One thing I can say about Sprint is that they remain only major carrier with truly unlimited data plans. That alone is probably the main reason why I haven't jumped ship back to AT&T or Verizon at this point.
However, as I pointed out in a previous blog post, since switching to Sprint over the summer I've had to replace my phone SIX times due to either hardware or software issues. That's a sampling of two major brands and three different models, all Android-based devices.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I received my second Epic 4G. It exhibited the same strange clicks and pops during phone calls as the original Epic 4G. When I called the Sprint store, the best they could offer was a third replacement. I decided I'd had enough. I went to my local Best Buy and bought an iPhone 4, for a full retail price of around $600. Yes, it hurt.
Everything Old is New Again
The last iPhone I owned was a 3GS, so the iPhone 4 (even though it's not a 4S) is still a new shiny gadget to me. And boy is it shiny! Front and back are covered in slippery glass and the sides are smooth metal. Before I had a case for it, I constantly found it sliding off my endtable in the living room. Thank goodness I have carpet.
The iPhone 4 is svelte compared to my android phones, with a tiny screen and compact design. Despite its size, Apple's Retina Display is ridiculously sharp. I didn't miss the extra inches at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't need to hook the phone up to iTunes to download the latest iOS update.
Once I was running 5.0.1, I went to work getting my contacts to sync. This is something most Android phones do through a wizard when you first start them up. I have all my contacts in GMail, so I used the "Exchange Sync" process detailed here to get everything working. Soon I had a functioning phone, and it was time to play.
The processor on the iPhone 4 is the same as the original iPad (Apple A4), so in theory at least it can play any game you could play on the larger device. In practice I've found...well it actually does. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Infinity Blade worked flawlessly on the iPhone 4 and looked every bit as pretty as it did on my iPad, despite the smaller screen.
I found as I redownloaded all my essential apps that the iOS versions often times were superior to their Android counterparts. Little bugs that drove me crazy in apps like Lose It! were fixed, and new enhancements were introduced. Here's a short list of the apps that I used on both Android and iOS and found to be much better on the latter.
- Lose It!
- Pandora Radio
- Twitter (official client)
- TeleNav GPS (free version)
Two Weeks Later
I purposefully held off posting this rant until I'd had some time to get past the "ooh, shiny!" stage with the iPhone 4. Now several weeks later I can say that I'm very happy with the phone hardware and software. They work well together, and the device feels comfortable to use.
There are some caveats, of course. Sprint's 3G network is noticeably spotty and slow on the iPhone 4. For whatever reason, I've seen the dreaded "o" of death on my status bar more often than not when I'm in my office. For those of you unaware, that means my shiny new iPhone is surfing data at 1xRTT speeds. I could mail a letter to you faster than it takes me to download anything at that speed.
None of my previous 6 phones had this kind of 3G reception problems in my office. Not only that, but even when I have a full five-bar 3G signal I'm still only able to pull down a little over 1Mbps downloads and 0.5Mbps uploads. Speedy it is not.
Sprint promises that 3G speed enhancements are coming to my area, and I damn sure hope they deliver. I know I'm not the only person having speed problems on the iPhone, and if they want to keep anyone past their contract termination date they need to upgrade, and fast.
To be fair, AT&T has had several years to build out its network in response to the iPhone, so I don't expect Sprint to be able to compete overnight. I do however hope they can give me reliable, faster 3G within the next year. That's about how long I can justify staying with them after paying full price for the iPhone.