I Once Made Calls With Gusto, Now I Unhappily Make Them With The Gusto II

I recently upgraded my trusty flip phone for a…nother flip phone. I was excited, after a year and a half, to see what new technologies Samsung and Verizon had teamed up to bring flip phone users. Eighteen months is an eternity in the tech world, so the innovations were likely to be abundant. I anxiously awaited the new wonders my next gen flip phone contained. What I found is that, unambiguously, Verizon and Samsung are marketing their last remaining flip phone exclusively to elderly people.

Last week, I upgraded my Gusto I to the Gusto II. When I first upgraded to the Gusto I, it was just called the Gusto. There was no indication there would ever be a followup, although I was one of the louder voices in the chorus calling for a Gusto update—that phone was simply elegant. So when the time came to upgrade once more, I didn’t let the features and flash of the many smart phones stray me from my path. I once wrote an emotional love letter to my Gusto, so you can guess my Gusto-citement for its sequel. But times have changed—Verizon is now only offering one flip phone, down from several flip-choices the last time I upgraded two summers ago. It was OK, because that one phone was in the storied Gusto family, a well-trod tradition of excellence, so I knew I was in good hands. Or so I thought. 

Cursory inspection of my Gusto II when it arrived a few days ago revealed a larger chassis, and a correspondingly large keyboard, with several new buttons. One such button is a prominent “ICE” button right next to the directional keypad. This is an “In Case of Emergency” button and not the much stupider alternative I initially thought. This handy new ICE button reduces the number of steps to call 911 from an arduous and unwieldy four to a speedy two. Clearly, this is in case granny falls down and suddenly becomes confused at basic phone operation, she can just press ICE (and then, of course, “send”). I’m sure the time saved from that shortcut will be just the duration before going into shock. While a bit of shock to me as well, I was able to chuckle past this button. But it got worse. The picture buttons kept on coming.

There is also a button with an envelope on it. This is the texting button. There is a button with the image of a person talking on it. This is the voicemail button. These are both new additions to the Gusto. In fact, the Gusto II is almost identical to the emergency phone for kids or old people that only have three buttons with police, fire, and a responsible adult programmed in in. I tried to reconfigure the voicemail button to instead auto-call my friend Daniel. This was unsuccessful.

The font size on the menus is laughably large, clearly for the myopic, aging population looking to master basic wireless communication. I can only look at four contacts on the screen at once. It was five on my old phone, and the screen was smaller. When my phone rings, if my contact name is longer than four characters, it will have to scroll across the front screen, whereas my old phone could comfortably display a first and last name. Who is calling? Michael? Or Michaela? There is no way to tell anymore, so I guess I can’t meet anyone named Michaela for the next 18 months. Michaelas, you’ve been warned.

The other clues are just too obvious to not draw this conclusion that Verizon has assumed their sole flip phone will only attract the likes of the 70+ crowd. Unlike its predecessor, this phone has no USB connectivity, so the pictures and contacts stored on the phone are trapped there forever, unless you want to painstakingly email each one to yourself. They actually downgraded a genuinely useful feature, because Verizon knows that seniors won’t know how to use it anyway, and when they lose their proprietary charger, they will be forced to buy another one from Verizon instead of using a USB cable. The Greatest Generation, and me, are now stuck with our low-res pictures on our arcane phones. And I didn’t even help save the world from Evil. I just have a flip phone.

At least I can wrap my head around the logic behind these blunt picture keys and garish font sizes, even if I don’t like them. But Samsung also made some insidious changes as well. As if to spite their flip phone base and jeer at them for not smartphoning, they have cleverly switched the button for text messages to the other side of the phone, leaving us loyal Gusto users reflexively opening the menu, or pressing ICE, every time we are trying to contact a friend. There is no other reason I can to do this other than dastardly head games to break the will of flip phone stalwarts. But they did more than that—they also broke our hearts.

If you want a free upgrade phone from Verizon, you have two main choices: the Gusto II or the iPhone 4. Verizon’s daring customers to make a choice: Buy the sleek, powerful, useful iPhone 4 (with, of course, a data plan, something Verizon salivates over), or buy your final cell phone before you wither up and die. And I use the term “free” upgrade very liberally because Verizon has recently enacted a laughable $30 upgrade fee. Can’t that fee only apply to phones actually with a retail value over $30? The funny thing is, I could have been easily and happily silenced with another Gusto I. That was a work of beauty. But this underwhelming Gusto II has soured me, Verizon—that is of course unless you make the Gusto III.

If you do, be kind and be gentle when you design it. Think not of forcing younger users into a smart phone or retribution for lost potential data plan revenue, but think of those who only want to live the next 12-18 months of their young lives in T9 serenity before 4G mayhem. If you can’t adhere to that simple plea, then so be it, but promise me if that’s the case that you won’t even try to make a Gusto III. I can’t take another disappointment of this magnitude.

 

Matt Powers lives in Brooklyn.

