Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones

Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be 291

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes My LG Optimus F3Q was the lowest-end phone in the T-Mobile store, but a cheap phone is supposed to suck in specific ways that make you want to upgrade to a better model. This one is plagued with software bugs that have nothing to do with the cheap hardware, and thus lower one's confidence in the whole product line. Similar to the suckiness of the Stratosphere and Stratosphere 2 that I was subjected to before this one, the phone's shortcomings actually raise more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

How long would it have taken you to find these bugs, as a beta tester?

  • The phone's auto-correct changes single-quotes to double-quotes in contractions -- for example, when you type you're, the phone auto-corrects it to you"re .

  • When you backspace over part of a word that you've typed and then type the rest of the word, auto-correct corrects based on the letters that you type after you've finished backspacing, rather than the letters in the entire word that you've just completed. For example, if you type couchsurfing and the phone auto-corrects it to concurring, then backspace over all of the letters except the initial co, and then type "uch" followed by a space to form the word "couch", the Optimus changes "uch" to "such" to form "cosuch", because it thinks it's auto-correcting just the "uch" fragment and doesn't see the entire word "couch".

  • Taking a screen capture still doesn't work, just like it didn't work on the Stratosphere 2. There are official directions on how to do it, but you can follow the steps and nothing happens.

  • The first time I launched the voice mail application, the app prompted me to freely choose a new PIN code, and then sternly warned me, Mao-like, that my supposedly freely chosen PIN code was "incorrect". (I never got it working, and just called in to the voice mail number manually whenever I wanted to check my messages.)

  • When I bought a movie on Google Play and wanted to "pin" it to the phone -- i.e. download a static, non-streamed copy so that I could watch it offline, e.g. on a plane ride -- the phone didn't have enough internal storage left to save a copy of the movie (1.27 GB, most of it taken up in 1-2 MB increments by crapware already loaded on to the phone, so that only about 200 MB was left). So I tried saving the movie to a 32 GB SD card that I had plugged into the phone, but ran into the problem that Google Play wouldn't let me save the movie to the SD card, a problem described in Joe Levi's 2013 article "Why does Google hate your SD card?" and still not fixed almost a year later. (The comments posted on his article indicate that lots of people are pissed.)

    Unlike the other bugs, this may be an example of stupidity not at the testing level but at the design specification level -- perhaps this was done in a misguided effort to prevent illegal copying. But, as Levi says of this theory, "If the DRM being used on Android is sufficient enough for content providers to accept it when media is saved internally, they should also accept it when media is saved to an SD card. Otherwise, the DRM isn't really that trustworthy, is it?" It's pointless from a copy-protection point of view, since anyone who wants to pirate a movie can just download it from various BitTorrent sites anyway; all this "feature" does is alienate people who are trying to pay for a movie legally.

  • In the Messaging (i.e. texting) app, you cannot search for messages by the name of the sender. Your conversations are listed in reverse chronological order by the date of the most recent message in each conversation, but to find a conversation with a particular person, you have to scroll down the entire list of conversations and keep your eyes peeled for the person's name.

  • On certain mobile website forms (the Fandango site, for instance, and some others that I don't remember -- it's not clear why this happens on some website forms but not others), the phone won't let me type "special characters", the ones that appear in the upper-right corner of the keyboard keys (so that you can type the "@" symbol by first hitting the "Fn" key to access special characters, and then pressing the "2" key). This means that since I can't type the "@" symbol, I can't log in to any form that requires an email address as a username. (The workaround is to open the Gmail app, find an email address in an email message, copy the "@" symbol from the email address to the clipboard, and then paste it back in the browser form -- yes, I have to do every time I log in to a mobile site that has this problem.)

In my previous phone-suck article about the Samsung Stratosphere, I listed as many problems as I could think of at the time, and I completely forgot the fact that the phone recorded videos without any sound. (I know it wasn't a hardware problem with the microphone, since the phone app picked up my voice fine.) As part of my research into how to ruin Burning Man forever by telling "tourists" how to get there easily, I wanted to post a video of the quintessential Burning Man spectacle that makes all the dust and thirst and heat worthwhile -- and I had to post it with no sound recording, because Samsung's product testing is done by the same drunken bonobos that worked on the LG Optimus.

And both products raise the same question, not rhetorically, but seriously: How did this happen? More specifically, in a theoretical free market, any product improvement that costs only a small amount compared to the benefit it brings to consumers, should be implemented (and consumers will reward the company by paying additional dollars for the improvement, in proportion to the benefit it brings them). While it doesn't always work out that way in practice, it's hard to believe LG couldn't spring for a few English-language testers to point out that the phone shouldn't be correcting you're to you"re.

I think the answer in both cases is that the free market optimizes mainly for things that are easily quantifiable, like camera resolution and network speed, because those can be listed on the packaging and compared against other products. But the amount of stupid s*#t you run into while actually using the phone, is hard to define on an objective scale, so that's the first thing that companies will cut corners on, even if it's something that consumers would be willing to pay money for.

