A new phone

My old cell phone disappeared Friday. I mean that quite literally: One minute I had it in my car, and when I went to look for it a half-hour later, it was gone.

I speculate that I left it on the roof of the car and drove off. It was an older mid-level phone anyway, so I basically ended up getting a replacement a few months early and there wasn’t a lot of drama to this episode. Also, I don’t buy expensive “flagship” phones for the same reason I don’t buy their computer bretheren: That last 10% of power will cost you double the price and provide you with muscle you probably don’t need. I also like to replace my phones every couple of years, and I’ll never allow myself to be locked into a contract again, so all of this meant I needed to look for a mid-level unlocked phone.

zenfoneI settled on an Asus Zenfone 2 Laser. It packs a large, sharp screen, an octo-core processor and 32 gigs of internal memory into its unit for less than $200. It also has a memory card slot and dual SIM slots — rare in a phone at this price point. It also feels a little cheap and flimsy (except for the Gorilla Glass screen), but that might be expected, given everything it’s packed into the hardware. A case takes care of that issue.

I use Cricket as my provider and have few complaints. However, I got involved with Cricket’s “legendary” (for the wrong reasons) customer service humans when I tried to activate this phone and a new SIM, both of which I bought from Amazon. Two of these outsourced folks failed to activate the new phone and SIM card. I dug around and finally found the right page on Cricket’s site to do this myself. Once I found that, it took all of 30 seconds to get things working.

My early observations about this phone are positive. It replaced a LG G2, and this phone has a larger, sharper screen and is clearly more powerful. It still uses Android 5.1, but there is a bump-up to 6.0 being released and I’ll hopefully get that soon. I miss LG’s rocker-and-button control combo on the back of the phone — the Asus has a rocker but the power button is on top, like most Android units. The phone was loaded up with bloatware but I deleted what I could and disabled the rest. All of the apps I had on the G2 were backed up on my Google Drive and got dragged into the Asus with little effort on my part. In short, so far, so good.


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