The iPhone Intervention

Trying to break a gadget addiction

LG Lotus

The anti-iPhone?

I didn't think I was the sort of guy who develops addictions. But a few hours ago, I realized that I've long had a monkey on my back, and it's probably never getting off.

I own a 3G iPhone, and I actually make calls with it—or rather I try to. I always start my conversations by telling the person "When the connection drops, I'll call you back."

I just accepted the phone problems because I'm an Apple nut and love everything about the iPhone—well, except the phone part.

My Intervention came in a black box containing an LG Lotus, a squarish avant-garde flip phone running on the Sprint network 3G network.

I fired the thing up and called Mom. OK, it wasn't that easy. The qwerty keyboard is a number-letter combo deal, and with my big fingers it was an awkward hunt-and-peck procedure. Sigh. No touch screen that can morph into a giant numeric keypad, as on the iPhone.

But I got the job done and held the thing up to my ear. Then I remembered why flip phones used to be so popular. The curved shape naturally fits in my hand and against my face. I had been holding that flat slab of iPhone up for so long that I'd forgotten how awkward it is.

That call went well: I never lost her. Then, I drove around and made a bunch of other calls. Wherever I went, I had reception. The volume of the handset was loud and clear, and I didn't hear any strange sounds. Yes, I was using a mobile phone, and it was actually reliable.

"Big wup!" you say. "It's 2008, not 1998." Who cares that I made a bunch of phone calls from a flip phone? Well, if you'd just had eight dropped calls in a row from your regular phone, you might understand.

The honeymoon ended when I asked the Lotus to do other things—like get on the Internet. Just as the flip style took me back a few years, so did Web browsing on a small screen with poor navigation. Sprint's EV-DO data network ran circles around AT&T's service. But I spent so much longer navigating the Web interface on the Lotus that the overall process was ultimately slower than on the iPhone.

Next I jumped onto Sprint TV. The iPhone doesn't even have a streaming TV function (though other AT&T models do offer cellphone TV). But after checking out Sprint's offering, it doesn't seem like such an omission. Given the low resolution and out-of-synch audio and video, I wasn't able to watch for long.

So I relapsed.

Practical as the Lotus and Sprint network are (despite the latter's mounting financial troubles), I'm so taken with the iPhone's bells and whistles—and especially its brilliant interface—that I'll tolerate AT&T's abysmal wireless service. The cute Lotus is on its way back to Sprint, and I'm waiting on my next dropped call…