SHIFT: Putting the iPhone 3G in perspective

It's iPhone 3G + 1 week and I have PPD — post-party depression. I feel as if it's the day after a three-day dorm party except without the cleanup responsibilities, vise-like hangover with residual nausea and vague memories of hacking while kneeling over a white porcelain bowl.

So upon reflection, what have we learned? Apple wasn't as prepared as it should have been but reacted quickly and publicly to correct goof-ups. AT&T was totally unprepared and did little to inform or ameliorate many of its problems, such as running out of phones. And certain columnists may have, um, over-reacted to some of these screw-ups due to a combined lack of sleep, food, frustration, disappointment and an over-inflated sense of self-importance.

And never, under any circumstances, eat the worm.

We've collected some tales of buyer euphoria and exasperation and technical tidbit discoveries of the iPhone 3G launch. More after the Continue jump.

One thing we know for sure: despite widespread reported tales of woe, Apple sold an s#*&-load of iPhone 3Gs, one million worldwide and counting. According to Steve Jobs, it took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones. As of yesterday, there were still three-hour waits at the three Manhattan Apple stores.

Who Waits 3 Hours to Buy a Phone?
So who are all these people stupid enough (and that's self-reflexive) to stand on three-hour-plus lines in 90-degree heat and 90-percent humidity just to buy a cellphone?

Not necessarily previous iPhone or Mac owners. According to a survey conducted by analyst firm Piper Jaffray, only 38 percent were iPhone 1.0 owners. Around 20 percent were trading in their Motorola phones and another 13 percent were chucking their Samsung cells. Last year, Motorola suffered a 35 percent hit. Both last year and this, only six percent of BlackBerry users made the switch.

And 39 percent of buyers owned a PC, not a Mac. And, 85 percent were buying because of the new features, not because of the lower price. "Only" 66 percent opted for the 16GB version, compared to the 95 percent of buyers last year who wanted the highest capacity 8GB iPhone.

Additionally, 38 percent were switching cell carriers. In conversations I had with Apple sales reps during my three visits, these switchers were most successful at walking out of the store with a phone as long as they had their current carrier termination ducks in a row. But I was told I was not alone in my non-activation aggravation.

Like me, many folks — enough that several sales staffers rolled their eyes in weary recognition when I mentioned the topic — encountered a mysterious "IRU" corporate discount on their account, even though they were not corporate customers. Anyone else out encounter this? Please report.

What Does or Doesn't Work?
There was a reason why Apple didn't do 3G last year — 3G sucks the life out of a battery. So it's not unexpected that battery life is not all it's cracked up to be. In addition to Charlie White's report, several publications have also reported that battery life for 3G Web surfing falls far short of Apple's ratings, although the five-hour 3G talk time not only lives up to its five-hour chat life but is tops among 3G cellphones.

As in all cases, you should turn off the Wi-Fi to squeeze out more juice. Even if you're not connected, the phone is constantly searching for a connection, which saps either the watts and/or volts.

That's if you can get 3G service in your area. There have been widespread reports of iPhone's inability to consistently pull in 3G signals compared to other AT&T 3G phones. So, no, it's not just your phone.

Accessory Incompatibility
Not all the old accessories work, such as older FireWire-equipped adapters. You have to use an iPhone-specific USB AC adapter to charge and a USB connector to sync.

There have been reports that other 2G-compatible audio accessories don't work with the 3G. "The iPhone 3G is also not capable of pushing audio through some previously compatible devices," reports the iPhoneAtlas Web site. "This is apparently because of a new sensing mechanism that obviates functionality of noncompliant devices." I don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound good.

Among the culpable devices iPhoneAtlas listed were Monster's FM tuner and Monster car charger (but Monster has a new "Works with iPhone/Made for iPhone" iCarPlay Wireless 250 with an authentication chip, which the Apple store in Fifth Avenue had plenty of), Bose SoundDock, Dension ICE, the Sony XA-110IP iPod Interface Adapter, and iPod connection kits for several cars, including the Mazda 3, Scion XB and Audi. Report your incompatible device in the comments.

Docks and cases for the 2G are problematical as well. The 3G dimensions (115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3mm) differ slightly enough from the 2G (115 x 61 x 11.6mm), which means you'll have to get a new dock cradle insert for your current docking device to accommodate your new 3G.

Most 2G cases will work fine — the buttons and jacks are all in the exact same place as the 2G — but form-fitting skins may be a tight fit. Try your old case before you buy a new one.

App Oops
Does your 3G crash or freeze when using the iPhone 2.0 apps, or do apps load for a couple of seconds then quit, sending you back to the home page? These apps require memory, so one solution is to not fill the iPhone's flash too full. Leave around 10 percent headroom for the apps to operate.

In case of crash or freeze, try a hard reboot, delete and re-load the offending apps or restore you iPhone, which will install a slightly revised OS from the one loaded on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Not all the news is bad, of course. The Apple employees I encountered throughout my iPhone 3B plights were, without fail, preternaturally perky, polite and patient, despite the onslaught from cads like me. Saints, all of them, especially Olga Kogan and Sha-Doe McIntosh (yes, an Apple employee named McIntosh) at the Fifth Avenue store.

Finally, plans are afoot for an iPhone 2.0.1 update that could include copy-and-paste functionality, long yearned for by iPhone users. Personally I yearn for apps to provide turn-by-turn GPS driving directions and a Slingbox app. I'm assured there are no iPhone technical issues impeding these developments, so I guess I'll just have to patient. Although, as we have seen, iPhone buyers like me ain't exactly the most patient geeks around.