Sunday, April 27, 2008

My super cheap Chinese cellphone's best feature

I'm living in Shanghai, and I own the cheapest Nokia on the Chinese market.

The first time I came to China, I didn't have a cellphone, and it was tough having to always arrange times and places to meet. The next time I came, I tried to rent a phone at the airport, but was told it's impossible and I'd have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to buy a used phone instead. That was code for "if you had walked 100 yards down the airport, you would have seen a place to rent a phone, but I'm going to try to rip you off." I ended up spending 100 yuan on a phone card that I couldn't even use, so the next day I had one of my coworkers take me to buy a phone + SIM card. I got the cheapest Nokia with an English interface, intending to replace it with an iPhone once I got back to the States, but was foiled by Apple not wanting my money if it didn't also go to AT&T. Sigh.

In any case, I got one of those old candy-bar Nokias. The interface is absolutely terrible, but one day I found that it has T9, which is a total life-saver for texting in English. I often text with my Chinese friends in tone-less pinyin (I can't input 汉字 from the English interface), and originally I'd use multi-tap mode, but one day I decided to just stay in T9 mode and spell each word out. The next day, the revelation hit. My cheap, crappy, outdated Nokia was learning Chinese! Every time I spell a word out in tone-less pinyin, it adds it to the T9 dictionary. How friggin cool is that?! And not only that, but it's also learning my Chinglish! So I can write, "Hey, I'm busy now, dan shi wo men deng yi xia shuo hua, hao ba?", and my phone can figure that out in T9 mode.

Long story short - it doesn't necessarily have to be pretty if it's got a killer feature.

(不过,我还想买比较漂亮的手机。我和Fake Steve Jobs都喜欢美丽的东西。)