Why I bought an iPhone today

On April 8, 2010, in General, by Neil Stevens

I bought an iPhone today. This to some is a seemingly sudden decision. But it’s a decision that built over time, and was going to come as soon as the scales tilted the right way.

It’s hard for me to remember offhand when I first bought an iPod. It was a G1 iPod Nano, though, white with 4GB of storage, so it had to have been between September of 2005 and September of 2006. This itself was a decision reached after a long and difficult decision making process, as I gave up on desktop music player development after years of doing it and went iPod/iTunes.

That iPod lasted about two years before the battery life got bad. I was looking to abandon the platform entirely when I was given an iPod Touch 32GB for work done at RedState. This was a first generation model, I figure I got it in early 2008 but I’m not 100% sure offhand. Avoiding the $500 sticker price, the huge storage size, as well as seeing the then-unprecented high-resolution screen of beauty, won me over despite my reservations over the lockdown. I also found that proper use of playlists made the lack of tactile controls unimportant.

As for portable phones, I resisted them a long time. I only got one because of a contractual obligation, so in the fall of 2008 I picked up a Blackberry Curve. Eventually though I got tired of that inferior hardware, and Verizon’s higher prices, but I was still happy with the Blackberry platform. So in May of 2009 (the day Star Trek came out I believe, or shortly after, because I saw it that same day) I picked up a Blackberry Bold.

I liked the Blackberry platform for a number of reasons. The hardware keyboards were good, and in fact great in the Bold and later Tour lines; the software platform was open, allowing the use of ordinary Java tools and installation of any software from anywhere; the email support was great; and the app selection was large thanks in part to the support for ordinary Java Mobile Edition apps in addition to Blackberry-specific apps.

However in time a number of problems became apparent to me. RIM was doing a poor job of keeping up with Apple, as witnessed by the horrible lag in browser quality and the disaster of the Blackberry Storm. The build quality also seemed poor to me, as I, my brother, and several people I know all have found out. The thriving market for Blackberry replacement parts is no accident.

Even as my confidence in RIM waned though, I still wasn’t ready to get an iPhone. I wanted a hardware keyboard, and the ability to use the phone one handed for typing, because I need the thing when I’m out, and when I’m out I’m often either eating, drinking, or carrying things to or from home. I also disliked the closed platform of the iPhone, and the lack of interface improvements like cut and paste.

Of course Apple has improved. Things like cut and paste are in, and multitasking is coming. The App Store is huge and mitigates the problems of the closed platform for app selection. Also, if I swapped to an iPhone I could carry just the iPhone and not a phone plus the music player.

But still, my Blackberry worked, that despite RIM’s announced failure to come up with a good client-side browser, essentially conceding the long-run race to iPhone and Android machines, and despite my broken battery cover. And my iPod was fine, despite it being the slowest model of the touch line. I had no reason to switch. Lastly, the iPhone tied me to one service vendor, AT&T, without the ability to move to other vendors.

I researched, though. Eventually I found that if I hold the iPod/iPhone in the right way I can use it one handed. I found I can type OK on the touch screen. T-Mobile turned out to use an oddball 3G band that the iPhone physically didn’t support, so the lock was only theoretically important anyway.

The announcement today expedited the rest of that research. As OS 4 was the final break from the early models, abandoning my G1 iPod Touch as well as the G1 iPhone entirely, and skipping multitasking for the G2 iPod Touch and iPhone 3G. Full support was only to come to the newest models of iPhone and iPod Touch. My iPod was obsolete and replacing it was a reasonable option all of a sudden.

So I checked: the early termination fee for the AT&T contract is reasonably priced, so if I have to get out, I can do so justifiably. All the apps I need are there. I can type on it. It’s a thriving platform with a better web browser and, shockingly enough, better IMAP email support. It will sync perfectly with my iCal and Address Book data, and of course will let me play my entire iTunes library.

I came to the conclusion that the scales have tipped. The Blackberry had fallen far enough, the iPhone had risen high enough, and the economics had become justifiable enough (especially with the discount AT&T had been pushing on me for some time to get an iPhone) that today, I bought my G3 iPod Touch 3GS, white, 32GB.

With Twitterific replacng my old Blackberry Twixtreme, BeejiveIM coming with me to iPhone, and Safari being both better than Opera Mini on the BB as well as in a class above the built-in RIM browser, oh and iSSH doing everything midpssh can do plus VNC support(!), I have all my functionality from before, and more.

I even spent less than I did buying my Blackberry Bold. o I just have to get used to this keyboard…


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