Thoughts from a Smartphone User with Physical Limitations

Hello, everyone -

I am a prospective Ting customer who's currently with Credo Mobile, also a Sprint MVNO. Although I'm reasonably satisfied with Credo, I can't justify paying $72 a month given my usage habits and limited income. My contract expires in less than two months, so I'll almost certainly switch carriers, although I may not do so immediately. (I'd prefer to wait for Google and Apple to reveal their plans.)

I've been investigating Ting for weeks. My impression of you all is a positive one, and I find your pricing model especially appealing. Yes, I like you, I really like you--and I'd like to become your customer, too! Unfortunately, I may not be able to make the switch.

The problem is Android. I have cerebral palsy, and as such my dexterity and coordination are limited. I've got an aversion to touchscreens in general, and I've found Android 4.x's interface particularly ill-suited to my situation. I'm sure I could adapt to its workings, but ultimately I'd probably still find it annoying, and I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for a device I can't use properly.

For me, it seems the best alternative is iOS. I know many people are critical of the OS--surely with some justification--and it isn't perfect for me, either. Still, it's substantially easier for me to handle than Android, and its speech recognition is better.

I'm aware that Ting is trying to get the iPhone in an effort to offer its customers more options. I appreciate their efforts, and I understand their reasoning. Please bear in mind, however, that in my situation the iPhone is a necessity, not simply a preference. I gotta have it, guys!

Thank you for your time, attention, and understanding.

Best regards,

Brian

P.S.  I know Ting will soon carry Windows phones, but I'm afraid they're not an option for me. Indeed, given the choice, I'd use Android.

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27 comments
  • I completely understand what your saying as Apple does a really nice thing with access ability settings.  I'm sure ting will offer the iPhone eventually.  Unfortunately big brother does not want to release the rights to sell and byod the device to ting.

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  • What are you currently using on Credo, and what are your intended usage scenarios with an iPhone? As in, is this mainly a phone or a portable computer, are you commonly in wifi areas or need lots of mobile data, things like that.

    I ask because maybe we can come up with some ideas that would work for you short term and keep you off contract while you wait for more ideal options to become available.

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  • Really, an iphone?  I would think that with limited physical abilities, you'd want to use a feature phone with actual physical buttons.  No?  

     

    I mean yeah everyone wants to use the new hotness, but anyone who's ever tried to use a touchscreen in a truck knows that bouncing around and touchscreens go together as well as milk and motor oil.  I would think the same would apply to folks with CP, though I guess there's a range of effects and you probably know your situation best.  (...I'll shut up now.  ;) )

     

     

     

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  • Thanks for your replies. Yes, Ryan, I'm aware of the situation. Still, I'm hopeful the folks at Ting will read this thread; I'd like to think it could serve as an additional motivator to get the iPhone.

    Trevor, I'm currently using a BlackBerry Curve 9330, an older model that Credo no longer offers. Initially, I was attracted by its hardware keypad and candy bar design, as well as the fact that it didn't have a touchscreen. It wasn't long before I realized Research in Motion was run by chimps. (Actually, that's unfair--my apologies to chimps.) At least the 9330 is sturdy: I've dropped it dozens of times with few scratches and nary a case in sight.

    I use my phone as an organizer and personal information manager. (It's not practical for me to physically write notes, so it's important for me to be able to do them electronically.) I'm often near Wi-Fi, but I also enjoy reading news articles on the bus.

    Thanks again for your time and interest.

    ~Brian

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  • Vincent -

    No, don't worry about shutting up--your point is a good one.

    I've wanted to use feature phones, but my experience suggests they're too limited. It is true that I could enter my schedule into the phone's calender, but I find the standard calendar interface awkward and inconvenient. As far as notetaking, only some models offer "notepads," and those that do have limited functionality and storage.

    iPhone is a compromise. It's not perfect--certainly not ideal--but its interface is the most usable for me.

    ~Brian

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  • I mean there are some great choices out there that would probably fit.you until ting does an iphone.  I have the evo and I am traditionally an iphone  user and I can tell you im loveing the bigger screen on the droid.

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  • Ryan -

    I'll go with Android if I absolutely must, but I'm extremely reluctant to spend money on a device I'd almost certainly find difficult to use.

    ~Brian

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  • @Brian

    I would have imagined that the Android UI would make a far better interface for your needs. The ability to reduce the home screen clutter to just the right stuff. Widgets to consolidate important information. Google Now is an exceptional tool. Swipe up on any screen and important information specific to me is there. If I am near a bus stop I get the time of the next bus and the route numbers. If I have an appointment it tells me when I should leave based on current traffic. Voice search from that screen. Add an Evernote widget to a screen and get superb speech to text dictation.

    You should sit with someone who really knows Android. Don't just have them show you stuff. Tell them how you could envision interacting with a phone and have them set up something. The apps available on the two platforms are very closely matched these days. The iPhone certainly has it's benefits but the interface customization available with Android is worth far more. 

