Monday, June 29, 2020

The elusive phone

I am at my desk working on my laptop. I hear a voice -- someone is talking. It takes a while for me to figure out where it is coming from. 

It is from my phone! The Google Assistant has launched itself and is announcing the weather in Bengaluru and that I have no tasks scheduled for the day ...! 

The phone is acting up. I shut down the application. 

A couple of days later ... I am messaging a colleague on WhatsApp. Even while I am keying in, I hear a voice from the phone: "Hello, hello, hello ...." But I can't see anyone's name on the display, which is not responding to my touch either.

Finally, I restart the phone.

Once the phone rebooted, within a minute, I get a call from the person to whom I was keying in the message which didn't go. He asks me if I made a video call on WhatsApp to him. I say no.

He is surprised because I have never before made a video call to him. I then explain to him it could be because my phone is malfunctioning.

Not only is the device not responding to my touch but it is also doing things on its own. I also notice there is a vertical black line on the screen.


The phone -  Moto G8 Plus - is only seven months old. It's made by Motorola Mobility which was once owned by Google before passing hands to Lenovo. It's a stock Android phone, without any add-ones by the manufacturer. 

Those were some of the reasons why I went for this brand. Besides, the phone I previously had was a Moto G4 Plus which lasted more than three years, until the battery began draining out too fast. 

Now I need a phone immediately. One, this one might conk off any time; and two, when I give this for repair, I will need another one. 

I scroll through Amazon and Flipkart. The good ones will take at least a week to get delivered. I can't wait that long. 

I go to the nearby mobile store to check what they have on offer. The storekeeper shows me Redmi Note 8, Samsung M21 and a few other 'A' series phones of Samsung; besides some Vivo models.

Some 10 years ago, a phone with features I want would be in the range of Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000. But now such a phone is available for half that price.  

I tell the storekeeper that I want to think over the models that he showed and I will be back in the evening or the next morning. 

Back home, I do some research. There are only two options - either a Samsung or a Redmi. Samsung is generally more reliable, but Xiaomi phones have good features and are popular. I guess, they can't be that bad. I have had Samsung phones before. So I thought I will go with Redmi for a change.

I head back to the store at 4.30 that evening.


"I am so sorry we don't have that in stock," says the storekeeper.

"What?! I came this morning, you showed me one," I counter him.

"We just had one model, and he picked it up just now," the storekeeper says pointing to a gentleman at the cash counter. "But I can get you one in about half an hour, from our store in Marthahalli."

"Half an hour? It will take about half an hour one-way to Marthahalli." I am surprised.

"No, I will get it Dunzoed," he says with a smile. 

(Dunzo is a very successful Bengaluru-based startup that provides "pick up and delivery" service within a city.)

"Okay. That sounds good. So, I will come back by around 5.30."

I go back home, thinking I would have got that phone if I was a few minutes early.


Around 5.30 the storekeeper calls me to say they have got the phone. So I head to the shop yet again.

He takes out the box from a bag and ... he looks embarrassed and annoyed and I wonder what has happened.

"I am so sorry ... Really sorry. They have sent us a Redmi Note 8 Pro, and not Redmi Note 8."

"Oh! ... Okay ... I am sure this will be a bit more expensive ... "

"Yes, about 4 to 5,000 more."

"No ... I would stick to Note 8, and not Pro ..." I tell him because I can't find any good enough reason to spend 5k extra.

"Okay, in that case, I will give you a call tomorrow morning after I get you a Note 8."

"Fine," I tell him and head back home for the second time in an hour empty-handed.


Back home, I do a 'factory reset' of my Moto G8 Plus, hoping it may solve the problem.

It seems to have worked, except that the vertical line on the display remains. The phone is dutifully responding to my touch and is not behaving in any crazy manner. 

No call from the shopkeeper nor I call him; since the Moto G8 Plus seems to be okay now, and I don't need a Redmi Note 8 immediately.


However, I resume checking out phones online. Because I need a new one when I give this one to the service centre to get rid of that vertical line. I better do that before the one-year warranty expires. 

Amazon keeps notifying me about a 'flash sale' of the latest Redmi Note 9 Pro phone. It is at 12 noon.

What the shopkeeper had got by mistake was a Note 8 Pro which I decided not to buy because it was costlier than Note 8. And now I am being tempted with a Note 9 Pro! 

I have never attempted to buy anything during these 'sales' when only a limited number of products are on offer and prospective buyers in thousands will make a dash online to grab them. The chances are practically nil.
But I decide to try my luck. Because this has better features and is only marginally costlier than Note 8.

No, I am not fast enough and my web connection is not strong enough. I get edged out. I don't make it. 

I wonder who all were lucky to get that phone within about 30 seconds of the opening of the sale. And how they managed to get it.  

Now I find that there is another 'sale' coming up after a week or so. Who knows I might be lucky then. 

No, no chance. 'Sale' is definitely not my cup of tea!


I am not disappointed since my Moto G8 Plus is (seems to be) working well and there is no hurry to get a new phone. 

Another reason is I have figured out that some of the Samsung models are as good as, if not better than, Redmi models. 

The third reason is Samsung is a brand I know well. I always had their phones except for the two Moto Gs and one Sony. 

Also, I didn't want to push my luck too far with Redmi, going by my recent experiences.


Sunday, June 21. Father's Day. Fête de la Musique. International Yoga Day. Summer Solistice. Partial Solar Eclipse. ... 

Wow! So many events?!

The day actually turns out to be quite eventful.  

The first thing I notice in the morning is that the phone is acting crazy again. The same problem. 

