iBought an iPhone

On Jan 17th, I wrote about the iPhone:

The ease of using all the devices is likely the phones most endearing feature, but I’m not in love. Yet.

And I went on to detail my reservations about the $599 iPhone.

Painfully slow data access (EDGE).
Cingular AT&T only
No tethering (with a PDA / laptop)

SSH client
Email: multiple IMAP accounts? SSL/TLS encryption?

A lot has changed since January. A buddy brought his iPhone to my house and I discovered it wasn’t the AT&T network that sucked, it was the Motorola Razr that I bought and returned. The iPhone gets great reception at my house, which resolved part of con #2.

The iPhone hacker community figured out how to jailbreak it and install third party apps, including a socks proxy, making it possible to tether with a laptop. That resolved con #3 and concern #1. Playing with Ryan’s iPhone satisfied my concerns about multiple email accounts and encryption.

The remainder of my reluctance was due to price and AT&T as a service provider. I really wish I could trust AT&T not to illegally give wiretaps and my personal info to any spook that asks for it.

On September 05, Apple dropped the price on the iPhone by $200, dissolving con #4. But I didn’t leap until Sep 12th, when a software unlock was released that allows the iPhone to be used with other GSM networks. Apple had an inventory of 4GB phones for $299 so I ordered my iPhone that day.

I purchased my iPhone to use without phone service.

When I watched the iPod Touch intro I expected an iPhone minus the phone, but like many others was underwhelmed. More research revealed the list of features you miss out on by getting an iPod Touch. The iPhone replaces my iPod Nano so the following is a list of things I really like about the iPhone but wouldn’t have gotten with an iPod Touch:

Remote: With the nano, I always had to reach into my pocket and feel around for the pause/play button. With the iPhone, it is on the cord near my jaw which is very convenient. I prefer it to the iPod Classic remote.

Calendar: The calendar app on previous iPods was occasionally useful as a reference. On the iPhone, I can create appointments “in the moment” and they get synced back to my Mac and shared so that Jen can see my most up-to-date calendar. I find myself referring to my iPhone calendar as often as iCal.

Email is my favorite feature. For the first time on a mobile phone, email is both useful and fun. When I synced with my mac, it synced all of my email accounts and settings. I use IMAP for all my email accounts so no matter where I check my mail (iPhone, iMac, work laptop, personal laptop, webmail), I’m always looking at an up-to-date inbox. I make sure to open MobileMail before I leave the house in the morning so it syncs via WiFi. Then I can sort through my email while carpooling to the office.

The camera works as well as one can expect for a camera phone and is faster than most. But the photo management and viewing is superb and provides a lot of amusement. Especially for Kayla who gets hold of the iPhone, turns it on, launches the Photo app, and scrolls directly to BIG DADDY!

Google Maps works really well on the iPhone, but I seldom use it because I don’t have phone/data service. I use my Samsung or Treo which both have Google Maps and 3G data service from Sprint.

The Weather app is wonderful. I picked 6 cities and I can quickly flip back and forth through them to see the current weather and forecast at a glance. I use the weather app daily.

Then I have my collection of third party apps, including OpenSSH. With OpenSSH and my SSH keys installed, I have access to my servers anywhere I have WiFi. In the 1990’s I had a Palm III, Top Gun SSH, and 14.4 modem. While nicer than toting a laptop, using it wasn’t pleasant. Now my iPhone has a set of basic command line tools I can use to remotely troubleshoot servers, as well as log in and perform maintenance tasks.

In summary, I love my iPhone and could hardly be more pleased.

3 Replies to “iBought an iPhone”

  1. I would love to have a iPhone. The thing that’s holding me up currently is the data plan. I don’t want to pay $20/month for something I’ll hardly ever use.

    I have AT&T currently so that’s not an issue.

    I would like to see Apple open the phone to third party support, so you can have SSH, password wallet, etc installed and not have to worry about bricking your phone on the next update.

  2. I think one of the most compelling features of the iPhone is the $20 unlimited data plan. It’s often handy for them data apps to work when there’s no WiFi around. Or even when there is WiFi, like today at the Corner Bakery. I’ve used it with my iPhone before but today it wasn’t working.

    Depending on how much you use the phone for calls, a GoPhone prepaid plan might suit you. I seldom use my phone for voice and use it regularly for data. But the iPhone is making me sorely tempted to put up with the painfully slow EDGE network. The phone is that good.

    I’m not worried about 3rd party support. I expect Apple plans to open it but developing and publishing an API takes time. No developer wants to marry themselves to an API of a 1.0 product. After a little time in the wild and a few updates, I think we’ll see more of the iPhone’s potential revealed.

    In the meantime, us wild and crazy types will risk bricking our phones so we can make the iPhone serve our purposes today. If that means I can’t update my iPhone for a few weeks after updates come out, I’m okay with that.

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