So before we even turn the phone on, here are a few of our initial impressions. The yellow and white box arrived and inside were all sorts of goodies one can only really associate with a higher-end business consumer. The phone came fully charged with the battery and 32MB TransFlash card already inserted - a nice touch. The box also included an AC charger, USB cable, a TransFLASH adapter SD card adapter, a slick little wired headset with a single button and some manuals.
Now let's talk documentation. Ok, so you're a developer, what do you care about documentation! Well, you should. Come on, even we phone-crazed developers have had those moments of frustration trying to get something that should be relatively simple, like enabling phone-modem connectivity, to function. Whether you're a device developer or a mobile app developer, you're the one with the first-hand knowledge. You've got to tell your tech writers how it really works. Your users will thank you for it, you'll sell more phones, your stock options will be worth more... Do you get it now?
Your documentation should be detailed and concise and cover not only the basic operations on the phone but also the more advanced features. More people would buy all those sweet accessories if
Sprint has done a good job at including most of the important stuff. A full phone menu drill-down chart gives you a bird's eye view of how the phone menu system is organized. And more advanced topics, like BlueTooth pairing and using your TransFLASH card are touched upon as well. But when you get to the USB cable info, the documentation falls short. Way short.
As any phone developer knows, the all-powerful data cable is often essential to doing your job. Sprint's A920 comes with a mysterious USB cable but it's unclear what you can do with it. Will it charge the phone? What kind of data can it access? Why would we want to use it? And from looking around on the web, we aren't the only ones confused. First, we hit up the Sprint webpage for the A920 to see what this mysterious USB cable was capable of and here's what they said:
Multi-functional data cable - handset-specific data transfer applications - music to a developer's ears, you'd think. Leafing through the handset-specific product manual, we find nothing under "USB", "Cable", "Data" in the index or table of contents... A little contents list on the side of the box packaging just calls it "USB Cable", no mention of data, but it does say that the phone is "Phone-As-Modem" capable using the USB cable under the features list.
So we look up "Modem". After reading the entire page and a half the manual devotes to using the phone as a modem, we find that we will first have to have an internet connection and download the appropriate Sprint PCS Connection Manager and relevant drivers. That won't be nice in a pinch, but we like not having to buy the data cable separately, just the same. Still, if you're going to ship with the cable, would it be so hard to include a little driver cd?
In our last note on documentation, the manuals are all in English only, unlike some of the latest Verizon manuals that have included full Spanish versions. This may save some trees, but leaves us wondering about Sprint's user demographics.
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"In our last note on documentation, the manuals are all in English only, unlike some of the latest Verizon manuals that have included full Spanish versions. This may save some trees, but leaves us wondering about Sprint's user demographics."
I take it that this phone was purchased in the United States. If it had been sold in Germany, I'd expect the user manual to be wrtten for those who speak Deutch. Canada, being an officially bi-lingual country, requires stuff to be in Francais as well as in English.
Let the vendor add manuals in other lanugages to their web pages and let the market decide who is better accomodating in this way.
Anyway, the Samsung MM-A920's a fine phone. Good color, menus that make sense and can be figured out without a book in any language, well enough for you to have a good time with it right out of the box and until you find the time to digest the printed stuff.
[Editor's Note: Comment shortened for brevity]
We noted the fact that the Sprint phone manual was only provided in English for several reasons:
* A major competitor, Verizon, had shipped with full Spanish language documentation.
* Spanish is the most common language other than English that is spoken in the US, with more than 30 Million people, more than 12% of the population. Some states, like California, have much higher - more than 25% native speakers.
* Spanish-speakers are an important demographic targeted by many US Carriers, especially those targeting the West Coast and urban areas. Wikipedia says it nicely: Apart from the businesses that have always catered to Spanish-speaking immigrants, a small but rapidly-increasing number of mainstream American retailers are beginning to provide dual-language advertising and in-store signage in both English and Spanish.
Lastly, just for the record, the United States does not have an official language at the federal level. Some states have officially adopted American English, but others have not. Some states, like New Mexico, actually have two official languages - English and Spanish equally. In another case, Hawaii has two other official languages - Hawaiian English and Hawaiian.