Archive for August, 2008

First impressions of Apple iPhone 3 G

August 23, 2008

Apple iPhone 3G was launched in India (and several other countries) on August 22, 2008 (USA launch was on July 11, 2008)

Service providers Airtel and Vodafone launched iPhone 3G in India. The original iPhone was mainly sold in USA; Germany, France, UK had a small market for iPhone; with 3G Apple is taking it globally.

USA, though as a country is known for “freedom” on many counts, does NOT enjoy “free” mobile phone handset; most phones are “locked” and sold by the mobile service providers. We in India are so used to “free” phones; walk into any shop, pick up the phone, put your SIM card and keep talking! Apple could “force” AT&T users to “sign up” for expensive “plans” for 2 years and indirectly “subsidize” the “upfront cost”; so Apple “mantra” was “$ 199 iPhone 3G”. Also, 3G services (at least HSDPA) are in place in parts of USA; offering much higher speed than GPRS. Apple coined a nice marketing buzz “double speed at half cost” (compared to original iPhone). Unfortunately, not familiar with US markets, many Indian users were expecting Rs 10,000 price ($199) and had a rude shock of iPhone 3G priced at Rs 31,000! (the box had MRP printed Rs 31,000!). I paid that amount; though I understand Vodafone stores sold for Rs 29,560! Also, India is “talking” about 3G licenses now! So “high speed” is at least several months away. So the “reality” in India is “same speed as Apple iPhone at 3 times the cost!” (for many users of “hacked iPhone”)

I picked up a phone at 1 PM on August 22, 2008 (more for experimentation) on the very first day of launch (August 22, 2008). Airtel stores had enough stock (nothing like record sales and long queues that USA saw on July 11, 2008). The sales guys had just “seen” the phone; had no clue about it! Since I had used a “hacked phone” for 4 months, all it needed was the Airtel SIM card and declaration that Airtel is service provider (that is all that the sales guy did; I could have done it myself)

iPhone 3G is marginally better; GPS works; search is available on “contacts”; you still cannot “forward” SMS; no “delivery report” either.

I went for a “legal” phone (and retire my “hacked iPhone”) so that I could use ALL features; I had to download iTunes (latest version) – about 100 MB; the phone software had to be downloaded (284 MB) – so it took all my afternoon. I could get the iPod at full functionality (“hacked phones had problems if synchronized with latest iTunes); voice quality is better. Airtel could have given some service (installing software); most users will have a tough time loading 384 MB!

I subscribed for $ 99 / year MobileMe; I had used .Mac ($ 99 / year) earlier; it offers Mail, Diskspace, Backup, web site – all neatly integrated though at a high price. MobileMe (unlike .Mac) synchoronizes with Web (MobileMe Web-mail), iPhone, Microsoft Outlook (on PC) and Mac. That is the best service I find. Change Calendar, Contacts, Mail in any of the four places; all the remaining 3 devices get synchronized effotlessly. That is nothing extra-ordinary technically; except no one offered it! Airtel offered “over the air” contacts synchronization at cost; many individual service providers offered these services free but mostly just one of them. That is what I liked in MobileMe and iPhone

Apple has embraced “enterprise”; it lists FIRST Microsoft Exchange and then MobileMe! Clear acknowledgement of the dominance of Microsoft Exchange. MobileMe allows use across iPhone, Mac, MobileMe AND PC! A clear move away from “condescending approach to Microsoft & PC world”

At Rs 31,000 one expected “some service” from Airtel; they were just “vending iPhone 3G” – the way vegetable vendors “vend” HP Printer cartridges in Jayanagar 4th block market!

In the last 30 hours I had spent 15 hours getting iPhone 3G ready, and used it for 6 hours; so far so good.