So my solution is still essentially the same as what I proposed after trashing the Stratosphere: Some Consumer-Reports-type outlet should rate phones on a Stupid S*#t Index (along with speed, reception, etc.), based on how much stupid s*#t they run into in a week of typical usage. Ideally the Stupid S*#t Index should be reduced to a number so that you can do a quick comparison between different models. If a cheap phone has a lot of stupid s*#t problems, but you don't mind because you want to save money, that's a valid choice, and if you want to pay more for a phone with less stupid s*#t, that's fine too. But people should know what they're buying.

More generally, I think people vastly overestimate the ability of the free market to meet consumer demand, in cases where the demand is for something that can't be easily quantified. I've spent a fair amount of time in "entrepreneurial" circles (while bouncing back and forth myself between entrepreneurship and regular jobs) and have heard the faithful reciting a lot of platitudes like "The market rewards the best product," or "Focus on building the best product you can make, and the customers will come." But most of them evidently didn't even believe it themselves -- they spent most of their efforts on search engine optimization, running content farms, networking with important business contacts, and other activities that didn't directly relate to the quality of their products. And who could blame them? Since their products weren't competing on qualities that were precisely quantifiable, there was no reason for any of them to try to create the "best" product, or even a particularly good one. And that strategy worked quite well for several of them.

On the other hand, when you're competing on a quantifiable metric like price, the best product or service can shoot straight to the top without wasting any time on zero-sum games like SEO or networking ass-kissery. If you're selling external hard drives on Amazon for $0.01, you'll make a lot of sales. You'll go broke, but in the meantime, the free market will connect you quite effectively with your customers.

So, make the mobile phone Stupid S*@t Index into something quantifiable, and maybe we'll have less stupid s#*t. One review body could publish the average rating from several different reviewers, or several different review bodies could publish their ratings and consumers could weight the averages themselves.

Not that it's a panacea -- I bought the LG Optimus not because it was the cheapest or because I didn't expect it to have bugs, but because it was the only offering with a slide-out keyboard, and I've become addicted to the precision of physical keys. (It is so much easier to let your fingertip feel its way to the right key first, and then actually press the key in a separate motion, rather than having to hope your fingertip lands on the right spot in the first place.) So I never returned the phone, they kept my money, and I suppose that makes me part of the problem.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:22AM (#47500755)

    Because unlike other Slashdot posters, we're actually forced to listen to him every time we glance over stories on the front page.

    • by daw (7006) on Monday July 21, 2014 @04:33PM (#47503355)

      Recently I met a gentleman whose profession was gathering up shopping carts in the supermarket parking lot, and he treated me to an extended discourse about the relative merits of the producers of the different Muppet movies. I recognized the classic signs of an autism spectrum disorder ("For example, a person with AS may engage in a one-sided, long-winded speech about a favorite topic, while misunderstanding or not recognizing the listener's feelings or reactions, such as a wish to change the topic of talk or end the interaction."), and for some reason, my thoughts turned to our old friend, Bennett Haselton.

      • by Krishnoid (984597)

        Recently I met a gentleman whose profession was gathering up shopping carts in the supermarket parking lot, and he treated me to an extended discourse about the relative merits of the producers of the different Muppet movies.

        Well, don't keep us waiting! No, hold on, you're probably going to write this up and submit it to the firehose, right?

  • ...The hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:22AM (#47500757)

    Why is this on Slashdot?

    • Re:...The hell? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:27AM (#47500803)

      Bennett Haselton is the American founder of Circumventor.com and Peacefire.org, two US-based websites dedicated to combating Internet censorship. Peacefire.org is focused on documenting flaws in commercial Internet blocking programs.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        He'd have a better experience if he got a flagship phone. All three of the ones he mentioned owning are the low end crappy ones. Buy crap, get crap. Pretty simple.
        • So documenting piss-poor UI / User Experience is limited to only expensive devices???

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by plover (150551)

            No, but receiving a "free" phone and complaining that the free-market isn't forcing the vendor to fix its shortcomings is kind of disingenuous.

            In the olden days, we'd have said he's "looking a gift horse in the mouth."

            • Re:...The hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by mrex (25183) on Monday July 21, 2014 @02:34PM (#47502511)

              In the olden days, we'd have said he's "looking a gift horse in the mouth."

              In the olden days, few people who paid a company for a product and service considered the return to be some sort of favor magnanamously bestowed upon them by their corporate feudal barons. It's taken over a century of wage slavery to beat down the American worker's psyche to such a low nadir.

            • In the olden days, we'd have said he's "looking a gift horse in the mouth."

              I think this phone came from slightly further back on the horse. You probably wouldn't want to look in there too much.

        • Like my "flagship" Galaxy phone? The one that I think I paid more for than the last three phones I owned. The one that reboots twice a day. The one that, at least once a week, gets itself into some fugue state where it is off but can't be turned back on until I pop the battery out. The one with the photo viewer that is too stupid to realize that landscape photos shouldn't be displayed in portrait orientation when I'm holding the phone in a landscape orientation. The one with a music player that randomly los

      • So? That doesn't make his complaints about what's wrong with the cheap, crappy smart phone he bought any more insightful. We know cheap smart phones tend to be crap. It's not news.

