Am I Getting Closer To An iPhone?

iPhone 3.0 OS

I managed to remain reasonably disconnected over the weekend thanks to the multitude of other things happening in the real world but did get to catch up with the announcement of the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS. I can usually be found with three mobiles on my person at any one time, plus my iPod Touch, and an O2 broadband dongle not far behind either. My primary handset (N95) is due an upgrade in the next few weeks and I’m starting to wonder am I getting closer to picking up an iPhone.

The N95 is a workhorse of a phone, for me in particular. The 8 gig internal memory is chock full of photos and videos thanks to the 5MP camera within. Every few months I clear 2-3 thousand text messages. Every now and again I fire off a QIK video. But it’s the browsing that lets me down. I’m just not fond (outside of QIK) of using data applications on the N95 which, for the most part, surrounds the likes of Twibble (for twitter) and the mobile browser. Where possible (read: in a wifi area) I’ll switch to the iPod and pull my mail, tweets and everything else there.

The ideal situation is to pick up an iPhone and have it unlocked, jailbroken, call it what you like. It would need to juggle a few sim cards but out and about act as the holder for my O2 data sim, in the process saving me from hitting three different sims with three different data charges.

So with a new spotlight, the ability to copy and paste without a third-party app, 3G tethering for using the iPhone as a modem, a landscape keyboard, added Bluetooth A2DP support, MMS (welcome to the party, Apple), push notification for IM apps and a whole lot more.

Of course, I’m not surprised to see Apple charging $9.95 for iPod Touch users to get the OS (hell, they charged us for the MacBook Pro firmware upgrade for wireless N) but when the OS lands, I’m guessing I’ll be another step closer to picking up an iPhone.

Check out details of the iPhone 3.0 SDK here.

N95 8GB Dropped Calls

8GB Nokia N95When it comes to the weekend, there’s just no stopping my phone from ringing. As soon as office hours are done with, it becomes open season for friends and family to call me, something which was more of an occurrance this weekend than ever before I reckon.

On Friday though, I had several phone calls with each of them dropped. Breaks in signal or reception, dropped audio, or calls failing to connect.

While I can understand this happening in the office (working a large building with questionable wifi and mobile signals in spots), I couldn’t understand it happening at home or out around the garden.

It dawned on me before leaving to Canada in 2006 that I’d had a similar problem with the Sony Ericsson K800i – 3G connectivity being the cause of the problems.

In the N95’s case, it was the factory default setting of UMTS as opposed to GSM – likely with a combination of not having changed my sim card to the one issued with the N95 from O2 (on advice from O2 customer care, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it kind of thing).

To remedy this

  • Hit the menu key on the N95
  • Go to Tools > Settings > Phone > Network
  • Switch ‘Network Mode’ from UMTS to GSM

If you’re getting a UMTS / 3G sim you likely won’t have this issue / can switch it back. But if you’re like me and you’re happy to continue using the sim card you were issued YEARS ago, then this might remedy your call problems.

MAXroaming In Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand

MAXroamAs I got to enjoy the use of my MAXroam sim in Germany back in January, I’m “donating it to the cause” in a few weeks, sending my sim and a capable mobile to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand as my father will spend 2-3 weeks cycling between different areas in the three countries. I would hope next year that I will be following the sim on it’s eastern world travels.

Here’s a look at the roaming costs, compared to O2 (the family mobile operator – we’re all on O2 at the moment, including three businesses).

While calling numbers within the countries will likely be low on the agenda, keeping contact with the family at home is key so it’s nice to see that using the MAXroam sim will save at least 50% at peak times in calls to Ireland, but it will save up to 80% on incoming calls while in Vietnam (cheers Pat). Given there is no landline to phone in Sligo, any calls home will be made to Irish mobile phones.

