Cell Phones: Maybe It's Just Me

| Thu Sep. 20, 2012 2:09 PM EDT

Oddly enough, a lot of commenters on my previous cell phone post seem to think I'm bashing young people, or that I don't understand that portability is the reason people like cell phones, or that there are now lots of other communications options that make voice calls less necessary than in the past. But there was no bashing of the younger generation in that post, portability is pretty obvious, and I myself am a big user of email, Twitter, blogging, and so forth. (Though not texting much. I am that much of an old fogey.) So believe it or not, I already knew all that stuff!

However, another reader just flatly takes issue with my contention that the audio quality of cell phones is lousy:

Your comments on wireless voice quality are...inexplicable to me. I got rid of my landline as a redundant expense six or seven years ago and have never once regretted it. My experience with wireless voice quality is very different from yours — even with some fairly significant hearing loss, I find my ability to hear and understand other people is much greater on the cell phone than it ever was on the POTS. And for the last few years, using a stereo bluetooth headset the quality is amazing, you can hear a whisper as the active noise cancellation cuts out the background clutter. I do use GChat for a lot of my more "recreational" calls, but that's because it's completely free and the option to just kind of slouch in front of a tabletop microphone and a pair of stereo speakers is irresistible. But I would only use the wireless for important/business calls.

Part of it might be my carrier — Verizon has always kind of owned Silicon Valley — I became a customer in '93 when they were still GTE Mobilnet — and the coverage and capacity at least SEEMS unlimited....

This is more interesting to me. I happen to use Verizon too (on an iPhone these days), though the people I talk to are on a variety of different carriers. But I still don't much like talking on my cell phone, and even when I'm on a landline I usually find it pretty frustrating to talk to other people who are on cell phones. This is true even under good conditions. Under not-so-good conditions, which is pretty common, it's even worse. But maybe this is just me. I've always had an unusually hard time following conversations when there's a lot of ambient noise (just turning on the bathroom faucet makes it hard for me to hear the TV), so maybe I'm ultra-sensitive to this. I guess that most of you don't really have any problem with the overall voice quality on cell phones. Yes? No?

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