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Monday, December 13, 2010

iPhone4

GiffGaff After months of agonizing, I bought myself an iPhone. I want you to know that I'm not getting any pleasure from this, but I needed a phone I would turn on (unlike all the previous ones) and there's no point in buying an iPad now. Since I own an iDevice, I am now contractually obliged to blog about it, no matter how boring that is for you.

I bought my iPhone directly from Apple because I needed AppleCare. In 25 years of owning Apple devices I have never purchased AppleCare before, but Apple hardware is now so unreliable that I wouldn't consider buying anything more expensive than a cheap iPod without it. Buying the phone outright reduces the overall lifetime cost by hundreds of pounds, but means I also needed to find a service provider. Which is where I had an enormous stroke of luck.

After shopping around, it seemed that O2 Simplicity for iPhone was the best deal. What a joke. After wasting nearly half a day, O2 refused to honour the deal advertised on their website, accused me of fraud and tried to get my bank to block my credit card. I had been warned about O2 previously by someone who used to work for them, but I didn't listen. This is the worst customer experience I have ever had - don't ever touch O2 with a bargepole. Which is where things started to look up. @jennifermjones had told me about GiffGaff (Wikipedia entry) previously, but their website didn't say anything about microSIMs need for iPhones. Discussing this openly via Twitter brought me a tweet from ggmicroSIMs, who provide a free SIM cutting service for GiffGaff. 48 hours later, I had my SIM, popped it into the phone, activated it via the website and bought my first top-up. Calls and SMS were live within a few minutes but it took a few hours for internet access to be switched on. GiffGaff provides unlimited internet access for mobiles plus cheap calls and texts (free to other GiffGaff users) and online community support. You're mad if you don't switch to them as soon as you can (especially if you're an O2 or Vodaphone customer). Although owned by O2, GiffGaff operates as a separate company.

Unboxing thoughts:
My inability to get the iGasm out of the packaging suggests I may not be an iPhone person...
Instruction booklet informs me iPhone "may cause seizures, blackouts, eyestrain"...
When you've got the phone out of the box it is very important to follow the setup instructions for iPhone users "Go to Wagamama and take a picture of your dinner"...

So now for the inevitable discussion of iPhone Apps. My experience so far has been that most apps are disappointing and no substitute for a decent mobile-optimized website. My most valuable iPhone tools are saved links on the phone desktop. The Twitter app is not bad (it's as if the iPhone was built for Twitter) while, in contrast to the desktop app, the Tweetdeck iPhone app is disappointing.
The Good: Friendfeed - mobile website is great (and Facebook mobile web better than the Facebook iPhone app).
The Bad: Google Reader - no way to mark items as read from the mobile site (so I'm using the Feedler RSS app to sync with Reader at present).
The New: Dragon Dictation and Voice Commands are surprisingly accurate. Audio, video and photographic input is clearly the way to go with this device.

Having an Internet-enabled camera with you at all times is handy, although I am slightly disappointed in the iPhone4 camera compared with what I was expecting, but to be fair I have only used it under rather testing conditions so far.

Best thing about an iPhone - it fits in your pocket. I know this is "obvious" but the change to the face down computing paradigm is a major one we are still working through. I suspect Zuckerberg is right and an iPad is a computer, although not a very good one.

Summary:
  • The iPhone is the best phone I have ever owned.
  • I have a faint air of disappointment - I'm not a phone person.
  • Face down is a problem.
  • I want an iPad(2).