Ringtones Newsletter: Trends and Tips from Consumer Cellular: Online Version

Dialing In

Today, cell phones are multi-featured inventions and many of them include cameras, as well as radios, calculators, alarms, and games. In fact, Consumer Cellular currently offers customers four cell phone models with cameras — Nokia 2720 (July introduction), Nokia 2680, Motorola EM330, and our newest addition, the Samsung A177 — with more camera phones on the way.

The Nokia 2720 includes a 1.3-megapixel camera that angles slightly upward, making it easy to keep stable. The Nokia 2680 VGA camera also includes a video recording and playback feature, as well as a full screen viewfinder. The Motorola EM330 offers a 1.3 megapixel camera and video capabilities. The Samsung A177, our first QWERTY phone, takes pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240 and 220x165 pixels). Remember, whichever Consumer Cellular phone you select, you’ll also receive a wall charger and battery — everything you need to use your phone.

To the photo purist, pictures taken from a cell phone may not be as high-quality as photos from a dedicated camera. However, unless you’re a professional photographer, cell phone images will serve your purpose. Best of all, they’re more convenient and much cheaper than traditional or even digital cameras.

In addition to the more obvious uses of a cell phone camera, such as capturing a special moment or taking your own picture and sending to others, I’m finding more and more everyday uses for the camera. For example, I can use it as a visual reminder, perhaps of a new car model I see in a parking lot or a house I drive by that I like. I also use it to protect myself when, say, renting a car. I can take “before” photos with my phone camera and have visual documentation to back up any potential claim or dispute. And whenever I’m at a restaurant with an especially interesting menu, I capture an image of the menu on my cell phone for later reference or to send to a friend.

In short, a phone camera is handy and simple to use and offers many benefits. Later in this issue, we share several of our favorite tips for getting the most value out of your cell phone’s camera. Be sure to read the article.

According to history, the first words spoken over the telephone were uttered on March 10, 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell, when he said, "Mr. Watson - Come here - I want to see you." Now if Mr. Bell had a cell phone back then with picture-taking capability, he could have taken his own image and phoned or emailed it directly to Mr. Watson. That’s the beauty of progress. It simplifies things. Or it should.

For more comments and industry insights from John, read his latest blog.

Customer Stars

Barbara and Steve Nelson

The NelsonsIt’s only fitting they live just a few miles from Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's historic home, for Barbara and Stephan (Steve) Nelson share a strong commitment to art, design, and history. They moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, 16 years ago from New York City, and still enjoy the safe and tranquil lifestyle the area affords, as well as the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Barbara works as an artist, specializing in acrylics and fabric, and makes nineteenth century costumes for historic tourist sites. They live near the famous colonial towns of Williamsburg and Jamestown, among other popular historic sites, giving her ample opportunity to share her talent. Steve, an architect for The University of Virginia, is Project Manager for the new football stadium, dorms, and other public buildings at The University of Virginia's College at Wise.

“We selected Consumer Cellular because of its good rates, no contract, and choice of Motorola phones, which we love,” said Barbara. “We also felt we didn’t need texting or cameras or fancy things with our phone. We wanted just the cell phone basics. And, of course, good service.”

Art and universities run in the family. Their youngest son, Alex, lives in Virginia and works for the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department. Older brother Josh, an expert in electronic arts, works in Los Angeles as an Audio designer for such companies as Nintendo and Play Station. Now that the sons are out of the house, the Nelsons are left with a cat named Grace, who, according to Barbara, is full of more attitude than grace.

When they’re not busy making art and architecture, the couple enjoy listening to music and traveling. Their favorite trip was a 17-day Amtrak rail excursion out West, from Virginia to Arizona, which included a stop in New Orleans on their return home.

“When we tell our friends about Consumer Cellular, we talk about the great, friendly service with reasonable charges and no contracts.  We have simple, easy-to-use phones that came with accessories at no extra charge,” summarized Barbara.  

To listen to Barbara and Steve tell their Consumer Cellular story, click the video link.

Meet the Family

Liz N.Name: Liz

Name: Liz N.

Role: CSR Supervisor

Start Date: May 2006

Hobby: Collecting bumper stickers

Favorite Book: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Favorite Movie:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (based on the Douglas Adams book of the same name)

Best Meal Ever: Abalone at one of the local fish houses

Best Vacation: Havasupai Canyon, Arizona

What you love most about living in Oregon: You can visit the Coast and the Mountains all in the same day

Favorite quote, saying or fortune cookie message: "Curiosity is the essence of human existence. " — Gene Cernan

What’s New

Consumer Cellular Introduces QWERTY Phone!

You’ve been asking for it and now we’re bringing it to you: a QWERTY, typewriter-like keyboard phone designed with texting in mind. We negotiated a great deal with Samsung for just the right phone for our customers: The Samsung A177. And you’ll get it at a sweet price. Normally, the phone retails for $99, but Consumer Cellular customers will pay only $40 for the phone, a discount of more than 50 percent.

Simply put, SMS (Short Message Service) is hot. More text messages are sent by phone than phone calls are placed. In fact, 2.5 billion text messages are sent each day in the USA. For many, texting is considered a less disruptive form of communication than a phone call, which is just one reason why it has surpassed voice calls in popularity.

The Samsung A177 boasts a full QWERTY keyboard so you can express yourself through text messaging, mobile email and instant messaging. Other essential features of the Samsung A177 include a vibrate mode, multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a currency and unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, and a world clock. You'll also find instant messaging, a voice recorder, and Bluetooth.

For more information on the Samsung product, visit the Phones page on our website.

To read more about texting, visit the Support page on our website.

And stay tuned. We’ll be making more phone enhancements throughout the year!

