Jul 30 2010

Isn’t iPhone envy supposed to subside once you have an iPhone?

Regular readers of the blog know I'm a long-time Mac Fan, but I've only been an iPhone owner for a year. There were a variety of reasons for why I waited until the 3GS model to get on the Jesus Phone Train, but once I boarded it I promptly forgot what it was like to use anything else.

But joining the Cult of iPhone last summer also meant being locked to a specific service provider, something I was not particularly excited about. I had been using another network's "pay-as-you-go" sim card on an unlocked phone for years, which not only gave me complete control over how much money I spent, but also allowed me to switch to a local sim card during trips abroad. I HATED giving up that flexibility, especially since the shortest contract available was two years…kind of ridiculous given that Apple has launched a new iPhone annually since 2007. 

And this year was no exception:

So I've been following iPhone 4 worldwide launch news with a certain amount of frustration knowing I'm still a year away from being able to get one. Even more depressing, I haven't exactly been thrilled with my carrier's network. For one thing, it's 3G only, which I've since learned is an incredible power suck. The other problem is that their coverage is kind of spotty. I can understand not having a network signal when I'm out in the boonies somewhere, but I've found numerous dead spots in the central parts of Malmö, the 3rd largest city in the country.

And Apple did not help matters by including a non-optional "Network Lost" notification in iOS4. Ever since I upgraded to the new operating system in June, I get a pop-up message every time my network is unavailable…which is especially aggravating since it interrupts whatever else you might be doing at the time whether that task involves a network connection or not. I already know my network coverage sucks, I do not need the phone to point it out to me multiple times a day.

So where was I? Oh yes…so despite all the bad press from antenna-gate, the iPhone 4 launch in Sweden today was a HUGE success (the phone was sold out across the country by 11 a.m.). Because I hadn't receive any information from my carrier on upgrade options for existing customers and could find nothing on their website either, I assumed there wasn't anything on offer. At one point this afternoon I even bitched about it in my twitter feed, where several of the people I follow had just gotten their hands on one. And then one of my tweeps (a real-life friend who also lives in Malmö) suggested that I call our mutual service provider and ask them what they could do for me.

Errrrmmm…okay. This carrier had e-mailed me multiple times over the last month trumpeting the fact that they would be selling the iPhone 4, but NOT ONE of those messages mentioned anything about upgrade options for existing customers…of which they know I am one, it's why they have my e-mail address in the first place! Nor could I find anything about it on their own website when I was specifically looking for it.

Also keep in mind that this company only began carrying the iPhone for the first time last summer, so they presumably have a huge database of 3GS owner-customers that could be interested in upgrading to the 4 if given the opportunity. But for some reason beyond comprehension to me and anyone else with even the most rudimentary understanding of marketing, these options are evidently being kept A BIG SECRET.

So I called around 5 p.m., and was connected with a real-live person who was happy to speak in English with me after only a few minutes on hold…pretty impressive under the circumstances. And even though I have occasional issues with their network coverage, I really have to say that these folks are always a pleasure to deal with on the phone…something that's rather rare among Swedish telecoms. And it turns out that YES, as an existing customer I do have the option to buy an iPhone 4 outright at a price that's discounted 1000 SEK (about 140 USD) and use it with my existing contract, as long as I'm willing to extend it for 6 months.

Suddenly I have a dilemma, because as much as I want a new iPhone 4 (specifically, a white one), I had pretty much already decided I was jumping to another network as soon as my contract ended. How could I possibly consider extending it even for just six months? And then the customer service rep said the magic words:"You also have the option to get it unlocked."

NOW THIS is something I can work with…because being able to use my iPhone when traveling outside of Sweden (which happens several times a year including a two-weeks+ stay in the US over Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending on what year it is) is well-worth extending my commitment to my carrier's sketchy 3G-only network for a measly six more months. (And while I didn't mention it earlier, the fact is that their data plans are very reasonably priced.)

Now I just have to figure out how to live with Dr. Darling's derision of the latest episode in my (expensive) gadget addiction. This is not going to be pretty.

Feed my ego!

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