Samsung Galaxy Note8 and the Four Kinds of Constraints | Tiffany Zink
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Samsung Galaxy Note8 and the Four Kinds of Constraints

I had an interesting experience with T-Mobile this past week. It began when I made it a personal goal to preorder the new Samsung Galaxy Note8. The customer experience had its’ major highs and lows. To be short, I was on in the T-Mobile store and on the phone with T-Mobile customer care for four straight hours. They had a code glitch in the system, and it would not process my credit card for $6.99. This resulted in talking to 10 people, all telling me they couldn’t help me. I ended up finding the T-Mobile CEO’s email on Twitter, and informed him of this computer glitch that the customer care department is not aware of. He forwarded my email, to someone who did help, called me personally, processed the order Next Day Air, and I received my Note8 before the U.S. release date. Bittersweet, but felt like an achievement.

The concept of Next Day Air, did not occur to me, and I wasn’t expecting it to arrive this past Wednesday. I was so excited that I opened the packaging to see what was inside. The minute I slide off the slip cover and I looked for a signifier on how to open the container holding my new phone. Through narrowing down possible affordances, I could figure out how to open the box. It’s all black and hard to see. Immediately upon opening, I see the new phone. Once I started unpacking all elements that came with the phone, I started laughing. It reminded me of Don Norman’s Lego analogy for describing constraints (Norman, 2013, p. 123-130). My new phone required assembly, and included all four categories of constraints.

  1. Physical constraints – I could identify elements and their relationships, to assemble the phone in successful, working order. It is also interesting that Samsung has began to use the new charging port, that makes orientation irrelevant. (Norman, 2013, p. 125-126) In light of adopting the improved, charging port; Samsung provided a USB and microUSB adapters, to solve the legacy problem that this new charging port has not been fully adopted by all industries compatible to the phone.
  2. Semantic constraints – Based on my knowledge of electronics, I was able to recognize the adapters and what their affordances were. After I processed this information, I turned the adapters over, and saw the universal signifiers for USB and microUSB. That confirmed my assumption.
  3. Logical constraints – I could figure out most of the assemblage, from prior knowledge in the world. Experience with the change in technology and transition into the digital field allowed me to logically narrow down elements, their relationships, and affordances.
  4. Cultural constraints – I was taken by the fact, phones have changed so much since I last unpackaged a new phone. The changes to technology, and having to consciously process information, is a form of cultural constraint, that has proven to change overtime.

As excited as I was to receive my new phone earlier than expected, I haven’t had the time to assemble it, nor want to use it until I receive my protective case in the mail. Since it is a fragile piece of equipment, I need to make sure it is protected. The irony is, the change in technology and improvement on functionality of phones makes the equipment more fragile, and the fact that I was one of the first U.S. citizens to receive the Samsung Galaxy Note8, means nothing until I receive my protective case.

Norman, D.A. (2013). The design of everyday things: Revised and expanded edition. New York: Basic Books

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