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  • Two Close Encounters with a Verizon Wireless Sales Person

    November 15th, 2017

    While doing a ride sharing run a few weeks back, I met a sales person who worked at a local authorized Verizon Wireless dealer. I had been considering my options about whether to switch carriers, and this was an ideal time to ask a few questions.

    I explained my pricing plan, and asked what he had to offer that was comparable or better. As most of you might realize, while Verizon is reputed to have the best cellular network overall in the U.S., but it’s not necessarily the cheapest, something he had to admit was true.

    The “X’ factor on my AT&T deal is an AARP discount; I didn’t see a comparable one for Verizon. At least there’s one advantage of being older, and it applies to the core service and data plan. Indeed, this is also a reason why I opted not to split for T-Mobile; the other was my skepticism that its network will be as robust in outlying areas.

    However, when I checked AARP’s site, I no longer saw a similar plan; there was a limited time trade-in deal for people who want to switch. But bear in mind that AT&T’s customer support declined big time after it acquired DirecTV. I don’t have the patience to repeat the war stories, but that is something to consider.

    In short, I told the salesperson that I wasn’t going to switch, its least not then.

    Just the other day, I ran into him again, and we talked about the wireless business. This time he said he was considering a switch from an iPhone to an Android phone. But why?

    While he professed to be a fan of Apple gear, somehow rival smartphones were better in some ways, although it wasn’t able to actually explain how. Well, I suppose it’s true that a Samsung Galaxy S8, for example, may offer more features. Instead of having one biometric feature to unlock the device, there are three. But having more may mean less when you look them over.

    So Samsung evidently wasn’t able to embed a fingerprint sensor beneath its edge-to-edge OLED display. It went to the rear, too close to the camera lens to avoid the possibility of smudging the latter. One Samsung owner I encountered during my travels told me she did find it an awkward reach.

    Apple reportedly confronted a similar dilemma, which may have hastened the development of Face ID. Perhaps it would have arrived anyway, though it is true that Samsung also supplies Apple’s OLED displays.

    As to the other biometrics on the Samsung they appear to be seriously flawed. Both facial recognition and iris sensors are said to be easily defeated with digital photos. Sure, there are reports here and there of ways to bypass Apple’s Face ID. It’s not presented as a perfect solution, but it appears to be far better than the Samsung counterpart. Touch ID isn’t perfect either, and there is that gruesome report that the finger of a deceased person may actually unlock a fingerprint sensor up to two days after death.

    But it’s also true that, if someone threatens to do you harm unless you unlock your smartphone, we all know that the smart decision should be.

    In any case, I was never quite clear about other ways in which the Android smartphones that the Verizon salesperson was considering were superior to the iPhone in significant ways. Perhaps a feature here and there, assuming they were implemented better than Samsung’s flawed biometrics.

    It’s not about this feature or that, unless you need them. Consider the iPhone’s superior security and privacy.

    Consider a recent published report about the problems the FBI reportedly had in unlocking an iPhone said to be owned by the suspect in the recent mass shooting at a Texas church. This is the second high-profile attack in which an iPhone appears to be involved. The other was an iPhone 5c reputedly used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. In that case, the FBI first wanted Apple to create a backdoor to allow the authorities to unlock that device.

    Apple demurred in a high-profile confrontation. One key reason was the claim that any such move would also make it possible for criminals to bypass security. In the end, the authorities reportedly paid hackers over a million dollars to get the deed done.

    So I reminded that salesperson that you only read about the authorities having problems unlocking iPhones. Why aren’t we hearing about them confronting problems unlocking Android mobile gear? Is it because they never have such problems? What about the fact that, except for Nexus and Pixel smartphones, offering the pure Android experience, the chances that customers will receive timely OS updates, or any OS updates, are slim to none? What if the update is needed to address a serious security flaw?

    I didn’t bother to mention the “unfortunate” fact that, when it comes to benchmarks and real-world performance, the iPhone generally bests Android gear, even models offering more RAM and processors with more cores. It wasn’t necessary. The salesperson had no more arguments to make about smartphones that bettered the iPhone.

    A few moments later, the ride was over.



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