Jason's Blog

Archive for July 18th, 2007

The process of obtaining a new phone

by on Jul.18, 2007, under General

Much to my personal dismay, my old Treo 650 died a horrible death on my way back.  No warning, it just suddenly keeled over and wouldn't power up, wouldn't respond to input, wouldn't even charge itself.  I was in a dilemma – I'd not planned on buying a new phone for quite a while yet, as my Treo did everything I needed it to do.  What was I going to do about a phone??  I loved my Treo, and it would be a hard thing to replace.

In some ways, more importantly than the consideration of the phone was what was I going to do about my service.  I've been with sprint something like 6 or 7 years – that's a LONG time, and I've been pretty happy with them for the most part.  My plan was pretty cheap, gave me the minutes I wanted, unlimited texting/internet, and was overall quite nice.  This cost me about $38 a month all said and done.  Here's where I started to get annoyed though with the process of replacing my phone:

The first thing I did, of course, was run out and play with one of those new iPhones – they ARE nifty, but they're AT&T/Cingular only, so it was initially mostly just "playing".  The interface on it IS gorgeous, but no local caching, no installable applications, no Systems Developer Kit for writing applications, well, all in all, the iPhone is a pretty crippled device.  And, it was Cingular.  So, I left the store and headed over to the local Sprint store.

Spring as said has been good to me a number of years, but let's just say I wasn't happy with the stuff that happened next.  Supposedly, by being a loyal customer for a number of years, I'd earned a discount on any new phone I'd purchase as long as I renewed my account for a certain amount of time (online it was $75 for one year, $150 for two years).  This is where though things start to get along the lines of one of those capital one commercials.  While talking to the sales guy about a nice Treo 680, I was told that in order to get such discounts on the Treo 680, I'd have to upgrade my plan, as it was less than their acceptable limit.  Yikes, there goes my cheap but effective phone service!  Further, by the time I'd upgrade my plan to an equivalent system, I was looking at about $60 total per month vs. my $40 now.  Let's just say I was NOT happy, and that would then lock me into Sprint for another 2 years, and only bring the price of the Treo 680 down to something like $400 or so (I'm kinda fuzzy on numbers, but I remember thinking god, that's still expensive!).  Then, there was a mail in rebate that would have brought the price down to $300.  SO, in order to get my palm replaced with Sprint using the discounts I'd supposedly earned by being a loyal customer, I'd have to upgrade my plan to one that is an extra $20 a month, and still buy a rather expensive gadget, wait 2 months for part of the rebate on gadget to come in, and I'd really not be getting all that much out of the deal other than a new PDA phone (I've not used over 300 minutes, nor much of my internet/sms/night and weekend minutes).

This is where Jason stopped and thought, hrm, Sprint wants me to stay with them, and only if I do will they actually give me any discounts, but they don't want to do so if I won't spend more money with them.  I can understand it, but they did lose a customer out of the process – seriously, just losing the mail in rebate on the danged phone would probably have kept me with them, but I'm not waiting 8 weeks for that noise.  Add to this, looking at the iPhone plans, the price was pretty much identical for the plan after I'd have to upgrade my plan.  Now, considering that the price of this nice Treo was below that of the Cingular device, that probably would have been smarter, but honestly, the thought of being locked in for two years with the possible changes the iPhone was going to bring… well, I wasn't happy with that thought.  Thus, over to the AT&T/cingular store!

This is where I have to stop and say a BIG thanks to the girl, Rosa who works at the Cingular store at the Grindstone Parkway AT&T store in Columbia, MO.  She was flat out amazing in her knowledge of the equipment, had worked with both devices, knew her stuff backwards and forwards, had an amazing demeanor, etc.  She even owned both a Mac and a PC, though admitted to being mostly a PC girl because of habit (which of course I suggested was like smoking crack cocaine and a habit that could and should be quit).  Anyways, I was most impressed with her attitude and friendliness, and overall the effort should put into the sale and trying to help me with regards to purchasing a phone.  When I first talked to her when I was playing with the iPhone, she actually understood that I was planning on staying with Sprint, and just came into the store because I wanted to just play with the iPhone.  A big thanks to sales people who are actually intelligent, know their product, aren't pushy but are helpful, and really have an interest in what they're doing.  The sleazy sales types who will do anything to make a sale have always annoyed me, and it was refreshing to find someone who showed effort and integrity.  (Note, there were others there who I later encountered who didn't impress me nearly so much)

