Thursday, July 17, 2008

So Far, No 3G for Me

As you may remember, I was quite late to the party regarding the original iPhone. In fact, back in June of last year, I devoted some space to the reasons why I wasn't buying an iPhone right away. Apple still hasn't addressed all of my concerns over missing features, but they did remedy enough of them that I ended up buying an iPhone in February of this year.

But I haven't bought a new iPhone 3G yet, because I now have a few new concerns that convince me I can get by with my original iPhone for a while yet. Here are my reasons for going old-style for a while longer:

(1) I'm not even sure I have 3G in this area. ATT's maps say I do, but when I picked up a non-iPhone 3G unit at the nearby ATT store and attempted to use it, it reverted to the old Edge network. "We're right on the edge of 3G coverage here," the sales clerk said. So if I buy the phone, will I even be able to take advantage of the increased speed? Since I've been told ATT's coverage maps are "optimistic" at best, I really don't know... but I'd hate to expend almost $700 to find out.

(2) The unit is entirely too costly. "Oh, you're wrong," you say. "It only costs $199 for the 8gb unit, $299 for the 16gb unit. That's true--plus about $60 for activation and junk fees, right up front. Then there's an extra $10 per month for a data plan even worse than the one I have now--and another $5 a month if I want to have a minimal text message plan. (I don't send text messages, but there are a few people who insist on sending 'em to me, even though I tell them that I will condemn their souls for doing so...) So there's $15 a month for 24 month, or $360 more. That's how much it'll cost to get the exact same coverage I have right now in terms of data plan and features. The only change? It'll supposedly be faster... (go back to reason 1 to see why I say "supposedly")

(3) Apple software version 2.0 is Not Ready for Prime Time. I upgraded my old iPhone to 2.0 last Friday, and my email has been pretty much nonfunctional ever since then. I thought I was just the unlucky exception, but a perusal of Apple's own iPhone forums shows that hundreds, maybe thousands of others are having the same problem. If I switch from my home wireless network to ATT's edge network or vice versa, mail quits working. I have to restart the phone (or, as I've just learned from an Apple guy, force quit the mail program) to make it work... and then it quits working again when I switch from one network to another. And the phone doesn't know that it's not working, so it eats through its battery charge trying to make the connection and check e-mail.

I've been exchanging emails with aforementioned Apple guy, forwarding him my crash logs and other data, and he said that they indicate I'm having a problem that they already know about, and they're working on a fix. I appreciate that, but I'm still wondering how the maker of the nation's best-selling mobile phone could release software that wreaks havoc on basic functionality? And how could they not get it fixed immediately? Or at least offer us an option to downgrade to the working system rather than this broken one?

(3) The new system and the iPhone App store still don't offer some of the missing functionality from that first list I posted last June. For instance, I still can't use voice dialing/calling without going through more steps than just choosing the call recipient from my favorites list. What I want is simple: I want some way to touch something on the headset or the outside of the phone that allows me to say the name of the person I wish to call, and then have the phone call them. I don't want to take it off my hip, out of the holster, open its screen, touch any buttons, etc. Dozens of others phones offer this basic function, so how did the iPhone miss out?

(4) I'm still concerned about that glass front.

(5) iPhone and ATT seem to be at odds regarding customer support, warranty service. etc. One customer bought a defective iPhone at the Apple store; he was told by ATT that he could return it for a refund, but he could not then get a second iPhone at the $199/$299 price because that was a subsidized price, and he would have already purchased his one subsidized phone (his broken one). He could get a refund, but he's have to pay a 10% restock fee and he still couldn't get the subsidized phone. Apple had to ultimately give the guy a gift card for the difference ATT was charging him and then let him use that to pay the difference. Kudos to Apple for stepping up and doing the right thing, but this says volumes about the lack of cooperation coming from ATT this time around. I suspect they really hate the iPhone; I know they tried to talk me into buying something else when I finally did buy my first generation iPhone.

So there you go; now you know why I'm still an iPhone 2.5g guy in a supposedly-3G world...


Sven said...

MAC Microsoft
Microsoft Mac
Looking a lot a like

Art said...

I work at ATT, and whoever told that guy he couldn't buy another 3G iPhone for $199/$299 was a dope. If it was provably defective I would expect them to exchange it at no charge. If he was returning it because he just didn't like it, he would be charged the 10% restocking fee. It sounds like they were overlooking the fact the phone was defective, which should change everything. They're looking at it as returning a ph and buying another; that's not what was happening.

As with everything we do, it's way overinvolved and convoluted, and then communicated in a slapdash, half-baked way a day too late to the sales people.

Check out my post on "Fitzsimmons Wireless" for an insider look.

cliff said...

I have a feeling it's a breakdown in communication between Apple and ATT; here's the link to the whole sad story:

See if it makes any sense to you!

(I've been told by employees at the Apple store at Northpoint that they've had similar problems in activating defective phones after an exchange)