Upgrade Day

My three favourite days of the year. My birthday, Christmas Day and Apple Upgrade Day. The latter of which is today. Like Christmas, there is a festive build up to the big day. First comes the Special Event where all the shiny new devices are revealed. Then a few days later Apple’s online store will open for pre-orders. A few days after that the new OS is released. And then, a week after the devices were first shown off, deliveries begin. Continue reading “Upgrade Day”

Apple Pay

So. Apple Pay. I like my Apple devices, I really do. In fact I love my iPhone. True love. Wait till you see what I’ve bought my iPhone 6s for Valentines day. But that’s another story. Back to Apple Pay. What a gimmick. A pointless, unnecessary marketing gimmick. Or so I thought. But Apple has gradually won me over. I’ve seen the light. Why did I ever doubt them? The first revelation was at a McDonalds. I’d ordered my meal, but then discovered I’d left my wallet back at work. My lunch was about to be aborted when it occurred to me – I had registered a debit card on my iPhone. So I paid with my iPhone. Happy days! And a Happy Meal to go with it.

Now I’ve gotten used to paying with it. I stand in queues waiting to purchase my shopping, killing the time with a little bit of Candy Crush. Suddenly I’m at the front, the cashier has rung through my items and it’s time to pony up. Do I reach into my pocket, pull out a wallet, fight to get a card out etc etc? Nope, I just swipe my phone and lets the magical Cupertino Money Pixies do their stuff. How did I ever manage before?

I’d been wondering though. On the London Underground, if I tap in with my debit card and tap out with my iPhone (using the same card), would the system recognise them as the same card and charge me accordingly? Or would it read these as two payment methods and charge me twice? My hunch is that I would be charged twice. I can report that I have now made this error and can reveal the result. You’re charged twice. So don’t do it. It’s an expensive way to travel. Fortunately, I have read somewhere that the new iPhone 7 has a special app called Aladdin that turns the device into a Magic Carpet, which will save everyone a fortune on travel costs.

 

iPhone 6 Review

It has arrived. And it is beautiful. I’ve had it in my possession for a whole three days, which is more than long enough to come up with a few observations. Firstly, I guess, is…why an iPhone? I’ve been an Android owner since selling my iPod Touch in Mexico, and buying a Samsung Galaxy S2 upon my return to England.

That was largely down to two issues. The iPhone screen was titchy in comparison to its Android rivals. And it was way overpriced. The iPhone 6 is neither of these. The 4.7″ screen is just right and it’s a similar price to some of the top end Android devices.

I do like, prefer even, Apple’s iOS to Android. The Apple app store is, albeit marginally these days, better. The phone itself is the finest looking device on the market. I love the fingerprint touch ID to unlock the phone and make purchases.  The screen is fantastic. But then, the screens on most top end phones are fantastic.

There are some minor annoyances too. I can download Chrome and use it as my browser. But I cannot set it as my default browser. So, whenever a link in a message or email is pressed, up pops Safari. There’s also a feature which lowers the screen content when you double tap the home button. This makes it easier to press on content or buttons in the top corners of the screen. It works nicely. But not as nicely as a capacitive back button would. Lastly, I have yet to find a backgammon app that is anywhere near as good the one I had on my HTC.

How about Apple’s online services compared to Google’s? iCloud is nifty enough once it’s set up. There is, though, no reason to compare it to Google. I have downloaded almost everything I want from Google-landia in the app store. Google Maps, Drive, Now, Plus. The only thing I wanted but could not find was Google Tracks. But there are alternatives.

Screenshot

Then there is the beauty factor. One of the things I disliked about Android and Google was how ugly they make some things. Google makes some of the best services going. But so many of them are plain ugly. Offensive to the eye even. That’s not so with Apple, where aesthetics matter. Everything about the iPhone six is beautifully designed and easy on the eye.

Is the iPhone an improvement over the HTC One? Yes, of course. It’s the latest model versus a nearly 2 year old model. It should be better. But it’s not as significant an improvement as the HTC One was compared to the Samsung Galaxy S2. Except in one way. What way? That’s for tomorrow….

An Early iPhone Upgrade

I am one of those people who loves the latest, shiny new electronic toy. If I had the budget, I’d fill my entire flat with gizmos and gadgets. Mrs P would probably object, but then if I had the money, she’d be out shopping for shoes and might not notice. But aside from budget constraints, there’s another issue that prevents me from upgrading my second favourite gadget whenever I want to. My mobile phone. It’s that two year contract with the network, locking you in. My camera is my number one gadget. Of course.

