Guess this won’t make it to the news. All you guys who know me must know that I’m sort of a geek, although I usually refuse to address myself so. And upon seeing the title, a number of you might even yell in astonishment “Wut??! Your wife hasn’t got a smartphone yet?”

Yes, she hasn’t got one until quite recently. And the process of getting her one makes a lengthy story by itself. That’s what I’m about to tell you about.

First things first: why, and why now. It’s pretty simple: I’m currently sporting a HTC HD7 (my I-don’t-quite-remember-how-many-th smartphone), and my wife a Sony Ericsson feature phone. Whenever we put our phones together, at home or outside, the sight makes me feel like an asshole. And the guilt only gets worse. So I’ve decided enough is enough. This is as good as time as any. This will be the beginning of the smartphone era for you, my dear.

Previously I’ve tried many times to persuade her into getting one, and the attempts non-exceptionally failed. I thought she’s just been trying to save unnecessary spending. This is not a problem. You know honey, we are not making a lot of money, but we are definitely much richer than, say, a couple of years ago. A bit fancy spending is totally affordable. Thus I’m trying to play hard this time. It was close to my birthday, so I simply told her “the birthday gift I want this year, dear, is a smartphone for you”.

No cry of happiness though, and no showers of kiss, just some refusal without much enthusiasm. But no worries. I can be a pretty persistent bastard when I really really want something done. After a couple of days she gave in. We were mercifully in the phone-picking stage.

When it comes to smartphones, we really don’t have a lot of choices these days. webOS was nice and all, and it died. Windows Mobile died, Meego died without really being born, and Symbian is dying. What? You say Bada? What the f*ck is that? The world is really quiet with only 3 players: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. We laid out what we need, and made the analysis:

  • Neither of us dig Apple’s sense of beauty. Those small, white things with rounded corner every damn where do not appeal to us, seriously. I believe “size is power”, and a man’s gear should be black, big, heavy, with straight angles and spikes (steam punk preferable), and feels badass from the first look. On the other hand, my wife prefers bright color (NOT white) and inspiring design (her favorite being Sony Ericsson S500). This kicks all iPhones out.
  • She doesn’t tolerate stuttering and freezing and crashing in devices, not a bit. I’ve been frequently laughed at back in my Windows Mobile and Android days. For her, a smartphone should be instantly available under ANY circumstances save for flat battery. Even one second of freezing is too long. This wipes out all green robots.
  • There’s just one option left. And from wife’s response to my HD7, she’s liking it all right.
  • The stability of Windows Phone is more than fine. I’ve been using this baby since November 2010, and it never freezes, and has crashed less than 5 times so far.
  • The relatively lack of apps isn’t a problem to her, since she doesn’t need many. Mostly she just asks for a great app weather (Accuweather does fine), and some nice puzzle games (plenty of those in Xbox Live collections).

So I figured she should like it all right. I was pretty sure she would end up love smartphones, because she’s always been playing with mine, particularly games. For example, she has a lot of love for Legacy (on UIQ 2.0), Chuzzles (on Palm OS), Bejeweled (on Windows Mobile 6.5). And on my HD7 she’s been playing Flowerz and several chain reaction games all the time when we are in the subway or waiting at the bank. Would she continue rejecting a smartphone after she’s grown used to it? Hell no, or so I believed.

With the fundamental problem solved, we moved into the model selecting phase, which is rather simple. Firstly, our long term plan is to get out of China, sign contract with AT&T, get subsidized Lumia 900s, and upgrade to the rumored Nokia “Prodigy” if it comes later this year. There’s no point getting the latest model like Lumia 800 or Samsung Focus S. A first-gen WP device should do fine for an entry-level smartphone. And there are cheap at the moment. No hard feelings ditching them after a few months. The choices are pretty clear: either Focus or Omnia 7, Samsung anyway.

What I didn’t expect was the price. Samsung Focus is now priced about CNY 1,300 on Taobao, but Omnia 7 is 1,900. What the… Them two buggers are about identical inside, only in different casings, all right? I know Omnia 7 has more metal parts outside, but I’d be dead retarded to believe that’s where the 600 kuai gap came from. When dragged to the computer to compare the look, wife pointed at Omnia 7 and said “I like the look of this one better.” Now THAT justifies the 600 kuai. I’m willing to pay whatever to get an “I like it” out of her. Omnia we go!

