January 15, 2005

Dumbass phones

A year ago I got a Sony Ericsson T610 (what, you want a link? Go and search Google for yourselves, I’m too busy ranting) to replace a Siemens C35i which I had owned for years. I was pretty happy with it. I didn’t have any problems learning to use it, and initially my only gripe was that it was damn slow compared to the old phone. I didn’t let this bother me too much as I knew that it was not a problem with that particular model of phone, but just the expected consequence of cramming more and more bells, whistles and gongs onto what was once a really basic concept, namely “the telephone”.

Then I went and spent £30 on a USB cable and some software to jack it into the PC, downloaded all the photographs that I’d taken, and realised that they actually looked quite crummy. After a little experimentation I established that it was partly due to a poor resolution of about 350×280 pixels, and partly due to a very small and weak lens.

As my contract approached 12 months of age, I phoned my provider and put the squeeze on them to give me a free upgrade. They offered me the Sharp GX15. I did a little quick research, discovered that it seemed to be exactly the same phone, but with camera resolution up to 640×480. Worth a try, I thought.

So, where are we so far? I’m upgrading my phone purely on the basis that the new one may have a better camera. We’re nearly there, people.

So the new phone arrives, and I put my SIM card in it, and I charge the battery, and I realise that I forgot to copy my phone numbers from the old phone to the SIM card, so I swap the SIM back, do the copy, swap the SIM again, and copy the numbers to the new phone.

And then I put it into camera mode and press the button to take a snap.

The phone emitted a deafening synth-shutter sound, causing birds to take flight outside the window.

So I went into the menus to find out how to turn down the volume of the synth-shutter sound to a level which was less likely to result in structural damage to my office. Ideally, the same level as the subtle, though still naff, synth-shutter sound which the T610 used to use.

I can’t find this option. I can only assume that Sharp have gone all vigilante and decided to do something about the problem of people taking camera phones into showers and brothels and taking photos of those in attendance without their permission.

Management: So, this whole shower and brothel thing then. What can we do about it?

Tech: Well, the phone could make a noise that can’t be turned off by the user.

Management: Good, good. What sort of range does the camera have?

Tech: I guess you could make out a nipple at twenty metres.

Management: Right, so people who are twenty metres away have to be able to hear it too. Could the user possibly cover the speaker?

Tech: I guess they could…

Management: Right, so the sound has to be loud enough to penetrate a centimetre of bone and flesh, yet still be audible twenty metres away.

Tech: But sir, that would mean that the sound would be deafening to someone stood twelve inches away if the speaker wasn’t covered.

Management: What are you, some kinda wooly minded liberal?

Tech: No, sir. Long live Maggie Thatcher.

Management: That’s more like it.

Reader: Does Pete have a point?

Pete: Yes, I do. I mean…

Yes, I do. I didn’t take many photos with the old camera, because the quality was crap. Now that I have a phone with a better camera, I’m still not going to take many photos, because I can’t do it if anyone is in the same room for fear of them thinking that I’m one of those people who thinks it is still the mid-80s and keeps their phone (and their voice) on maximum volume, to ensure that everyone else in the vicinity knows that they have one of these fantastical new-fangled mobile cellular telephone gadgets.

That’s just not the way that I work. I’ve always been very conscious of the noise pollution caused by mobile phones and the use of them, and have always practised the utmost discretion.

Which, in this case, means not taking photos.

As a closing request, if anyone out there has a GX15 or similar Sharp model and knows how to turn down the volume of the shutter sound, obviously I’d appreciate your feedback. Comment below or click the fantastical magical “contact” link at the top of the page to email me directly. Ta.


8 thoughts on “Dumbass phones

  1. Ah, thanks for the info about the T610 having an utterly useless camera. Since getting mine, I have singularly failed to be sucked into the world of camera-phones (no, I still don’t have a Flickr account) and suspected that this was because I couldn’t be bothered (which is still partly the truth). However, of the less than twenty photos I’ve taken since I got the phone, I hated each and every one of them and thought they looked abysmal. Now I know why.

  2. To be honest, even with the new phone taking photos at 640×480, the results still leave a lot to be desired. The focus is lackadaisical and the colours don’t really make much of an example to reflect reality. Example here.
    Still, it’s a vast improvement on the T610 at maximum resolution. Example here.

  3. The first example was taken through a plastic screen, which doesn’t help. The second example is of Birmingham (I think), so what did you expect? Beauty?

    Karen on January 15, 2005
  4. I think you may have hit upon an idea, though. I’d pay much more for a camera-phone that made its subjects look beautiful, perhaps with the addition of a ‘beauty filter’.
    Although, of course, even then Birmingham might prove to be too much of a challenge.

  5. Camera phones are useful for those shots of things you want when you don’t have your main camera around. It’s good for a bit of fun, but not for anything serious.
    Although my S700 has a great camera, the shutter noise is really annoying and makes it difficult for me to snap pictures of girls when they are not looking. I mean take scenic pictures without disturbing people.
    I’ll be curious to see what wins out and at what point people get around the camera sound issue and manufactures drop this deafening click.

  6. Rats! Now I’m depressed. I’ve just dumped my Siemens MC60 for a T610 mainly due to the woeful quality of the MC60’s “camera”. (Having said that, I did drop it onto a concrete floor. Twice. Perhaps that had something to do with it).

  7. The MC60 and T610 seem to have roughly the same maximum resolution, but you may find that the lens in the T610 is better. I’ve never used an MC60, so I couldn’t possibly comment.

  8. I have a camera in my palm, and despite the fact that it’s 1.2MP it’s photos look like shite.
    I’m still looking for a device that takes good photos and does some other junk as well.
    We can put people to the moon, so it’s not too much to ask is it?

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