IPhone 3GS Review – Mobile Internet And Job Saver

by Mike Holman

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As I mentioned recently, I purchased an iPhone 3GS cell phone.  This is one of those fancy “smart phones” which not only can be used like a normal cell phone, it also has internet access and a pretty good camera (still and video).

It wasn’t long ago that I posted about my new pay-per-month 7-11 phone which was a pretty good deal.  See this cellular plan deals comparison for a better idea.  I still have the 711 phone and plan to keep it (it doesn’t cost anything to keep it after all).

The reason I went for the iPhone was for the internet access which I can use during work hours.  Now, I don’t plan to spend half my work day surfing on my phone but I would like to be able to do a bit of surfing without my employer knowing about it.  I’m not overly worried about being fired for internet usage at work, but it does make me nervous sometimes.  The other problem is that my internet at work is quite limited and I can’t access a lot of sites like online email.
The other reason is that I blog anonymously because I don’t want my employer to know about my sites.  Having access to my sites and the backend on the iPhone will help ensure that.

It also allows me to manage my time a bit better – running 4p means more stats, emails etc and it really helps if I can get some of that stuff taken care of during the day.  I can do it during my commute or lunch hour and then it helps save some of my home time.

My iPhone deal

The phone itself was $199 with service fees of $57.50 per month with the first month free.  This works out to an average monthly cost of $56 over the 3 year plan.  I have a 1GB data plan.  I have no idea if this is enough or too much – it depends on how much surfing I do and the size of files I send and receive.  I get 200 minutes of phone time a month of during the day and I chose the Rogers My5 option which means you pick 5 phone numbers in Canada and get unlimited minutes to those numbers any time of the day.  This was less expensive than I thought it was going to be although it’s a great deal more than the 711 pay-as-you-go plan.

If you order this phone from Rogers (and probably anywhere else) I strongly suggest phoning rather than get it off the internet.  When I called I told the guy the plan I was interested in and then I didn’t even have to ask and he waived the $35 activation fee, gave me an extra 50 minutes, gave the first month free and added 500 MB to the data plan.

I’m sure these upgrades are pretty standard, but had I ordered from the internet I wouldn’t have gotten them.  I have no idea why Rogers would give a better deal if you phone since it seems to me that it would be cheaper for them to have clients order the phone off the internet – but what do I know?

How do I like the iPhone?

I love it.  I was worried that the surfing wouldn’t be very good because of the small screen but it’s actually quite good.  I can do pretty much all the surfing I want to do and although it’s slower and not as convenient as using a computer, I’m pretty happy with it.

I don’t love the onscreen keyboard.  It’s just too small and typing with 1 finger is frustrating for someone like me who can type quite quickly.  For this reason I don’t do as much commenting on other blogs during the day as I’d like.  Even emails are tough to write unless they are very short.

iPhone applications

To be honest, I haven’t figured out how to download applications to my phone yet so I’ll have to report back later on this one.  :)  I know there are lots of apps which would probably improve my iPhone experience but for now I’m happy just learning how to use the basics.   Jordan tells me that jail breaking the phone allows for a lot more apps and functionality so I’ll be checking that out eventually.

Cheaper options to iPhone full service plans

I was telling to Mr. Cheap about the phone and he mentioned that you can buy an iPhone without a service plan (which is quite expensive) and put in the phone chip from a 7-11 pay-as-you-go phone which would allow continuation of the very cheap 711 plan.  You can then use the phone to surf the internet anywhere there is a wi-fi signal such as a coffee shop.

Save on data transfer amounts

This will probably seem pretty basic for experienced smart phone users but I don’t think it is worth paying too much for a larger data plan.  If you download or email large files such as music, videos etc and use the smart phone cell network then it will count against your data plan usage.
The way to get around this is to do all your heavy data transfer when you can connect the phone to a wi-fi network.  That way your data usage is not affected.  Another strategy is to do the downloading on your computer and then synch the iphone to the computer which will move the large files onto the cell phone at no extra cost.

Any smart phone users out there?  Why did you buy one?  What do you like about it?

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Welcome to Money Smarts! If you're new here, please read the "About" page to find out more about this site. If you would like to receive updates by email then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christopher Hylarides

In order to download apps you’ll need an account with the itunes online store (even for free apps). You’ll need to download itunes to sign up. Once you sync your phone, you’ll be able to download apps straight from the phone.

2 Craig

It’s a great phone and when the new 4.0 OS comes out it will be that much better. Can’t wait for the 4G this summer so I can get it.

3 Vasile

It’s probably late for this :) but 7-11 and PetroCanada offer data plans, too. If I’m not wrong, they cost around 10 CAD/month. Not sure how much traffic is included, though.

4 Financial Uproar

I absolutely love my iphone.

Once you download some apps Mike, you’ll love it twice as much. There are so many good ones.

There are only two things I don’t like about it- The keyboard sucks compared to the blackberry and the fact you can only have one app open at a time.

5 Mike

Thanks Christopher.

Craig – maybe I should have waited?

Vasile – I’m good now but that is good info to know.

FU – I agree the keyboard isn’t that great although I’ve never used any other type of smartphone so I can’t compare. I really wish it could multi-task.

6 youngandthrifty

I plan to get an iPhone too! (But waiting until June when my contract is almost up).

I hear that the iPhone, unlike the Blackberry, doesn’t “compress” its data, so sometimes people do go over the 500MB of data, so your 1G is a safe bet. I guess it depends on if you have wireless internet at home too, right?

The Telus CSR’s I was talking to told me they recommend every new iPhone customer to get the 1G data for the above reason (hmm not sure if they’re trying to ‘upsell’).

7 Susan B

I’ve had my iPhone 3G for just over a year and I love it. I have yet to go over my 500MB data plan, and when we signed up we went crazy on the “first three months unlimited” bonus. I use almost exclusively free apps: I have over 400 saved in my iTunes and keep up to 100 on my iPhone at any given time. I update my blog from my mobile and still don’t run out of data.

8 logan

love my new iphones! got 5 and sold 3. kept two for me and the wife. love the screen, it’s so stinkin easy to use! I used to have a nokia N97 and it was so hard to get around everything. and facebook is a friggin breeze to use. I am going to pick up a few more and probably give them to my kids. is there a iphone 4g coming out this summer? wonder what they’re doing this year at apple.

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