Anyways, back to the story – I stopped at the Cingular store to see what they'd have pricing wise for a Treo 680.  Of course, I also had to look at the iPhone again, compare and contrast, etc.  Here's where a few other gotchas cropped up.  The 680 though nice and in many ways a big upgrade from my 650, used a Micro SD slot, not a standard SD slot – thus entailing a purchase of at least another $20-30 for a 1gb memory card.  If I wanted more storage, it's not so much expensive as annoying, since I'd need multiple cards at that point.  Scratch one.  Price wise, Cingular after rebates for signing up with them (the same thing you'll note as Sprint) came down to like $270 or so for the Treo 680.  SO, moderately close to the one from Sprint, but without super annoying mail-in rebate – that right there impressed me.  Next, add to that, a plan that seemed just as good, with coverage that also has been better in a lot of the oddball areas I go, and last but not the least, the fact that my parents and several friends now are all on Cingular, plus the future possibilities of the iPhone on their network, and then unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling.. well, Cingular sounded like a pretty good choice.

Here's where Jason's gadget mania steps in – beware!  As good as Cingular is on some things, I gotta say their network has NEVER impressed me.  Sprint has always had a faster and seemingly to me, more reliable data network.  It's just one of those things that's more impression than perhaps reality, but this viewpoint is upheld online.  The disadvantage with Sprint though is that it's US only – you can't go to Europe and use Sprint phones.  I guess that's part of getting a faster system working, but it does seem kinda silly to me to go non standards.  Either way, it didn't matter as I was going to be a cingular person (thank GOD for number transfers!).  It was at this point, where I'd decided to go with Cingular and was playing with the Treo 680 that I should have just ran to the check-out and finished things up.  Because then the beautiful stands of the iPhone pulled at me like a gigantic electromagnet.  Or perhaps a better description would be a moth to the flame – cause man, I gotta say that iPhone is BEAUTIFUL…  I think most of you can guess what happens next.

I start playing with the iPhone.  I hate HATE that there's no SDK for it, that basically all it does is phone, SMS, a "blah" email client, and superlative web browsing.  That's ALL that the iPhone does at this point in time.  Oh yeah, a PoS camera too, but anyways… Now, keep in mind that the iPhone is supposed to get regular updates.  It also works over WiFI when available which the Treo doesn't.  I once about 6 months ago while talking to a coworker said my ultimate device would be one that has WiFI, Bluetooth, a decent cellphone, a touch screen, good web browsing support, and a good developer kit.  The iPhone matches 5 of those 6 splendidly.  And I DO mean splendidly – it's probably the best web browsing experience I've ever had on a PDA like device – it's actually usable, where my Treo was NEVER usable for browsing the web.  This is where I decided that ok, I'll give Apple a chance to show they have their heads on straight and care about their customers.  I'll go with the iPhone and pray they release updates to fix a number of the things I don't like about the device (did I mention an SDK/Systems Developer Kit?).  I will admit the pretty graphics, full screen viewing, and just the amazing interface and that it IS apple also helped persuade me… smile

Thus, I'm now the proud, but very cautious and unsure, owner of an iPhone that has really lousy application support.  And I do mean LOUSY – that's one thing I'm going to miss for quite a while, a lack of applications that run natively on the device and are accesible even without an internet or cellular connecition (which unfortunately for me happens more regularly than I like).   Yes, it IS gorgeous, it's got the best interface I've EVER seen, and as said, it makes mobile browsing usable.  I just don't have an NES emulator on it like I did on my old Treo.  I just pray for updates soon that fix the annoyances such as a lack of applications and the ability to develop applications. 

Until Apple gets those things fixed, mmm, well, it IS sooooo prettttty…. god, I'm becoming one of those iPhone people… *sigh*

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