There are days when it's so challenging to be a technology writer, I can only imagine what it's like to be a technology consumer.
For example, and I'm just ballparking here, there are some 37,000 smartphones you can buy today. Whoops, hang on, just got a press release from HTC; make that 37,001. Oh, and here comes Android 4.3 -- wonder when I'll be able to load that on my S3. Hey, Best Buy took $50 off the iPhone last weekend. Must mean Apple's announcing a new model at next month's WWDC, right? Certainly we'll be getting iOS 7 before long. Of course, Samsung's new Galaxy S4 has the better camera anyway, so Apple better step it up.
Exhausting, right? It can be a full-time job keeping up on all this stuff, though obviously we in the tech-journalism field are employed to do exactly that. Still, I can't help wondering if the average smartphone user feels similarly overwhelmed by all the options and updates and choices -- many of which seem to change almost daily.
Truly, living the smartphone life can be daunting. 3G, 4G, LTE, GSM, HSPA+. NFC, GPS, PPI. Dual-core, quad-core. Five megapixels, eight megapixels. Android 4.1, Android 4.2. iOS 6, iOS 7. Q10, Z10. Google Play, iTunes, iCloud. Windows Phone 8 (or is it Windows 8 Phone?). BlackBerry (they're back!). iPhone 5, iPhone 5S. Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4. HTC One. Nexus 4.
And I didn't even mention carriers. I'm with AT&T right now, but my two-year contract ends soon. Because I'm a cheapskate (not to mention The Cheapskate), there's no way I'm going to continue paying $80 monthly to keep using my iPhone 4S.
That means I'm in the market for an MNVO, a mobile network virtual operator that will sell me service at a much lower rate -- and without a contract. But where do I take it? Walmart's Straight Talk? I've heard iffy things about their terms of service. There's Solavei, which offers a flat rate of $49 per month -- but its T-Mobile-powered 4G coverage doesn't yet reach my slice of suburbia.
I could also sell my 4S on Ebay to cover a good chunk of the costs of a prepaid iPhone 5, which is now available from no-contract carriers including Boost Mobile, Cricket, Virgin Mobile, and, most recently, T-Mobile. Ah, but do they really afford the same level of coverage as AT&T?
If I'm willing to switch to Android, I can save even more money by going to an upstart carrier like Republic Wireless, Ting, or Zact Mobile. But I won't be able to get the latest and greatest handsets, and I might miss out on some OS updates.
Like I said: exhausting. Make no mistake, I love all this stuff. But sometimes the relentless onslaught of smartphone news and options fries my brain. Do you ever feel the same way?