Keeping the Faith with iPhone 4

Today is June 23rd, the last day to return my iPhone 4 within the 30 day window to Apple for a full refund. After much internal debate, hours on the phone with AppleCare, research, and my own (totally unscientific) testing I’ve decided to keep the iPhone 4. I’m not happy about the way that things turned out, but ultimately keeping the iPhone 4 turned out to be the “lesser evil” for me under the circumstances. Had I known 31 days ago what I know now, I would have done things very differently. The decision of whether or not to return the iPhone 4 is something I went back and fourth on for weeks.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, the bumper helped my reception problems, but the reception is still noticeably worse than it was on my old 3G. But with the bumper, using the iPhone as a phone is livable. Had the bumper not helped, I would have had no choice but to take back the phone. Reception aside, the iPhone 4 is a great device. I am really enjoying the upgraded features such as the camera, screen and the speed improvements over the iPhone 3G.

Another big issue for me was the AT&T contract. I have had nothing but trouble with AT&T since signing on with the iPhone more than three years ago. Believe me, I would love nothing more than to kick AT&T to the curb. Keeping the iPhone 4 means committing to AT&T for another 2 years or paying them a $300+ early termination fee. While I was maybe willing to swallow a $175 early termination fee should the iPhone become available on Verizon, $300+ makes that a significantly larger burden. If I returned the iPhone, I would have reverted back to my old AT&T contract terms, which would put me on a month-to-month contract.

Returning the Phone Also Would Have Cost Me:

When I upgraded to the iPhone 4, I gave my iPhone 3G to my dad. He needed the iPhone 3G to use with his microcell. (Microcell wouldn't work with his iPhone 2G.) In return, he gave me his iPhone 2G which I sold on Gazelle for about $75. (Not exactly a windfall, but enough to buy a few iPhone 4 accessories.) So if I returned the iPhone, I would have no phone to go back to. I was in a no-win situation because I wasn’t about to ask my dad for my phone back and leave him in a lurch.  If I returned my iPhone 4, I would have to turn around and buy another phone to replace it. That meant buying an iPhone 3GS from Apple or AT&T and signing another AT&T contract – that didn’t make any sense. If I’m going to be stuck in an AT&T contract and use up my eligibility for a subsidized phone, might as well have the latest technology.

The other option to stay without an AT&T contract would have been to buy a 3G or 3GS without a contract. Used iPhones hold their value well and are still selling for $300 - $350. My iPhone 4 subsidized was only $299. Although I had many twitter friends who I trusted willing to sell me their iPhones, it's always a bit of a mixed bag when you buy a used phone. Regardless of which way I went, I would still out $300 or more compared to where I was 30 days ago. I either had an iPhone 4 that was a much better device, but a worse phone. Or a comparable phone, but only a slightly better device.

If You Don't Like It...Take It Back...

Apple says “if you don’t like the phone, return it for a full refund.” Sounds great., right? What more could you possibly expect from Apple? Well, I could expect them to deliver the phone they promised. Here’s the problem: I took Apple at their word that the iPhone 4 had a revolutionary new antenna design that was better than any previous iPhone and I would have even better reception than before.  Granted - I would have been okay with an iPhone 4 that had just as good reception as I had before and still had all the fancy new iPhone 4 features. Now, I’ve got a phone with worse reception and nothing to go back to.  What more could I ask for? I want what Apple promised me! Unfortunately, Apple let me down in that they couldn’t deliver on what they promised. It’s one of the few times that’s happened.

But, I’m Keeping The Faith:

While I haven’t been thrilled with the way Apple has handled this whole situation, I still have faith that they’ll come through and do the right thing. Apple acknowledged at their press event that despite the new design of the iPhone 4 antenna, it drops more calls than the iPhone 3GS. Something is wrong.

My AppleCare advisor tells me that Apple is continuing to work on this problem. They are not just giving away free bumpers and calling it a day. Steve Jobs specifically said that the free bumper program was only going to last until September 30th so Apple could “reevaluate” the situation at that time. That statement in itself implies they’re working on a fix so bumpers won’t be necessary.  Apple may never say another word about antennagate, but I would bet you the purchase price of an iPhone 5 that the iPhones that roll off the assembly lines a few months from now will not be as prone to these antenna problems as the ones that rolled off the assembly line 30 days ago.

My AppleCare case is still open, and my support tech promises me that he’ll keep in touch regarding the situation and if I want to swap out my iPhone again in the future, all I have to do is say the word. We’ll see.

What I Know Now:

If I knew 30 days ago what I know now, would I have ordered the iPhone 4? In a word: No. I wish I could turn back the clock and have my old iPhone 3G back, my $300 back, the money I’ve spent thus far on accessories back, and all the time I’ve spent dealing with this issue back. For now, I wait and hope that Apple comes up with a fix, that AT&T starts building towers and that Verizon announces they will start selling the iPhone.

I know there are a lot of people out there who are fed up with this topic. So this is the last I’ll say until there’s some kind of new information. For the vast majority of you who are not having any type of problem with your iPhone, I’m happy for you and sorry to have bored you with my tale. But I do at least hope that I have shown you that there are real people out there with real problems. Is “antennagate” over-hyped? Probably. But for those people like me who are having problems, it doesn't feel like Apple has taken it seriously enough.