Place the order, pay the bill. Smooth like butter so far. The vendor turns out to be less reliable though. Told us he’s sent the phone by courier while he actually didn’t. Took us half a week extra to get it. You might think it’s the end of the story, but in fact it’s the real start of it.

What happened next is that wife refuses to use the new phone. She doesn’t say so though, just puts it aside to collect dust. Apparently I made a grave mistake from Day One. It’s never the extra spending stopping her from getting a new phone. She really didn’t feel the drive for smartphone adoption. Why bother switching when the old feature phone is obviously smaller, lighter, and more power-efficient than ALL  smartphones out there? Anyway, the phone is already bought. We have to carry on. So I was like:

– Hey honey, don’t you think it great we can send messages with Live Messenger without having to turn on the computer, and the chat thread integrates with our SMS history?
– Why should we?
– Like… it saves some money?
– But we are not texting a lot. (Actually makes sense…)

– Yo, see these games all available to you now?
– No sudoku games with purchasable avatar items?? (Why should you want that…?)

-  Don’t you like it when you can just pop into the People Hub and see my tweet stream, and my 4sq check-in? You can get to know where I am, and what I’m saying behind your back anytime, anywhere!
– Why should I ever want to spy on you? (Thanks baby, I’m in tears…)

– Eh… Remember those games you play on my phone? Now you can enjoy them on your own!
– I’ve been playing them anyway. On your phone is fine. (…)

– It’s Twitter! Onna phone! Without the GFW screwing! Ain’t it great?
– But I don’t even have a Twitter account, and don’t want one. (You will, sugar, you will. Some day…)

Anyway, every trick of mine hit the wall. Apparently she agreed to get a new phone just because I insisted. Besides, as part of her kind nature, she has a habit of personifying things, and tends to cling to old things a lot. For example, she’s still keeping a lot of things from her childhood around. One reason why she refused to replace her phone is that she feels guilty “abandoning and betraying” the old one, which is still functional. This doesn’t make much sense to me, but I dig the feeling. When it’s put on the table, there’s hardly any way to argue against it.

Then we came up with sort of a personified solution: she carries BOTH phones with her for a couple of days, to make the two gadgets “get to know each other more”. And then, the emotional bound should be easier to deal with. To make sure the new boy performs better, I’ve bought some games for it, intentionally *avoiding* the ones I have got on my phone. The primary objective is to fully replace the pathetic game arsenal on her old phone, which includes:

  • Sudoku (replaced with an Xbox Live title, without avatar items, but has ACHIEVEMENTS!)
  • Mahjong (replaced with a pretty nice mahjong game, with voice over and stuff)

And I’ve got Bejeweled Live, Flowerz, Minesweeper, a couple of chain reaction games and such, hoping to enhance the phone’s likability. Oh, and of course Accuweather. So far as I understand, her needs for apps includes:

  • Weather apps with detailed data and great live tile updates.
  • Email. Technically this isn’t an app at all. It’s part of the OS.
  • And apparently nothing else, not even the Office suite came with the OS.

And her needs for games are:

  • Some puzzle games, relying more on logic than reaction time.
  • Apparently nothing else at the time being. We’ve got Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, Nintendo DS here. Counting the two 5-year old crappy PC, we have more than enough stuff to have serious fun. Phone games are really nothing but to kill some time with.

Luckily for me and the Omnia 7, she’s reasonably liking it after carrying it around (without a SIM card) like a PDA. The switching time is nigh. Actually it should happen pretty soon after I hit the publish button for this blog post, as this is what we agreed to seal the deal with. I blog about it, she switches. The weird thing is that I’m still feeling sort of like an asshole, not for mistreating my wife, but for forcing my will onto her…

This is just a start though. Windows Phone has a lot of cloud services baked in. I’ve got greater plans for when she gets more used to it, like:

  • Mobile instant messaging. Unlike many other Chinese families, we don’t use QQ that much. Live Messenger has been playing pretty big part in our life. This won’t be much of a problem, I reckon.
  • Cloud storage. There’s SkyDrive baked in. Don’t know what to stimulate her with though.
  • Social networks! Currently trying to persuade her into creating a Twitter account.

Let’s see what happens next…

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