Today’s Topic: iPhone frenzy
…iPhone, It’s Here…
You’d have to be living in an igloo if you have not heard or read any media reports concerning Apple’s new iPhone device that was released last Friday, June 29th. The demand has been red hot, but there are some things you should know before you buy one for your kids or yourself.
A brief overview: The iPhone is a “smart-phone”: a cell phone, iPod, and mini computer all built into one. It runs on AT&T Wireless service (formerly Cingular).
1) It only runs on AT&T Wireless service. If you want to be or remain a customer of Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc., you cannot use the iPhone. Period!
2) It only works with AT&T Wireless service. If you want to use the iPhone as a stand alone device, without cellular service — you are out of luck!!
3) If you are currently under contract with another provider, you will have to pay a cancellation fee – possibly as high as $250, to break that agreement so you can sign up as an AT&T customer. As insane as it seems, there are thousands of people who have canceled their existing wireless contracts prematurely so that they could “escape” and become an iPhone user / AT&T subscriber.
4) If you are switching from another provider, regardless if you are in a contract or not, do not cancel your old service before signing up with AT&T. Not canceling with “company x” will allow you to “port” (transfer) your existing wireless number to AT&T for use with your new iPhone. You will be able to use your new iPhone with your old number within 2 hours after activation, wait about 3 days to cancel with your old company to ensure that the number porting has been completely processed by both companies.
5) Price: Don’t have a heart attack! The 4 GB (gigabyte hard drive) iPhone sells for $499. The larger capacity, 8 GB model sells for $599. Apple and AT&T intend for these to be market priced products…. meaning there will be no discounts. Furthermore, if you are an existing AT&T customer and are due for a phone upgrade discount — you cannot use that promotion with the purchase of a new iPhone. You will pay $499 or $599 regardless of your previous relationship with AT&T. There is a positive side to this fixed pricing structure. If you are an existing AT&T customer, in the middle of your contract and not due for an upgrade discount, you can order your iPhone directly from Apple or purchase one at an Apple Store for the same price and simply swap your SIM card from your existing AT&T phone into your new iPhone.
6) Where to buy: http://store.apple.com , 1-800-MY-APPLE, Apple Store retail locations, and corporate AT&T Wireless stores. This should be self-explanatory, but I want to expand on this point by saying that iPhones are not sold at AT&T Wireless stores owned by authorized resellers or Radio Shack. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between a corporate store and a reseller because the storefronts can appear quite similar. In central Connecticut, the Westfarms mall AT&T store and the 3298 Berlin Turnpike store are considered “corporate.”
7) Service plan: A minimum $39.99 per month calling plan is required along with a $20 per month data plan (that includes unlimited EDGE Internet access and 200 SMS / text messages). The $39.99 voice plan features 450 daytime minutes, and 5000 night and weekend minutes. If you are a frequent talker you may prefer the $59.99 – 900 minute voice plan, or the $79.99 – 1350 minute voice plan. These plans included unlimited night and weekend minutes. Regardless of which voice plan you choose, remember that you are required to take the $20 data plan as well. It is not optional. The iPhone is not meant for those who don’t intend to access the Internet or e-mail on from their new toy.
8) A word about data: As I mentioned in #7, the data plan includes unlimited EDGE data access. EDGE is a very SLOW network. In fact, at times it may be as slow as your old dial-up Internet connection that you dropped years ago. The iPhone doesn’t sound like such a great deal then, right? Don’t lose hope – the iPhone also has a “WiFi” chip built in. This means that you can access Internet and e-mail features from the network inside your house, at work, the public library, Panera Bread, or other locations using your iPhone — AT NO COST. Your Internet experience will be significantly faster in WiFi mode than using AT&T’s EDGE network. Just remember, WiFi is only available in specific locations — such as the ones that I’ve mentioned. EDGE is available across much of the U.S.A. and can help fill in the gaps in between WiFi access points — but it is slowwwww and only good for e-mails (without photos) or very simple web pages.
9) Web surfing: Critics and iPhone users agree that the Safari browser built into this device is the best browser ever found on a cell phone. It displays a full web page in minature form at first and then allows you to expand the text of the article you want to read by tapping your finger on the touch-sensitive glass screen. Likewise you scroll down long web pages by moving your finger on the glass and even type your emails using an on-screen keyboard that you can make appear or disappear whenever you want.
Final words: I did not rush out to buy an iPhone on 6/29, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get on board at a later date. If you are looking for a true “convergence device” that incorporate your 3 most treasured gadgets into one – iPod, cell phone, and computer – the iPhone is your meal ticket. It doesn’t have the full functionality of a laptop but it is the right size for taking to bed with you. You can easily put it on your nightstand or tuck it under a pillow. Guard it with your life. The tooth fairy would love to steal it from you!!