        • by brainboyz (114458)

          What's funny is his complaints are mostly about apps. On an Android. Where you can mostly replace the functionality without fanfare.

          • Re:...The hell? (Score:5, Informative)

            by nabsltd (1313397) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:34PM (#47501421)

            What's funny is his complaints are mostly about apps. On an Android. Where you can mostly replace the functionality without fanfare.

            Unless, of course, you have one of the lower end phones (which is exactly the kind he is referring to) and it doesn't have enough internal storage for you to replace all the built-in apps (which can't be removed without root).

            • Unless, of course, you have one of the lower end phones (which is exactly the kind he is referring to) and it doesn't have enough internal storage for you to replace all the built-in apps (which can't be removed without root).

              True.

              On the other hand, things have come along enough to give you quite a substantial amount of room even at the low-end. I paid $149 For a Huawei 881c (Net10/Tracfone), and I've got 2GB of internal storage to play with for apps (something like 512MB out of the box, but you can tweak it w/o root to take the whole 2GB and shove your media onto a micro-SD chip).

              At this point, the lowest of the low-end phones are only for, well, suckers. You can save up a few pennies and get something cheap, and do it without

            • by PopeRatzo (965947)

              Wouldn't you expect someone who runs privacy organizations to have already rooted his phone?

              It sounds like the bloatware is his biggest problem, and I just got a Moto X for the same price as an LG Optimus. Vanilla Android and no bloatware.

        • Re:...The hell? (Score:5, Informative)

          by dnavid (2842431) on Monday July 21, 2014 @04:15PM (#47503233)

          So? That doesn't make his complaints about what's wrong with the cheap, crappy smart phone he bought any more insightful. We know cheap smart phones tend to be crap. It's not news.

          The "news" he is posting is not that his phone sucks, but rather posing the (very reasonable) question of why crappy hardware tends on average to survive less unscathed in the marketplace while crappy software and feature implementations tend to survive far more readily, and poses a possible answer: that crappy hardware tends to be easy to quantify and thus summarize and highlight, while crappy software and features tend to be more subjective and more difficult to highlight in simple and concise ways to the consumer. And its not the case you can just say "buyer beware" because if a high percentage of consumers are unlikely or incapable of making such informed decisions, their purchasing power will allow the market to fill with bad software, even to the point of precluding or at least making it difficult for good software to survive to the point where educated consumers can find and purchase it. Finding ways to better educate the general masses about poorly designed or implemented software can have payoffs not just for the uneducated consumer, but also for the educated consumer that may not need that information but would benefit from the forcing function it would impress on the overall market.

      • Re:...The hell? (Score:4, Informative)

        by BitZtream (692029) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:53AM (#47501049)

        Bennett HAselton is an ignorant douche who complains when he gets blacklisted by various email lists because he distributes lists of OPEN PROXIES and he's too stupid to know WHY he gets blacklisted ... and then calls that censorship.

        He's an ignorant fucking douche, nothing more.

        Any tangental work he does is irrelevant and generally most of the crap he spews is wrong. You get more accurate information from Fox news.

        • Re:...The hell? (Score:5, Informative)

          by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:35PM (#47501431) Homepage Journal

          Also, keep in mind that this is the same 'ignorant fucking douchebag' who doesn't understand why we have a 5th Amendment [slashdot.org]

          Seriously, if you don't realize what a pretentious, self-absorbed prick Haselton is, go read his reasoning in the link I just posted.

          Or, just wait a couple hours then come back here and read the smart-ass, poorly reasoned responses he will inevitably make in response to all the posts calling him out on his douchebaggery. That's always fun.

    • by nospam007 (722110) * on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:40AM (#47500933)

      "Why is this on Slashdot?"

      It has more literary value than:

      "I bought a cheap-ass phone and it sucks"

      but only barely.

    • Re:...The hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:51AM (#47501025)

      I can only surmise that a long time ago someone thought it would be a good idea to sign a contract to let Bennett have his own frontpage postings rambling on about nonsense, often cluelessly.

      They obviously forgot to ever add an expiration date to the contract, so they just can't get rid of him.

      Really, I can think of no other explanation as to why he gets his own little regular column on Slashdot. It's certainly not because he has anything interesting to say whatsoever.

      Actually that's a lie, maybe sometimes he does have something interesting to say, but the signal to noise ratio with Bennett is so poor that as soon as I see Bennett in the summary I just switch off now because the odds are it'll just be a whole bunch of useless nonsense.

      • Re:...The hell? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday July 21, 2014 @03:11PM (#47502735)

        Actually that's a lie, maybe sometimes he does have something interesting to say,

        Citation required.

