Talk me down from the 3G ledge.
September 15, 2008 8:27 AM   Subscribe

iPhoneInCanadaFilter: Help me decide whether or not I should get an iPhone. I'm interested in any and all experiences, good or bad, but especially those with a Canadian tilt.

I'm a gadget geek, but up until now I've managed to keep my iPhone lust in check. My brother just got one however, and this was the first time I'm really managed to spend some quality time with it. It's so purdy... It may have put me over the edge.

Here's why I think I should buy now
1) Rogers has (apparently) extended their $30/6Gb plan until the end of September. I thought I'd missed the boat on that, but apparently not. After that time, the prices apparently go up, drastically. They're stupid now, but they get worse. Rogers really is evil, but they have the monopoly here.
2) I've been a Rogers customer for oh, a decade or so -- I have no problems signing a 3 year PHONE contract with them. I've been without a contract (ie month-to-month) for a while, so no problems there.
3) The data contract scares me. My bro said that the cancellation fee is "only" $100, tho. Compared to the prices to get out of phone plans, that's actually a bargain.
4) I won't need to buy a new GPS if I have an iPhone. (My current GPS is old, slow, and almost useless...). I don't have huge GPS needs, but right now anything is better than what I've got.
5) I can ditch my clunky Creative Vision:M mp3 player; I don't really need more than 16Gigs anyway.

Reason's against the iPhone:
1) Lets face it, it's just another toy I really don't need. But if I can afford it, why not?
2) iTunes. Enough said.
3) A 3 year data contract, @ $30/ month.
4) There's always something better coming along in 3 months time.

I'd love to hear your experiences with the 3G iPhone. Love it? Hate it? Love it but want to throw it at your nearest Rogers employee?

Mefites, can you talk me down off the 3G ledge? Or should I jump?

(And yes, I know I should ask at the howard forums... but there's so much, well, stuff there. They intimidate me. On the other hand, I lurve you guys...)
posted by cgg to Technology (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have a UK iPhone. You should be aware that the GPS capabilities are limited - basically it can show you where you are, and use you current position to base driving directions on, but that's it. It notably *doesn't* provide you with turn-by-turn directions as you drive like a TomTom or Garmin device would.

That said, I still think it's the best mobile phone on the market, by a long way. And a hell of a lot nicer as an MP3 player than your Creative rubbish.
posted by Mwongozi at 8:45 AM on September 15, 2008

Make sure you hold one and see how it will work with carrying it around. It's huge in my book. Way to large.
posted by juiceCake at 8:53 AM on September 15, 2008

The largest benefit for me with the iPhone (2G) is having an actually usable mobile web browser (I'm looking disdainfully at you, old Treo 650 in the drawer), email at all times (IMAP with Gmail), and my media close at hand (particularly TV/movies).

I got the 3G for my wife, and while the GPS is nice, it doesn't show turn-by-turn directions - although they claim it should be possible with a later software upgrade.

I can't help you with the data plan; on AT&T in the US, I pay $20 a month for unlimited data and 200 SMS, and $30 a month for my wife's with unlimited data but no SMS. For me, the data plan is worth $1 a day to have my email with me.

iTunes isn't that bad, but I don't really do a lot of managing my music once it is in the program.

The iPhone is far and away the best gadget I've owned. I use it constantly for all its features.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:58 AM on September 15, 2008

And for your last point about there being something better coming down the line in 3 months, I don't think that's accurate for the iPhone. In my opinion, one of the best features of Apple's products are their popularity - which means everyone and their brother develops for them, makes accessories for them, etc. For example, even though my little Archos video player a few years ago was a good device, there were hardly any accessories, and updates were few and far between. The App Store on the iPhone provides a central repository for new programs, many of which are cheap or free.

With the iPhone jumping to the 3G model just this summer, I don't think you'll see an update for a while. I also don't see any phones out or on the horizon that can compete with the iPhone features.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:03 AM on September 15, 2008

I've just gotten one. I'm not used to Rogers' cverage holes, I could get coverage with Aliant when I was out at my grandparents cottage in the middle of nowhere, but here ther eare a few places on campus where I get no signal from Rogers. That said, the firmware update seems to help that out a bit.

