A really bad case of Gadget Lust

August 01, 2010

Today I made an important decision. It’s a tough decision to make for someone like me, quite prone to the oh-so-sweet affliction known as Gadget Lust. If you know anything about me or you’ve read some of the previous posts, you’ll probably suspect that I’m a black-belt ninja master of the Geek Order and a confessed Apple Fanboy. Also, I like to think, I have a modicum of common sense.

Just let me say it out loud, for the record: I’m not getting the iPhone 4.

iPhone 4

Also for the record, my decision has absolutely nothing to do with all the “Antennagate” drama. Too much has already been said about that and I won’t be adding to the pile. By now, all the facts are well-known. I you don’t want the iPhone 4, don’t buy it. If you do, go ahead and get it. Plus, you’re getting a free case to go with it. Bonus.

The iPhone 4 went on sale yesterday in my country (Spain). Actually, some stores opened on Thursday night at 0:00h in Madrid and Barcelona so that early adopters could get their hands on one as soon as possible.

Two years ago, on the launch day of the iPhone 3G, I was one of them (remember that the original iPhone was never released in Spain, the 3G was the first iPhone we ever got). I spent 6 hours waiting in line to buy my 16GB black iPhone 3G, tied to a two-year contract and a monthly data plan that ran me at 25 € per month (roughly $30) for 1GB (after that, the speed was reduced but I wasn’t charged more). The voice minutes were charged separately on top of that. All in all, I averaged between 80-120€ per month for the duration of my contract. However, I have to say that my carrier’s service during these two years was excellent. I never had network problems and the data speeds were great.

Today, I’m a free man. My contract expired two weeks ago, and I’m no longer bound to the greedy corporation that is Movistar. Their problem is simply that the game has changed. They’re no longer the exclusive carrier of the iPhone, all three major carriers in Spain (Vodafone, Orange and Movistar) offer it, each with different prices and offers to sweeten the deal.

If I really wanted the iPhone 4 though, I could easily get it, provided I was willing to keep my monthly bill within the 100 € ballpark, either by signing up to another 2-year contract with my current carrier or by changing to another one. I’m convinced that if I pressed Movistar hard enough, I could even get it for free.

But when the gadget lust wears off, and I can start thinking clearly again, I’m forced to see the reality. I’m extremely happy with my current iPhone 3G. I’m sure the iPhone 4 would be even better, but really, is it worth it to keep spending that much money every month? The answer in my case is no. By being freed from my contract, I have now the opportunity to move my number to another carrier, and take my iPhone 3G with me. The phone is in perfect working condition, as I have taken extremely good care of it for its entire life. The battery is almost as good as new, more than enough to last me a whole day and a night without having to plug it in, or worry about how I use the phone to avoid running out of juice.

And the other carriers have prices that Movistar can’t match. Not even close.  I’m changing to Simyo, a virtual mobile carrier (meaning that they don’t have their own network, and operate under another carrier’s network) with a much cheaper voice and data plan. Just for reference, my last bill was 82 € with Movistar, and in Simyo it would have cost me 27 €. That’s one-third the price. It doesn’t really get more black and white than that. And the best part is that I’m not tied to the new contract, I can just leave anytime, no penalty fees or anything like that.

The bottom line is this: it’s not that the iPhone 4 is not good enough to make me WANT to upgrade, it’s that my current iPhone 3G is also pretty damn good at the things I use it for, and therefore I don’t NEED to upgrade. Besides, by not upgrading I have an opportunity  to significantly reduce my phone bill (by two-thirds, that’s a freaking 67%). Given the choice of  having more features vs spending less money, I’m in a position where I can comfortably pick the latter.

As for the things that iOS4 bring to the table, I feel like I can live without them just fine for now. Many people seem to have experienced problems when upgrading to iOS4 from an iPhone 3G, so I’ve decided to hold off on upgrading for now.

Now, this is not to say that I won’t EVER get the iPhone 4. If at some point down the road I get a chance to purchase an unlocked one at a reasonable price, I’m pretty sure I will. After all, I’m a geek and the 4 looks great. But right now, the leap between the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4 is not enough to lure me into paying that kind of money every month. I feel like my phone still has a long life ahead of it, and I intend to get the best out of it for as long as I possibly can.