It is impossible to buy a new phone.
I do not wish to rent a phone. I wish to buy one.
I require the ability to reach Lyn at any time at which she wishes to be reachable. I require the equipment to be reliable. I require it to be interoperable with my library of SIM cards.
I do not require an additional camera, an additional PDA, an additional mp3 player, an additional games machine, or an additional television.
I am aware of the real value of phones. I am willing to pay a substantial amount of money to satisfy this critical operational need.
It is not possible to do so.
I've long been familiar with the phone-on-contract scams. We give you a shiny device for a dollar now, and you buy our overpriced network access for two years. It's a high-interest high-risk loan and I don't have a major problem with it. At least, I didn't while I could select my preferred network provider, select my preferred phone, buy one SIM card and one phone, and put them together. Leave the suckers to their game; I've got mine.
That's not possible here. Pay-as-you-go phones now come with a contract. You cannot physically buy a mobile phone without also buying a network subscription. A given model of phone will typically be available only on a single network. It will be locked to that network. Thanks to advances in phone DRM, it is no longer possible to unlock them. You cannot simply buy the phone and then pay the network to unlock it; T-Mobile demands that you have owned the phone for three months before they will sell you the unlock code. Non-affiliated phone stores are actually multi-affiliated phone stores - the first question they'll ask is which network you wish to be shackled to.
Ebay is not a satisfactory option because reliability is paramount. Li-Ion batteries deteriorate fast, especially when they're driving overpowered playstation-wannabes. I need to buy a new phone.
The market has failed.
fn1. Technically, she needs a phone, not me.
fn2. Last Sunday I bailed early from an Infiltration meetup and ran to St Pauls to meet Lyn for a scheduled tour.. but her phone had failed and it took us 40 minutes to unscramble ourselves. If you don't have a phone, you have to have a plan. If you have to have a plan, you've lost your flexibility.
fn3. I found this out after I bought a phone. Fuck. It's a brick.
fn4. You can have my Nokia 6100 when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. I've had this thing three years, and if it failed I would replace it with exactly the same model.
fn5. Nokia.com has three sections under phones: "For Gaming", "For Music", "For Office". It does not have a section "For Calls".
fn6. Digital Restrictions Management. While everyone's busy freaking out about iTunes and Vista, Vodafone's gone and screwed us all even harder than they're planning to.
I invite readers to submit examples of situations where bundling is not evil.