I broke. Not only did I shell out for an 8GB iPhone 3G this past Monday, I ended up getting the $30/month for 6GB data plan with Rogers. Rogers now owns me for another 3 years of bill-paying fun, and I’ve converted myself to just one more mindless Apple zombie.
And it sure feels good.
The Apple iPhone 3G – now with… 3G
The device is certainly not without faults, it has plenty of them, but when all is said and done, it reaches a level of polish and integration I haven’t found on any of the devices I’ve owned or used.
I’ve had plenty of hands on time with the first generation iPhone; friends and classmates were quick to pick them up for unlocking. From day one, I was impressed with the interface and usability of the device, but never considered the device due to relatively slow wireless speeds and horrible Rogers data plans. I didn’t want to go through the hassle for a glorified iPod. It was the combination of the $30/month for 6GB data plan that Rogers started offering and 3G support in the iPhone that pushed me over the edge.
Data performance is to the point that browsing is more than simply tolerable. Coupled with the Safari browser, I think this is about as good as it gets (currently) for HTML web on something this small. Google Maps gets a huge boost with the assisted GPS feature. Being able to whip out a map to search for anything without fear of a $100 overage bill at the end of the month is liberating.
Another enticing feature is the Apps Store. I’m certainly a tech/gadget enthusiast and didn’t shy away from searching out good software for my previous devices, but I’m finding my free time to do so is starting to dwindle. Having a ton of applications all available in one location is super convenient. Streaming radio from Last.fm? Yes, please (although I fear for the battery life consequences). Of course there’s the video and music capabilities of the iPhone, but I’m more inclined to carry around my Zune for that purpose. I hardly want to waste the battery life on that…
Which leads me to the bads. Battery life is far from impressive. I’ve been spoiled by the awesome battery life of the BlackBerry Curve. Even with push email and moderate voice use, I can usually get through most of a work week. My initial testing of the iPhone has yielded far lower, to the tune of less than 2 days. The last time I had to recharge the iPhone (less than 10% battery warning), the usage counter in Settings showed that I had used the phone for 4 hours between charges, along with 1 day and 16 hours of standby. Granted I’m still in the introductory stage of trying out random features and generally taxing the device more than typical usage, it’s still disappointing. It’s going to have to be connected to a charger pretty much every day. I understand that 3G inevitably eats up more battery than EDGE/GPRS (as can be seen with other 3G phones as well), but with an all-in-one device, battery life is even more important.
The lack of push email is also mildly disconcerting, but understandable given I just switched from a BlackBerry. Without something like Exchange or MobileMe, the best one can do is to set the iPhone to poll for emails every 15 minutes. Of course, that isn’t very friendly on the battery, which ties into the previous point. Additionally, the vibrate notifier is terribly weak. Again, I’ve been spoiled by my BlackBerry’s veritable earthquake of a notification, but I’ve already missed calls because I simply didn’t realize the phone was vibrating. I almost always keep my phone on silent, given I’m in class and other discrete locations for much of my day, so this is a big deal.
I’d also be remiss not to clearly point out that this specific iPhone will be going back to Rogers for a replacement. Pieces of glue and rubbery material were flaking out from the right side of the screen when I carefully inspected it after I took the iPhone back home from the store. Rogers with its characteristically amazing service (note: I’m being sarcastic) led me to visit the physical store twice and call into customer care/relations/tech support/the physical store 4 times before finally arranging a replacement. I was passed back and forth like a soccer ball for 3 days on end before reaching some form of resolution to the issue.
But is it worth it overall? My current response is yes. I’m loving the almost ubiquitous (and more importantly, usable) data connection.