iPhones are really cool. I like them as a phone because I can take such a degree of technology with me that I can manage so much of my life at one time I rarely need a computer. In theory, they are great devices and are leaps and bounds ahead of other smart phones, but in practice, the frustration that comes from using them makes them outright awful. So here’s a narrative story on why you should never get an iPhone. Because if you already use an iPhone, it’s too late to turn back.
The software (called the iOS and what runs the iPhone’s features) is an absolute bugged out mess. From the smallest annoyances to the greatest frustrations, the iOS has it all. Examples are plentiful and I’ve actually started an album on Facebook to chronicle my unfortunate problems. This is actually the main detractor from the phone because it’s the software that you end up dealing with all day. And yes, before you tell me to update, I am using (at the time of writing this) the most updated version of iOS.
Showcased to the left is myself trying to send an e-mail of a YouTube video to a friend. Astoundingly, it decided to bring up the keyboard while sending an e-mail and playing the video at the same time. I’m not sure how this happens, but it’s happened on more than one occasion. You have to exit YouTube, then stop YouTube from running, and then relaunch, find your video, and try again. It’s just a random added hassle that is more hilarious than it is harmful, but still an example of a bug that seems completely random.
The problem is that a lot of the bugs are completely infuriating. For example, the iPhone has a lag when locking and unlocking the phone (that button on the top right). This is not too big of a deal unless you’re trying to use it during two events: first, trying to lock the phone after you end a call may freeze the phone, or the end call button might be pressed and you lock the phone, and then it tries to lock the phone after the call AND by you locking it, and the phone freezes; second, and the most unbelievable, is when you have a password on your phone. When you unlock the phone you are prompted to enter your password and while the screen displays the digits for you to press, it is not fast enough to catch the first or second numbers you enter, making you re-enter your password immediately after. What a crazy place for lag to be, and one that drives me up the walls. Of course, why do you even have a password when people can still access your contact list, photos, and make calls?
It doesn’t make sense to me how a phone can be so buggy and be so widely used… and everyone just loves them. And so do I, I guess, since I put up with it every single day. Believe it or not, today I got up at the wrong time because the iPhone, using its sophisticated future technology, was not able to correct my alarms for daylight savings time. But that’s okay, because they issued a warning on the internet. Thanks for the update that I never got. Oh well, it wasn’t too big of a deal, but you’d just imagine they could fix such a simple issue. Computers have been dealing with it since their inception, after all.
The next issue is one that I can’t personally attest to happening on my phone, but rather on my mom’s phone. She kept complaining to me that the battery life was awful and that she could never make calls. Both of these are true: the battery life on the 3G is abysmal, but is thankfully better on the 4; AT&T provides some of the worst service ever (at least in Midland, Texas) and having calls fail while being in the middle of the city at home are commonplace (I actually bitched about it on Twitter some time ago and a representative responded saying sorry… sorry about what, that you’re selling a busted service? You don’t fix anything by saying sorry. Give me a refund of a dollar for every call that’s dropped and you’d more than pay for my phone service! But I digress).
Anyway, today I finally told her to give me her phone so I could show her how she was doing it wrong, which she usually is. I tried to make a call and the phone just sat at the calling screen for about 5 minutes with full signal. I decided to restart the phone, and when it came back up the battery had went from full (she just had it plugged in when she gave it to me) to about 10% or so. How is this possible? I’m guessing something in the software isn’t reporting the battery percentage life. As well, I could now make calls. What a joke.
This next one is a combination of the software and the actual hardware of the phone. I can’t believe that this phone was made with so many blatant design flaws. The first of which is that I bought my 3GS in June of ’09, my first iPhone purchase. After using it for a little under a month’s time, I was texting someone and typing and the screen just cracked. You might be wondering how many times I had dropped the phone. None. Even then, it was in a case to prevent things like this happening. Apparently, my unit was defective because the screen should not be so weak that typing on it makes it break. Fine, whatever.
Another thing that probably no one besides myself a few others will ever see is the text message limit. Apparently after 75,000 texts, you go over a limit and the phone tells you to delete some. Well, I’m the kind of person who likes to have full logs with whoever I talk to, so I never delete messages and I can pick back up and remember what I told some girl whose number I got in a bar at 3 AM a year ago when she messages me asking how I’m doing randomly. (This is a real situation. I am prepared.) But, after this limit, you’re screwed. Why such a limit? My phone has 4 gigs of space still free on it. There should be no limit. It’s not like the phone is pulling up this information every time I text; it’s only used when I want it.
I put up with this for a while and shortly thereafter I kept getting strange messages popping up that didn’t make any sense to me. I literally had no idea what they meant and tried to ignore them. However, after they came up, I realized that I could no longer make a call and speak — that feature had been disabled somehow in the software. The error message in question is shown at the right. Essentially, this random message that seemed unrelated to me was that I had connected some mystery accessory to my phone that it did not approve it. That’s fine, only that it wasn’t connected to anything at all. It was just popping up every 15 minutes and letting me know this. At this point, I became absolutely infuriated: my awesome future technology was a busted piece of shit already and I had only had it a few months. Really Apple?
