Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goodbye Symbian, Hello iOS

I finally joined the iOS bandwagon by purchasing a iPhone 3GS from Aritel yesterday. It was available at a discount, because of the launch of 4S (I guess Airtel needs to clear it’s inventory). 

iPhone 3GS in the box.
Contents of the box (everything but the swiss knife on the right).

Why iPhone/iOS?
This is my first non-Nokia phone in the last 11 years. This is my second non-Symbian phone (I breifly used a S40 phone) in the same time. To be frank, I never thought I would buy an iPhone. A Nokia Symbian phone has always offered the best value-for-money while still satisfying the techno-geek in me. But as Nokia CEO decided to kill Symbian, I thought it’s about time I looked at some other smartphone OS. I had to choose between Android or iOS, because the other OS’s out there are not for me! Windows Phone is something that I personally will never buy, the reason for which I have ranted on in an older post. Blackberry is in more trouble than Symbian, and I strongly believe it will not last. The smartphone market is what economist call a "networked market" where it’s either a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle.
My first choice was, of course, Android. However, after researching a bit, and asking a few questions to Android owners I realized that Android is just the new Symbian. Android’s evolution is quite similar to that of Symbian... a large technology firm is backing it and driving the roadmaps, many handset manufacturers have adopted it, ported it on a wide variety of hardware, ranging from ARM9 to ARM-Cortex-A9, and customized the UI. Android users also give a pretty underwhelming response when asked for feedback. The most general response from Android users is "It’s a pretty attractive phone, but it has a few nagging problems". I think Android will soon face all the problems that Symbian did, and within the next 5 years will start declining. But that’s all my prediction, which is based on no data to speak of, except an uncanny resemblance to the Symbian story. My logic, whether flawed or otherwise, convinced me to not buy an Android phone.
So I was left with iOS, and seeing the prices of iPhone 4, and 4S in India, I kind of gave up on the idea of buying a new phone. The iPhone 4 costs Rs. 38,000, while 4S is Rs. 44,500. For that much I could buy a nice laptop, thank you very much! However, while searching the airtel website for iPhones, I noticed that they are still selling the 3S, for a much more affordable price. At Rs. 20,900, it is cheaper than my existing N8. I guess this was the best way to jump on the iOS bandwagon. I researched the technical specs a bit, and found that although it runs at the same clock speed as the N8, it’s based on Cortex A8, which is faster than the ARM11 on my existing Nokia N8.

First Impressions
It’s been less than 24 hours with the iPhone, so I think it’s too early for a verdict. But I was impressed by a few things. One is the extremely good integration with PC-based iTunes... apps, music, videos and the store. I was much relieved that it has a bigger QWERTY virtual keyboard than the N8. It’s much easier for me to write messages and emails now. Apple has paid good attention to ease of use... in particular, see this screen where it asks for a Microsoft exchange mandated phone lock code.
Lock code setup when MS exchange active sync is configured.

It tells me how many digits is required for the code, unlike on Symbian where I would enter a 4 digit code, only to be told that the code does not meet the administrator’s criteria! It’s a small thing, but much appreciated.
However, the iPhone sucks in the camera department! Of course, it’s not a very fair comparison, as the N8 is a digital camera which can also make phone calls. I’ll be updating more on my experiences moving form Symbian to iOS as I learn more about this phone. And now, back to iTunes store to see what goodies I can download for free!

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