Monday, January 31, 2011

Entry 3908 Welcome to the Modern Era!

The day I've been waiting for since June 11, 2007 has arrived...I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 4 16GB with AT&T as a carrier, to be exact.

I chose AT&T (amongst many other reasons) at least partly because I heard a few kind of unsettling reports about some unannounced changes planned by Verizon, seemingly timed to coincide with the official iPhone launch on February 3, 2011. Things like, well, this, from ARSTechnica, January 14, 2011:

"It's official: Verizon is ditching its "New Every Two" program and changing its early upgrade policy. Rumors began spreading earlier this week that Verizon had told sales reps to stop pushing the services, and Verizon has now confirmed with SmartMoney that this is indeed the case, and it will affect both new and old customers."

I worked for Verizon Wireless--first in Customer Care and then Technical Support. You know what they say about working at a restaurant--many times, with the things you see, you wouldn't want to eat there.

Another reason I chose AT&T was that Verizon’s CDMA network doesn’t allow simultaneous voice calls and data transfer (AT&T’s GSM network does)--from ARSTechnica, January 10:

“This is obviously a personal usage scenario, and many people who already use Verizon seem to have no problem with this limitation. There are some ways in which this roadblock can get annoying, though. For one, Verizon execs confirmed that the iPhone won't be able to get push notifications while you're on a call, so even if you're not surfing the Web, nothing that uses data will be able to notify you of anything until you hang up.“Secondly, the voice calls will interrupt anything you're doing over the data connection. So, if you happen to be downloading an app or using Verizon's personal hotspot feature to share the 3G connection over WiFi, receiving a phone call will mean that you'll have to choose between interrupting everyone's WiFi connections or simply ignoring the call.”

I got my iPhone on Thursday, January 20, 2011...since then, I've been busy with daily life occurrences, work, that kind of stuff. Plus, I wanted to spend a week with it and get a better feel for what it's like to...well, to have an iPhone.

How is it? Well, it's pretty much great. There's nothing bad about the experience (at least so far), except unlearning how to do things the BlackBerry way, and learning to do them more intuitively with the iPhone. It loads web pages much faster, makes it much easier to read email, and is just all-around more of a pleasure to use. No longer do I have to put up with the awful trackball experience like my BlackBerry 8500 Curve had--there aren't many things more frustrating than a broken mouse/trackpad on your computer...or when you try and move the Curve's trackball and...nothing happens. Without that trackball--like without a mouse or trackpad on your laptop--you're dead in the water.

Prior to the Curve, for several years I'd had a touchscreen Windows Mobile phone when I got the BlackBerry in August 2008 I wondered how I would adjust to using a pointing device instead of just touching the screen. I reasoned that my laptops weren't touchscreen, and I've their trackpads for years, so what's the difference?

As I found out with that frequently broken trackball, a lot. I tried the fixes on the web...soon I grew tired of those repair attempts and would just drag an alcohol-soaked Q-tip over the trackball in the direction that it failed to work...eventually it would start up again. But of course, I don't carry alcohol-soaked Q-tips around with me, so there would be times I'd be somewhere and it would fail to work. That would mean, no way to return a way to access most of the phone's features. You see the problem.

Due to service contracts over the last few years with my wireless provider (Sprint), I've been unable to purchase an iPhone...either a new model had just been introduced (and I'm a believer of the philosophy "don't buy version 1.0!"), or I was in the middle of a contract. So I waited (often not very patiently) for the right time to come.

Of course, there was always the hope that Sprint would pick up the iPhone...after all, the Verizon rumors had been in existence from the day the first iPhone was announced, and there has always been a feeling that once the exclusivity agreement with AT&T ended, all sorts of additional carriers might get involved. (We've since learned that Apple anticipates shortages of the Verizon iPhone--on top on its existing struggles to keep up with its current AT&T demand--so there will likely not be any new carriers announced at least until they're able to get ahead of that supply curve.)

I'd like to take this moment to dispel the rumor that I only wanted an iPhone because it was from Apple. I wanted it because it's a well-functioning machine, brilliantly thought out and engineered. It does what it's supposed to do--you decide whatever that function is--and then does it better and more intuitively. Hmmpf--well, that sounds like most Apple products for the past 30-some years.

Was it like I expected it would be? Well, since my only prior experience was a few minutes with showroom models at the Apple Store...I suppose that answer is: yes. I know for example that something as simple as the iPhone's really genius voicemail setup has been one of the many joys of this experience. One thing I haven't had is any of the infamous AT&T "spotty service coverage" dropped calls, no poor least, not as yet. Looking at the AT&T Coverage Map, I can see there's likely some areas that will be problems here...I just haven't gone there yet, apparently. Possibly, even...I won't.

Except for the daily use of text messaging, email and phone calls, I haven't played around with the iPhone all that much. Finally the other evening I was able to take the time and find, evaluate and download/install a few apps from the Apple Store. I'm not a person who plays a lot of video games, but I've been told that there's at least a few game apps that I'll *have* to try on here...I won't be able to put the phone down, I've been told.

As someone who fourteen years ago spent nearly all his leisure waking hours playing "SimCity 2000" on the first Sony PlayStation for months.

I fear that addiction.

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