I still have seven months left on my HTC One contract. It’s a great camera. I love it. But have you seen the shiny new iPhone 6?! It’s just so….shiny. And new. I want one. But how, oh how do I get one? And by getting one, I mean now. Not is seven months. Without paying an arm and a leg for the privilege. Preferably, without paying anything more than I do now. Well, it’s actually quite simple. I sat down, did a little research and then did the maths.

First things first. I am going to have to pay Three £35 a month for the next seven months. Fact. But could I use my current plan in a different phone? More to the point, will Three swap over my plan from the micro sim of the HTC to the nano sim of the iPhone 6? The answer, happily, was yes. For a small and very affordable charge of £5.

Second issue. How can I get an iPhone, without paying a deposit (or at least only paying a small one) and without a network contract but with the payments still  spread over 24 months, without ridiculous interest charges. There’s a number of ways. I’m going to deal with the 16gb model here. You can buy one from the Apple Store on finance, paying a total of £600 for a £539 phone. Or from GiffGaff, paying Just a few pence under £590.

There are other ways to do this and pay even less interest. Such as take advantage of Curry’s Buy Now Pay 12 Months deal. In 12 months pay it off with a 0% transfer credit card and all you have to do is pay the fees – £25 to Currys as an early settlement fee and anything from £5 to £15 for the balance transfer. This adds up less than, but pretty close to, what you’d pay Apple. Which is why I went the Apple route. It’s just easier.

Third issue. For the next seven months, I will still be paying £35 to Three and now another £25 to Apple. Which leaves me £25 extra out of pocket for the next six months. That was simple to resolve. Firstly, by the time I actually get my iPhone and have paid the first instalment, I’ll only have six months left on my contract. Secondly, I’ll just sell my current phone. I don’t need two, and I’d get a handy £120 for it. Which I can offset against the extra £25 p/m I have to pay.

Ok, so I will still have to pay an extra £5 per month for the next six months. But I can manage that. And actually, I will be better off in the long run*. When my contract with Three is up, I will keep the sim only plan at £15 per month. So I’ll be paying in total the sum of £40 per month for my iPhone with unlimited data. Instead of the £45 I’d be paying Three, plus the £99 upfront cost, if I upgraded next year with them. In total, with Three, you’d pay £1179 over 2 years. Going the independent route, the total cost is £960. That’s a saving of more than £200. Plus, I’m free from the phone contracts. Sure, I’m paying the phone on finance, but I’ve split the hardware away from the network. Which is great**. Which begs the question. Why is anyone signing up to phone contracts with the network operators?

So I have ordered my phone. It’ll be here in a week or two. I plumped for the Space Grey model. Just 16 gbs. That’s plenty. I checked my 32gb HTC One. I’ve only half filled it up in 17 months, and there’s at least 5 gigs of rubbish just waiting to be cleansed.

* Yes, I know. I’d be better off still if I did wait till my upgrade date. But stop raining on my parade!

** O2 and GiggGaff both already split the call plans from the phones. That’s a great move by them. Three haven’t. That’s a poor move. I shopped elsewhere as a result.

Appleplectic Rage

Dear Steve,

I’ve bought three of your devices in recent years, all iPods. They’re all ingenious devices really, even if I am forced to sync them with the bloatware you call ‘iTunes’. And your customer service for in-warranty products is excellent. Which is just as well given that not one of the devices has ever threatened to work past the warranty. I popped the latest into the service centre this morning. I guess this is preferable to other manufacturers devices which seem programmed to self destruct a minute past midnight of the warranty expiration. Or worse, dying just as you’re presenting it.  But still. Might I suggest your next product being named iFunctionbeyond12months? Just so I can sue your sorry ass for false advertsing next time? I jest, of course. Good service or not, I prefer working products. I’ll shop elsewhere next time.

 

Dear UK retailer,

Thank you for your kind letter, courtesy of your HR dept, informing me that you are unable to take my application any further. I understand you need someone with, and I quote, ‘some previous retail management experience‘. I would instead like to apply for a job in your HR dept, as a replacement for the buffoon who didn’t notice the detailed description of my 20 odd years of retail management experience that consumed about half of my one page CV. Most of that experience in stores of similar or larger size to the store I applied to manage. I can also spell, or at least use a built in spell checker, which will drastically improve the professionalism of the dept. Are all of the HR staff semi-literate? I could bring along a trained chimpanzee if you wish, to take up some of the slack.

 

Dear Mr Douty

Congratulations! You’ve got a new job, and have had my precious Flickr account placed in your hands. Please note the word precious. My life in pictures are stored on your servers, watched over by your staff. Someone needs to take away the ‘Delete‘ key with urgent haste. I’m only half way through backing up my collection, having accidentally deleted my collection recently. I know, accidents happen. But I’m paying you to make sure they don’t happen to you. Or me.

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk