Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The F'ing iPhone

As of today, I am on my third iPhone. I bought an iPhone in January of 2008. Along with it, I bought the AppleCare plan. I always buy the AppleCare plan when I buy Apple hardware because I find it incredibly easy just to go to Apple and say "it's broken" and get a new one. If you have AppleCare, they'll do that. If you don't buy AppleCare, they tell you to buy a new one or (if you're lucky enough to still be in the 9 second standard warranty window) replace or repair it under warranty.

I've had lots of Apple hardware and for the most part it works ok. I've run Linux on all of it for most of the time, having most recently given Leopard a try for a year (I didn't like it, but I think it's a vast improvement over Jaguar which I had last tried for an extended period of time).

The iPhone has been a bit annoying to me. Having been through 2 replacements now, I wonder how much I should trust it. Here's what's happened to me:
  • When iPhone Firmware 2.0 was released, the phone didn't take it well. I was running 1.1.4 just fine. I plugged the phone in to my MacBook and iTunes immediately backed up the phone and gently urged me to shove 2.0 on the iPhone. OK, fine, do it. The upgrade left the phone bricked and my AT&T account hosed. Apple's genius bar couldn't figure it out, but I don't think they tried hard because since I had AppleCare, they could just give me a new phone and send me on my the AT&T Store to fix my now busted account. The upgrade to 2.0 required me to get a new phone, I lost all of my voicemail, and all of the data on the phone. Fortunately my number remained the same.
  • A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the iPhone having incredibly short battery life. In addition, calls were not coming through all the time. They'd go straight to voicemail. But then I wouldn't get an alert that I had a voicemail until 2 or 3 days later. Same with SMS messages. Visual voicemail wasn't working, so I had to call the 800 number and check messages the old fashioned way. Apple's genius bar thought it was probably run away processes keeping the CPU active and draining the battery. To explain the other problems, the tech said it was probably "bad configuration settings." They requested that I go home, back up the phone, and do a complete restore of the iPhone but set it up as a new phone rather than restoring from a backup. That put the phone in a worse state than it was already. Again, since I have AppleCare, the next solution was to just give me a new phone.
What I don't like is not knowing why the phone keeps doing this. I don't jailbreak my phone or anything like that. I just have the stock stuff on it. I did have some free iPhone apps, but those are now gone.

My guess is that each time a new firmware update comes out, the ugprade process goes poorly. It munges something, perhaps settings or lock files or state files or something. I can only speculate since I can't actually get in to the firmware and see for myself. With each upgrade, I'm guessing the state of the iPhone gets progressively worse.

So, what will happen with firmware 3.0 comes out? I imagine I'll be getting another iPhone when that upgrade fails and takes the phone down with it. My AppleCare service goes through January of 2010, so I'm keeping the phone until then. I might go through 20 more, but I don't care.

For those curious, I have the original 8GB iPhone model. It's not a 3g iPhone. And no, I'm not buying one.

If anyone has any suggestions for alternative smartphones, post. I've gotten used to having a web browser (and a real web browser, not stupid WAP), email, and google maps on my phone. The other stuff is fluff: camera, calendar, app store, music, movies, and so on.


Ed said...

I have a Blackberry Storm. It does email great. In fact, I get email on my phone before it hits my desk computer at work. I have multiple email accounts on my phone, and it handles them all well. It does web browsing MUCH better than my HTC tilt from AT&T (I had to hard reset my tilt weekly, and even when it worked, it would randomly delete my email after reading). It comes with a built in maps app which works very well and is comparable to Google maps. I also hear that people who use the GPS feature find it as useful as a Garmin or other GPS and it does trafic info, also. The battery life is stellar, and the holsters even have magnets to put it to sleep when it is being worn and not used. Also, there are plenty of apps available for wasting time.

Ed said...

Forgot the folowing items:

1) Comes with an 8GB mini sd card
2) Come with full size headphone jack.
3) Seriously, it's the best cell phone I've ever used.

Jim said...

I'm watching out for two phones as my contract is out this summer: the Palm Pre with Sprint (my current cell provider) and the new iPhone that's coming out this summer. They both have pros and cons, and the Palm Pre looks very interesting (no syncing with any computers, all syncing is done via the cloud).

If you're looking for an alternative, check out the Palm Pre.