A phone isn't just a phone; it's an image

I've wanted a new phone for a while now, but I've been putting off the purchase because the phone I owned still worked.

My philosophy is if it ain't broke, don't replace it.

I cooked on an ancient freestanding electric range with an attached eye-level smaller oven for 13 years. The range came with the house.

The bottom oven finally died, and I replaced the whole unit four months later. That's how long it took for me to realize that it could not be resuscitated because replacement parts for it were impossible to find.

So while I was on vacation last week, I headed for the phone store just to look around. My husband and sons have replaced their phones at least four times since I last did, and even then I replaced mine with one they had discarded.

This time, I decided to get a new phone, one that suited my short list of needs. I wanted one that had the QWERTY keyboard because I have a low tolerance for hitting one key four times to get to the right letter to spell a word correctly in a text message.

I wanted a camera because my daughter often asks me to send a picture of a dress or pair of shoes I've found for her.

And I wanted it to make and receive phone calls. That's it.

In the store, a charming young lady, Jen Whitt, asked if I needed help, and I told her my needs.

She showed me a couple of phones, including one she had sold to her landlady.

I must admit I was immediately attracted to the Pantech Ease. It felt good, the font was large enough that I didn't have to squint, and the keypad was easy to use for texting.

I also asked to see the iPhone 3GS that I've seen so many of my co-workers using. It was larger than what I was accustomed to, and my fingers didn't seem to connect with the keys on the keyboard. Pressing harder was as effective as yelling at a deaf person.

Whitt said there would be a learning curve that lasts about two or three days, but that after that, I would be as tech savvy as my kids.

Had any of my children — had anyone in my family, in fact — been there, they would have rolled on the floor laughing.

I told Whitt I had to do some research and would return.

Reviewers noted that the Pantech was easy for children and great-grandparents alike. It had a camera, a GPS system, a pedometer and a pill reminder.

Pill reminder?

No wonder I was attracted to this phone. It was geared to old people. Young children don't need pill reminders. It's a granny phone.

A granny phone was exactly what I wanted. Maybe I could just call it a Mimi phone or a senior citizen phone, or simply my phone and live with that.

When I returned to the store, Whitt was busy, so I looked around to make sure I was about to make the right purchase. This was a big move for me.

Nearly everyone I spoke with in that store owned an iPhone and proudly showed it off. One women I hadn't seen in more than a decade talked glowingly about her phone. She had received hers on Mother's Day.

Maybe I should give the iPhone a second look. I know a couple of old people at church who own iPhones. They don't look traumatized.

I didn't want the iPhone 4, mainly because I feared the reports of dropped calls that have been in the news lately. But I hadn't heard anything disparaging about the previous model, the 3GS.

When Whitt was free, I went straight for the granny phone.

"I thought you wanted the iPhone," she said.

I took that to be a sign from heaven. It couldn't have been her salesmanship.

Granny phone or iPhone?

The granny phone is really who I am: no frills, comfortable and safe. The iPhone is who I really want to be: youthful, adventurous, hip and with it.

I bought the iPhone. My children are still laughing, and my husband just shakes his head and mumbles something about menopause.

So if you call and I don't answer, give me a couple of days to get back with you.

It will take that long to figure out how to operate this thing.

Whitt said I have 30 days to return the phone. By then I just might be able to call and say I'll keep it.