Our Z10s were five years old. Happy Birthday.
I was frustrated. I had been researching how to solve the Phone Problem for about nine months. Over the past month and a half of concerted effort I had twice tried to buy new phones and get them to work. And I had twice failed.
Defeated, I gave up trying to game the system and reluctantly worked within it. I signed up for a two-year plan. I ordered a “0$” phone. I ordered us Samsung Galaxy A5s.
Not sure you’ve heard of those? Me neither. The trademark soup of Android phone names hasn’t improved in the decade since its release.
In this particular case you might not have heard of it because it wasn’t originally supposed to show up in North America. It was going to target EMEA and LatAm only… but then some Canadian carriers made it worth Samsung’s while to bring it to the Great White North.
So how is it. It is a tidy little phone with just enough nods to the now-past (SD Card slot, headphone jack), and just enough gee whiz features (fingerprint sensor for unlock, Always On OLED screen, USB Type-C connector) to bridge our way out of BlackBerry Land.
BBM Groups works, but notification settings are a joke. The Hub is here, but it is a pale shadow of its always-available BB10 edition.
I’ve managed to find a way to install the Android edition of the BlackBerry keyboard. It is familiar enough that I’ve composed all three of these voluminous posts about phones on it. It is strange enough in the details that I still can’t get capitalization correct all of the time.
It makes a difference to me that Samsung is trying to compete with Google in enough ways that many things don’t have to default to data collection. We’re still deep in the belly of the beast, but there are holes that I can see sunlight through so long as I can find the right settings to turn off.
It has enough nice touches that make me think that maybe the Samsung devs care about their phones as much as I care about the ones which bear my code. Like how, when it’s dark, the screen fades into brightness slower than when it’s light out. There’s also all these little false-starts on the phone as well that suggests investment in the R part of R&D, like swiping the phone with the edge of your hand to screenshot. I’d never do that, and have turned it off, but you have to try things to find things that work.
Also, I’ve found a replacement for BlackBerry Blend. It has its quirks, but so did Blend, and I’m looking forward to bending it to my will.
In short, it’s a mixed bag of features poured into a big slab of glass. It’ll do. Since it has to.
So that’s that. We have now left the land of Products of Five Years Past. It is a strange world, but it’s one with Firefox in it, so it can’t be all bad, right?
I hope you’ve found these rambling diatribes of Old Man Yelling at Phone to be entertaining, educating, or at least diverting.
Here’s to having to not have to do this for another five years! (he says, ignoring a creeping sense of dread)