nullstream weblog - myPhone

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July 2, 2007 11:19 PM PST

So, I got an iPhone.

I didn't mean to, but on Friday night as I came home from work, I realized that the Apple store would be open until midnight and their web app showed that they had some iPhones still in stock. I walked over, since it's only a couple of blocks from the shuttle stop and my apartment, thinking that if they had any left, I'd get one.

The store was packed with people trying out pretty much every Apple hardware type, but there was a huge crowd around the demo iPhones. As I walked in the store, I asked one of the greeters if they had any left. He didn't ask "Any what?", man, he just knew. Freaking Apple, how do they do it? This was 11 PM on a Friday night, and a computer store was packed!

Anyway, there were loads left so I bought the 8 GB version and went home. Total time in the store: less than 10 minutes, most of which was spent in line waiting to pay. Given my neighborhood, I was hoping that I wouldn't get rolled and end up as the first iPhone theft victim.

I should be so lucky, given what happened next.

Descent into customer service hell

I took the phone out at home, plugged it in, answered a couple of questions through the iTunes software, and it told me there would be a slight wait for activation. Given it was the first night, I figured it could take awhile.

Saturday morning rolls around, and still no activation so I call up AT&T, a company that I've never had a good experience dealing with. They said that there servers were under a huge load, crashing regularly and it could take some time. Remember that this is a company that is carrying potential 911 calls. Yeesh.

By Saturday afternoon, I was getting impatient and called AT&T again, and the tech this time said that according to his records, everything was fine on their end but that they were waiting for Apple to send the activation signal... it felt like a pretty hand-wavey excuse. No dice. All evening the iPhone sat there like a futuristic alien artifact that a lowly human-ape-thing like me couldn't figure out.

On Sunday morning, I'd had enough. I went to the Apple store and started complaining loudly to the first Apple person I saw. He quickly sent me over to the manager who, as luck would have it, had managed several AT&T stores for a few years. He actually called AT&T back, sat on the phone with them and me for almost an hour when he realized that AT&T had messed up my account and that it was stuck in limbo and would never get activated. Apparently, AT&T has customer data in several databases, so when you call them up, no one person can help you because they only have access to one part of it! The Apple manager told the AT&T drones what to do, and suddenly my activation was actually making normal progress through the queue.

Monday morning at 4:26 AM my iPhone was activated. AT&T's performance was a symphony of incompetence, but it was finally done. The first call I made on it was to AT&T to complain and dare them to charge me "Activation Fees". Did I mention that on Saturday during all the messing around their phone support guy was doing, they deactivated my old phone so I had absolutely no phone service for a couple of days (since I have no land line at home)?

Oh, you guys are expecting a review...


The iPhone is absolutely incredible. It feels amazing, has a brilliant screen, the "touch, drag, flick and scroll" interface is actually addictive! It was like a game. In fact, I bet there could be an entire industry of downloadable games based on the touch interface. There was no lag in any of the graphics effects.

Call quality is fine, but the web browsing was excellent: I was reading Gmail and Nullstream in Safari without any degradation. No crippled mobile versions of the web with the iPhone. Zooming in and out and rotating the device worked very intuitively on web pages and maps. The keyboard was easy to do one finger typing, but 2 thumbs typing was hard for me to be accurate. The phone fits in my pocket and is so slim and light that I didn't notice it and carried it around all day. There's no way I could do that with my old phone.

There are probably hundreds of much more detailed reviews on the web you can read, but bottom line: I'm definitely happy with my purchase.

Both photos above are of my iPhone and my 80 GB iPod.

Comments (16)
J, July 2, 2007 11:31 PM:

Enjoyed reading this and glad you like the phone! Your comments on the customer service are right on. That's cool that Apple helped you out though. Steve had the opposite experience at the store last weekend though. He went in to look at Macbooks and wandered around for a half hour without anyone saying one word to him and then he walked out. I think he'll still get a Macbook though after seeing mine (man, that Jobs is good!)

John, July 3, 2007 12:00 AM:

Glad you got it activated. That must have been incredibly aggravating. So far we don't have any takers at work, so my 10 minutes at the Apple store will have to hold me for awhile.

Paul, July 4, 2007 07:42 PM:

The evolution of AT&T.

Paul, July 4, 2007 07:51 PM:

Cool new 3rd party iPhone applications.

John, July 5, 2007 10:13 PM:

I had an interesting thought on the tmobile thing. They give you a free router so that you can use wifi when you are home and avoid clogging up the cell network. I wonder if there is some fine print that allows tmobile customer within range to also use your router? That would be interesting. You pay extra for wifi, they give you a router, and they get to build a mesh of usable access points with free net connectivity. Seem they would be getting the better end of the deal that way.

John, July 6, 2007 01:46 AM:

Spring update, update: I have watched a few movies now since the update. I'll say that playback while downloading support is really good now. With my connection I can typically start watching a show within 15 minutes of starting the download. That faster than running to the video store. You can fast forward and rewind during download now as well. I must say that standard res movies look and Sound very good.They come in around 1 gig.

Paul, July 6, 2007 10:03 AM:

Hey, you got Xbox in my iPhone!

John, July 6, 2007 02:58 PM:

That dang iPhone sucks in everthing. I don't know how it managed to pull my comment here. in other news I have not yet seen an iphone in the wild. But then again, I don't usually hang out in Starbucks.

Paul, July 7, 2007 12:40 AM:

The campus is loaded with iPhones. At least 5 other people on my team have them.

Paul, July 7, 2007 08:28 PM:

John Romero likes the iPhone, and his comments remind me that I didn't mention just how long the iPhone battery life is. I was using wifi, maps and the camera for couple of days before I had to charge it. Favourite Romero quote: "Come to JesusPhone. You know you want to."

John, July 9, 2007 05:27 PM:

Already rumors are out about the next model iPhone.

John, July 10, 2007 10:59 AM:

Paul can you verify the statements in this article about not being able to drag and drop music onto the iPhone and also about not being able to play music directly from the iPhone on your computers?

For all my limited experience with the iPod and iTunes, these are two features that are regularly used in my house. In fact the drag and drop method is the only method used to load the two Nanos in my house since I refuse to add my music to the iTunes library.

Paul, July 10, 2007 11:08 AM:

Yeah, drag and drop doesn't seem to work: you have to create a playlist, then sync the playlist. I've no idea why they thought that was a better way to manage music.

My other complaint is that I can't use the iPhone as an alarm clock, since you can't specify a playlist to be the alarm sound like you can with a regular iPod.

Paul, January 10, 2008 04:07 PM:

The story of iPhone.

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