The screen is not responding to my touch; worse, the display is flickering and different apps are feverishly getting launched on their own. This time it looks much worse than earlier. I am not able to have any control on what is happening on the screen! 

After some struggle with the screen, I manage to do a 'factory reset' to erase all my data in the phone before the phone becomes completely inaccessible. 

I erased all data not with any hope of setting the phone right but when I give the phone for repair I don't want anyone to have access to my data. 

I head to the nearby store yet again looking for a new phone.

This time I ask for a Samsung phone. In the M Series, there was just one: M11. That doesn't seem to have good reviews. So weigh the options of the A-series ones. 

This time I have no doubts as which one I should buy. Galaxy A30s.

Finally an end to the struggle with the phone and indecisions. 

Back with Samsung after about four years.

The day is eventful in other ways too. My brother-in-law and his daughter come home. My son joins us on video. They all play games. Good fun. 

The day ends well.


  1. Hi Pradeep - and you who understand had problems ... imagine me!! But I do hope the Samsung works for you ... and that the family are around more often for video chats and for games ... Glad all well ended well - take care - Hilary

  2. Hari Om
    As a bit of a geek, I loved reading this...but when it comes to telephones, I am anti-smart; mine is a Doro flipfone, which does only what phones are supposed to do!!! If money were no object, then I MIGHT be tempted by the Samsung Galaxy Z &*> YAM xx

    1. For me phone is everything - books, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, iPod, cinema, shopping mall etc etc.
      I haven't heard Doro phones. Just looked up the net to know more.
      Flip phones were popular in India once, not now. But I guess some company in this part of the world is trying to bring them back.

  3. What an ordeal! You've had some bad luck with phones lately. I've always found Samsung technology to be pretty good, although I don't have any direct experience with their phones. I hope this phone works well.

  4. Getting a new phone is quite the trial. Glad you have something that works now. Weird what the other one was doing. I'd've said it was haunted.

  5. It's good fortune that you bought Samsung over Redmi. Redmi phones are great value for money no doubt, but with all the negative activities happening in India against Chinese businesses it may be better not to invest in a Chinese brand till the situation becomes stable once again. We can't be sure which ones will persist and stay in India for the long-term.

    Destination Infinity

    1. Hi Rajesh - Ya that is a good point. Thanks.

  6. How frustrating! I'm glad all went well at last. My husband went through similar frustration when trying to get a phone several years ago. As for me, I'm sticking with my 'dumb' phone, still, though he wants me to give in and get with the times. Heh...

  7. Hi Darla - It all depends on what one needs a phone for, now that one can do so many things on a phone. Luckily, nowadays, one can get a phone tailored to our needs, as it were.

  8. I am sorry you had this problem with your cell and more problem with buying a new one. Did you check with other local stores or just one shop near your house? Just curious. Also, what Amazon is doing is "bait and switch". During Thanksgiving Day Sales, every department stores here will advertise things for a very low price. For Example 60" TV worth $900 will be advertised for $49.99. More than 1000 people will go to the store. All they would have just one TV for that price. However the store is happy they brought customers inside the store. More than 50% of them will buy some other stuff since they are in the store and don't want to go home empty handed.

  9. What a performance, Pradeep! I’m glad you finally got sorted out, though. These devices can drive us mad, can’t they? I have a Nokia 1, which is cheap, cheerful and okay, but it’s also slow and can behave erratically at times. I’m used to it, so it’s okay, but I wouldn’t buy another one.

    1. Hi Vallypee - My introduction to mobiles was via Nokia, like for many people. They dominated the phone market once upon a time.

  10. Technology does my head in at times - so much choice and always the risk that you'll pick the wrong thing. When my phone battery started dying all the time I ended up asking my son to research phones for me because I didn't want to spend a fortune, but needed a Samsung or similar because I knew how to use that brand. He suggested an Oppo - and it's been great - cheaper than the Samsung, but very reliable and it came with a rose gold backing option - I always like the pretty colours! Glad you finally got yours sorted out - very frustrating!

    1. Hi Leanne - Yes, there are plenty of options out there; and it might look a bit confusing; but with some patience we can get one to our liking.

  11. Phones have that habit of playing around in the most unexpected times. What's strange is how it seems to fix itself temporarily after rebooting. It's just a deception. Glad you finally found a satisfactory phone to settle with. ;)

    1. Hi Dashy - You are absolutely right. When they behave after rebooting, I also wonder if they have some self-healing properties!

  12. I've been using Samsung for about 10 years. I'm happy with it, though the present one seems to have grown old.

    1. Hi Tomi - Samsung definitely reliable. The fact that you have an 'old Samsung' is itself proves that ... because some of the new ones don't last so long to become 'old'.

  13. Oh, that sounds sad and I also can't figure out how can a product that doesn't work as well as get away with it for sale? Hopefully your review will be of particular concern to its production.

  14. Technology too much choice and many risks

    1. Hi Nassah - We are now so much dependent on technology, and we seem to have traded the risks for the convenience.

  15. Oh my goodness. We're spoiler for choice these days. It's so easy to fall for one with many features, but really, we don't use half of them. Hopefully, your new phone is working well.

    1. Hi Corinne - That's true. For example, stopwatch, timer etc

  16. I admire your patience to go back and forth to pick up one phone, and checking it, comparing it with other brands. Glad finally you got one.

  17. Technology brings its own issues.. I am still scared to use all phone features.. Its amazing how kids these days fearlessly navigate smartphones!! I used to have a Motorola and was very happy with it! Anyway.. glad you found a phone to your liking!

    1. Hi Archana - These kids have been born into a world of gadgets. The operations come sort of intuitively for them. :-)