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  • @Zarthan South ill have to agreen with Brian with this one. Apple did an amazing thing with there accessibility settings that's android lacks. I have a friend that has some issues and he finds android hard to use. His mom got him an iPhone last year and he loves it. I enabled all the settings that makes it easy to talk to and apple also has a special keyboard to use. I was amazed by it. Hey android is not for everyone.

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  • Trevor, I'm currently using a BlackBerry Curve 9330, an older model that Credo no longer offers. Initially, I was attracted by its hardware keypad and candy bar design, as well as the fact that it didn't have a touchscreen. It wasn't long before I realized Research in Motion was run by chimps. (Actually, that's unfair--my apologies to chimps.) At least the 9330 is sturdy: I've dropped it dozens of times with few scratches and nary a case in sight.

    Hahaha ouch!

    I use my phone as an organizer and personal information manager. (It's not practical for me to physically write notes, so it's important for me to be able to do them electronically.) I'm often near Wi-Fi, but I also enjoy reading news articles on the bus.

    Hmm, this is kind of frustrating, the direction some Palm-like devices were going might have been a good fit, but that stuff is pretty much extinct now.

    A possibility that comes to mind at the moment would require carrying two devices. Device One would be a cheap phone that supports WiFi tethering and has good battery life; this would be your phone on Ting. Even the dumbest voice dialing support will probably still be good enough to be useful. Since the only WiFi tethering devices will probably be Android, this could be an option for exploring Android more, except the cheap ones will likely be older Android with worse accessibility support, so maybe not so much.

    Device Two would be an iPod Touch, iPad Mini, or other WiFi-capable iOS device of your choosing; this would be your information manager and would tether to Device One while you're out in the world. You'll have to double-check on support for some of the things you might want, as I don't think things like Siri are available across all iOS devices, but it would probably work out cheaper than a full iPhone. This setup would actually work on almost any carrier, but Ting will be supportive, rather than impose arbitrary restrictions/fees on tethering or otherwise try to get in your way.

    The downside to this, besides being two separate devices, is that consolidating into an iPhone later would mean having to buy a new device. You could resell stuff, but it's still an annoying issue.

    I'll chew on this a bit more and see if something better doesn't come to mind.

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  • @Ryan

    Nothing against the iPhone. I just have a hard time imaging rows of icons being easier to navigate. If the iPhone is the way to go... 

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  • My thanks to all for their thoughtful comments.

    @ Zarthan: No, the iPhone on Ting is the way to go! :D

    Have you heard of AssistiveTouch? It's an accessibility feature in iOS that provides motor-impaired users with useful alternatives to the standard methods of interface navigation. Here's a brief article about it: [url]http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/apples-assistivetouch-helps-the-disabled-use-a-smartphone/[/url]

    I know Android offers a range of tools for those with visual and auditory impairments, but I haven't seen many options for dealing with motor disabilities. (There is an app that interfaces with electric wheelchairs; wheelchair users can control Android devices via joystick.)

    [quote]I would have imagined that the Android UI would make a far better interface for your needs. The ability to reduce the home screen clutter to just the right stuff. Widgets to consolidate important information. Google Now is an exceptional tool. Swipe up on any screen and important information specific to me is there. . . .[/quote] Please bear in mind that the seemingly simple act of swiping can pose a monumental challenge for many with motor disabilities. I'm less impaired than some, but I had a difficult time playing with the Galaxy Nexus at my local Sprint store. My fumbling fingers kept activating Google Now; every few moments I'd trigger a card, whether or not I wanted one. It was annoying indeed. Yet I was frustrated, too: If I disabled Now, I'd lose access to the OS' most useful features.

    @ Trevor:

    A tip of my cap to you, sir! I appreciate your interest in my situation. I'd considered the arrangement you describe, but I was thinking that it would be difficult to for me to juggle two devices effectively.  Still, I might do it eventually, as I'd really like to go with Ting. My other option is to get the iPhone through nTelos, a small regional carrier. I'd have to pay through the nose for services from a company I don't like. Sheesh!

    As I said earlier, I'm willing to wait a bit longer. We'll see what happens. . . .

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  • Sorry -

    The URL in my previous post doesn't work. Here it is: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/apples-assistivetouch-helps-the-disabled-use-a-smartphone/

    Also, I tried to quote a portion of Zarthan's post, obviously without success.

    ~Brian

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  • @Brian

    Interesting article. Someone just posted that they got an iPhone 5 working on Ting through BYOD. 

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  • Have you considered the Motorola XPRT? It has some great accessibility options, specifically a physical keyboard and Motoblur...which is annoying for young people like me, but pretty useful for the elderly or disabled because the widgets are big and the interface is pretty clean.

    The XPRT can BYOD to Ting, I know first hand. It can also be had for $80 brand new on fleabay.

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  • @ Zarthan: 

    Interesting--I'll keep an eye on it!

    @ Tim:

    ". . . annoying for young people like me. . . ."

    Eh? I suppose you mean that at my ripe old age of 31 I'm just too darned ancient for those new-fangled smartphones? Aw, shucks--I knew I should have pumped my money toward a svelte candlestick model: http://www.corp.att.com/history/images/milestone_1919.jpg

    Seriously, thanks for your suggestion. I'm a little leery of Android 2.2, but I'm willing to consider the XPRT as a potential stopgap until I can devise a better solution.