        I made the mistake of reading through this, mostly because I was at work, eating lunch, and bored. Then I got to this gem:

        More specifically, in a theoretical free market, any product improvement that costs only a small amount compared to the benefit it brings to consumers, should be implemented (and consumers will reward the company by paying additional dollars for the improvement, in proportion to the benefit it brings them).

        Why yes, Bennett, so many people would be happy to pay for an update to the spelling correction software in their phone. The phone manufacturer would make a nice amount of money from all the "additional dollars" that such updates would bring in. And just as soon as a phone manufacturer followed your "free market" advice and tried charging for a bug-fix update, people like you would be screaming how this company should fix it for free because it was a bug and you've already paid for working software.

        You have no clue at all, do you?

    • Well, /. is filled with news of smartphones - announcements, rumours and whatnot. New tech reviews also appear pretty heavily. And this isn't just a smartphone review. It's a piece about how little manufacturers, as a whole, value their customers for low end devices, taking advantage of their historically low expectations. Pretty much every manufacturer sells absolute crap on the low end. The only exceptions I can think of are Apple, since they simply don't deal on the low end spectrum, Motorola, who has be

    • Because, apparently dude has been using Slashdot as his personal blog for the past 14 years. [slashdot.org]

      I'm surprised Dice isn't charging him for the hosting space.

    • BREAKING NEWS: you get what you pay for, and that isn't limited to hardware

  • It's well known that cheap android phones have always been bad, and will always be bad. If you want a cheap, reliable phone, Nokia is more than willing to sell you one of its lower end Lumias. And if you want to have a contract, you can even get a high quality iPhone for "free". Why waste time with bottom of the barrel junk?
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:42AM (#47500947) Journal
      This is (largely) true; but the question is why?. It is expected that cheap phones will suffer from somewhat inferior hardware; but it is less clear why they should suffer from inferior software, doubly so if the very same vendor or the AOSP has software without whatever flavor of broken is causing the issue. It's also particularly weird with something like autocorrect making dumb mistakes: that's far too high level to be a 'well, we went with the cheapest SoC vendor, and you wouldn't believe what total shit their BSP is...' problem, it's not something that the guy buying the expensive phone is going to be spared because he has a faster CPU and more RAM, and it's not something where there's any good reason for the vendor to be trying to roll their own.

      I suspect that the thesis about 'hard to quantify' stuff getting squeezed first is true, and one would be foolish to expect market mechanisms to work in the absence of good information, which 'hard to quantify' largely assures; but it still surprises me that cheap hardware (and even some expensive hardware) is routinely shipped with software that actually cost somebody money to make worse than 'stock'. Carrier shitware on cheap phones, I understand, because carriers exert most of the control over what phones will be made available 'free' with contract, and so OEMs will suck it up and preinstall whatever they demand; but any other area where the experience is worse than stock android of the equivalent version just seems weird.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        But even high end android sucks. HTC ONE M8 their flagship is jammed packed full of crap from AT&T and HTC. The only way to fix it right now is to install Cyanogenmod Daily Alpha compiles.

        Yes running an Unstable CM11 is far better than the HTC Sense crap with the AT&T garbage stapled all over it.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        but any other area where the experience is worse than stock android of the equivalent version just seems weird.

        Where do you think Samsung and LG stick all the junior devs and QAs? And then pull them off the moment they start making better design choices, to go work on more lucrative projects? Yep, the shitphones. The only choice with the bottom of the barrel phones is to go directly to stock android (which is pretty easy if you have an hour or so to kill and can follow basic instructions) so for Bennett to spend so much time wondering out loud why cheap phones are cheap is the weird part. How about an article on

        • by toejam13 (958243)

          How about an article on the cheapest phone you can turn into an AOSP/Cyanogen handset with good results?

          According to their device wiki [cyanogenmod.org], Cyanogenmod has current support for three slate phones with QWERTY keyboards: the Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon), Motorola Photon Q (Sprint) and the Samsung Relay 4G (T-Mobile). The Samsung Stratosphere II (Verizon) is not supported.

          Nah, why bother; that would't start a flamewar!

          Because the guy has a point. As you go farther beyond mainstream flagship models, you encounter more and more quirks with most smartphones. Samsung in particular has a history of releasing buggy handsets for Verizon (the Fascinate and the Stratosph

          • by war4peace (1628283) on Monday July 21, 2014 @02:47PM (#47502605)

            Let me tell you about my February 2014 Samsung S4 Mini.

            1. The Wireless Radio fails unexpectedly for no reason. All of a sudden I see that it's no longer connected to the wireless network and can't find any wireless network, although the icon is lit in settings. When trying to disable and re-enable it, it takes 2 minutes to disable it, then it works fine after I re-enable it... until it fails again.

            2. The GSM radio fails unexpectedly, and what makes it worse is that you don't know until you try to call someone, when it tells you "The phone is not registered to the network". In the meanwhile, people try to contact you and they can't. There is no visual clue of what's happening: the phone still shows as having signal, etc. The only workaround is to reboot the device.