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22 Comments / Post A Comment

hopelessshade (#580)

My dumbphone recently decided to stop making or receiving calls, leaving me with what is essentially a pager, so I am in the uncomfortable limbo of realizing I’m going to be getting a smartphone whether I’m totally on board with the idea or not.

limenotapple (#1,748)

@hopelessshade You might have other options. I got a fantastic phone from T-Mobile that’s maybe a little better than dumb, but definitely not smart (half-wit?) You technically can get on the Internet with it, but it’s not all touchy touchy and is mostly just for calling and texting. I still haven’t talked myself into the costs associated with a smartphone (especially since I paid about $45 total for all last year for phone service)

@limenotapple Mine is called a feature phone! I’m fine with it but the touchscreen has started to go, so I am afraid I’ll have to upgrade soon. Boo hoo.

limenotapple (#1,748)

@anachronistique A feature phone! That’s what I have. The best feature is how cheap it is.

chic noir (#713)

@limenotapple forty- five dollars for phone service ??? Please tell us how that’s possible.

limenotapple (#1,748)

@chic noir My plan won’t work for everyone, but I think it’s great. I have T-Mobile’s by-the-minute pre-paid plan. Initially, they charge you more for a minute, but after you’ve hit the $100 threshold (they call it GOLD status or something), you get a nice, low per-minute price (I think around 10c). There’s no daily connection fee. After you are a Gold member, your minutes don’t expire for a year. If you add any amount, even like $5, it “renews” your existing minutes so they don’t expire for another year.

So, for people who use their phone a lot, it’s probably not great. I don’t have a land line but I do use Google Voice and Skype to talk to people when I’m at home. So I only use my phone when I’m out and about, and I typically don’t make long calls then.

Also, I really don’t like talking on the phone, so having a monthly plan for something I hate makes no sense (for me). And the monthly cost for smartphones for two people (husband and I) really adds up! We put it in a separate account to save up for fun things, like making our house not fall down.

hopelessshade (#580)

@hopelessshade Guys I now possess an iphone, which is hilarious to me because that was exactly what I didn’t want–it’s a status symbol that screams “steal me!” However, A: my need for google maps necessitated a smartphone, boo, and B: the iphone was the least ‘huge handheld computer’ of all of them! But now I will be able to support Unfuck Your Habitat and probably buy that needlepoint cover that made the rounds a couple of years ago, so, everything works out.

faustbanana (#2,376)

Anyone who willfully rejects smartphones is OK in my book. But to be included in this book, you must pay a $30 book-inclusion fee.

Megano! (#124)

(Makes obvious Brooklyn/flip phone/hipsters joke)

AlliNYC (#1,725)

@Megano! GOD thank you.

This is a thing of beauty: “And I didn’t even help save the world from Evil. I just have a flip phone.”

Laugh at the olds all you want, I have yet to successfully explain to any of my friends in theirs 20s why they should BUY their iPhone and get a pay-as-you-go plan instead of paying $1,200 for the fucking thing. I mean if you’re that desperate put it on your credit card, it’s still cheaper in the long run!

bibliostitute (#285)

@stuffisthings THIS, a thousand times this! I own my smartphone outright (though it is not an iPhone, because import taxes to the country I live in make it roughly double in cost); it works on more than one continent; I get to choose who services me and pay very little money for it!

I just bought my mom her first smartphone for Christmas, and all I have been doing is giving tech support over the phone since then. “What are apps” is a question I answer at least three times a week.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@Amber Stewart@facebook My mum has had an iPhone for like 6 months and still hasn’t got an iTunes account.
She goes on Facebook by using the browser (which she refers to as “the Google” because she googles Facebook to get the sign-in page) – when she said that I had a lot of this in my head: “!!!!!!!!!”

@TARDIStime AHHHHH MY MOM CALLS IT “FACEBOOKS” or “SPACEBOOK”
She’s also graduated to texting me to tell me she doesn’t know how to text (?!?!?!?!)
ALSO also your avatar + name = RAD

this article interests me. I am 34, yet all the older people I work with have new iphones. I resist, I resist, as my phone bill is presently about $40 a month and I don’t need all those bells and whistles. my phone does send a text message with a little letter icon flying toward a mailbox, and I love it.

I have only two questions. Why are you stuck in a contract for a flip phone? you know AT&T has go phones I am sure Verizon has something like that. You could of used that 30$ upgrade fee and bought the phone and no contract. And when you find one you like. Try Amazon I am sure you can find some. then you can change when ever your heart desires. Also those old Verizon phone dont have a sim card?that stores your contacts?

Doesn’t Verizon have the Casio Ravine 2? That’s a better phone than the Gusto 2.

I’m 33 and have an iPhone 4. I’m really into tech though so I do love my Smartphone. However, as a guy, I wish they’d invent a smartphone which flips to protect the screen. I always liked flip phones because you can put them straight in your pocket. No case or screen protector required.

I can’t believe how much you have to pay in the states. I pay £35 (about $52.50) per month. For this I got a free iPhone, 2000 minutes, 3000 texts and unlimited data. I can even stream live NFL games to my phone.

Also, I have a parental horror story. I was trying to teach my 60+ year old Mother how to use a laptop. I told her to move the cursor to click on something. She asked what the cursor was. I said the arrow on the screen. 3 minutes later after the cursor flying all over the screen, she asked me “How do I catch it?”

I also enjoy the dumb phone and I am sad it is getting harder and harder to get. I was an early adopter of the Blackberry and it was very bad for me to be connected that much. I made the purposeful decision that I needed a cell phone but I did not want access to my email or the internet at all times. It is sad that option is being taken away by so many companies.

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