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My iPhone 3G Story

On Monday September 8th, 2008, in Business, Shopping, Technology, by Michael Watson
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Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

I’ve had a very interesting experience buying my new 3G iPhone. Getting it has been a roller coaster ride from trouble porting to activating to trouble getting service to incompatible and poorly manufactured accessories. But now that things have finally really settled down… Here is my story.

Magic Released

Since the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, I’ve been really excited about the iPhone. It was exciting to see live updates via MacRumors.com right as Steve Jobs was announcing the new iPhone with all of its features during the conference. Since then I have been thinking about the new iPhone but it still just seemed implausible to switch since I was still under contract with Verizon and therefore I would have to pay a huge cancellation fee.

However in the final days leading up to the release of the new iPhone 3G, I was sold as I saw the iPhone 2.0 OS, especially all the cool apps up in iTunes in the app store and the introduction of mobile me. Seeing all these features I new that I would have to be apart of the new cell phone industry. As I see it Apple is doing amazing things to advance usability and customization in the cellphone industry so that technology will finally be fully compatible. The fact that you can install apps on a phone is truly amazing and opens the door to completely new horizons. I knew I couldn’t loose out of this shift from closed devices to customizable machines.

Night Before iPhone 3G

The night before Christmas the iPhone 3G I was drowned in suspense. I figured I would try to get a good nights sleep and then head over to the AT&T store early that morning. Forget that! There was no way that i was going to sleep with the iPhone on my mind. I finally got some sleep and then headed on over there early in the morning with my mom. We stood in line for a couple of hours until it started moving. It was an awesome experience from talking to the people around, getting free beverages to being solicited by non-wireless AT&T salespeople. My mom and I were about the hundredth person in line for the iPhone and around thirty minutes after the line started moving, a guy in front of us received a call from a buddy who was waiting at the local Apple store and was told that the stores network went down. My worst nightmare would have been if after all that waiting, a server error would have led to a delayed purchase. We also found out that even though he got there the same time, the line was double the size as ours.

Apple iTunes

Finally it was time to set foot through those doors and into a new experience. I made it. I finally had the wrapped iPhone box within reach. I figured this meant the complicated part was over and I couldn’t wait to finally hold my beautiful new phone. It seemed like the calm after the storm. There was no more waiting or the agonizing question of if I would even get a phone, I was set. But that was when we ran into problems adding my line to the account. For some odd reason they couldn’t just add me to an existing account but instead had to create a brand new one for me. This took around an hour for a process that should have taken 15 minutes. Then when they got the AT&T stuff straightened out, I found out that the iTunes activation was taking way too long and that I would have to do it all at home instead of at the store. This is what I was afraid of. Everything was all ready for me to activate and instantly use my iPhone but now that wasn’t a possibility because of an undervaluation made by Apple’s I.T. department. I would think that they would have a pretty idea of how many iPhones were going to be activated in each time zones before the launch and could have planned accordingly so it was back home for now.

All I was able to do at this point was plug my beautiful iPhone into my laptop and watch as the standard ‘plug your phone into iTunes’ picture came up. So I plugged it into iTunes and sadly but surely I could not do anything to my iPhone because the activation servers were overloaded. Finally a couple hours later my phone was activated and I had to wait an hour or so for everything to sync to my phone.

No Service

For the next few days i was carrying my iPhone with me everywhere and trying to use it as I pleased but I noticed that I wasn’t getting the service I should have. I would be walking around with ‘no service’ most of the day no matter where I went. My mom has another 3G phone and I compared signals and I might have 1 bar when it showed I had service when she would have full bars. The problem of having no service continued about everywhere I went. The phone should have at least defaulted back to EDGE if there was no obtainable 3G service. So finally I was like screw this, I’m going to the Apple store to see what was going on.

When we go to the Apple store there were a couple of lines. There was a line for getting the new iPhone and then there was even a line for just walking into the store so what I did was I went up to the guy in front of the store and demanded to speak to a manager. He in fact was a manager and I explained my situation and frustrations and he sent me back to the genius bar with priority. Basically that meant that he made me next in line for the Genius bar even though there were a bunch of people looking to be seen for iPods/mac/iPhones. After some paperwork and whatnot I walked out with a re manufactured new iPhone 3G and this one worked. I was so stoked! besides the part of all my data being on the old one and having no data on the new one but that fix was only a sync away.

Inaccessible Accessories

The next big failure, I believe, on the behalf of the iPhone 3G is that many of the old accessories that used to work in charging an iPod don’t because of a changed electrical configuration. This may not seem like a big deal but it is because I had an FM Transmitter from Griffin Technologies that worked wonders but then I couldn’t use it anymore because it wouldnt charge my new iPhone. i figured the thing to do would be to get a new FM transmitter which would probably have more features and stronger signal but I was definitely wrong. I tried a couple FM transmitters from Griffin and Belkin and they were completely worthless. They were horrible products. I guess maybe I should be more lenient because i live close to the Los Angeles area where every channel has something on it but i found that even when driving in the middle of nowhere, these devices were worthless. There were times however when it would sound perfect. It seemed as though if my left hand was on the steering wheel a certain way and if I had the iPhone in a certain place and then transmitter in another pointed a specific way then it worked great. But Come On! The transmitter I got year ago worked a heck of a lot better than either. If I plugged one of the new ones in and played music it would be all static and some of the music I was playing. However if I kept one of the new ones plugged in and then plugged my old one in, the old one would trump the new transmitters signal and would sound crystal clear. Eventually I just turned to buying a VAIS Technology modulator into my car which just sounds absolutely amazing and is not comparable.

The Down Low

So far since then I have not had too many issues. Its true the apps do crash occasionally and the 3G reception is less than desirable especially at my house where I have resigned to EDGE. There have been some significant billing issues due to AT&T’s inability to get things straightened out when we first purchased the phone but that has been worked out. The only other big issue I have run into was when I updated from 2.0.1 to 2.0.2, something happened during the update which corrupted my iPhone so that I had to fully restore it. In the middle of that process the 2.0.2 update was having trouble re-downloading because our Time Warner Cable wasn’t stable that night which led me without a phone for a day. For a while there I thought I had an iBrick and I that I wouldn’t be able to restore it at all and have to give AT&T or Apple hell for a new one.

In all I have been very pleased with my iPhone purchase. I think the benefits outweigh the costs and I really do enjoy using my phone even though my parents don’t see the necessity for it. I don’t think I would go back and do anything any differently except for seek out assistance sooner when my phone had no signal. I definitely think my phone allows me to be more productive and I’m glad that I got to be one of the first to experience to new age or revolution in the cell phone industry.

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