            3. Screen activation can be made both from the lateral button and the bottom "home" button, which doubles the chances of the screen unexpectedly being activated while the phone is in my pocket. This happens quite a few times every day, while my former phone (HTC Desire S) never ever did that, because the activation button was on top of the device.

            4. At least once every two days, the screen starts registering "taps" by itself. It looks as if a ghost is rattling its fingers on my screen. Effects include but are not limited to people being called out of the blue from my phone (I have quick call icons on a screen), icons being dragged around, features being activated and deactivated a random, And a particularly hilarious SMS message sent to someone from my list of contacts: "Pe la p Pl pe Pl o plop plop plop Pl o pop lol". Less funny is an SMS sent to a friend whose relative died: "Thanks u mean by". After a while it stops as suddenly as it started. Of course, while that happens I can't use my phone because my taps get overridden or mixed by the ghost taps. There is no workaround apart from popping the cover and pulling the battery out, because in their wisdom the software makers decided that if you tap outside the "Restart Phone?" pop-up, it should get canceled.

            5. If you have more than 100 pictures in your gallery, zooming on a picture or panning across a zoomed picture is nearly impossible, the phone is being brought to its knees.

            6. When using "read aloud" on a book, the phone prompts you to download high quality voice file, you click OK, then see "Samsung Apps - a new version is available". You tap "Update", then get "Error: Installation failed. Try Later (-2)". Tap OK, you're prompted for the high quality voice file again. There's a checkmark "Do not show again" which does nothing. Clicking Cancel pops the same window again. And again. And again, ad nauseam.

            7. Every now and then, if someone calls me while I listen to music on the phone, the music pauses for the ring, then once I accept the conversation the music resumes, so the caller speaks on musical background. Not really entertaining. Maybe I should have my friends growl to match my metal musical tastes.

            I utterly hate Samsung phones right now.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The reason is that the old hardware they use in these things only gets support from the manufacturer for older versions of Android. They provide something called a Board Support Package, or BSP, that is basically drivers for the hardware but is also tied to certain versions of the OS.

        Cyanogenmod normally doesn't have a problem with this and just ports the drivers to newer versions, or finds newer drivers from other vendors that are compatible. Cheap shitty phones don't exactly have the best people working o

      • by c (8461)

        but any other area where the experience is worse than stock android of the equivalent version just seems weird.

        Most of the genuine bugs described (versus the braindead design decisions) appear to be related to hardware integration (i.e. the input stack) and/or the carrier part of the experience.

        Am I surprised that the hardware integration on a cheap phone might be crap? Nope. Am I surprised that the carrier integration might suck? Nope. Am I surprised that the more a device deviates from the mainstream, the

      • by Chelloveck (14643) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:19PM (#47508451) Homepage

        Two words: "Market Differentiation". I once worked for a company which made printers. One printer line had a low-end model and a high-end model. The hardware was identical except for two things: (1) The print head, which produced higher-quality output and was more durable in the high-end model; and (2) the color of the case. That's it. Otherwise they were identical. The marketing guys decided that the print quality alone wouldn't tempt people towards the high-end model, so they required us to hobble the software. The same software build was loaded into each model, but if it detected the cheap print head it inserted wait-states into memory access to force about a 30% decrease in formatting speed. Voila! Now the high-end product had enough benefit to justify the price difference!

        tl;dr: Sometimes yes, companies will expend extra effort to intentionally make a crappier product, if it means that they'll sell more of an expensive higher-profit-margin product. And yes, it drives the engineers completely bananas.

    • I have an LG Optimus F3 from Virgin, and before that was an LG Optimus Slider, also Virgin. Although they're a tad underpowered and the Slider froze up once in a while (every few months), I've had no gripes with them. Considering the F3 was $60, I'm pretty goddamned happy with what it can do. The closest thing I've seen to a bug with the Optimus F3 is that GPS will sometimes freeze if I'm also using music, texting and bluetooth all at the same time, but that's more likely to be a performance thing. Again, f

      • by gfxguy (98788)
        My last phone was an Optimus V from Virgin... The only problems I had resulted from me rooting and installing a clean version of Android, so I can't blame LG. I would have kept it... it was a bit slow playing angry birds (not what I bought my phone for, though), but I could use it as a mobile hot spot. When I upgraded to a 4G phone, I lost that ability... and didn't want to root it after the earlier problems I'd experienced. But here's the thing: I didn't encounter bugs like the author describes. It wor
    • by tibit (1762298)

      The way Bennet describes the particular phone, a $100 Tracfone ZTE sounds like a much better deal.

    • It's well known that cheap android phones have always been bad, and will always be bad.

      Errrm, no!?

