I'm 100% with you on that. All I want from a cell phone is a reliable connection and clarity that's clear enough to understand. HD voice is yet another marketing gimmick to relieve you of your hard earned money. Can't people see the trend here? Pay more and more money to get inferior products and services and then trying to market their crappy products services as innovation!
At one time, GSM carriers (AT&T/T-Mobile) used EFR and AMR-Full Rate codecs, which offered GREAT quality audio.
AT&T killed it off early on with HR and AMR-Half Rate (Europe pretty much wouldn't touch Half Rate codecs).
T-Mobile (in many areas) kept AMR-FullRate. Older GSM phones could be programmed to 'force' AMR-Full Rate (old Nokias/ Motorola RAZR/Vxxx series), and it worked VERY well. No garbles/drops, and audio was VERY good.