We can be completely honest here, right? With all the phones that tend to come across our desks, things can, on occasion, become a bit of a grind, especially when you've reviewed the fifth or sixth version of a manufacturer's flagship model. Specs change a little, but it's largely the same experience. That's when this job can become work.

"Oh, shut up, Phil. I'd kill for your job." And I wouldn't blame you. Indeed, it's why I travel in unmarked sedans with no fewer than two Bulgarian bodyguards (and occasionally a chase car, depending on the neighborhood).

But those long days of writing about a phone for what seems the Nth time is also why it's been refreshing over the past month or so to see the excitement over Sprint's HTC EVO 4G LTE. I dare say the anticipation has been greater than even the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. (That can't be right, can it?) Sure, the phone itself is what's important, but it's the Sprint fans that make these high-profile releases so much fun. I'm not a Sprint guy. I like the company a lot. I love sitting in the same room as its execs. The PR folks we work with are top-notch. Unfortunately, it's never had a good enough network experience for me to have an account. Hopefully that will change with Network Vision in the next year or so.

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But those of you who are on Sprint, boy, howdy, you're a breed unto your own. You don't see this sort of fanaticism on AT&T. It's there on T-Mobile, but to a lesser extent, not nearly as vocal. More of "Yeah, it's a really good network -- with a really cool spokesmodel -- and some really good phones. It's just not big enough." Verizon's the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but, again, it just doesn't have the same sort of excitement you get with a major Sprint launch.

What's taken me so long in getting our EVO review done? Life, for one. It happens. But I've also been spending more time in our forums lately (for better or for worse). That's where you really learn what people want to know about a phone. Hell, it's where I go to learn more about a phone. It's amazing the little features (or, yes, nuisances) that you might not notice on the first, fourth or even fifth go-around.

The point is, you Sprint fans out there -- you crazy, fanatic Sprint lovers -- you've added some serious fun to the past couple weeks with the launch of the EVO.

Here's to hoping we get to do it all over again in the coming months with the Galaxy S III.

Stuck in Customs

But what about the EVO being held up in Customs? I really have no idea what happened. Did HTC blow it? Sprint sure seemed to be throwing its hands up and saying "Hey, we're ready to sell it. We just need HTC to get us the damn thing." And that's probably true.

My question (and I'm hardly the first to have asked this) is how could this have been avoided? And should it have been avoided? HTC back in December had said it had a workaround for the software patent of Apple's that the International Trade Commission said it was infringing on. We got our first look at the EVO in early April. How is it, that a month later, with the phones (either presumably or metaphorically) sitting on the docks, the ITC still had to review them? There really was no way of taking care of this ahead of time? Is the inspection process that literal, wherein phones have be unboxed at the side of the boat and proven to be in compliance?

There's got to be a better way.

On the other hand, you'd be amazed by the minutiae, by the number of steps in the life of a smartphone before it gets anywhere near shelves. It's astounding, when you stop and think about it, that anything ever gets sold. Ever.

I think that's maybe why I can, on occasion, seem indifferent to these sorts of problems. When I seem to throw my hands up  and say "Well, that's just the way it is." Do I like it? Hell, no. Can I do anything about it? Nope. Bitching about doesn't make me feel any better, either. Is it frustrating for me, too? Absolutely. (And you can be sure we give our contacts at the companies involved a hard time later.)


Here we go again. More "sources" saying that we'll see an inexpensive Tegra 3-based, 7-inch tablet handed out at Google IO in about a month.

That's about the most uninspired, uncreative "scoop" of the year so far.

And again, folks, you don't go to Google IO for the swag. (Just ask anyone who got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 last year that still hasn't been updated to Ice Cream Sandwich.) You go to learn and meet fellow devs. 

But here's my thing: How long before someone complains "Last year we got a $600 tablet. This year we only got a $200 tablet." It'll happen.

Required reading

A nice read this weekend from iMore.com's Ally Kazmucha on iOS jailbreaking and how it's not -- or at least shouldn't -- be about stealing apps.

Posting that story on Google+ garnered a few dozen comments (apologies for not hopping back into that discussion -- weekend family time beckons), but it was the first one that had me rolling on the floor.

And what about the upside? Piracy spreads awareness and increases the likelihood that paying customers will see your app.

Seriously? That's like saying the act of shooting someone in the leg will help advertise the brand of jeans they're wearing. Or that carjacking someone's Camry will somehow boost Toyota's sales. (OK, OK. That's a bit much. But still. Craziness.)

It's pretty simple. Don't steal apps. </soapbox>

Etc. ...

  • When the hell is Verizon going to update its Galaxy Nexus? (Yes, this coming from the guy who usually says "It'll be ready when it's ready.) OTOH, is anyone really surprised?
  • And how many more exclusively rumored -- and wrong -- update dates will come and go before then?
  • Google Glass: Still very cool. Still not a real product and shouldn't be treated as such.
  • Facebook and the IPO and banks: A shining example of what's wrong in the world these days.
  • Instagram: I figure now that I'm actually using it a lot (and enjoying it), Facebook will eventually shut it down and fold it into its services. But let's hope not.