum as much so it's less attractive to providers. The fact that consumers got tricked into thinking digital was better for audio transmission is kind of humorous

      • Neither Analog nor Digital is inherently "better" - it's all about the implementations, basically how much bandwidth you give to each channel. Digital technologies are a little more bandwidth efficient than Analog due to compression tricks that are more highly developed in the digital realm - so, overall, given a bandwidth budget, digital can deliver better quality than analog, but that in no way guarantees that a digital implementation will deliver better perceived quality sound quality than an arbitrary

        • by AndroSyn ( 89960 )

          The major advantage analog voice systems have are when you are in a nominal coverage area, you will get some static, but still intelligible. In that same area using digital, either you have nearly perfect audio, or just no audio at all if enough bits are lost and quite likely a dropped call.

           

          • And, again, this is down to implementation... most digital implementations out there do have a very sharp cutoff on the signal quality... good until gone. The simplest analog implementations will have a gradual loss of quality - though there are techniques to "sharpen" that up, most haven't been developed to a level that resembles the digital cutoff, and few have been deployed.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @10:52AM (#51049195)
    Ten years ago data was almost unheard of in cell phones. It was basically limited to SMS. People simply used their phones less.

    Now EVERYONE has a phone and they're constantly in-use. Congestion is probably the bigger factor.
    • tested cellphones and found that many needed a much higher signal than the standards recommend in order to send and receive data

      I'm sure congestion is more of a problem.

      But if the phone under test conditions needs a stronger signal that the standards say, then they're simply not working as effectively.

      Some smartphones require a minimum signal 10 times stronger than the best non-smart phone before they can make or receive a call, according to Ofcom's research.

      See, that's not congestion ... that's a badly des

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        See, that's not congestion ... that's a badly designed phone.

        Unless they either did all of this work in a Faraday cage or they went out to the middle of nowhere and set up their own tower with no interference I don't see how congestion wouldn't play a role.

    • Now EVERYONE pays a monthly cell phone subscription and the network has switched from having to build new towers all the time to mostly expanding capacity on the existing towers. Coverage and capacity is rising to meet demand, and possibly to blame for the reduction in phone capability.

      In the 1980s, your car phones needed big roof mounted antennas to have meaningful coverage, in part because the towers were so few and far between.

      Now, if you are 10 miles from the nearest tower, you're just screwed unless y

  • I get signal everywhere but in my house. So if signal isn't as good, meh.
  • There's a spot in my house where the signal is pretty weak, but I found over the last ten years that each new iPhone I bought was less likely than its predecessor to drop out or lose a call when I walked through that place. With my current phone, I can see the signal strength drop to one bar, but the connection generally remains up.

    -jcr

  • You do not have to buy a silly smartphone.

    You can just get a strong decent old phone, like the famous Nokia 3310, replace the battery by a new shiny one in top condition, and you can have many years of good calls.
  • I find that usability has declined greatly since my Desire Z. I truly wish I had the means to design my own smartphone. It would look a lot like a Nokia Communicator 9500...

    • That reminds me of my HTC Kaiser (no relation). It was Windows Mobile but I got some early Cyanogen builds running on it. Then I had a Desire HD (no relation to yours) which was a solid Android phone, even without the slide out keyboard. After that I had the One M7 which ran like a champ right up until I lost it off a roller coaster. The theme park staff found it a month later and mailed it to me, in perfect working order.

      However, in the mean time I needed a phone, and the One M9 just didn't impress me

  • by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @11:16AM (#51049425)
    The only way I know of to keep a competitive environment where cellular carriers cannot fuck with user experiences and device makers get a fair shake is to prevent cellular services companies from providing the phones. It's anecdotal (because I don't know of any app that will allow me to prove this), but I am certain TMobile drops data connections of my phone detects wifi signals nearby - even if Wifi is off. It basically forces me to use a wifi signal even though I'm perfectly happy using the cellular data signal that I pay for. It happens in good coverage areas. If devices were decoupled from cellular service providers, the device makers would have much more incentive to show the user that the device is not causing the issue. And, the services would have much more incentive to show which devices play well with their networks. Since cell phone services control the device, they can install the worlds worst battery-hogging software that just annoys the user - and prevent the user from removing it.
    So, to sum it up:
    - cellular service companies are evil, make too much money, and don't spend enough money upgrading their networks
    - cellular device companies need to grow a backbone and prevent cellular services from screwing up the user experience
    - cellular service companies should not be able to control every aspect of the cellular device
    - cellular services AT&T and Verizon are especially evil
    • Hmmm ... so nothing at all in the article suggests this has ANYTHING to do with cellular carriers, and EVERYTHING to do with phones which require a far stronger signal to work than they should.

      So, to sum it up:

      Nice screed, but it has nothing to do with the conclusions in TFA.

