Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

iPhone 3Gs - The Worst Phone I've Ever Owned

31 May 2011

Soon I will be celebrating the anniversary of one of the worst technology mistakes I’ve ever made. First, some back story.

My first son was born in July of 2008. At the time, I was using a an LG V. For a gadget guy, I actually haven’t own that many cell phones. I’d had the V for several years,and it was a nice, sturdy phone for me. Both my wife and I work, so unfortunately, we had to put my son into Daycare instead of keeping him at home.

Here’s where the problem came in. I didn’t like the fact that any time I was away from my desk (like when I was in one of my many meetings), I couldn’t be reached if I was needed by my Daycare. The building I worked in allowed for virtually no Verizon signal inside the building. Even just a couple feet from the window, and signal dropped to zero. The same was true for every other cellular network I looked into, with one exception. AT&T. We didn’t want to switch to AT&T, so we toughed things out for almost a year before it was just too much. So, after talking to my wife, we decided to switch from Verizon to AT&T so that I’d be reachable inside of the building.

So, since we were switching networks anyway, we decided to splurge, and get smartphones. Really, at the time on AT&T’s network, the only choices were iPhone or Blackberry. I really didn’t want a Blackberry, so even though I’ve never been a big fan of Apple, I sucked it up and we each got an iPhone. The 3Gs had just been released, so we picked up the most current model.

For a couple months, everything was fine. Then it happened. My wife got a job offer out of state, and we decided to take it. Our new city (as it happens, Phoenix, AZ) didn’t have the greatest AT&T reception. There were many “dead spots” in areas where we frequented. Even in our home we sometimes barely get any 3G bars. I realize that this isn’t the fault of the phone, but the network, but it’s here for context.

One morning, we were heading out to work, my wife grabs her phone, and it won’t turn on. Plugged in, unplugged, we get nothing. We take the time and go to the Apple Store, and talk to one of the “Geniuses” there. He plays around with the phone for about 30 minutes, and gets nowhere with it. Apple graciously replaces the phone for us since we hadn’t even bought it a year ago. Unfortunately, with the new phone, none of her apps transferred to the new phone. Any pictures were unrecoverable (couldn’t even crack open the phone and change out the battery), so we lost a good number of pictures and videos of our now almost 2 year old son. We were not pleased with this.

Not long after that, I started noticing my phone behaving oddly. The phone would turn off claiming the battery was dead when the meter still was reporting over 10% charge. When I say that the phone “turned off”, I mean that the screen just blacks out. No warning. Apps were crashing left and right, and the phone was virtually unusable. Again, we took it to the “Genius” bar. The “Geniuses” played around with the phone for a little while, and then reported to me that the reason the phone was doing that was that there was a bug in the OS software that was telling me there was charge when there wasn’t. He suggested that I completely reinstall the OS.

Under the mistaken impression that these “Geniuses” might actually know what the heck they’re talking about, I followed my orders. I reinstalled the OS from scratch, completely rebuilding my phone. No change to the behavior of the phone. Still crashes apps, still dies before the battery meter makes it even close to zero.

We take it back to the Apple Store. The “Geniuses” tell me that the bug that caused the problem in the first place is still present in the current version of the OS, and that the next version of the OS will resolve the problem for me. All I need to do is wait for the next release.

Still, for some reason, thinking that they might have some semblance of a clue, I wait. Next version comes, and it doesn’t solve the problem. I rebuild the OS from scratch again, and it still doesn’t help.

At this point, I’ve given up on the “Geniuses”. They know what Apple tells them. I can’t use the word “Genius” without heaping derision on it when referring to Apple’s employees.

The phone is getting worse. The phone dies with 30% or 40% of the battery still supposedly charged. Apps barely run on the stupid thing any more, and many of the ones that I actually liked fail to load at all.

With about six months left in my AT&T contract, the phone has begun shutting down with 90% charge still apparently available. I bite the bullet and buy a Case-Mate battery extender. This thing is really the only thing that keeps phone working. It fools the phone into thinking that it’s plugged in. The Case-Mate battery only gives me about 3 hours charge, but right now, the battery in the phone is giving me less than 15 minutes. I have to keep the phone plugged in virtually all day, and when I can’t keep it plugged in, I turn on the Case-Mate so at least the phone thinks it’s plugged in.

Now, with under a month to go until this AT&T contract expires, I will be running (not walking) to the nearest Verizon store to replace this nightmare of a device as quickly as I can. I will replace this spotty network, and I will replace this disaster of a phone. I can honestly say that the iPhone was the worse tech purchase I’ve ever made, and the only thing it excelled at was making me miss my LG.

To the people that tell me constantly that the iPhone is “Magical” or “Revolutionary”, I tell you that you can take this phone. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

The countdown has begun.

There is an ending to my pain, and if I have my way, I will never own another Apple product again.

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