Techno-luddite wants an iPhone, maybe?
February 16, 2010 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Another iPhone vs. iPod Touch question. Which one would be best for my needs? Details follow...

I'm thinking of dropping some refund money on an iThingie...but I'm not really interested in a new phone. I have a decent cell phone and a am happy with my Verizon service, and most importantly I have another year on my contract. I notice some of my friends with AT&T have been having voicemail delay issues. I had problems with AT&T years ago and I'm not excited about making them my primary phone service.

So why get an iPhone/touch? The applications would be a great benefit to my work..I'm a grad student who currently has three different workplaces..and five major projects, not to mention community work, home projects etc. I use a MacBook as my primary computer. I can't access the internet on my laptop at all of my locations, and am not fond of lugging my computer around everywhere. I would love to be able to sync up my calendar and productivity and task management programs. Currently I go between multiple paper calendars and my online one.

Having access to a small device to keep track of my lab work while I'm doing it would be very helpful. Field guides, unlimited email access and GPS? I'm drooling. Not to mention a "find the nearest happy hour" app--A must for any grad student.

The issues: I have limited income and don't want to be dropping megacash on redundant services. I'm kind of a reluctant technology-user..(seriously, my home--minus my laptop --is stuck in the 1950s) I don't really see these kinds of things as toys, more like I use them when necessary. So I don't need the fanciest version, just something that meets my needs and won't be obsolete in two years.

So WWMD? (what would mefites do?) Thanks folks!
posted by Maude_the_destroyer to Technology (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Only the iPhone has GPS, not the Touch.

If you don't mind carrying two devices (your existing phone and an iPod), just get the Touch, ideally a last-generation one from eBay or Apple's Refurb store for cheap.

Use it for a year. Any apps you fall in love and buy/download will seamlessly move over to the iPhone you'll end up buying next year, which will happen once you're in love with the thing and your existing contract runs out.

Bonus: you can later sell that iPod for $30 less than you pay for it, likely.
posted by rokusan at 11:41 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Well, I love my ipod touch. It satisfies my constant need to check my email without allowing me waste hours on the internet (seriously, it's hard to enjoy reading all those small words for hours). The syncing calendar/to-do list thing is like a miracle though. I don't think I've ever been able to sustain being this organized for this long.

The iPod Touch doesn't have GPS and it uses wireless, so if you don't have internet access everywhere then that's a problem. On the other hand, I don't need to pay lots of money for a phone plan that I don't need, since I like Verizon a lot more anyway.

My previous question about an iPod Touch, if that's helpful to you.
posted by pecknpah at 11:46 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should add that at some of my workplaces there is NO wifi.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 11:57 AM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: Well, let's break down your needs:

I'm not really interested in a new phone. [...] I have limited income and don't want to be dropping megacash on redundant services.
iPod Touch will not duplicate your phone, an iPhone would.

I can't access the internet on my laptop at all of my locations, and am not fond of lugging my computer around everywhere.
iPod Touches only have internet where there is free wifi, iPhones have it everywhere

I would love to be able to sync up my calendar and productivity and task management programs.
You could do this on either an iPod Touch or an iPhone with the right apps, but if you need to be able to access an online calendar on the go, you won't always have an internet connection with an iPod Touch.

Having access to a small device to keep track of my lab work while I'm doing it would be very helpful.
Taking notes is something simple you could do on either one.

Field guides, unlimited email access and GPS? [...] Not to mention a "find the nearest happy hour" app
There is a Kindle reader app, so you could download field guides on either. Unlimited email access and using it as a GPS depends on the presence of wifi for the iPod Touch - you could look at archived email or preplanned directions, but couldn't check or change either on the fly unless there was wifi, if you got an iPod Touch. Same goes for finding happy hours - without an internet connection, no luck.

So, it seems that most of your needs are things that require constant access, which indicates an iPhone. However, an iPhone would be more expensive, require a monthly plan, use a phone service you don't like, and duplicate your existing cell phone. Which is more important - constant internet/more expensive/duplication of services or dependence on wifi/less expensive/no duplication?

I have an iPod touch that I can't imagine living without - I make notes, I play games, I listen to music - none of these things require internet. But, I also love being able to check Facebook, the news, the weather, look stuff up on Wikipedia when I'm out and about near wifi. For me, if I'd had to buy it myself (mine was a gift) I think I still would have gotten an iPod Touch. I, too, like my Verizon cell and have heard bad things about AT&T service. I absolutely plan to change it, though, if there's ever a Verizon iPhone, or a way to equip an iPod Touch with a 3G network.

Couple more notes that don't touch on things you mentioned, but might be important - an iPhone comes with a camera and a microphone built in. An iPod Touch has no camera and you need to buy an external mike if you want one.
posted by booksherpa at 12:03 PM on February 16, 2010

you need to buy an external mike if you want one.

Really? I have found that the mic on the free headphones that come with it works well enough for the voice memos feature, for dictation apps, for skype, and for shazam. I haven't had a problem with it.
posted by pecknpah at 12:14 PM on February 16, 2010

This question has been asked so many times here.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

It gets rather tiring to type the same answers over and over again and nothing about your question is that different from the previous ones.

