Should I buy an iPhone?

I don’t own an iPhone – never have. In fact I’ve never purchased any Apple product. I get the distinct impression that they are simple not designed for me. They’re for normal people. Even when I think I should buy one of their products just to see what I’m missing out on I can’t bring myself to do it. It would be too embarrassing. I may as well go and but a T-shirt with “Apple Fanboy” written in large letters (though elegant and with just the right amount of whitespace). I even get embarrassed for other people when I see them using Apple products. I feel like I should take them aside and explain to them politely how they’ve been deluded into buying an overpriced, under-performing an ultimately unsatisfying product.

When I was living down-under Apple products were popular and I occasionally got to work with a developer who was a die-hard Apple fan. It was amusing, the rest of us would snigger at their misguided judgement and their uncanny ability to compare everything with the wonderful nirvana of the Apple Universe.

Now I live in New York. The Big Apple. I work for a tech company that embraces Apple products. Not just the hippy UX crew either. Even the management, strong willed , hard-core professionals, have Mac books and iPhones littered on their desk next to their Apple branded widescreens. I could be wrong but I believe the standard company issued laptop is a Mac book of some description (probably the big screen one with the ridiculous overheating issue?).

I’m currently working with a UX designer who comes to meetings with his iPad. Do I scream at him, telling him his ridiculously oversized iPhone is a 10 year old Slate device that lacks the fidelity that a stylus offered? No. Do I laugh when he starts describing how our new app is going to require a PopOver control – much more that just a PopUp? No. When he rounds every sharp angle and removes the right click? No.

Why not? Because maybe, just maybe the time has come for me to face the music. It’s me. It just must be me.

So what now… where to from here? So its finally come to this… should I just go and buy an iPhone 4?

I’d have some reasonable excuses:

  • My current US “cell” phone is a Blackberry – highly functional but about as exciting and attractive as a brick
  • The iPhone 4 is only $199 dollars – the last two phones I purchased cost around $700 each -  so they’re cheap!
  • There are lots fun accessories (including an iPhone 4 case to protect) that I can buy with the money I saved.

Of course there are also some arguments against:

  • New York seems to have the worst phone coverage of any major city I’ve been to in recent times (OK I don’t get around much and yes I understand tall buildings and ultra high density population doesn’t help). I’ve tried AT&T and T-Mobile networks and both have frequent drop-outs/interference. I believe they are just introducing 4G networks but currently browsing and live video streaming on the existing 3G network is terrible. I believe the iPhones are fixed to AT&T?
  • I can’t write programs for my new iPhone unless I buy an Apple computer. Worse still, I can’t just buy the computer and waste the OS to install Windows 7, I actually have to run OSX. [I’m guessing a bit here]. Now things are getting expensive – and I just don’t think I’m ready for such a big step into this hostile world.

So should I buy an iPhone 4? Comments welcome – maybe even a free phone accessory giveaway for the most amusing comment?


Just for the record, here’s the fine print:

  1. I’ve used many Apple products – some by choice, some mandated.
  2. I haven’t enjoyed any of these experiences.
  3. I realised this is largely based on my own prejudice that I’ve accumulated over the years from those experiences.
  4. I recognize that the vast majority of Apple product owners consider the experience satisfying as voted by their continued purchases.

7 thoughts on “Should I buy an iPhone?”

  1. *begin sarcasm*
    As one of those developers that you liked to snigger at, I’m compelled by my Apple mandated fan-boy chip to insist that you buy one, so I can be jealous, since we don’t have them back in Oz yet.
    *end sarcasm*

    Really though, it’s a good option. It is tied to AT&T (if you don’t jailbreak) in the US. That $US199 price is based on a 24 month contract with AT&T, so similar to subsidized plans you would have seen back in Oz.

    Yes if you want to do software development you would need an Apple computer (which you can split and have bootable Windows 7 on, or just run Windows 7 in a VM, you’ll still have access to DirectX and Direct3D, WPF, Aero etc in the VM. VM-Ware Fusion on the Mac is a bit more featured than VM-Ware on PC’s, with much better hardware support (due to Apple die-hards wanting/needing to play games in a VM).

    Of course, you’ll probably ignore my advice since I am obviously tainted by my Apple experiences and no longer capable of rational thinking 😛

  2. You should. The phone is very, very good, I use it for too many tasks (besides talking) and is a joy.

    The bad:
    * iTunes is crap, and you are forced to use it.
    * AppStore regulations

  3. For only $200, I think the experiment is worth a try. If you tire of it, give it to your kids as a gaming device!. After all, it won’t kill you, and you just might like it.. Besides, if you don’t like it, the Windows 7 phones are coming out by the end of the year, which you can at least run your own code on, and then you can grumble about that one instead.

    Looking forward to hearing your review..

  4. Well… I probably should have looked a bit closer at that $199 price tag. One would think that over here in the US cell phone plans would be cheap… but you’d be wrong. The cheapest AT&T plan includes 450 minutes of talk time ($40/month) and 200Mb of 3G data ($15/month). So that’s $55/month over a 2 year contract. So total cost of ownership over two years (assuming you don’t exceed the plan limits is $1519. My Telstra plan was $15 talk, $5 for 200Mb of data and $700 for phone outright – no fixed contract period. So over 2 years that cost me $1180. Oh – and if you want to “tether” your device AT&T charge you extra – you have to pay $45/month for 2Gb of data + tethering. That’s insane!!
    {sigh} so much for the iPhone… now I understand why Apple’s share price is skyrocketting.

  5. Hi Tim – thanks for the comment – I had a good chuckle reading that first bit. Yeah the price actually kinda killed it for me once I looked at the AT&T plans – they are “unappealing” to say the least. I’ve been really disappointed with the US cell network/prices – they are just as expensive as Oz and several years behind technology wise (pretty much describes the US in general actually).

  6. Ever since the first iPhone I have had the same dilemma. All the cool kids have them so should I join there club.

    The main reason I haven’t is the way they seem to lock all the good stuff up. No easy way of looking under the hood what the engine is doing. I might be wrong and it just be my brain wired up to look at the world in a Windows way.

  7. I don’t recommend.

    I was an owner of a first generation iPhone. All those cool apps got bored really quick. And I really didn’t need a phone that big.

    So now I’m an owner of Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro. Sure, it sounds like something from Star Wars but it’s the most practical business phone I’ve had to date.

    It many not be as wife-friendly as my previous iPhone, but hey, it’s a boy-toy anyway.

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