As for the data plan, I haven't had a hankering for watching YouTube videos when out of WiFi range so I probably won't use even a fraction of the data plan capacity.

There's a marble game, labyrinth, that has distracted me for many a short stint in a lineup or waiting for a movie to start. Much better for short-session gaming than a Nintendo DS or PSP.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:06 AM on September 15, 2008

I would also suggest going into the shops and trying to type some quick 'sms' style msgs on the on-screen keyboard. I find it infuriating and that alone would prob stop me from pickign one up (well, no, the 3 year commitment to rogers is also a non-starter for me), but other people say after a week or so its not so bad.
posted by modernnomad at 9:07 AM on September 15, 2008

wrt cancelling the data service: were you planning on getting it and cancelling data (but keeping iPhone)? an iPhone w/out data means you won't get GPS, really. (the maps come from Google Maps. they're not stored on the phone.) I don't have Rogers, but I've had an iPhone since the EDGE came out and I have no desire to look at other things anymore, really (though I will be keeping an eye on Android). for me, it's less a phone than a laptop I can put in my pocket.
posted by mrg at 9:09 AM on September 15, 2008

Do you travel outside Canada alot? I know that US Iphone users pay some pretty expensive data fees when using the phone in Canada (or elsewhere).

But I think my phone is snazzy. You don't need it, certainly, but having email-on-the-go in such a nice little package is very useful. And all the other features too, although as said above the GPS doesn't readjust when you miss where you're going; I've found it more useful for walking directions than driving ones.
posted by nat at 9:10 AM on September 15, 2008

I have an iPhone with Rogers. I live in the GTA so coverage is pretty good, I have 3G where I live but the town I work in is currently EDGE only.

3G speeds have been good for web browsing and applications, video streaming, etc. When I'm on EDGE though, the speeds are a pain. It's doable but it feels like being on dial-up, heheh.

When I'm at home I'm running on WiFi. As such my data usage has been a lot more minimal than I thought it would be! I'm on the $30/6GB plan and have yet to break 500mb in a month, and I've tried. If you don't have a WiFi network at home I could see someone getting a lot closer to 6GB.

With the 2.1 patch, my iPhone has gotten a lot more stable and snappier. I'm very happy with the patch.

All told, as a gadget nut, I'm in love with the device and have had fairly good service from Rogers (which in itself is surprising).
posted by smitt at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2008

I've got the 3g iPhone on Fido with the $30/month data plan. I've never even come close to using the 6gb, but I wouldn't want to be without it again. The plan itself is worth it to me, especially since I can stick my SIM card in any phone and get all the benefits. I'm not a huge fan of the 3 year contract, but whatever, I'm not planning on changing providers anyway.

The phone is the best one that I've ever used, and I've owned close to a dozen Windows Mobile and Symbian phones. Sure, there are some annoyances (and frankly, I'm starting to hate Apple as a company, even though I like their products)

There will always be something better coming out. If you want a different phone, you could always buy an unlocked phone on eBay and use it instead of your iPhone.

The gps on the iPhone can't be compared to a dedicated unit, like TomTom or Garmin. They are not even close. BUT: TomTom has said they're planning on releasing their software for iPhone, so at that point this issue should be resolved.

Other issues: The bluetooth on the iPhone is useless for everything (except simple headset pairing). No streaming music, external keyboard, laptop tether, or wireless sync. There's also no MMS, syncing of notes/memos, no built in ToDo list, no video recording, etc.