Bottom line: If you're broke, then an iphone is not for you.
posted by special-k at 12:17 PM on February 16, 2010

Huh! I never really took a good look at the headphones beyond "Oh, these are the earbuds that come with every iPod." I had no idea there was a mike attached. Now I'm off to download Shazam, which I've been wanting and not getting because of the perceived lack of a mike. Thanks!
posted by booksherpa at 12:19 PM on February 16, 2010

Response by poster: No need to answer my question Special-K, if it is so very exhausting for you. I searched through previous questions, including the five you linked to, and didn't find any that had to do with my specific question or concerns regarding why I would be getting one device or other for work purposes..i.e. I don't need a phone an I'm not getting it for entertainment purposes or music storage. I wanted more info. Thanks for your input though!
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 12:37 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do you have to have an iphone. Sounds like an android phone will be a better fit. With an android phone you wouldnt even have to leave the verizon network.
posted by majortom1981 at 12:44 PM on February 16, 2010

You could get a Palm Pre Plus, which is now available on Verizon. It does most of the things you want and has an always on connection, along with GPS and wifi. I've found the calendar and contact synchronizing to be excellent. You won't have access to the same number of apps as an iPhone, but it's a great phone/data device nonetheless.
posted by hilaritas at 1:19 PM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mod note: A couple comments removed. Not the place for an argument, not good form to use askme as a platform for complaining about answering questions. Just not answering questions is an okay approach.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2010

How important are the fun apps/music/cool interface relative to usefulness as a task manager and note taking device? I've had several palm devices as well as a first generation ipod touch. I love playing with the ipod, but the palms were much better for trying to do work. It is slow and painful to type on the virtual keyboard on the ipod. Between a cheap collapsible keyboard and docs-to-go, I could do a good amount of work on word documents using the Palm. Since I've started carrying the ipod instead of the Palm, I've pretty much gone back to pencil and paper for organization.
posted by SandiBeech at 3:05 PM on February 16, 2010

I don't know if it fits in your budget, but you can always combine an iPod Touch and a MiFi. One of my coworkers just did that, and she's very pleased.
posted by alms at 5:24 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound like you will even be using it for this, but I've had an iPod Touch and the sound quality was so bad (yep, only used it for music) that I traded it with someone for a 1st generation nano.
But, then again, an iPhone would require a contract, if I'm not mistaken.

(I'm like you—I'm not into technology either. I can't believe I found someone like me.)
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 5:50 PM on February 16, 2010

3G wireless is pretty expensive at over $30/month, in addition to your regular phone plan. If your iPhone plan costs $80/month, that's nearly $2000 over two years.
posted by kenliu at 5:53 PM on February 16, 2010

Honestly it sounds like neither option is for you, assuming this is limited strictly to iPhone and iPod touch.

You say you can't use your laptop to meet your needs because of lack of internet access. If lack of wifi is already holding you back, then an iPod touch will not help you (beyond the lugging around of a heavy laptop). Its only means of net access is wifi. It also has no built-in GPS.

That said, you also make a compelling argument as to why the iPhone is not for you: AT&T's network is terrible at the moment thanks mostly to tons of iPhone users and you're looking at probably $60/month service plan (with a contract) that duplicates everything your existing Verizon contract covers.

You should probably consider whether an Android or something else you can use on Verizon's network is more up your alley, IMO.
posted by asciident at 10:46 PM on February 16, 2010

My answer is the same as it's been in the other similar threads. For me the phone service isn't the key. Constant access from anywhere is. Some people don't need that. I couldn't imagine being without it.

As far as AT&T, yes it has problems. But not everywhere. Ignore the blanket statement made earlier and ask iPhone users in your area.

It is slow and painful to type on the virtual keyboard on the ipod.

Nonsense. In fact someone just came out with a test comparing all input methods and only typing on a fullsized keyboard was faster. I've seen users type 60 words a minute on an iPhone virtual keyboard. Some people hate it, but for many, if given time the iPhone key board is remarkably efficient.

Yep, written on an iPhone in the middle of nowhere.
posted by justgary at 11:54 PM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: Gonna plug the android phone like majortom.

You can have one on any major carrier, and the app library is extensive, while more limited than the apple one. But yeah - voice memos, shazam, most everything can be done on an android device (and certain things, better. LOVE Astrid.)

I don't know if verizon lets you have a smartphone without data plan, but if they do, you could remove it during tougher months if need be and survive on wifi, while always having the option of enabling data and having internet/email/document everywhere.

No kindle app, but I have a great eReader and you can transfer files over in some standard ebook format.

Yup, apple often does what they do pretty well, but they aren't the only option. I could easily have gotten a g1 or an iPhone, and I picked the g1. I'm very happy with my choice.

I have a keyboard, but my uncle has a nexus one and just speaks everything he wants to write. He doesn't type at all. The voice recognition is pretty impressive.
posted by R a c h e l at 12:14 AM on February 17, 2010

Nthing the Palm Pre. My SO has an iPhone and I find my Pre's GPS and basic apps superior to or better than his iphone. The Pre has better battery life too.
posted by k8t at 4:29 AM on February 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the recommendations all! After looking into alternatives, I ended up getting an Android Eris, and it's exactly what I wanted/needed. I'm so out of the loop I hadn't even HEARD of Android phones. (Yeah, I think I need to get out more.) Thanks again!
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 6:29 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

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