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iPhone & i : happily ever after

  • Posted On: 11th June 2013
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iPhone & i : happily ever after

In 2007, the year it finally hit the market, the Apple iPhone was given the title of “Invention of the Year” by Time magazine. Other publications and leading telecom forums called it the “Gadget of the Year”. There was so much anticipation and hype about its release; people were flocking to the AT&T stores in the US so that they could get their hands on it before it got sold out. Imagine that! Who ever heard of a phone getting sold out within a couple of days? In 2008, when Apple released the iPhone 3G, it was sold out again. Such was the enthusiasm with which it was greeted.

Personally, I was not, in the least, intrigued by the thought of owning an iPhone. As far as I was concerned, iPhones were for pseudo-techies-cum-wannabes who wanted to flash it as a status symbol of sorts. I had never been able to fully comprehend the touch-screen aspect of it, and besides, my trusty Nokia offered me with so many options I found missing in the iPhone during my limited exposure to the latter.

It never entered my mind for even a second that I would find myself with the iPhone 3G a couple of months after its US release. It made its way into my life in the most innocuous and unsuspecting manner; catching me off guard and completely changing my opinion about it. What started off as a general discussion with my brother over which phone to get ended up in me acquiescing to something that was akin to being in a very complicated relationship! Call me a drama queen, but I honestly think iPhones should come with a warning label: “Highly addictive, and might take over your life.” Coming back to the story of the ‘iPhone & i’, my brother made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He had asked our cousin coming down from Canada to bring some iPhones with him and being the generous elder brother he has always been, he offered to let me have one, to the extent of paying for half of it as long as I paid the other half and agreed to honour it and treat it right. I asked him if I could sleep over it; I needed time to digest the fact that I was going to hop on to that – as far as I was concerned – loathsome bandwagon of iPhone users.

What’s the point, I thought, while weighing the pros and cons. Pakistan’s telecom authority has yet to roll out licenses for 3G networks, so I wouldn’t be able utilise the phone to its maximum potential anyway. Also, the iPhone has a 2 megapixel camera and that was so last-year. Besides, being a hardcore Nokia fan, I had already made up my mind which one to get next and had my heart set on it. At the end of the day, however, I decided it wasn’t such a bad deal and, finding the unknown to always be more exciting, I decided to close my eyes, pinch my nose and take the plunge. Worst come to worst, I could always sell it off for a profit at that initial period of its release.

The first few weeks with the iPhone were so much fun – call it the honeymoon period. As I slowly got to know more about it, I found myself falling in love with it. It showed me all that it was capable of (and more) and I just couldn’t get enough! I used to send sentimental text messages to my brother about what I had most recently discovered about it and how happy it was making me. All thoughts of the Nokias of the world had completely disappeared from my mind. But then, as most love stories go, adversity strikes and one is left wondering whether, in the end, it’s worth it or not.

Before I go on with this further, let me admit that it was completely my fault. Being well aware of Apple’s annoying let’s-not-share-stuff, self-righteous and stringent anti-piracy policies, I should have known better than to update the iPhone’s software. But, that’s exactly what I did, having the best intentions at heart (as I wanted it to feel cared for and show attentiveness towards its needs)! That happened to be the worst decision I could have taken. The Apple iPhone 3G software update 2.2 wreaked havoc the world over as Apple implemented some baseband changes in the firmware. Put simply, all previously jailbroken phones (remember what I said about Apple and anti-piracy) which were updated to the 2.2 software became locked and the solution was yet to be found. “Maybe after Christmas or around New Years’,” was the answer I got from the shopkeepers around Islamabad. “I can’t wait for that long,” I replied beseechingly, short of going ballistic and breaking things. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the exact point in time when I realised that without the iPhone, it was Game Over for me as I went through various bouts of depression and mood-swings. Even my fingers refused to type out more than one-line texts on the physical keypad of an old make-shift Nokia, as they longed for the smoothness of the touch-screen keyboard of the iPhone!