Also, you don't have to sign up for the special iPhone plans, you can keep your current plan, and just add the data option. Don't let them upsell you.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:05 AM on September 15, 2008

In late July, I was in a position similar to yours: I had a regular ol' phone on a month-to-month Rogers plan going back to 2001. I'm not a get-the-latest-gadget kind of guy: it was only my second phone over the life of that plan. Also, like any reasonable human being, I have no love for Uncle Ted. But I took the leap, and I have absolutely no regrets:
  • The cost is a lot better than I thought it would be. I got the $30/gb data plan, with the $15 Visual Voicemail add-on pack. But the add-on pack replaced my existing $11 voicemail/SMS add-on, so I'm only paying an extra $34/month for what really is essentially unlimited data.
  • I've been an SMS addict for nine years and I love the iPhone's interface for it. The keyboard is fine.
  • Visual Voicemail is really the way voice mail's supposed to be. I've almost forgotten what it was like to have to dial in to get my messages, and then listen to them linearly.
  • The phone quailty is great compared to my old Sony Ericsson. In fact, my first bill was huge because I went way over on my calling plan because the phone was super-enjoyable to use. I'm actually looking forward to using this phone for the next 34 months.
  • I'm not an audiophile who plugs in every time I leave the house, so I didn't bring my old iPod mini with me everywhere I went. But I do bring my phone everywhere, and it's pretty awesome having your iPod built into it. This aspect is easily taken for granted, but it's well worth considering.
  • Mobile browsing and email are terrific. I'm a freelancer, and it's become invaluable to me to be able to be hooked into my email (and websites) wherever I need to be.
  • I don't think there's going to be anything earth-shattering coming along that's going to make me regret this contract: the iPhone is pretty much the gold standard of Where Phones Are GoingTM, and nothing is going to one-up it anytime soon.
So all-in-all, that extra $34/month is well worth it for me. Maybe it's just because I was expecting to get shafted, but I do think I got a pretty good deal. If enough of what I listed seems worthwhile for you, then you should definitely jump.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:06 AM on September 15, 2008

Sometimes the keyboard lags (for no apparent reason). I find this incredibly annoying, but a reset usually fixes it. Sometimes it disappears on it's own. I actually like texting on the iPhone.

The biggest issue I've encountered is the phone dropping calls (both incoming and outgoing). I called Rogers and they told me to turn off 3G and use EDGE. EDGE is next to useless once you experience 3G. A reset fixed it for me, but I've heard turning Airport Mode on and off does it as well.

Overall, I like the phone. Great camera, music & mobile web browser.
posted by comiddle at 10:24 AM on September 15, 2008

I too have a $30/6 GB plan with Fido and I'm really happy with my iPhone. My fiancée and I went to Victoria the weekend after I got it and the maps application alone was worth it. I'm always connected to 3G when I'm not on wifi and the speeds are pretty darn good.

Having a fully functional (well, almost - Flash is still a no go) web browser and email plus a fully functional iPod is quite fantastic. I listen to a lot of podcasts and now I don't miss phone calls because I'm listening to my iPod. So far, I'm totally happy with the purchase.

The 3 year contract is very annoying and was almost a deal breaker for me. But given the spectrum auction just ended, there isn't going to be anyone seriously competing with Rogers for at least a couple more years. Hopefully I can jump ship in 3 years, but between now and then, I can't really imagine there being anywhere to go.
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:26 AM on September 15, 2008

Just got one last week (in Toronto). Glad I did. I'm nerdy though, so my excuses are twofold. First, I want to write software for it. Second, my wife strongly encouraged me to buy it ;)
posted by lowlife at 11:02 AM on September 15, 2008

Oh, "one more thing": if you use Exchange for email and have ActiveSync set up (ask your Exchange nerd), you can use the iPhone. I've ditched my blackberry, and good riddance.
posted by lowlife at 11:08 AM on September 15, 2008

Just a note to comiddle: A lot of the problems you described I had as well, and most of them have been solved with the 2.1 firmware patch.
posted by smitt at 11:42 AM on September 15, 2008

My bro said that the cancellation fee is "only" $100, tho.

