Wednesday, November 13, 2013

on cell-phone abuse

My students all bring their smart phones into class. I try to make them turn the phones off, but very few actually follow my directive: they make a show of putting their phones on the table, face-down, but in truth they leave their phones on "vibrate" mode. One thing I've noticed about the students' phones is how smashed-up so many of them are. I saw this at my previous job, too: high schoolers and middle schoolers (and even some elementary schoolers) would arrive carrying smart phones that had touch screens with spiderweb cracks on them, or with cracks that made the screens look like cathedral mosaics. Miraculously, those screens would still be functional. Here at DCU,* it's much the same story: about half of my students own seriously abused phones.

All of that makes me wonder about the product-testing that these phones go through. It can't be very rigorous, given how common it is to see damaged phones. Whatever abuse tests are happening now need to be ratcheted up to about five or six times their current intensity. In the hustle and bustle of college life, smart phones aren't merely dropped, it seems: they get kicked, stomped, dwarf-tossed, and gut-punched like the wimpiest kid in the class. If cell phones had hair, my students would pull it out. My own cell phone remains pristine thanks to my fastidiousness; I can hardly imagine breaking its lovely, elegant face.

But seriously: if product testers want to test out their newest phones, they should simply hand the beta versions over to Korean college students (or to American high schoolers), who will be sure to brutalize the devices until their cracked little screens display "UNCLE!" in large, jagged fonts that convey a sense of spine-torquing agony. If a new phone can survive two months of that sort of abuse, it's ready for prime time.

*That's my new abbreviation for my university. I'm tired of the silly acronym "CUD." The Korean way to say my university's name is "Daegu Ga-to-lik Dae-hakgyo," i.e., Daegu Catholic University, which sounds much cooler than cud. So, henceforth: DCU. Yeah, baby.


1 comment:

John from Daejeon said...

It's not in their greedy best interests to make the products in their giant moneymaking scheme any tougher/stronger (more repeat sales when products break due to the misuse clause in their minuscule fine print) which is also why they are very pro-smartphone theft.

It's just too bad that all the big smartphone companies can't be prosecuted for the harm (including deaths) that they are actually responsible for.