    Genially-but-not-geriatrically-yours,

    Brian

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  • LMAO Brian. Motoblur is annoying because it is developed with accessibility in mind, something most younger people don't need and would rather have extra screen real-estate for widgets and icons. Obviously there is an exception to every statement, and you called me out on mine.

    Motorola's target audience for many phones are businesses and the aging population, opposed to Apple who in my opinion has completely neglected the aging population by making a phone with a tiny, then finally, a slightly less tiny, screen. Unfortunate by not making the iPhone5 screen wider the typing experience is still pretty bad and icons are still the same width. Compare to a 4.6-4.8" Android, or any phone with physical keys, and the experience for anybody with bad vision, large fingers or trouble hitting small buttons is greatly improved.

    If the XPRT isn't your deal (and honestly it isn't a great phone) check out the Admiral (XT603) which has a better keyboard and screen. Both can be upgraded to 2.3.6 Gingerbread which is still a fine OS with a lot of maturity behind it. I still fight with Jellybean bugs on my Galaxy S III, and don't even get me started on my wife's Galaxy S II JB ROM which has a massive GPS battery drain bug, random Bluetooth issues and a newly discovered call silence bug during a call-waiting interruption. Her GS II on Gingerbread was entirely solid, just a little boring.

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  • @ Tim:

    I called you on it? Nah--I won't do that until I get a new phone. ;)

    "I still fight with Jellybean bugs on my Galaxy S III. . . ."

    What version of the OS are you using? 4.2 and 4.2.1 are notorious for their instability. Do you have access to 4.22? If not, you might consider reverting to 4.1x.

    Regarding the Motorola Admiral, one word comes to mind: "YIKES!" I was intrigued by its features and design, then I started reading the reviews. From The Verge:

    "I constantly launched apps when I wanted to scroll through the drawer, and opened links when I wanted to move down the page. It's as if the phone takes too long to register that you've touched the screen, and then it snaps into action and launches the nearest thing to your finger. It's incredibly annoying, and almost singlehandedly [sic] made me hate using the phone."

    It's a problem I'd encountered on at least one other Android 2.x phone I'd tried, and as such the device was completely unusable for me. And I'm sorry to report there are apparently an alarming number of Admiral users who report major problems with the phone, from battery issues, to call quality, to random reboots. There's also the issue of screen resolution: the Admiral's limited resolution apparently prevents many common apps from running.

    So, again, "YIKES!" I appreciate your suggestion, but I think I'll let this admiral sail on.

    ~Brian

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  • I will say, however, that Android 4.x's word prediction seems superior to iOS 6.x. It's also a plus that Jelly Bean's speech recognition can work without Internet connectivity. 

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  • I have just started using the stock android keyboard in 4.2.2 with swipe and am impressed. You don't need to accurately hit the right keys. I was using Swiftkey in typing mode and spent as much time fixing the prediction. Speech to text has been unbelievably good.  

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  • Zarthan,

    Reading your posts, I almost get the vague impression you rather like Android. . . .  ;)

    My contract with Credo expires in April, but I'd prefer to wait until May or June, if I can. I'd like more information on Key Lime Pie (Android 5.0), and I want to know about the phones that will run it. Then there's good ol' Apple--remember them? It seems they'll at least be releasing new hardware in June.

    Then again, my BlackBerry's battery is almost kaput, so who knows? 

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  • You have posted as many Android positive posts and other than my first post the rest have been mostly agreeing with you. I have owned many Apple devices and do like the hardware. I just don't like the Apple attitude "Here's what you will like". If asked I don't tell anyone what they should or must buy. If one is more suitable than another then that is the way to go. Having been a full time Linux user for twenty years I understand the OS and Android works for me.  

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  • Hi, Zarthan -

    Please understand me: I was only kidding--I intended absolutely no disrespect toward you. I have a quirky sense of humor, one that manifests itself in ways that could be misinterpreted.

    Actually, I think your criticism of Apple is fair, and it's one I largely share. Still, I like certain elements of both operating systems, and I wish there was a way to combine the best attributes of each.

    ~Brian

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  • I took no offence what so ever. 

    There will never be a convergence. Apple won't give control to the user or an opt out of it's ecosystem. Add the carriers into the mix and we have a very sad situation. I want the openness of Android but it isn't always the best for a given situation.

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  • "There will never be a convergence. Apple won't give control to the user or an opt out of it's ecosystem."

    Yes, I know.

    Ultimately, I may not have a choice but to use Android; if so, it wouldn't be a catastrophe. I can tell you that I certainly don't want to wait past June. Indeed, although I'm interested in the Nexus 5 and the so-called "Motorola X"--especially the X's supposed durability--I highly doubt Ting will be able to support either of them in the immediate future.

    We'll just have to see how the situation develops.

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  • It really depends on what devices Sprint supports. Ting hasn't been far behind whatever Sprint has on the shelf. It would be great if Ting somehow was able to support your first choice.

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