With last Friday’s iPhone 4S launch, the stars were finally aligned to allow Carolyn and me to make the move off AT&T’s accursed network onto Sprint’s. It involved paying an early termination fee and buying new phones, but after the zillionth dropped call (even with our additional Microcell), we’d had enough.
A few thoughts on making the move:
– First off, reception is _way_ better–5 bars vs. 1-2 on AT&T.
– Carolyn can probably explain the reason for it, but the switch in network types also means the call defects are different. AT&T’s GSM network would just not make calls (call failed when dialing), or drop them suddenly with no reason. Afterward, it was typically hard to get a solid connection. The two times I’ve had problems with Sprint’s CDMA network, the calls got “static-y” for several seconds, then dropped. A call-back would result in a crystal-clear connection. Is this a cell tower/band switching thing?
– Data speed seems the same or better with Sprint. I’ve noticed, however, that most of my data traffic these days is moving over Wi-Fi (Thanks for the free Wi-Fi, Starbucks!), so 3G data may not be as important as it once was.
– I went with Sprint over Verizon mostly due to the total plan cost for a family being much higher on their network vs. Sprint’s. I hear overall good things about their network, though.
– For the first time, I recouped a ton of cash with no trouble whatsoever by selling back my now-obsolete phones. Sprint has a buyback program which instantly credits you about $250 for an iPhone 4 and $180 for the old 3Gs Carolyn had been using. Redemption was as easy as bringing in the (wiped) old phones into the store. Nice! (I also got $100 instantly on eBay for the now-obsolete Microcell I’d bought in a vain attempt to have my phone calls improved at home by routing them over my stupidly fast internet connection here. The Microcell managed to deliver 5 bars, but just as many stuttery/dropped calls as before. I never figured out why, despite two advanced troubleshooting calls with AT&T).
– If you’re thinking of moving over to Sprint, make sure to take advantage of discounts available to credit union, AAA, or military folks. I hear there are often corporate discounts as well. The discounts tend to be about 10% of the monthly bill.
Got it in a day early (thanks, Apple!) and just had a bit of time to play with it. Here are the highlights:
As nice as you’ve heard, although (as usual), absolutely a magnet for fingerprints. If you liked the current line of iMacs and MacBook Pros, this fits the same line style perfectly.
Smooth as can be. No fooling around was required at all–just plugged it into iTunes and it transferred over my old phone’s activation and software without a problem. Do be sure to back up your old iPhone first, if you’ve got one. Carolyn (who’s meant to be the recipient of my old iPhone as part of the Great Bickford Technology Pass-along) hasn’t activated hers yet as you need to upgrade to iTunes 9.2 first to get going and she hadn’t done that as quickly as her tech-obsessed husband has.
Nice, but not earthshaking. Fonts do look better, but it’s still the same physical size, so don’t expect to be reading full-format web pages full of teeny, high-res type unless you have better vision than I do. It’s more of a qualitative difference than a game-changer.
Having Pandora running (at last!) while using other apps is a huge plus. Most other apps seem to use the multi-tasking model for quick app switching, but it causes some real problems as there’s not an obvious way to close an application (although I did discover that a double-press of the home button followed by a long press of an app icon in the new launcher that appears lets you do this). All last night, however, I was getting what sounded like text messages going off telling me that such-and-such an application was “going to sleep” to save my battery, even though I’d already switched to another application and assumed I’d closed it. I didn’t figure this particular trick out until well after a nigh-sleepless night.
Here’s where most of my hopes lie in terms of improvement. The first iPhone 3G camera was a nightmare. The 3GS camera was barely usable for the most casual of pictures. My hope is that this one–being the camera I’m virtually guaranteed to actually have with me at all times–will be the one which manages to be about as good as an old basic point-and-shoot. Certainly the responsiveness is far improved–it actually takes shots immediately if there’s enough light–and the simple LED flash does a reasonable job of at least getting light on subjects. The resulting images range from “viewable but reasonably ghastly” to “looks decent”. If I can manage to keep most of my pictures in the second category, all those spur-of-the-moment casual shots of kids and events have a chance of making it into the scrapbook at last.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve already got a working 3GS iPhone and your wife’s phone hasn’t got a cracked screen, it would be hard to justify the extra $360 (with California tax!) that I had to shell out to get the newest and best. It’s an incremental upgrade to be sure. That said, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with an older iPhone, or for those wanting to know what the whole iPhone nuttiness is all about. The applications available for this platform (which also run on your iPad or iPod Touch) are nothing short of amazing in their variety and there are sure to be several you’d be lost without.