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iPhone, Part Deux

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
So about a month and a half ago I finally bought an iPhone 3GS. I wrote a bit about it, but didn't have too much to report because I'd only had it for a few days. Well, I've lived with it for a while now, and I feel confident that I can better share my experiences. With that, here's how it is:
This is mankind's greatest achievement since Airwolf.
I mean it. This thing is awesome. For my lifestyle, it's about the most useful, value-ridden accessory money can buy. Of course, my lifestyle right now is such that I live in an urban area with a lot of 3G coverage, I'm a Mac user, and I like to be out and about often.

This isn't to say the iPhone isn't without a few weaknesses, but I'll get there in a bit.

The strengths of this things are numerous: easy to use, easy to set up, easy to like. Applications are plentiful, and it really does almost everything I've ever wanted in a mobile device.

I've got applications to:
- SSH into my web server
- Play Civilization Revolution
- Play Chess
- Check Facebook
- Update Twitter
- Tell me what restaurants, banks, convenience stores, and gas stations are around me (and how to get there)
- Look at maps and satellite views of wherever I am
- Tell me what song is playing on the radio or wherever
- Tell me what happy hours are nearby (and call a cab afterwards!)
- Read the New York Times
And many, many more!

It's cool, it's useful, and it's also has a nice email reader and integrated iPod functionality. What more could one ask for?

The problem isn't Apple...

And now, for the weaknesses. Really, there's just one - but that one is so big that it's almost a deal-killer and should be very carefully pondered by anyone interested in getting an iPhone.

The weakness?

In the United States, the iPhone is only available through AT&T Wireless.

AT&T's network - in the Portland area - is bad. I mean, it's almost criminally awful for a company that advertises itself has having "more bars in more places" and "the world's fastest 3G network". Sure, maybe in Iceland I'd get great reception, but not in Portland. Even with the 850 Mhz overlay, "more places" doesn't seem to mean much. Sitting at home, I've watched my phone - while I was holding it - go from 3 bars to 2 bars to 1 bar to "searching..." and back to 1 bar. I've had a ton of dropped calls and more voicemail without a missed call than I can count.

..and, even with 6 years as a dissatisfied Verizon Wireless customer, Verizon never had data service just die in a region (say, North Portland) like AT&T did a couple weeks ago for almost a day. (Though, in their defense, customer service was really great about it.)

Now if AT&T would just turn on MMS support like they're supposed to...


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