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iLove My iPhone

by Steven Taylor on 1 September 2009

phones2

Phonevolution: el Cheapo Nokia, the Blackberry Curve, and the iPhone 3GS

It started as the hint of attraction. I was already part of the cell phone generation, i.e., the type of person who felt a bit naked if he left the house without his phone. However, I had not succumbed to the temptation of the smart phone.

I occasionally would bemoan the pathetic “internet capability” (scare quotes most intentional) of my Razr, but it was good enough to check the weather or the score of a game, which seemed sufficient.  However, I was out of town early in the year and started thinking about how nice it would be to have access to Google Maps amongst other net-based tools that have become such a mainstay of daily life. As the trip progressed, so did the thoughts about a smart phone. The fact that my Razr’s screen would die at the end of the trip (facilitating a temporary replacement with an even less advanced phone) only fed my interest in something a bit more advanced.

A Bit of Lust

My dissatisfaction with my el cheapo phone led to a wandering eye.  The iPhone commercials began to catch my attention, and flirtations with a friend’s iTouch only further piqued my interest.  I bought my wife an iPod Nano for her birthday and that was what pushed me over the edge into full blown iPhone lust.  The design was just so darn elegant.  I had experience with three other MP3 player and none could hold a candle to the iPod.  If they did that for an MP3 player, how much better would the phone be?

However, due to the bizarre nature of cell phone agreements, I was a good three months from being able to upgrade without paying a ridiculous amount of money.   So, I was stuck with el Cheapo whilst my iPhone lust was set on full simmer.

A Flirtation with the Blackberry

Some surreptitious griping about el Cheapo in the presence of a family member led to the lending of a Blackberry Curve.  This was a huge improvement over el Cheapo and gave me a chance to experience a smart phone before deciding to take the iPhone dive.  Since I acquired the Curve on a trip, I was able to test out AT&T’s network across the southern half of the US, with pretty good results as well as taking a test drive of various apps .

There is little doubt that for texting and e-mail, the Blakckberry is an impressive device.  The keyboard is easy to master and the apps, especially the combo e-mail/text default program, make basic text-based communication a breeze.  The Mobile Google suite, including Google maps and Gmail is quite good as well.  However, web browsing, while superior to a standard cell phone,  was frustratingly slow and decidedly sub-standard.  Indeed, it felt like web browsing circa 1999.  As such, while I was impressed with the Curve, it was nowhere nearly impressive enough to dissuade me from pursuing the iPhone the first chance I had.

Pure Love

iPhone Day (i.e., when I could upgrade my phone with a contract renewal and not pay full price) came and I went to the AT&T store to get my new phone.  It was a remarkably painless process I was in and out in less than fifteen minutes with a charged iPhone 3GS (16 gig version) and my old phone number.

Where the Curve had the feel of a utilitarian business device, the iPhone was instead a Swiss Army Knife from the future where the phone was just one of the remarkable things it did.  It was a phone, an MP3 player, an organizer, a means to check my e-mail, surf the web, get directions, find a coffee shop, check the weather, play games, keep a grocery list, read the news, write down reminders, and so forth.  All of its features were painless to access and use.   The built in contacts manager is quite slick (and it was easy to download the Blackberry contacts and then upload them to my iPhone) and the e-mail integration with Gmail (or other e-mail services) is fabulous.

The only knock on the iPhone, and perhaps the only way the Blackberry is superior, is the keyboard.  The touchscreen keyboard takes a little getting used to, but one does learn.  I do find the new (to the 3GS) landscape keyboard to make typing easier than was the case with the keyboard on older iPhones/iTouches.  Indeed, I find I do the ol’ two-thumb typing method with the landscape keyboard, but less so with the standard version.

I found that several popular apps, like Google’s mobile apps (especially Gmail) and Facebook both are more full-featured on the iPhone than on the Blackberry.  The remarkable number of free apps for the iPhone is, in fact, rather extraordinary and is one the many selling points for the device.

In regards to some of the other 3GS features, I found that I have been really impressed with the voice commands, whether it is using it to make calls on to control the iPod.  Also the 3 megapixel camera is impressive (for a phone camera).  I have not yet given the video camera feature any serious usages, so I cannot comment on it.

Overall, this device is one the most impressive that I own or have seen.  It serves a multiplicity of functions and has already proved to be extraordinarily handy (like when I needed to take notes during my son’s open house the other night or keeping a grocery list with me where I know I will have it when I am actually at the grocery store).   It further fulfills my Internet-junkie ways by allowing constant e-mail and web access.

Indeed, I can’t say enough good things about the device and highly recommend it to anyone thinking of taking the leap to a smart phone.

Photo by Steven Taylor

About Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor is a political science prof who blogs daily at PoliBlog.

{ 2 comments }

1 John Burgess 5 September 2009 at 15:34

I’m a recent adopter, too. I’m about to take my iPhone overseas for the first time and, having read all the horror stories, am ready to take major precautions to avoid kilo-dollar phone bills.

These measures certainly limit (‘cripple’ is too strong a word) the iPhone’s utility, but they appear to be bearable.

I’m bemused, however, that the rest of the Anglophone world seems to have the same issues with crippling bills for incautious/ignorant use. Perhaps there will come a time when the various phone companies providing iPhone service can get their acts together and work out a reasonable arrangement for data roaming. At present, with a heavily grafficked webpage costing $20 to view, there’s much to be done.

But do check out MLB.com’s iPhone package… it looks phenomenal, even as the season draws to a close.

2 Steven Taylor 5 September 2009 at 16:02

I so infrequently travel abroad that it wasn’t much of a consideration. I was pleased to me be able to access the AT&T network from Peru a few years back, and the calls (while expensive) were cheaper than international land-lines back in the day. I have a trip planned next year and do need to look in to avoided the billing problems you note.

I am somewhat at a loss as to why using a cell overseas should cost cell providers more than domestic usage, to be honest.

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