      Just bought a Huawei Y530 for 113 Euros for my SO. It runs Android 4.2.x. The camera is sub-par for todays standards and even weaker than on my 3-year old HTC Desire HD, but with 5MP more than sufficient for taking shots of cats or the family on a trip. Or videos for that matter. That aside, the screen is awesome, the processing power is more than sufficient, Chrome works like a charm and so does hangouts, emai

    • by afidel (530433)

      That's not true today, the Moto G and to a lesser extent the Moto E are fine phones, and not everybody is so silly as to waste money on "free" phones with inflated monthly costs. And because the Moto G is such a good phone the competition seems to be upping their game as there were quite a few non-hobbled sub $200 (off contract) phones announced at this years E3.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. Buy crappy cellphone.
    2. Complain that it's crappy.
    3. Profit.

  • where SW has to work and most people will never exhaust all of what it does and uncover all the bugs. Too often people just figure (a) tech is hard and (2) i'm not a computer geek so there's no way I'll ever work this thing right anyway.
  • by guises (2423402) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:31AM (#47500851)

    So my solution is still essentially the same as what I proposed after trashing the Stratosphere: Some Consumer-Reports-type outlet should rate phones on a Stupid S*#t Index (along with speed, reception, etc.), based on how much stupid s*#t they run into in a week of typical usage.

    It sure sounds like he's talking about Consumer Reports [consumerreports.org] here. But the solution already exists, and he got burned anyway, so maybe the real solution is complaining about it on Slashdot. That gets things done.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      So maybe the real solution is complaining about it on Slashdot. That gets things done.

      That depends on what the actual problem is that he is trying to solve. If it is trying to fix the phone, or his experience .. then no, it won't change much. But if it is simply to create a click-bait article masquerading as an editorial (and one that a lot of people will complain and bitch about as well) - well then, the solution works just fine and dandy.

  • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:31AM (#47500857)

    This is why I hated the first generation of "almost smart phones".

    Instead of being just a phone, they added half-assed features that got in the way of the phone being a phone.

    Strangely, this is why I first went to an iPhone - it was the best at letting me get all the other crap out of the way (out of sight, out of mind, just wish I could delete more crap) and being just a phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:32AM (#47500861)

    My "high end" LG fridge that's supposed to be quiet but grunts along like a 15 year old no-name "white" fridge, with the added bonus of making knocking noises, like the Chinese kid that assembled it is stuck in the compressor.
    My LG washing machine that doesn't really check if the door is really closed and will happily pump water out the door like a drooling infant. And when it works, if you use the highest spin speed, be prepared for the smell of burning something or other.
    And that's when it doesn't throw you an error message like TcL on its display, but that message doesn't show up anywhere in the manual. Did I have to install TCL/TK to clean my socks? Who knows?
    And my LG phone... Oh boy....
    Why did I buy so much LG crap? Bad decisions. Oh well.

  • I mean say what you want about their current products, but their entire deal has been putting software on devices that for the vast bulk of users doesn't suck.
    So you want to go around saying things like

    raise more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch

    Well it does reward companies for doing just that. What the author really wants to complain about is either his inability/lack of desire to do basic research before buying a piece of crap phone (How free markets punish people for not making informed decisions) or That LG isn't sufficiently punished for doing what he things is a bad job. The latter is a case of his overgeneralizing what he feels is important to what everyone else feels is important.

    • Should not be part of the quote

      Well it does reward companies for doing just that. What the author really wants to complain about is either his inability/lack of desire to do basic research before buying a piece of crap phone (How free markets punish people for not making informed decisions) or That LG isn't sufficiently punished for doing what he things is a bad job. The latter is a case of his overgeneralizing what he feels is important to what everyone else feels is important.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Right and it's the same with equivalent cost Android phones too, but the problem here is that he's bought a cheap crappy device and decided to complain that it's cheap and crappy.

      He wants iPhone/High end Android quality at budget Android price, which is stupid.

      • For the price, you can buy a Nexus 5 and get vastly superior software from a stock ROM.

        The boggling thing is that from a development perspective, it takes way more effort to have one crappy codebase and have a good codebase. Why not just have one *good* codebase? These problems don't seem to hamper the G3.

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:45AM (#47500967)
    The reason is simple. Software is getting more complex and featureful, but companies are not investing enough to get a matching amount of quality assurance.
  • If you want a good lg phone, buy a Nexus 5 without a contract (~$350) and get monthly plan with unlimited everything plan ~$45.
  • Vendor Software (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drew M. (5831) on Monday July 21, 2014 @11:54AM (#47501061) Homepage

    There's an easy solution.

    ONLY buy phones that receive updates from your OS creator, not from a 3rd party manufacturer hackjob who will leave you high and dry with bugs and old software.

    So this ends up being ONLY a Nexus device, any Iphone, or any Windows Mobile phone.

    I've seen it time and time again, even Samsung can't get the software bugs out of their S-line phones, and other vendors like HTC and LG are much much worse. My boss complains all day and night about the bugs on his LG G2, and my Nexus 5 which runs basically the same hardware is great on all counts.

    • by nabsltd (1313397)

      My boss complains all day and night about the bugs on his LG G2

      I haven't found any "bug" on the G2. There's bloatware (Verizon and LG) which mostly can be disabled, but that's something every phone has these days.

