non-USA iphone impressions


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On August 22nd, the iphone made it to this corner of the world officially (that would be Greece). Vodafone Hellas is the official telecom carrier for Greece offering a variety of programs especially for the iphone. Following the news about its relase in other countries, vodafone had set up a notification scheme to let us know of the availability of the handset, pricing, and plans. My problem: I was not a vodafone customer at the time but did want to keep the number from the previous phone carrier. Although, we did not experience the waiting lines and the hour-long queues for getting and activating the iphone, there was quite a feeling of excitement about the new device. I did my homework and checked the available plans, so the only question was the transfer of the old phone number.

“Portability, sir”, the very helpful customer rep told me. You can ask to have the number transfered to the vodafone system. Which I did (actually, vodafone did it on my behalf). So, after 20 minutes or so, I had a brand new 16GB black iphone with a new (inactive) SIM card. I was told that the SIM would be activated on or about sep 11 (9/11). I was also told that it would not be wise to initiate and activate the iphone with another phone carrier SIM card, although others told me it was quite safe to do so. As you can imagine, I opted for … the non safe route. The itunes activation was done in no time, after which I had a fully (sort of) functioning iphone working through another carrier (and of course without the 3G capability, since I had no such plan with the previous carrier).

iphone 16G with box

iphone 16G with box

Because several posts had mentioned that the iphone battery life is horrible (especially in 3G or wifi mode), I followed the instructions by Guy Kawasaki and fine tuned the iphone settings hoping to improve its battery life. Basically, I deactivated location services, 3G, wifi (although I turn on wifi only when I needed it).

First impressions even without the “official carrier”:
1. Elegant mobile. Thin even if little “square”, specifically if you do not use the white earphones.
2. If you don’t like the tangled white earphones, the iphone will work fine with any bluetooth earphone (I paired it with a Samsung WEP200 set and worked just fine).
3. It does not offer a way to send a text message in Greek, that’s a major letdown, although i can read just fine incoming text messages. Unfortunately, the 2.1 update did not fix this and we still cannot type in Greek.
4. The same limitation applies to the internal phone list. “Contacts” imported my older addressbook but will not let me add Greek names. All of my contacts were imported in the right alphabetical order but were classified under the # symbol (in bulk).
5. Very soft and functional touch screen. A BEAUTY.
6. Excellent wifi locator. I may say that it is even better than my macbook’s airport.
7. I like the fact that I can connect to the app store directly through wifi and don’t have to go through a mac or pc and itunes.
8. The app store and its wide range of applications. Several diamonds for free.
9. It is a fabulous ipod.
10. Safari (no need to explain) 🙂

The vodafone switch
On the day that vodafone told me that the transfer would occur, I deactivated my iphone, ejected the old SIM card, inserted the new SIM card, switched it on and voila!!! Vodafone GR with 3G.

I was very happily surprised with google maps. Although I have to input Greek addresses using the english keyboard, I get absolutely accurate instructions (I compared them with my mio pda and destinator gps).

Next big hurdle, the 2.1 firmware update. Would there be a problem since this device changed carriers? Not a chance! The update worked like a charm and I also downloaded a couple of gtd, note-taking apps not to mention othello, dactyl, tap tap etc. 🙂

Yes, the iphone has limitations and it’s a disappointment that there is no Greek input, no video call, or mms. But, I don’t really care for either video calls or mms. It does what I want it to do and that’s good for me!!!

I.


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