Pick your phone, from glam to geeky

You clumsily drop your cell phone into a full margarita pitcher at Viva’s as your ex drunk dials you on a rainy Wednesday evening. Your night has taken a decisive turn for the worse.

Your normally vibrating, singing, flashing and generally happy “telephone” is dead. Even worse, you’ve ruined the pitcher of booze-a-hol for your entire table. Good job, genius.

Thankfully, your life-or-death contract with the cell phone company expires the next day. “Time to get a new cell phone!” you think to yourself. You might revel in the fact that your doting parents will foot the bill for your lovely new gadget, or perhaps you’re just thankful that the P.O.S. with the broken 6 button won’t haunt you anymore with phantom phone calls from assorted central Asian countries at 4:30 in the morning.

In my opinion, there are four general options on the market at the moment:

1. The Motorola RAZR and its clones.

The slim factor is truly enticing, but any phone on which texting requires cycling through letters is so 2005. Let’s be honest: That typing thing people call “T9” just doesn’t cut it.

Since listening to voice mail is a real pain, you considerately send your friends texts instead when you can’t reach them. You also feel obligated — no matter how annoying it is — to reply to your text-addict friends in kind. But hey, if you don’t want to shell out too much cash, this is probably the lowest-end phone you would consider buying. Both Verizon and AT&T Wireless offer the handset at a mere $50 for a two-year contract.

2. BlackBerry trackball models.

If it easily fits in your pocket, then you’re good to go. The fatter BlackBerry models (your dad’s 8700) will hinder any groove you feebly try to “bust” on the dance floor. And — even more important — you look like an idiot holding a brightly lit brick up to your face when you talk to your friends.

Embarrassment aside, the latest iterations of your dad’s “adult Game Boy” are extremely well-designed. This option also has the best integration with Yale’s e-mail system. If you use IMAP on both your PC and the phone, e-mail gets marked as deleted or read accordingly, and sent items are accessible on both.

Even non-geeks will rejoice at the convenient management of their constantly overflowing inboxes. The selection of third-party software isn’t the greatest, but Google Maps will let you find the nearest karaoke bar in a pinch, and Opera Mini will let you Facebook stalk as you ride the bus up Science Hill. Oh wait, you thought you kicked that habit? Think again.

3. The one and only iPhone.

Okay, so it’s been out for a while, but new developments make it even more enticing. Even my mom wants one because she thinks it looks cool. A friend just told me about a survey that claimed girls even have more game when they break out an iPhone bar-side. Please don’t buy one to increase your odds on a given Saturday night — that’s just pathetic.

If you already own a MacBook (Pro), I think this gadget is the way to go. But Windows users, be wary of Steve Jobs’ limited cooperation with Microsoft Office products. Outlook might not play friendly with your expensive new digital Swiss Army Knife, which makes backing up your contacts a real pain. Furthermore, as you flick your way through the New Yorker and munch on Cap’n Crunch in the dining hall, you will officially have become a geek.

Using this phone induces geekery: You will become abnormally enthusiastic about the new weight in your pocket. Apple has just opened the iPhone to developers, meaning you will be able to download more applications to make your mobile even more useful or gratuitously fun to play with when class gets boring.

4. Windows Mobile Professional Smartphones

The Mac v. PC ads have definitively proven that Macs are cooler than PCs, but I’m pretty sure that most of you still haven’t made the switch. This platform synchronizes best with Outlook, and it can display your Office documents and PDFs extremely well. I’m not suggesting that you cheat on a midterm, but you may need to review those dates beforehand as you wait in line at the Law School cafeteria.

If you want something a little more exotic than a BlackBerry, Windows Mobile phones are the way to go because the platform is not limited to one but many hardware manufacturers, including Samsung, Toshiba, Palm and HTC. This platform has traditionally had the most development over the years, meaning you can basically do anything with the piece of electronic on which you just drained your bank account. I downloaded a GPS-functionality program for my phone, which I used to navigate New Haven on bike this summer, hands free.

Special Considerations:

While you may have a contract you intend to renew, it seems that Verizon has the best coverage in New Haven, while AT&T Wireless comes in a close second. Verizon has better customer service, but AT&T has sleeker phones which you can also use internationally, should you choose to spend a summer or semester abroad.

All-you-can-eat data plans for either network will cost you between $45 and $60 a month unless you know someone on the inside. Above all, try before you buy, even if you order your phone online. I highly recommend pre-gaming and then pre-gaming some more before you test out these phones. That way you can determine whether you can really handle the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard after a couple of drinks. You also might be more willing to part with your hard-earned money, and hopefully you’ll be friendlier to the store’s sales staff.

I am assuming you are not a mean drunk.

Barrett Williams is a sophomore in Trumbull College.

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