      My only real usability issue is that the on-screen keyboard isn't as easy as previous phones as far as entering symbols. I've never needed a special keyboard app before because I'm not that heavy a user, so I always use the built-in keyboard.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      This is why I'm seriously considering Windows Phone for my next one. I don't like iPhones because they only have 1 model (ok 2 now) and they are really expensive. Plus the fact that they make it hard to do anything that isn't Apple integrated. Android phones have the problem of you never know if they need to be updated. The only flaw I know about the Windows 8 phones is that there is a lack of apps. But as long as it has the apps so I can do what I want to, what does it matter what the total count is?
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:03PM (#47501127) Journal
    He bought a cheap phone, and is upset that it is poor quality. If it were anyone but Bennett Haselton, I wouldn't believe they were serious. This quote is especially delicious:

    I think people vastly overestimate the ability of the free market to meet consumer demand, in cases where the demand is for something that can't be easily quantified.

    Oh no sir, the market filled your demand perfectly here. You asked for a cheap phone, and that's exactly what you got.

  • He takes an (1) example of a company with obviously poor QA, and turns it into a critique of the free market. ? Sorry, but to make this argument stick, you'd have to show that ALL (or, at least, most) of the companies selling phones operate under this MO. Additionally, you'd have to show that these same problems wouldn't plague a product line in a regulated market scenario. Good luck.
  • But why buy a phone without looking at reviews? Potentially looking at xda if there is a community for it? I once had a real cheap android phone, but because of XDA, got more space, and had it running much faster/better then the way it came.

    I'm not saying that XDA route is for everyone, but you're posting on a Tech type website about this. You would think you would at least do the bare minimum research before dropping what $280+ for this? (that's min with out contract that I saw, most of times it was 300

  • Telephones are devices that let you speak to someone (tele-, far; and phone-, sound).

    The real mystery is why anyone who has the slightest clue about technology, would buy or wish to use a computer that runs software you cannot control or replace. Even the TRS-80 let you shut off the built-in Microsoft BASIC ROM, and the Apple ][ let you run something other than Integer BASIC. These allegedly "smart" so-called "telephones" seem quite brain-dead.

  • on low end phones and you will have the fewest issues.

  • Moto G on them!
  • T-mobile's site says that phone is $324 full retail price. You can get a Moto G for $199 or a Moto X for $299. If you bought that phone you simply didn't do any research.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:16PM (#47501237) Journal

    The subject line isn't actually true, of course. It's the package as a whole on which users generally base their decisions. But I suspect that people in decision making capacity in companies who's primary product is hardware tend to think in these terms. Hardware needs to be cool and compact and capable because that's what differentiates this new model from last year's model or from competitors' models. Software is just... stuff that you use. It's overhead, a necessary evil. And much more likely to be outsourced. For a manufacturer of phones, hardware is their core business, software gets relegated to the LCC (least cost country) and there is a presumption that the customer base will serve as unpaid QA, so funding for testing is an afterthought. And so, the products are cool looking and suck to use.

    Some companies try to differentiate on software, and tend to do a better job, but even then, you can get stubborn "we know better than you" decisions that detract from the user experience.

  • by kbdd (823155) on Monday July 21, 2014 @12:44PM (#47501501) Homepage
    I think part of the problem is that marketing types decide that they need a certain type of phone to get people in the store, in order to try and upsell them on a more expensive product with better margins (or one that will suck up data faster so that you have to upgrade to a more expensive plan).

    The "feature" phone (in that case, a phone with hardware keyboard which is a real oddity nowadays) is not intended to make any money for the company by itself and nobody really gives a damn if it's even working, to be honest.

    They are perfectly aware of it and if you bring it back to the store a few days later because you have found out how much it actually sucked, they will be extremely glad to exchange it for a higher priced model.

    On the other hand, the issue is compounded by the fact that most Android phones are hacked by the phone service provider. They are not content to let you have the Google Android experience, they have to "differentiate" themselves from the others, and too often that means adding ill-conceived, substandard, undertested apps that ruins the experience.

    In that case, Google may not be entirely clean as I am not sure if Android is even supposed to support a hardware keyboard. I have used several Bluetooth keyboards on my Nexus 7 and they do not all work the same.

  • these type of comments are beginning to mystify me.

    used, powerful android phones on swappa.com, ebay, or even you local pawn shop are plentiful.

    in fact, i just bought a google nexus (verizon) for $80 at a local pawn shop...the same store was selling a almost new galaxy note 3 for $200...which i plan today to go buy and resell on swappa for a tidy profit.

    life is too damn short to fuck around with a worthless handset.

  • Similar to the suckiness of the Stratosphere and Stratosphere 2 that I was subjected to before this one, the phone's shortcomings actually raise more interesting questions â€" about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch.

    The free market is working. You paid for a cheap phone, and you got one.
    If you want a good phone, don't buy a cheap one. This doesn't mean, "don't buy

  • Get a Moto G if you want a cheap-ass phone. Much better.
  • the phone's shortcomings actually raise more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch.

