When life gives us lemons, we are supposed to make lemonade. So when a pickpocket stole my cellphone while riding on the Mexico City Metro three years ago, I said to myself how lucky I was to be visiting a big city where there are dozens of cellphone stores. I was thrilled to discover that CDMX has a large electronics market downtown devoted almost entirely to cellphones.
There were a lot of vendors but a shortage of salespeople able to help. Most were ignorant, apathetic, or both. Fortunately, I eventually found my way to a very knowledgeable young lady who was willing to spend the time reading my handwritten wish list of features I wanted in my new phone. After about 15 minutes of discussion and negotiations over which items were of the most importance to me, the choices narrowed down to two phones that met all my requirements. One was the well-known brand Samsung, the other a never-heard-of-it brand name of Chinese lineage. So I asked the young lady, “Let me get this straight. These two phones are nearly identical in every way. The Samsung is 8,000 pesos, and the Chinese copy is 1,100?” “Así es,” she replied.
I chose to buy the less expensive phone, and it was a good choice for me at that time. Today, three years later, although the phone is still working perfectly, I recently went shopping for a newer phone. Why? Because I want newer software, and the no-name Chinese company provides no support and no operating system updates for their inexpensive device. That is called “sell-it-and-forget-it” marketing.
Smartphones are in fact extremely powerful, always-internet-connected, powerful pocket-sized computers. What has come to pass in just the last few years is that a growing number of people now rely less on using a conventional computer; many even eschew owning one altogether. Not just voice communications, but email, messaging, address book, calendar, camera, and many other functions are always easily at hand in the modern smartphone. Even if you do have a computer and prefer to use it, a trend gaining momentum is that many banks are now forcing customers to have the bank’s app installed on a smartphone and use that before being able to log on using a computer.
There are some important considerations that need to be addressed when a consumer goes shopping for a cell phone. Specifically, there is a real need for continuing support from the manufacturer to keep the phone’s software up to date. If you use your phone for any form of banking online, a top priority is being able to receive important security updates from the manufacturer.
For more information on this topic, I hope you read next week’s column, so do not forget to pick up your copy of Atención when it comes out.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8@SMAguru.com.