Friday, June 11, 2010

I Think I'll Settle for an iPhone 4 and a Cheaper Data Plan ...

... in fact, I am thinking about getting THREE iPhone 4's next week (don't tell my kids). I'm thinking in public here.

The new AT&T data plans
When I decided I wanted a phone that could do more than a feature phone (mostly I wanted to access Internet resources), the cheapskate in me (with two kids in college at the time) REALLY didn't want a $30/month data plan. I love the freedom the unlimited data plan provided - do whatever you want. Stream audio, video (the biggest two consumers). Upload, download (what?). Tether the connection to your PC via wi-fi or bluetooth. No wait, AT&T and Apple won't let you do that. But I didn't like the high cost.

So here you had an unlimited connection, but in reality, the vast majority of users never used even 200 MB per month (the new limit for the half price, $15 plan). Streamed audio works pretty good - I sometime listen to Internet radio or Wolfgang's Vault while driving - but it sounds like satellite radio - compressed and crappy. Streamed video is barely practical over 3G - even AT&T's faster variety. You generally aren't going to be moving very large files around with an iPhone, so in order to get your data use up you will have to move lots of them.

And tethering, well, the jailbreak app MyWi works exceptionally well, giving you wi-fi or bluetooth (or USB) tethering, but how much do most people need to use something like this? It's sort of a last resort, when you are in a cheap hotel with no wi-fi, for instance. The phone gets really hot with all the radios going full blast and you better have a power source.

I have never used 200 MB of  AT&T cell phone data in a month. I've come close but never gone over. I will take the rate reduction and lose my unlimited data plan forever (forever is a long time).

iPhone 4

Then along come AT&T and Apple allowing us to upgrade now instead of the previously posted October date for all the phones in my family plan (5). I always want to upgrade phones ASAP. The subsidies make them relatively cheap. You can resell phones on eBay. So an early upgrade is almost a no brainer.

Now lets see, though. I have to choose an Apple smartphone for this early upgrade - no Android, Blackberry, Windows, Palm, etc. Realistically, there isn't another phone that can do what this phone does any better or with more style. The UI is outstanding and the devices are extremely well made.

The other thing that has made me happy in the Apple camp are the many "others" (in Lost-speak) - a huge community of techies and hackers to keep Apple's "Dharma Initiative" (more Lost-speak) in check. iOS4 jailbreaks will be available.

I guess I can settle for a half price data plan and a new, much improved (over my 3G) iPhone. I'll be ordering phones next week!

Post Script: the manager I spoke with at the AT&T store (who was assuring me that, yes, once you lose your unlimited plan, it is gone, but you can switch any time between the remaining plans) told me the AT&T Uverse iPhone app will eventually have video streaming from your DVR. That would be nice - like a Slingbox without the box.