Your brother is in for a shocker: "An Early Cancellation Fee (ECF) applies if, for any reason, your service is terminated prior to the end of the service agreement. The ECF is the greater of (ii) $100 or (iii) $20 per month remaining in the service agreement, to a maximum of $400 (plus applicable taxes), and applies on each line in the plan that is terminated." [link]
posted by squeak at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2008

I have an iPhone on Fido. I added the $30 / 6 gb plan to my current phone. (Rogers/Fido will replace this plan with $30 / 1 gb at the end of the month. You gotta love Rogers.) My bill comes out to $87 a month now. That sucks. On the flip side, the phone is awesome. It's true next year there will probably be an even more awesome iPhone, but this phone won't be any less awesome.
posted by chunking express at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2008

Squeak: The $100 cancellation fee applies to the 6gb data plan. It's $5/month up to a max of $100 if you cancel it without cancelling your phone plan. The phone plan cancellation can run up to $400.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:30 PM on September 15, 2008

Around the iphone's launch the 3G network on Rogers was kinda flakey in Vancouver but it is generally pretty good now. I also don't use anywhere near to 6GB/month but I find having functional web browser wherever I am really useful for comparison shopping or looking up an address, etc. The $100 Data cancellation fee is only if you entirely cancel data so if you want to switch to a cheaper data plan in the future you won't get charged so I don't think it's really a big deal.

All the different apps that are available are really fun too; streaming music, crosswords, restaurant finders, VNC...
posted by metaname at 3:59 PM on September 15, 2008

Ever since the 3G/2.0 software release I've really come to like the iPhone. To break the hype down, nearly any smartphone on the market will do what the iPhone does out of the box. The real hype, and what no one spends enough time talking about, is that it does all of these things that other phones do incredibly well. The user experience is without peer. Seriously, sometimes when I'm sitting at home I'll use it to browse the web instead of my laptop because it's fun to fling the page around and pinch to zoom. That's how good the experience is.

The App Store is what really sold me though. Apple has introduced a platform nearly overnight that has attracted the interest of some very talented developers. The result is an extension of functionality that I never anticipated when buying the phone. Because of the App Store, my iPhone is now also an e-reader, a real gaming device (at the level of say, the Nintendo DS), a mobile music studio, a guitar tuner, a budget tracker. On and on and on.

It's a great phone and I think you won't regret it. "Need" is an ugly word. If you have the money and you want it, go for it!
posted by saraswati at 4:16 PM on September 15, 2008

Also, a comment on Rogers:

I have no problems when I stay near my home base (Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario). The problems start when I leave there and travel to places that aren't the GTA. The 3G coverage needs some work in Ontario for sure. Maybe its different in BC. Check the coverage map (click the Availability tab) if you haven't already and see if there's any place that you spend any significant amount of time in that is not covered by 3G.

Other than that no problems. I haven't had to deal with their customer service since I bought it and I only ever had sporadic problems with call drops that seem to have gone away in 2.1.
posted by saraswati at 4:22 PM on September 15, 2008

Ahhh ... thanks for the clarification blue beetle.
posted by squeak at 7:21 PM on September 15, 2008

I have one and by and large I love it but I have a couple of gripes with it that I want to share to help inform you. They may or may not be deal breakers.

1. No MMS. I can't tell you how pissed off I was that for all my research, no one told me before hand that this thing does NOT do MMS messaging.

2. The SMS section of the phone is cool, but the keys on the screen keyboard can be a little small, meaning a lot of wrong letters entered. With time this gets less of an issue, but "you'll get used to it" isn't a selling point. I'm actually surprised Apple hasn't fixed this issue by using the accelerometer to allow you to type in landscape mode (which should provide bigger keys) or even giving you an onscreen numeric keypad to type with (so, like a standard phone, the 1 key allows you to access the letters A B and C and so on).

3. Battery life sucks. The latest firmware has made it better but it still sucks.

Despite all this I'd still say get it. It is an awesome phone and nothing I've mentioned above can't be fixed in a future firmware update.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:55 AM on September 16, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all... i'm gonna cave and get one. Next up -- calling up Rogers retentions and seeing what they'll give me on a better plan.... (this is the part I hate!)
posted by cgg at 6:56 AM on September 16, 2008

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