    • Well I have T-Mobile and i have intentionally disconnected from the local wifi to try and hit my IP from an external network. Sometimes I forget to reconnect and it works just fine for voice and data. I have an iPhone though, so T-Mobile doesn't have much control outside of basic network configuration settings pushed to the baseband on the phone.
  • Cellphones were dramatically better at calls back in the analog days. I have an audiovox phone that the audio was 900X better than the most expensive cellphone today and even in fringe areas you could still make that call through the static as human brains are good at filtering signals and pulling speech out.

    Granted I dont miss the 2 hour talk time and having to charge the damn thing 3 times a day, nor that it made even a Galaxy Tablet look small. Oh and YES I did have a smartphone before all of you as we

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      Cellphones were dramatically better at calls back in the analog days.

      I'm old enough to remember when Sprint commercials, also featured Candice Bergen, featured some guys in lab coats testing Sprint phone service (not sure if this was cellphone or landline service). One of them dropped a pin next to the mic, the other guy asked, "was that a pin dropping?" (illustrating quality of their audio fidelity). Later on, they used 1-800-PIN-DROP for their phone number. Nowadays Sprint company logo is an abstract drawing of a pin bouncing off a flat surface. Youngsters have no idea wha

  • 10 years ago (in the US), I got my first cell-phone - a simple feature-phone. No data plan. SMS/texts were $0.20/each. It was a LG flip-phone on a Verizon family contract (I will NEVER buy another LG phone.) These days, I carry around an iPhone4 on an AT&T monthly family plan..

    I'm hardly a first adopter of phones.

    That said, even I've noticed the changes in the cell-phone networks. And the most used feature of my phone is the calendar & alarms. Actual real-time communication with a smart-pho

    • Actual real-time communication with a smart-phone seems to be an afterthought.

      LOL, I have an HTC Desire C or somesuch. It's a little older, not overly fancy, and has no data plan.

      It's great for texting, and is an Android device.

      The problem is it is terrible as a phone. When it's not on speakerphone, or isn't connected to a Bluetooth device, it's impossible to hold it as a handset and actually hear anything.

      Now, this is mostly OK because I mostly text, or can connect to a Bluetooth thing.

      When the odd time

  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @11:41AM (#51049671)

    [Cut back to Fry, who is relaxing, when his head shakes and we hear a bell ringing. A telephone icon is shown on the eyePhone screen.]

    Fry: What's happening to me? Is it puberty?

    Bender: It's a phone call, dingus.

    Fry: These eyePhones are phones, too?

    Bender: Duh!

  • The Nokia 5100 from 2003 wasn't heavy. Check the specs at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    It's 104 grams.

    Comparison:
    2007 iPhone: 135 g https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    2011 Samsung Galaxy S2 116 g https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    2011 iPhone 4S 140 g https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    2015 Samsung Galaxy S6 138 g https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    2015 iPhone 6S 143 g https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Phones got bigger and heavier, which is not a surprise also considering all the new stuff that got packed insid

  • Earnest question. Nearly everyone I know uses Skype, Facetime, and/or messaging for all their communication. Sure we still have to use cellular occasionally but it's not the norm.
  • 1. Complexity creeping everywhere
    2. Governments requiring surveillance functions from network operators
    3. Governments requiring surveillance functions in handsets
    4. Governments using "offline" half-legal surveillance / eavesdropping in-place
    5. Network operators overselling capacity
    6. Multiband radios (700/900/1800/1900/2100MHz) + multiple radios close together (GSM/CDMA + wifi + BT + NFC)
    7. Multiple devices close together (~2 phones, tablet, laptop, IOT devices)
    8. Multiple cheap low quality ra
  • Well, since one of the more popular phone lines is the iPhone, and since the late Steve Jobs helpfully pointed out that most of the users are holding it wrong, is this much of a surprise?

  • My phone application sits in a folder on the second screen of my iPhone, next to 'TimeHop'. It is one of the least important functions that my 'phone' has. It may be worse at making calls than older phones used to be, but I make an order of magnitude fewer calls than I used to as well. If I spend more than a couple hours total on the phone a YEAR, I'd be surprised.

    Phoning someplace is my last resort. If I've got to phone somewhere and there's no other choice, I'll actually consider whether or not I want to

  • About four or five years ago, I heard a review of celphones on NPR. They went on for 10 min about K3wl features of a half a dozen or dozen new phones, then, to wrap up, asked the question of "how about voice quality?".

    The response was that one was more-or-less ok, one mediocre, and the rest terrible.

    Then there's the 50% of you with your bloody mobiles... 15 years ago, I used to get aggravated by idiots in Chicago with the LATESTK3WL tiny phone... that they'd entertain half an el car (with all the noise) wit

  • I wonder if any of this is bugs hacks added to the radio firmware for the security agencies (and/or other malware purveyors)? B-)

  • Confirmation bias has me nodding along;

    I'm convinced that confirmation bias strongly affects human reactions, and this is just the evidence I needed to prove it.

    ~Loyal

  • If they're going to test it properly, they should take a phone from 10 years ago as-is and try to use it on today's networks.

    Because chances are, as many have pointed out, a big problem is congestion and the cell phone companies screwing us, not the device itself.

"Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." -- Montaigne

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