Here’s an update: my iPhone is now working after a rather tortuous weekend in which I was barely able to use it for anything. It wasn’t until Sunday night that my account was activated, allowing me to actually use the features on the phone at all. But even then, the telephone coverage wasn’t working (it was able to access Wi-Fi networks, though), and only this morning was I able to place a phone call with it. All told, that was some sixty hours or so after I originally bought it. Nicely done, Team AT&T, nicely done.
There’s so much iPhone coverage out there that I fear I won’t be able to add much of a unique perspective here, at least not today. I’m compiling a list of review points in my head, but here are my immediate take-aways.
Things to Complain About
First, the battery life is rather fleeting, at least if you choose to use any of its audio, video or Wi-Fi network capabilities. I was down to less than half a charge after only seemingly moderate usage this morning. Tomorrow I plan to use the iPhone as I would have used my Treo smart phone — which is to say primarily for phone calls, text messaging and some light email traffic, — to see if it performs any better.
Second, the typing is an exercise in frustration. But I suspect that I’m actually getting better at it fairly quickly. I noticed this evening that my typing is much more confident and accurate than even compared to this morning. I’m pretty sure I’m not nearly as fast on it as I was on my Treo, but I’ll get back to you after a few more days’ usage to report on any progress I’ve made.
Finally, I was reminded this weekend how truly unfriendly and often less than competent are America’s wireless carriers. I originally started out by blaming Verizon Wireless, but in the end all they were really guilty of was threatening me with a defiantly mendacious early termination fee: with only two weeks left on a two-year contract, they still insist on charging me US$175 for canceling my service. Naked and ugly.
As for AT&T… could they really have under-estimated the demand for this product? Call centers were flooded all weekend, and I spent hours on hold only to reach representatives who were unable to help me with my situation, many of them providing inconsistent reasons why. That was frustrating enough, but I think what angered me the most was that so many of them had no apparent familiarity with how the iPhone set-up process worked. Actually, maybe the worst thing is that, with all the money they made over the weekend on new customers, they don’t really have to even care how poor their performance was.
How to Think Positive
I bet a lot of new iPhone owners are, like me, just feeling very weary today after this past weekend. AT&T publicly estimates that only two percent of new customers experienced problems like those that I did. Leaving aside that that still accounts for thousands of real people whose weekends were shot, just dealing with the iPhone itself — with the strange and sometimes confounding design decisions that Apple made (e.g., no click-and-drag selection of strings of text, no copying or pasting, no apparent way to SMS an email account) — leaves me a little less than enthusiastic right now. I’m not saying I’m pessimistic, exactly, I’m just saying that in order to give a fairer assessment of whether this phone has warranted even a fraction of its advanced billing, I need to work up some energy to put this mess of a first weekend behind me.