So I called these guys up and of course I was transferred to some Indian guy who could barely speak English as far as I could tell and he told me that first, I had gripped the screen “too firmly” (I will never forget this) and that caused the phone to crack. Too firmly? What the hell, should I hold it lightly like it is a magnificent baby kitten? No, this is a phone and I don’t want to drop it and break it. The irony. I also mentioned that I couldn’t make calls and this was making the phone a giant paperweight. He said that I could should remove the accessory (the one that I didn’t have) and that cracking the screen had probably caused this. I asked if he had ever heard of either of these problems, and he said no.
I was told that I could replace my phone no problem. It would be 130 dollars to get the screen fixed and it would take 3 to 4 weeks for this to happen, and that I would also be out shipping. I asked if there was any way that Apple or AT&T could give me a loner phone to use while mine was being fixed, and I was told there was a way. All I had to do was give them 650 dollars (a holding fee plus shipping) to get this phone. So, basically, Apple told me that I was shit out of luck. I called AT&T and they told me to use an old phone or to call Apple. They didn’t care about me either. I called Apple back to see if there was anything they could do to work the situation out and I was told I needed to pay 30 dollars to talk to a representative. Uh, what? I cursed loudly and hung up the phone (not my phone, mind you).
So, I did what anyone would do: look online for a fix. First, I found a number of other users complaining about their screens cracking in dubious ways and a ton of people who had the problem where it said there was an accessory plugged in (and a ton of people who called Apple and had them say they never heard of such a story!). So, the problem was the moisture in my pocket had created a bond between two connectors in the docking port, causing it to think something was plugged in. The solution was just a rub down of alcohol and it was fixed, but I wish I could have been told that over the phone instead of reading it on some forum. And why is that such a common problem? What a great design feature. I still don’t get why there aren’t rubber plugs that cover those areas that are common on pretty much every other phone ever made. Whatever.
I guess there is hope for the future, because Apple does release updates to fix all the bugs. Or introduce new ones. When I upgraded to the iOS 4, it had the awesome feature of turning my phone into a paperweight. Yeah, it actually managed to make my phone break by updating it. The phone got stuck at a screen showing a plug and the iTunes icon, meaning, to me, to plug it into iTunes. Well, nothing happened. So I tried again, restarted my computer, reinstalled iTunes, and nothing worked. I called Apple but this time couldn’t even get through to anyone who knew what I was talking about… much less anyone who could keep track of my data. They kept getting my name wrong and thinking I was someone else. Cool guys.
So what did I have to do? Well, skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read a lot of nerdery.
Uninstall iTunes 10 after putting the iPhone in DFU mode
Delete all the old files in the iTunes directory
Install iTunes 9, but find out your library is now incompatible
…So rename your old library files
Then iTunes 9 will start and see the phone
Then recover it
Then copy the iPod directory from Program Files for iTunes 9
Then uninstall iTunes 9
Then install iTunes 10, and ignore the error messages when installing
Then rename your library files to the originals
Then cut and paste the iTunes 9 iPod directory over the iTunes 10 directory
Then start iTunes 10 and it will see the phone, the music, and the iPod service will work
Then restore your last back up and wait a few hours
Neat, so after you follow those steps your phone will work again. Glad that Apple told me how to do that. Oh wait, I had to spend my night on forums hating life. Either way, the phone has lasted me a good while and over time my time crack became another crack and another. I wasn’t going to put it in a case after it already had a crack — what’s the point? But just a few days ago, I dropped the phone from about 4 feet onto the dirt (the most extreme diamond covered dirt in the world, apparently) and my phone just lost it completely. That’s fine, whatever. I was out in the oil field and people kept trying to call me and I couldn’t slide to unlock it so they just assumed I had electrocuted myself and died somewhere. That or assumed I didn’t have service because I have AT&T, the nation’s fastest worst 3G network.
So what did I do? Well, I debated either switching to Verizon and paying the fee to break up from AT&T so I could get the Droid which everyone I know that has it seems to love it (and the customer service is excellent: my brother dropped his and it broke, so he sent it in and they fixed it for free, and gave him a free loner phone), or I could just get a new iPhone. Admittedly, there’s not much different between the 3GS and the 4, but after using the 4, I find that it’s actually a better device overall. That screen really takes away from the strain on my eyes. Why would I get a new iPhone when I just spent the better part of an hour bitching about them? Well, I realized that Apple owns my life. I have so much stuff saved on this phone that I can’t switch. I don’t care, just give me the new iPhone. I’m screwed for life. All of my music is through iTunes (at least in the last couple of years), so I’m locked to devices that can sync my tracks that are purchased content. (That also means I have to use iPods when I go for runs, sly bastards.) Finally, the iPhone backs up all of your content into some magical file that will restore most of what you have, making it easy to transition to a new iPhone. This isn’t a complaint really because it makes it simple and convenient for people to change their iPhones. However, it also means that I don’t want the hassle of learning a new phone, trying to migrate all my content manually, and then being upset with the lack of all the apps that I’ve accumulated over my iPhone ownership period.
I’m stuck. I will always buy the iPhone. I don’t care how much AT&T and Apple piss me off, don’t care about me, and in general, treat me like I’m a clueless fool who isn’t entitled to decent treatment. This is the worst abusive relationship I have ever been in; I wonder what iPhone user needs sex when they get screwed every day?