Over the next week or so till Christmas, I continuously agonised over my own wannabe-techie tendencies. Why, I asked myself repeatedly, did I need to update the software?! I missed playing Solitaire just before going to sleep and right after waking up. I had to resist the itch to check my Facebook and Gmail every hour. I felt unprepared for my day without knowing the weather forecast. Drives and showers became really boring without my music playing on the iPod. To settle factual arguments between friends, I missed having Google at my disposal. All my (recently evolved) dreams of becoming a drummer also seemed to be going down the drain, with the Drumkit application now missing from my life! Also, in awkward moments with friends when we had almost run out of things to talk about, I missed whipping out my iPhone and playing a game of Checkers or Air Hockey! And, during loadshedding timings at the office where the Wi-Fi works because it’s on UPS, I missed watching videos on YouTube to pass the hour. for the 2.2 upgrade, I entered that phase where I was close to deciding that I had had enough. I felt betrayed as it still ended up giving me problems every time I passed through an area where signals would fall and the phone would consequently show ‘No Service’, rendering meincommunicado and a feeling of helplessness. iPhone=iHate is what I was thinking. This was the time I realised that even if they invent a phone that prints money, if it doesn’t make or receive a call when you want it to, it’s not worth having.

Finally, by the time 2009 came around, after having spent a couple thousand rupees getting the phone unlocked and another couple thousand investing in a new turboSIM[1]

The phone-wallah who, because of my recent regular visits to his shop, had become my confidante and saviour told me some good news on my next visit, “Factory unlock ho jaye ga, kar doon?” Sure, by all means, I told him. I had also somehow managed to retrieve all of my 400-odd contacts earlier from a backup on my PC… Apple does come through at times. Waiting anxiously for us (the iPhone & i) to be able to go back to the way things were, I put away all thoughts of Blackberrys and Nokia E61s that had the potential to threaten what now looked like a bright future together. However, eternal bliss was not meant to be and, with my connectivity issues resolved, another problem cropped up. Because of some random software I installed through the jailbreak program, I managed to mess up my phone dialer. Every time I placed a call to someone through my contacts list, I was unable to hang up the phone! This, admittedly, proved to be funny rather than anything else. By this time, though, I had almost given in to the prospect of hopping on to the overcrowded Blackberry bandwagon and was waiting for the new Curve 8900 to hit the market.

After numerous discussions with all and sundry on which (smart)phone to get next, I had finally decided to call it off. It was over. Another shopkeeper told me, “This is a ‘dream’ phone, why do you want to sell it? Keep it. Here, lady, take this back. Go home and give it some more thought. If you feel the same way tomorrow, come back here and I will gladly buy it off you.” By this time, I had reached the point where my heart could not take it anymore. Yes, the iPhone & I had spent some truly brilliant times together and I would always cherish them, but at the end of the day, practicality has to set in.

Just when I had made the decision to buy the new Blackberry, somehow all the problems I’d been facing just magically disappeared. I had to work on a couple of them (long live Internet forums) and the others just got fixed by themselves, it seemed. After some delay, it seemed that we were not meant to be separated. It has been three months now and all seems to be well. People ask me why I decided to stick it through after having gone through so much. The answer is simple: the iPhone is more than just a phone; it is a work of genius. Although all the other leading phone manufacturers are coming up with their own version of touch-screen phones, it is evident that no one is going to come close to what the iPhone has to offer, at least not for another couple of years. It is indeed a ‘dream’ phone and certainly brings joy in your life! You can choose from thousands of add-on applications that contribute towards making this phone so addictive, and just the fact that it is so easy to use with its simple design, makes it hard to let go off once you’ve allowed yourself to be charmed by it.

For my part, I have learnt not to fiddle around with it much. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, especially if you haven’t researched on the new updates and how they will impact the phone. Millions of people around the world are smitten by this little device with its big screen and just cannot get their hands off it! Admittedly, I am a little ashamed of the drama I have allowed this ‘phone’ to cause, however, I think it has definitely been worth it, and trust me, I’m not the only one who has experienced the love-hate relationship with this multipurpose gadget. Google ‘iPhone love hate’ and you’ll come up with some very interesting results; who would have thought that a phone would have a cult following. You can jailbreak the iPhone but you definitely won’t be able to jailbreak yourself from it!

[1] Additional programmed chip that fits on to the SIM, through which a phone is unlocked.

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