MAXroam vs O2 (Vietnam)

 
MAXroam
O2
Incoming Call
€0.21
€1.36/1.36
Outgoing Call (to Irish mobile)
€0.48
€0.98/0.72
Outgoing Call (to Irish landline)
€0.37
€0.98/0.72
Outgoing Call (to local landline)
€0.44
€0.33/0.23
Outgoing Call (to local mobile)
€0.44
€0.33/0.23
Text Message (SMS)
€0.22
€0.39
Voice Mail
€0.26
€0.98

MAXroam vs O2 (Cambodia)

 
MAXroam
O2
Incoming Call
€1.40
€1.36/1.36
Outgoing Call (to Irish mobile)
€1.64
€1.76/1.76
Outgoing Call (to Irish landline)
€1.53
€1.76/1.76
Outgoing Call (to local landline)
€1.70
€1.29/1.29
Outgoing Call (to local mobile)
€1.70
€1.29/1.29
Text Message (SMS)
€0.22
€0.39
Voice Mail
€1.31
€1.76

MAXroam vs O2 (Thailand)

 
MAXroam
O2
Incoming Call
€0.66
€1.97/1.97
Outgoing Call (to Irish mobile)
€0.90
€1.58/1.58
Outgoing Call (to Irish landline)
€0.79
€1.58/1.58
Outgoing Call (to local landline)
€0.80
€0.61/0.61
Outgoing Call (to local mobile)
€0.80
€0.61/0.61
Text Message (SMS)
€0.37
€0.39
Voice Mail
€0.66
€1.58

Given a lot of the trip will be spent in Vietnam, there should be a good saving on phone calls, if you compare the costs above. Savings are marginal on the Cambodia leg of the trip – though there are still savings while all is good in Thailand.

Note: O2 suggest using Viettel as their ‘preferred partner network’ in Vietnam, Cam GSM for Cambodia and AIS (as opposed to DTAC) for Thailand. Prices also correct for both parties as of March 18th 2007.

iPhone Ships March 14th Wearing A 1GB Cap

iPhone Available On O2

As mentioned earlier, the Apple iPhone has been announced by O2 and will be available to the public from March 14th 2008. The rumoured prices of €399 (8gb model) and €499 (16gb model) are also true.

Three tariffs have also been announced by O2

  • €45 p/m inc 175 anytime minutes, 100 texts, 1gb data
  • €65 p/m inc 350 anytime minutes, 150 texts, 1gb data
  • €100 p/m inc 700 anytime minutes, 250 texts, 1gb data

Notice a trend here? The tariffs seem reasonable if you’re a heavy voice user but I know for a fact I wouldn’t be using the iPhone to make 350 minutes of calls, never mind 700 minutes. As it stands, I pay O2 €35 bucks a month for my 150 anytime minutes and 100 texts. That would make the 1gb data an extra tenner on my contract – of which I would have to sign a new, minimum 18-month term contract on an iPhone only tariff (non-transferable).

So, for €65, should I not be entitled to 3gb of data, presuming the extra 1gb costs ten euro extra a month? And what about a €100 option? Still capped out at 1gb?

Considering that O2 offer mobile broadband at €30 a month for a 10gb cap, could this not be factored into the iPhone price plan? That way at €65 I’d get 10gb worth of data, plus my 150 anytime minutes and 100 free texts. I’m not a heavy voice-user, I could live with that.

Considering the number of podcasts, photos, videos etc. I consume in any given month I’d find the 1gb cap rather restrictive – each extra megabyte costing you 2c. Small change, but it would mean I could pay anywhere up to a euro per podcast when out and about, more for videos, maps etc. General surfing, not so much a problem, but I’m a multimedia head by nature…

Apart from the 1gb cap, it is nice to see the phone finally hit the Irish market. The O2 site comes decorated with the usual Apple warnings against modifying your new iPhone or attempting to unlock it to any network.

If you do want to secure an iPhone for the 14th of March you’re going to need to visit your nearest O2 retail storing, bringing proof of ID and two crisp 50 euro notes as a deposit. If you’ve already upgraded your phone, or recently upgraded your phone, you won’t be charged an upgrade penalty to buy the iPhone (which also means that there are no discounts available to long-term contract users on the O2 network). Plus, if you’re a new customer you can start out on the iPhone or upgrade again at no penalty, once you commit to the 18 month contract.