Consumer Cellular Launches New TV Commercial

Although we loved having Meredith Baxter as our official television spokesperson, we thought it was time to shake things up a bit and go beyond your typical infomercial. We worked closely with a talented ad agency (karlin pimsler in NYC) and came up with a new campaign, one we call “Double Trouble.” We filmed the commercial in Little Rock, Arkansas. And you may recognize the actor playing both twins, since he was on QVC and Home Shopping Network for years. The commercial is currently running on a wide range of channels across the country, and emphasizes our strengths: no contracts, simple plans, selection of phones, and a no risk, money back guarantee.  Visit our YouTube site and watch the commercial. We’re proud of it and, we don’t mind saying, we also think it is entertaining.

Consumer Cellular Featured on Suite 101

Suite 101, an online meeting place for over 29 million readers each month who ask 101 burning questions, recently featured Consumer Cellular in an article titled “Cell Phones and Plans Designed for Senior Users.” The article reviews Consumer Cellular and the benefits the company offers to consumers who want to own a cell phone but who might be afraid of complicated plans and expensive rates. Read more.

Suite 101 has been providing helpful articles online for 13 years, posting more than 300,000 articles spanning 3,000 topics.

Customer Service Key to Our Success

We’re proud to announce that The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest by circulation, featured Consumer Cellular in its Sunday, May 23, edition. The article, titled “Consumer Cellular Thrives in Wireless Niche,” recaps the company’s success in a very competitive wireless market and covers how Consumer Cellular strives to keep friendly customer service at the forefront of its business. The article also discusses what’s ahead for the company and its customers. Read more in our Press Room.

Feature Focus:

7 Tips for Taking and Sending Images with Your Phone

Smile. You could be on the 21st century’s version of Candid Camera. More and more cell phones include cameras, and these small cameras are increasingly sophisticated while still easy to use. We polled our Support Team for their favorite phone camera tips and came up with a list of seven:

#1 Keep it clean

Let’s face it, cell phones get dirty. They reside in purses and pockets, which can form dust around the lens. Simply blowing air on the lens should clean it of dust. Fingerprints are perhaps the biggest smudge culprit. Use a cotton cloth, your shirt, for example, to clean your camera periodically.

#2 Keep it light

Cell phone cameras do not have the lighting adjustment capability of, say, traditional cameras or even digital cameras. As a result, taking a photo with your phone in low-light can result in a disappointing image. When possible, take full advantage of bright light. If outside, make sure the sunlight projects on your subject. If shooting inside, turn on all lights.

#3 Keep it tight

It’s like the mantra from an old commercial: “the closer he gets, the better you look.” In most cases, the closer you get to your subject, the better the captured image. One common rule of thumb is to keep one to two feet from your subject. Of course, the caveat here is in taking self-portraits. Close-ups of yourself with your own cell phone can create caricatures, leaving you with a bigger nose and more chins than in reality.

#4 Keep it framed

Before clicking the camera, make sure you check out what’s in the background. A busy background can otherwise ruin a decent image. You won’t be able to filter or focus your shot, so be sure to frame your subject.

#5 Keep it high

If your cell phone lets you choose your photo resolution, pick the highest resolution possible to ensure capturing the clearest shot. Of course, the higher the resolution selected, the larger the file size. And sending large files can take a long time. So, be judicious when selecting a higher resolution.

#6 Don’t shake, rattle, or roll

Use two hands when taking a picture to keep from shaking. This will give you a blurry free photo and a level horizon most of the time. Or, lean your phone camera against a solid, stationary object, such as a tree or wall. And remember to continue holding the camera still for a few seconds after shooting to give your camera enough time to capture the image.

#7 Practice, practice, practice

You may not be heading to Carnegie Hall, but the old punch line is just as true for taking pictures with your cell phone camera. Take as many as you can. You’re not stuck with film development costs, and you can easily delete images you don’t want to keep. So, don’t be shy. Go for it and have fun.

Okay, now that you’ve taken those staged (or even spontaneous) photos with your phone camera, what’s next? You may want to send the photos to someone. The good news is, it’s very easy to do — assuming your camera supports picture messaging (aka SMS and Wireless Web) — and we have video instructions designed to walk you through the sending process. To watch our how-to videos on cell phones, visit our Phone Support page.

Your Questions Answered

In each issue we ask our Support team to recommend — and answer — a commonly asked question about our products or services.

Why am I unable to send picture messages? 

There are several potential reasons.  First, the cell phone you’re using must support sending pictures. Second, you must have subscribed to a Consumer Cellular Web package that includes messaging. Or, you may have inadvertently changed your message center number in your message settings, which would prevent the message from going anywhere. 

How come my pictures always turn out blurry?

Your camera lens might be dirty. Since a cell phone is handled a lot and often exposed to the outdoors, the lens could be covered in fingerprints, lint, or dust. Take a soft cloth and clean the lens. If you clean the lens and your pictures are still blurry, you might be standing too close to the subject you’re photographing or shaking when taking the photo.

Okay, I’ve taken a picture with my cell phone; now how do I get it to my computer?

Although some cell phone models can use a memory card or data cable to capture or transfer an image, the only universal way to get the image to your computer is by sending the picture message to your email.  You then open the email message and save the attached image to your desktop.

For more quick answers to your questions, visit our Customer Support page.

Refer a Friend, Earn Ten

Put $10 in Your Pocket! That's what you'll do every time you refer someone who signs up with Consumer Cellular. And they'll be happy, too. Not only will they get cell service at great rates, they'll also get a $10 credit on their first bill. Each $10 credit is our way of saying "Thank You!" for telling friends and family about Consumer Cellular.

Spread the word and share the wealth. Email a friend now.

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