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Possible iPhone in my future

June 18, 2008

Now that Apple has released the iPhone 3G, I’m seriously considering getting it.  I wasn’t even tempted to get the first gen iPhone because of all the features it was missing and because of multiple problems with the platform.

First of all, I was ticked off at the lack of GPS and 3G support.  How could Apple honestly call a phone “revolutionary” when it was using technology that was outdated before the iPhone even came on the market? I mean, the UI may have been a major leap forward considering the only other smartphones out there were Windows Mobile, Palm, Blackberry, or some Symbian offshoot, all of which have UI’s that didn’t really take good advantage of small screens.  But the actual hardware was old before the phone hit store shelves.

Second, I didn’t like the fact that Apple was locking the phone down so much.  You had to jailbreak the phone to put any extra apps on it!  How the hell can Apple expect a phone to be enterprise-worthy, or even mildly useful, if the user can’t put 3rd party apps on it?  How can they call it a smartphone?

Third, there were some odd hardware choices that really put me off, like the recessed headphone jack and the lack of a removable battery.  I live in Maryland, but my family is in Oregon.  Cross-country plane rides REQUIRE an extra battery.  I’ve watched movies and TV shows on my phones before, and the standard battery is NEVER powerful enough to last that many hours.

I come from a world of Windows Mobile devices and phones.  I’ve had Windows CE and PocketPC devices such as the Compaq c2015, iPAQs, and a great VGA-screened Toshiba e850.  My first Windows Mobile phone was the HTC Apache.  I purchased it through Verizon, so it was technically called the Verizon XV6700.  That was really the first Windows Mobile phone that I felt got pretty much everything right.  Other WM phones had been out before that, but they usually lacked one important feature that prevented me from buying them.  I have since upgraded my Apache to the Sprint Mogul, which is really the HTC Titan.  It’s a decent little phone, with Bluetooth, WiFi, and aGPS, EVDO Rev.A (finally!).  Now, this phone isn’t perfect by any means.  The screen is still QVGA.  The processor is sluggish.  The amount of RAM is laughable (my GPS program crashes after about 20 minutes due to memory constraints).  The sliding keyboard isn’t as good as the Apache’s keyboard.  And, of course, it’s running Windows Mobile 6.

Now, Windows Mobile 6 is a decent OS.  I like the fact that it runs on so many different styles of phones.  I like the fact that I can install pretty much any application I want on to the phone (and there is plenty of variety in WinMo apps).  But the interface is still very clunky and not finger friendly at all.  Now, Microsoft is planning on a bit of an upgrade to the touch capabilities of it’s WinMo OS with Windows Mobile 7, but the core is still going to be the old Windows Mobile core, if I remember correctly.  It’s not until Windows Mobile 8 that Microsoft is planning on doing a major overhaul to the OS.  How many years away is that?

Now that Apple has introduced the iPhone 3G, they seem to have worked out quite a few of the bigger problems I had with the original.  First of all, as is noted by the name of the phone, they’ve added in 3G capabilities, which means this phone will finally have the speed it deserves.  Second, they’ve added in GPS which is a must-have feature for me.  I’ve been using GPS software on my phone for several months now and it has quickly become a necessary application.  I never realized how great it is to have maps and directions wherever I am, whenever I want them.  Third, and this one is the most important for me, Apple has opened up the platform to 3rd party developers.  They released their SDK earlier this year.  They’ve set up an iTunes application store that will offer free hosting of apps for any and all developers.  They are allowing applications to be completely free of charge, instead of forcing a minimum fee (I hope a lot of developers release their apps for free…).  Oh, and they fixed the recessed headphone jack…

So now I’m in a quandary.  HTC has announced the Touch Pro, which is the successor to the Mogul as the top-of-the-line business-class smartphone.  It has a gorgeous sleak look, with a flush-mounted screen (which would make applying the ZAGG InvisibleShield that much easier).  It has more memory and more power than the Mogul.  It has the slide-out keyboard.  All in all, it’s a great looking phone.  But again, it’s running Windows Mobile 6.  Now HTC has slapped their Touch UI onto the ugly WinMo OS, but that only extends so far.  Any 3rd party apps are still going to be difficult to use with your fingers because they won’t take advantage of the Touch UI.  Plus the phone has that butt-ugly faceted “diamond” design on the back.  What jackass at HTC came up with this ugly-ass design?  You make a sleek, beautiful phone, and then fuck it up with the jaggies on the back?

Do I get the HTC Touch Pro, which is just another Windows Mobile phone in a shinier package (although I’m sure they’d have the upgrade to WinMo 7 eventually…), or do I jump ship and get the iPhone?  I’ve been leaning toward the iPhone very heavily the past couple of days.  Now that most of my major gripes have been remedied, it is much more attractive than it was before.  I’d have to leave my extremely painless Sprint SERO contract of $35/month for 500 anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekends, SMS texting, and unlimited data, for the much more expensive 2 year contract with AT&T, which is more than double the monthly cost.  I’ve used Cingular before (Cingular and AT&T are now one company, called AT&T…), and I never had a problem with their network, so I’m not too worried about that.  But the fact that I’d have to pay an early termination fee for Sprint, pay the setup fees, phone cost of $299 for the 16GB iPhone, and now double the monthly rate, is it worth it?

I’m definitely going to wait for the first wave to get their iPhone 3Gs and work out all the bugs.  I’m sure there will be some problems, either with hardware or software, that will be worked out in the coming months.  Once that first wave of early adopters have taken the hit for the rest of us, I will reevaluate and see if I’m ready to jump.  Plus, I want to see what kind of apps are available for the phone.

As a side note to everyone out there that might be saying, “Just wait for Android”, I’m not interested in Android just yet.  I’ve read about it and I’ve seen the screenshots, but until I see a large variety of phones and I see a real effort behind the platform, I’m not going to consider it in my decision-making process.  Even with Android phones coming out later this year, I wouldn’t consider any Android phone for at least 2 years.  Get the bugs worked out, get the early adopters out there hacking the devices to do cool stuff, get a bigger variety of phones.  Once there is some mileage on Android, I’ll take a look at it.

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2 comments

  1. After reading several days of your stuff after this one I’m not sure if I should feel guilty or not!?!?!?!

    I’m a Systems Engineer (MCSE), a coder (independent Java code and working on apps for the new iPhone) and an Apple Stockholder…..maybe I am the devil incarnate, I’m not really sure….. I don’t FEEL evil….

    But I do want to say Thanks in advance for your planned iPhone purchase!!!

    I really like what you’ve written here recently. Funny and thoughtful stuff. Thanks.


  2. Don’t thank me yet! I’m fighting every urge I have to buy an iPhone! I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks which way I decide to go…



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