Friday, August 13, 2010

My Experiences with iPhone Problems and Updates

I have an iPhone 3G.  That's right, it's not the latest in technology, but I love it nonetheless.  And I have another year on my contract.

Recently Apple released the iOS 4, the update to support the iPhone 4 functionality, as well as to deploy newer functionality to the older phones.  I happily spent the several hours updating my phone from iOS 3 to 4 a few weeks ago, but was dismayed to discover a few problems.  I wanted to share my experiences with you, in case you are a fellow Apple customer struggling with issues like these, or in case you are considering getting an iPhone.

First, let me say I have become a huge Apple fan over the past year.  Second, I should also caution you that I think the iPhone is the cat's meow when it comes to smart phones.  I have seen and used many others.  While I like and can understand the desire for features like standard USB interfaces, ability to add SD cards, and other such open technologies (Flash, etc.), I think there are several things that have to be of primary consideration and put all the others into perspective.

First, is the device usability.  Does it perform the functions for which you got it, does it do it well, and does it do it in a way that is easy to understand and learn?  Better yet, is it so intuitive that you don't have to learn?  The iPhone shines in all these regards - there is very little that I have to learn from a user perspective.  It just works, and it works well.

Now, with the iOS 4 update.  When I upgraded my phone from 3 to 4, that must have been a major upgrade because it did a complete backup, complete phone wipe, and complete reinstall / restore.  It took a long time.  When all was said and done, there were several new features I found quite attractive - especially the ability to drag icons and drop them on top of each other to create folders.  I went from 4 pages of apps down to 1, and it made apps accessible by at most 2 taps, no drags.  Literally and figuratively, no drag, man!

However, the first problem I noticed was the phone experienced may performance drags (OK, so some drag).  Standard operations like unlocking the phone from standby or launching apps got really slow.  Many apps started crashing, even the built in ones.  It was frustrating.

I called AppleCare.  Now when it comes to customer service, call centers, follow-up and such, Apple is probably an organization that could teach classes on how to do it right.  (Do they?)  Of course they answered my questions, and practically before I hung up they had sent out an e-mail follow-up (a personalized one, not just a computer-generated one) that asked for my opinion.  First-rate!

The next week, iOS 4.0.1 came out, and this addressed much of my stability issues.  However, there were some lingering performance problems - like when I try to unlock the phone, the unlock slider would hang the first time I try, and then work the next time I awaken the phone out of standby.  Intermittent slowdowns when launching apps or doing things, etc.

Well, I bided my time, and I only had to wait another 2 weeks until 4.0.2 came out.  Voila!  The phone is back to perfect, in fact it is better than before - bigger faster stronger (well at least the faster part).

Now, I don't know about you, but I expect there may be issues with any product.  Having made a few things myself over the years (things I built, software I wrote, etc.) I know unintended problems crop up.  All I ask of any company is that they stand behind their products with genuine friendly customer service - and strive to help us solve the problem without trying to sell us more than what we need.  Apple way exceeds that expectation.  As far as I'm concerned, I don't care what other smart phones come out on the market, I'm sticking with iPhone and probably with AT&T - because Apple and AT&T have helped me many times thoroughout the years, especially when Cellular One, Nextel, and Sprint have screwed me over.

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