I love my iPhone. For 25 months I have had that mobile device with me. It follows me everywhere and is an extension of my life. I have become increasingly dependent on it, and it wasn’t until that I no longer had the iPhone on me when I realized how much of my life revolved around this amazing device.
In anticipation of the iPhone 4 release I sold my iPhone 3GS early with hopes of beating a flooded market come July 30. Within hours the iPhone sold and I was put into purgatory with a BlackBerry Pearl as my mobile device.
The Pearl and iPhone are two different devices. I acknowledge that there are years of technology between them and it would be fair to compare the iPhone to a BlackBerry touch screen device but the Pearl is what I was given and here are my thoughts on the experience.
Going from a simple touch screen keyboard to a compact button keyboard was my biggest downfall. I couldn’t use the intuitive typing on the Pearl to save my life or spell anything. Eventually I had to enable multi-tap in the keyboard settings so I could have control over what it was going to type.
After a week of texting on the Pearl I started to get used to which letters required a single or double tap and I was making fewer mistakes, but it was still a nuisance. I’m sure if I had to use the Pearl full time I would have given the intelligent typing a try but for my short time with the phone I couldn’t be bothered with it. The tactile keyboard was nice but I prefer the benefits of a touch screen.
I found it difficult to rely on a trackball for navigation, I just wanted to touch the screen and let my fingers do the exploring. Display and speed were noticeable downgrades but they are forgivable based on the years that separate the phones, but it was something I had come to expect with my phone.
There were countless times I wanted to know what song was playing, check the weather, see what was happening on Twitter or see if I had any new emails and would instinctively reach for my iPhone…only to be disappointed it wasn’t there. I occasionally used the Browser on the Pearl but I found it slow and awkward to type in addresses so I restricted my movement online.
I will give the Pearl credit for the shape. It was small and sturdy in my hands but didn’t feel fragile. If the phone was dropped and had to be put back together the cover, battery and SIM card were all that needed to be reattached (not from personal experience but have seen it a few times) without any significant damage to the device.
Another nice feature of the Pearl (or any BlackBerry) is the control you have over ringers. You can customize the vibrate and tone settings depending on what active state the phone is in and having it vibrate before a text or phone call comes in was a very nice feature. I liked the LED indicator on top of the phone which would blink if I had a message.
With an iPhone 4 in hand I am not sad to see the Pearl go back to where it came, but I’m glad I had a chance to experience a different phone so I can see how other people use their mobile device.
Which brings me to how did I get the iPhone 4 on launch day?
I arrived at a Rogers store at 6:10AM and was sixth in line. At 8:00AM the first three people were let in and by 9:00AM they left with their phones in hand and the next three were allowed in the store. At this time the hold time to reach someone to activate the phone (since their computer systems were crippled under the stress) had increased from a 40 minute wait time to over 2 hours. Shortly after 11:00AM the calls were being picked up and the phone purchase could continue.
The atmosphere in line was excited and a little tense. There were maybe only a dozen phones in stock, but that number was not disclosed to the 20+ that waited to get in until later in the morning, after they had been waiting for hours, which was a huge disappointment to a lot of people. Rogers iPhone stock in Edmonton quickly ran dry and anyone looking for the phone in the afternoon was out of luck.
Around 7:00AM Bryce Kelley from Sonic 102.9 came and interviewed a few people in line. He asked a group of us how long we had been in line for, what we thought about the reception problem (if it was a problem to us) and how our employers felt about missing work to buy a phone. I didn’t hear the interview but Sarah heard a bit of it and immediately recognized my voice so one of my responses was used on air.
Every year an iPhone is released I tell myself I won’t go through it again, and as I pulled out of the Rogers parking lot (five hours after I arrived) I swore off launch day purchases again. Yet, there is something fun having a just released phone and knowing you have the maximum amount of time with it and can start enjoying it now. Although, this comes with the anxiety of minimal information prior to launch, wondering which location to buy it from and curious about what the stock was going to be like.
However, I won’t have to worry about those problems or being without an iPhone…until next year when the new model is released and I go through this turmoil all over again.