    It doesn't. Apple is taking over half of the smartphone profit share while LG is loosing money on smart phones. Apples hardware is good but it isn't so much better than its competitors. The differentiation that makes it so profitable is software.

  • Or is he just plain stupid?

  • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Monday July 21, 2014 @01:28PM (#47501967)

    I bought the LG Optimus not because it was the cheapest or because I didn't expect it to have bugs, but because it was the only offering with a slide-out keyboard, and I've become addicted to the precision of physical keys.

    So, in a nutshell, the answer to your question about why this stuff happens is "I want something so badly that I'm a captive market who won't explore decent alternatives (is the built-in slider on a 4" phone really that much better than an S5 bluetooth keyboard case or Swype on a phablet? Really?) and will stick with the phone in spite of it being a piece of shit"?

    Honestly, I have to give kudos to LG for gauging how desperate the potential users of this phone would be for a physical keyboard and saving themselves a little cash on testing. It seems to have worked out okay for them.

  • Okay, so the question becomes: What is a better QWERTY phone? He mentions T-Mobile by name, but even better if it runs on all networks. The single requirement is a hardware QWERTY keyboard.

    Yeah, I know, almost no one uses a hardware keyboard anymore, it's all on-screen and autocorrect now. But some of us don't like on-screen keyboards and some people do more than poke the Like/+1/retweat button.

  • to my current Samsung S2 and Sprint.

    Since I retired, I've examined various expenses with an eye on optimizing them. If they make sense, I can afford them but since I have the time why not check them out?

    I'm currently paying $100 a month for "unlimited" data, 1500 daytime minutes and 1500 text msg with an aging S2.

    My new plan is $53 a month for 1gb, unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited music data.

    The S2 is an android phone while the Nokia is a windows phone.

    After 20 days, it looks like I'm going to tra

  • by mythosaz (572040) on Monday July 21, 2014 @02:12PM (#47502353)

    The phone's auto-correct changes single-quotes to double-quotes in contractions -- for example, when you type you're, the phone auto-corrects it to you"re .

    Neat. Thanks for your informative review. Can you be bothered to take a moment and tell us WHAT KEYBOARD WERE YOU USING that included this behavior? It's obviously not the stock android keyboard, since it doesn't behave that way, and LG has clearly bundled some other keyboard, but for the love of the FSM, don't tell us which one...

    When you backspace over part of a word that you've typed and then type the rest of the word, auto-correct corrects based on the letters that you type after you've finished backspacing, rather than the letters in the entire word that you've just completed. [SNIP!]

    Ditto.

    Taking a screen capture still doesn't work, just like it didn't work on the Stratosphere 2. There are official directions on how to do it, but you can follow the steps and nothing happens.

    Fair.

    The first time I launched the voice mail application, the app prompted me to freely choose a new PIN code, and then sternly warned me, Mao-like, that my supposedly freely chosen PIN code was "incorrect". (I never got it working, and just called in to the voice mail number manually whenever I wanted to check my messages.)

    The LG Optimus voicemail app, or the TMO one? I assume you're not talking about shovelware. Before you wrote this awesome article, and you talked to TMO about this, what did they say?

    When I bought a movie on Google Play and wanted to "pin" it to the phone -- i.e. download a static, non-streamed copy so that I could watch it offline, e.g. on a plane ride [SNIP!]

    What you're describing may not be what you want, but it certainly sounds like the software is working as intended - that offline movie downloads aren't supposed to be saved to removable storage. It's hardly a "bug."

    Unlike the other bugs

    Yeah. Not a bug.

    In the Messaging (i.e. texting) app, you cannot search for messages by the name of the sender.

    Also, not a bug. Simply a feature that you'd like in your text messaging app.

    On certain mobile website forms (the Fandango site, for instance, and some others that I don't remember -- it's not clear why this happens on some website forms but not others), the phone won't let me type "special characters"

    FFS. First, how about some article organization. Maybe we could discuss the keyboard first AND last, since it seems like your only real gripe...

    Here's a concise version of your article:

    I bought a low-end smartphone from TMO. The stock keyboard was a bit wonky, and the shovelware voicemail app didn't work right. I couldn't be bothered to call TMO about the voicemail app, but I did do a Google search before writing this article.

  • Get.
    The.
    Fuck.
    Off.
    Slashdot.

  • by MDMurphy (208495) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @10:37AM (#47507679)

    As someone who tests hardware / software I took exception to the assumption that testers didn't find a long list of issues. I'm working on a shipping product that has hundreds of open software issues. These bugs have been documented in detail but were skipped to make ship dates, then skipped over and over again when updates were released in lieu of new features to lure in new buyers. Most bugs are seen as something not sexy enough to spend time on. If the problem they can create is considered an annoyance and not crucial to the product's operation they are skipped over.

    So don't assume that bugs weren't found in testing. It's entirely possible that they were found, and the product shipped anyway.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

Working...