Swedes And Japs Don’t Mix

29 01 2008

Regular readers know that it’s rare for me to rant on this blog. My posts are always measured objective pieces of high-quality reporting, not ego-driven vitriol, or an outlet for me to pour scorn upon the less worthy of you out there (i.e. all of you). Since I realise how many of you rely upon my wise insight to live your lives I know that with this great power comes great responsibility.

However I would take this particular rant as being quite a useful public service announcement. My last few phones have all been Sony Ericsson and I have to say I’ve always been very pleased with the build quality and reliability. When choosing my recent handset one of the key decisions I made in choosing to go with Sony Ericsson again was that although there were comparable phones by Nokia or Samsung in terms of features, I didn’t trust either of the other two when it came to durability.

Yet the Sony Ericsson K850i, despite being beautiful to look at and feature-packed has been a nightmare to live with. All phones tend to have something that’s marginally problematic, I remember on old Sony Ericsson it was the joystick (and I have to say I much prefer the new navigation D-pad), and in this category would fit mild pet peeves like the touch screen, which seems to decide on a whim whether it wants to be hyper-sensitive or unresponsive. I can live with that, it’s not ideal but you adjust.

From November 24th, when I received the phone, until December 24th it was perfectly fine. A little flaky now and then but nothing disastrous. Then came Christmas. One of my Christmas presents was a new memory card. Great, I turned off my phone, put it in, twitched it back on and then it couldn’t find my network. No problem, try again. Still no luck. I tried everything, even did some web research, nothing. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it somewhat ruined Christmas a little, as it was bugging me.

So when Christmas was over I call up Orange. They’re really helpful and suggest a master reset, which I did, and everything worked fine after that. Excellent. Except that a master reset restores the factory settings, including the firmware, which meant the phone was even more flaky than before. Not a huge issue but yesterday, when I had a window of time free, I decided to do a firmware update. I used the official Sony Ericsson Update Service software. After downloading an update it proceeded to try and install it.

Unfortunately there was some sort of error (one major failing of the software is it doesn’t tell you what the error was. At the very least a technical error code would help you explain the problem when trying to get it repaired) and the update failed. No worries, it said to disconnect and try again. Running a bit late for the gym I decided I’d forego the update for the moment and do it later, so just disconnected.

When I went to switch it on it was dead. A brick. I tried removing the battery and putting it back in. Nothing. I tried connecting the charger. It didn’t even respond (the keypad usually lights up when the charger’s connected). Even the update service didn’t recognise the handset. So I called Orange, they said it was a handset fault so I’d need to go to the place I bought it from. Fine, I did. Only they couldn’t repair it, they’d have to send it back to Sony Ericsson to repair it, which would take two to three weeks.

Bear in mind I’ve only had this handset since the end of November, and when you consider the Christmas break it’s probably barely had a month’s worth of proper “regular” use. Yet now I’m expected to do without the handset for two to three weeks?

I’d be fine with that sort of waiting time on a handset that’s 9 months or a year old but this is a brand new handset! The whole experience has severely soured me on owning a Sony Ericsson in future and I think it’s very likely my next phone will not be one as a result of this. Not only that but where once I would have recommended them to my friends I feel I no longer can. So if you’re buying a new handset, steer clear.

Perhaps in a bid to regain their lost market share they’ve decided to cut corners and make cheaper phones to push up margins. If so that’s a ridiculous business model from a company whose reputation is built upon the quality of their hardware. I’m hoping that I can get the phone repaired at an authorised Sony Ericsson retailer (Carphone Warehouse) who, unlike the company I bought it from (Phone4U) have in-store repairs at some stores. Being under warranty they might do it. Wish me luck.

(Also have an interview this afternoon for a new job. So I need double the luck!)


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2 responses

30 01 2008
David Weisman

I heard there was a problem with those phones. If you put them in the bottom of a gym bag and drop it on the ground they may stop working.

30 01 2008
Mr President

Haha. Depends what’s in the gym bag! Funnily enough though, when I took it into the store the guy had the same phone and was amazed. He’s dropped his phone, several times, onto the pavement, and it’s fine. Mine’s never been dropped and it just stopped working.

Took it in for repairs, turns out that what likely happened is that when the update stopped mid-way it had already wiped the firmware that was on the phone, but hadn’t, obviously, installed the new firmware. The phone had no firmware, so it was like a computer without an OS.

Should, fingers crossed, get it back in three days.

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