Monday, July 09, 2007

My Love / Hate Relationship with my iPhone

Well, as everyone who is on my buddy list would know by now, I bought an Apple iPhone on June 30, just a day after it came out. No, I did not wait in the line and no, I dint have to fight over it with other fan-boys. I wasn't even planning to buy it when I went to the Apple Store on Saturday. I was simply going there to check it out. I was both amazed and intrigued by its brilliant and beautiful Apple design. So I decided to buy it right then and the fact that the Apple Store employees were super efficient helped me ease into that decision. I figured that I wont be paying that much more than what I'm paying right now for monthly service (I'm on a $40 plan and $20 more for unlimited data wasn't bad)

AT&T Activation Nightmare:

I tried to activate my phone Sunday at 1PM (After reading all the activation issues, I called all my important contacts to let them know that I may be unreachable). I'm an existing AT&T customer and I went through the steps of activation and got the dreaded message: "Your activation needs additional processing" (not the exact words but the one most got).

I figured I'd just wait for an hour and see what happens. I did and nothing happened. Then I called the 877 number and was on hold for about 25 minutes. I got a very nice lady who asked me the basic information about my account and put me on hold several times to find out what was wrong with my account and finally came back and said my current plan with AT&T is not eligible for iPhone activation which is weird coz I have the same exact (voice) plan that's offered with iPhone (450 anytime minutes, 5000 n/w etc). Then she said I might have to go to the store to get the plan switched to something that's eligible for the iPhone.

I asked her to see if there's something she can do to avoid my trip to the AT&T store. After another 20 minutes of holding (for a total of 56 minutes on the call), she came back and said that she has figured it out and it was my "Auto bill-pay enrollment" (I have enrolled for automatic bill payment at at&t website) that was causing the software to think that I haven't paid my bills and hence the activation was failing. She corrected that and after another few minutes of holding was able to activate the phone.

So by 3PM today, I was able to use my iPhone to make & receive calls and text messages. I also setup my voice mail without any issues.

While I hit the dreaded activation issue, calling the 877 number and being patient and polite did the job for me. Overall, I'm a happy camper - thanks to one fine CSR lady at iPhone Activation Support Center.

The Good:
  • The Glass LCD Screen is just amazing. You have to see it to believe it on how bright and crisp it is. Looking at pictures at this screen is a wonderful experience.
  • Finally, a cell phone where I can browse internet - the real internet not the "mobile" or the "wap" versions. But I already see some websites putting up "iPhone" versions of their websites which is not good. I was able to pay my credit card from my iPhone which I have never done before.
  • I resisted buying a "real" iPod so far. But with iPhone, I get a phone with an integrated iPod. And apple's headsets are probably one of the most comfortable ones I have used. iPod Cover Flow is way cool and very slick.
  • iPhone itself is very thin and looks much smaller than it actually looks in the pictures. But it weighs more than you'd think it would. Apple tend to pack its products with very dense electronics.
  • Multi-touch interface is everything its touted to be. You'd have to give Apple credit here for recognizing how people hated using styluses. It's both gratifying to use fingers to flick, drag & pinch your phone. Infact, I end up trying to do the same thing on my computer, GPS etc. Bad habit ;)
  • Every application works as advertised: Email, SMS, Weather, Internet, Phone and YouTube.
The Bad:
  • The battery life sucks. There's no other way about it. I don't know if its due to the fact that I'm leaving Bluetooth & WiFi turned on all the time. I cant get the iPhone to last a full day without it complaining at the end of the day about low battery.
  • Edge speeds are slow and I mean slooooow. While I can sympathize with Apple as to why they those EDGE over 3G, its clearly not adequate for a smooth browsing experience. You either have to have a lot of patience or get a hotspot service from Boingo or T-Mobile. Maybe AT&T should give iPhone customers free WiFi service in places where they have their hotspots.
  • Overall stability of the phone is not upto the mark. I have had several instances of Safari crashes (nice thing about the crashes: It sends diagnostic information about the crash to Apple, the next time it syncs with iTunes). I have had the phone come to a crawl where it wouldn't respond to the "slide" and I had to do a soft reset to get the phone working again (probably, a memory leak in one of their apps: Cough! Safari! Cough!)
  • The iPhone is not meant for one-handed operation, which I'm so used to while driving or holding something at my other hand. The fact that you have to "slide to answer" an incoming call when the phone is locked is annoying. Since the phone is wide, reaching all the places in the screen with your thumb is very difficult.
  • Accelerometer which automagically switches from Portrait to Landscape and vice versa needs work and has failed several times for me.
The Ugly
  • One word: AT&T. They are probably the Achilles' Heel in the Apple - AT&T partnership and it beats me as to why Apple chose AT&T. They better have stuck a deal with AT&T on how much investment AT&T should make on their network, customer service and most of all their website, if they want to keep all the iPhone customers from defecting.
  • Why put WiFi & Bluetooth and make it crippled? Why cant I sync with iTunes over WiFi when both my PC and iPhone are in the same LAN? Why can't I use iTunes from the iPhone to buy songs directly from iTunes Store while on the road? Why can't I use Bluetooth to listen to my songs wirelessly (A2DP anyone?)
  • The Unknowns: This is the biggest fugly factor for me. Apple has a very secretive operating process but I dunno if it helps them with the iPhone. They better have some serious development team churning out features on this phone on a regular basis or else people would soon get bored of watching YouTube vidoes and end up switching carriers and their phones.
  • While the Keyboard was always a problem in a "keyless" iPhone. The fact that only Safari supports the landscape keyboard is a big bummer. It should be available for all the apps. And put a damn "period" button on the main keyboard. I dont have to press 3 buttons to put a period at the end of a sentence.
That said, I dont plan to return my iPhone as I'm willing to give Apple and AT&T the benefit of doubt and an opportunity to improve on this.


  1. Excellent review. I have to go to an apple store to check it out. But I am afraid to. I might end up buying one. ;-)

  2. This review fails to mention that the sms capabilities of the iphone are terrible:

    You can not text multiple recipients.
    You can not forward sms.
    There is no cut & paste in sms.

  3. Returned my iphone two days ago. Back on my blackberry pearl.