The 18 month contract would put the cost of the phone at €810 (contract) plus the minimum €399 spend meaning you’ll have splashed out over €1200 come Autumn 2010, before you count any additional voice, SMS, voicemail, roaming or data charges.

It’d be a hell of a lot cheaper to pick up an iPhone elsewhere and jailbreak that sucker.

I’ll be the one in the corner waiting by the N95 8GB bus stop.

iPhone Announced For O2 Ireland Later This Morning

Apple iPhoneSo O2 have confirmed that they are the exclusive Irish carriers of the Apple iPhone. This was pretty much a given considering O2 are the exclusive carriers in the UK.

Scouting around the blogosphere this morning, Engadget are reporting that the iPhone will

  • retail at €399 inc. VAT for the 8gb model
  • retail at €499 inc. VAT for the 16gb model
  • will go public on Patrick’s weekend (launching March 14th)

The suggested price range is quite reasonable, all things considered. It also places the phone in the immediate price bracket of the Nokia N95, the first gen of which O2 are still shipping – though recent conversations I’ve had with O2 reps and other Irish bloggers suggest the N95 8GB model’s arrival is imminent.

I’m still set on swinging for the N95 8GB model but we’ll see what comes out of this morning’s announcements.

Update 1: Announcement to be made at 11:15am in O2’s Dublin HQ (via Damien Mulley)

Update 2: Pocket Lint are reporting that “Three new iPhone tariffs will be available from O2, starting at €45, all of which will include anytime minutes, texts and a 1GB data bundle.”

iPhone Fever Set To Grip The UK?

It looks like the UK are going to get an iPhone announcement. At least that what you might believe upon the readings. The invitations extended for the press event on the 18th (next Tuesday) bear resemblance to those issued for the recent US event which saw the price drop of the iPhone, launch of iPod Touch, revamp of iPod Classic and a whole lot more.

Telefonica look set to be the iPhone carriers for the Spanish market with O2 (part of Telefonica) carrying the iPhone in the UK. Vodafone are giving the N95 8GB model a big Christmas push in the UK (along with with the Samsung SGH-F700V and Sony Ericsson W910i) and look to be gearing up for a nice battle with O2 – what oh what could they be battling against?

What I want to know is, what’s the story with Ireland? If, as anticipated, the UK gets an iPhone release date on Tuesday next, can we expect that this date and subsequently the mobile carrier, will be reflected in Ireland?

Either way you look at it, iPhone announcement or not, I reckon we’re set for some interesting Apple talk this coming Tuesday.

An Irish iPhone Review

I failed to pick up an MMS yesterday from John who later informed me via GoogleTalk that he’s been testing the Apple iPhone down in Waterford. Damn you! Looks like he’s also been reading my tweets on it – or at least someone has.

The impact?

You’ve all seen the touchscreen demos. It’s even better when you’re doing it yourself. The keyboard is so simple a child could use it and after a few moments you’ll be thinking ‘buttons? what buttons? who needs buttons’

I didn’t have long enough with the phone to go into a detailed review. I can honestly say though, having used the iPhone for a few minutes, I want one. I can already see how would be lost without it.

I’m looking forward to seeing it hit the Irish market either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year and with O2 now the likely operator it will make the upgrade and purchase decision all the easier.

Pay As You Go iPhone – Kiss The Contract Goodbye

If you can pick yourself up an iPhone somewhere in the US, it looks like you might get away on the two year contract deal with AT&T – the iPhone is available on pre-pay.

Apple iPhoneA read around the web this morning and one of my favourite Mac blogs (TUAW) reveals news that hackers have made the iPhone available on a pre-paid option allowing you to run your iPhone on an AT&T pre-paid card for as little as US$10.

What it means to iPhone users in the US is that you can use any Cingular / AT&T sim card in your iPhone, whether contract-based or pre-paid. If you’re on the low budget Cingular plans you can avail of cheaper text messaging ($0.05 send and receive compared to $0.15 on iPhone plan).

Could it be the first step to unlocking the iPhone completely? Quite possibly! Give it a read here – iPhone + Disposable Cellphone + Prepaid Cards + New Activation Tool = Holy Cow