Archive for August 14th, 2009

iLove iPhone

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Filthy crunk. That is how I describe the iPhone.

The time had come to take on the added responsibility of paying a monthly telephone bill. I had been living without such a burden for a couple of months since returning to the States, but along with this benefit came the nagging annoyance of having to borrow a phone every time I wanted to make a call.

The previous time I had been stateside for a few months I had hooked up with MetroPCS. Their $30/month “Unlimited” plan really reeled me in. But once I started setting up my account with the guy in the store, the asterisks made their presence known. “$30 only covers local calling. It’s $35 a month if you want to be able to call outside of Dallas.” “Oh, you want our advanced “text messaging” feature? That’s an $5 extra per month.” “Voicemail? No, that’s not included. You’ll have to step up to our $45/month a plan.” Then my first bill comes and boom – $59 with taxes and other nonsense. I’ll give them credit: at check out my phone itself only ran me $5 and the coverage (which some of my friends told me beforehand they had “heard” was terrible) was pretty good. But if I was gonna be paying that much each month, this time I wanted to go see just how much more what I really wanted would actually cost.

Apple’s newest model of iPhone, the 3GS, costs 50% less than the original iPhone did at its debut two years ago.

It turned out it’s not that bad. My monthly plan is $69.99 for 450 anytime minutes + $5 extra for 200 text messages. Granted I don’t talk on the phone much, and I understand how some people will immediately think that they would need a much more expensive plan, but one must first consider that this comes with rollover, 5000 night/weekend minutes, and unlimited calls with other AT & T customers. So basically, there’s a lot of comping going on here – I would probably downgrade my plan if I could. Add ~$13 of tax/fees on top of this and we’re looking at 88 bucks a month. I can work with that.

What about the other two heads of the dragon (cost of the device and evil stipulations of contract)? You can get an 8GB iPhone 3G for $99. Or you can get a 16GB iPhone 3GS $199. I went all in and scored a 32GB 3GS for $299. But this is because I am addicted to the Internet (not just porn) as well as music and I knew I would get my $100 worth out of the extra space; for many people a 16GB will be more than enough.

Contract. Boy I hate these things. I think the guy in the Apple Store was confused about how I could be so excited about getting an iPhone and at the same time asking so many questions about the details of the early termination fee. Hey, I like to travel. Anyway, I am amazed at how manageable this deal is. I had heard all this talk about “they really rope you in with the contract so you’re stuck owing them for two years.” No you’re not. The fee is $175. Each time you pay your monthly statement, it drops by $5. So if I decide to hop to South America in five months, I’ll give up $150 (less than two monthly bills) and be free as a bird.

To be clear, I am not saying I really think AT & T needs $90 per person to keep their network up and running (if they want my financial advice it would be to stop running so many corny advertisements), but rather that compared to other popular providers like Cingular/T-Mobile/etc. its really not that bad to get an iPhone. And before I move on from the subject of cost, I will say that there is a one-time activation fee of about $40 and the protective cases for this thing are way overpriced. I dropped $15 for a screen film and $35 on a sleek black rubber incase with a front lip. But considering I bought the most expensive model of iPhone and I’m a complete klutz who likes to drink 23 beers in a night, I deemed this a worthwhile expenditure.

Enough with all that. I got it two weeks ago. My life has changed since that day. I don’t even know where to begin, so please excuse the lack of organization in the following drool of praise.

Can you say all-in-one device? It fits in your pocket without the slightest feeling of unwanted bulk. It is a camera (go 3GS and you can also include camcorder), an iPod (for music and video), a GPS, a video game player+controller, an e-mail client, an Operating System for an ever-expanding library of apps, and a fully functional Internet browser. And cool features like the touch screen and accelerometer (I’m not even going to pretend like I fully understand what that is) serve to exponentially increase the potential for developer innovation.

Not only is it all of these things, but each one of them is built superbly. The camera has a one-touch button on screen to send a photo you’ve just snapped to a friend. The iPod automatically syncs with updated podcasts just by plugging it into your computer, and you can listen to them at 2x speed to save time. The GPS is basically Google Maps, except it magically determines your current location for you and you can even scroll to one of your contacts as a destination address. Miss a turn, get lost, or the directions were bad? Just pull over and fire up an updated map from your new coordinates. I’ve already played some video games on here (i.e. Metal Gear Solid Touch) that compete graphically with the PSP, and the versatility of other apps is virtually infinite. In fact, new paragraph, lemme list ten sweet ones:

– Pandora Radio: Just like the Internet site, all you have to do is enter a song or an artist, and voila! Pandora creates a radio station that plays songs similar to what you entered.

– Shazam: Ever ask yourself, “I know that song. Damn it, what is it?” Just open Shazam and hold it in the air. It’ll tell you.

– Voice Memos: Comes preloaded on the iPhone. One click to record a Norm MacDonald-style “Note to Self.”

– WordPress: Have a blog (like this one)? Streamlined interface for efficiently cranking out a new post.

– iHandyLevel: Just put your iPhone on top of that picture frame and adjust accordingly.

– Offender Locator Lite: See pics and addresses of registered sex offenders nearby. Sometimes you can’t help but wonder …

– Postino: Instantly turn any photo you’ve snapped into an e-mail postcard to be sent to a close one. Oh, you prefer a traditional postcard that someone can hold in their hand? Just charge $2 and consider it mailed.

– Urban Spoon: Can’t think of anywhere fresh to eat? Adjust the filters to your desire and spin away. Urban Spoon is a slot machine that costs nothing to play and spills out tasty restaurant locations near you as jackpots.

– Skype/textPlus: Actually two different apps. I think using the Skype for phone calls in lieu of your minutes might take a little hacking, but as it is you can IM chat on Skype or send free SMS texts with textPlus.

– Paper Toss: An awesome office basketball game played with a wad of paper and the trash can. The defense? That electric fan off to the side. I got stuck in nightmare traffic on the highway last night. Before iPhone? Pissed off plove. After iPhone? New high score on medium difficulty setting.

By the way, these are all free apps since I’m a cheap bastard. I’m afraid to see what lurks in the actual marketplace.

Still not convinced? I’ll leave you with this epiphany I had today. I was sitting in a Sonic Drive-In (large Caramel Mocha Java Chiller if you must know), thinking about how the iPhone was like having my laptop (which I also love) in my pocket. I was browsing cars for sale on craigslist and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this device was actually somehow better than my laptop. Obviously there’s the size difference but it was something else. Oh I know! If I was in my car with my laptop, how would I connect to the Internet without WiFi? My phone has unlimited Internet everywhere – I don’t even need a modem and a router.

Don’t let these people who tell you they type too many text messages to mess with a touch screen (the keyboard works great too, by the way, but you probably figured as much by now) slow you down on your way to the Apple Store. And don’t worry about what this guy had to say; the data plan is included nowadays.

And no, I don’t secretly work for Apple, because if I did, I wouldn’t have another tab open trying to figure out how to jailbreak this thing so I can get all the apps I want for free.