Friday, August 13, 2010

    Double Fisting It on AT&T

    I have recently had to severely analyze my motivations for which phone I will get next.  Included in this analysis were factors such as work getting me a development phone, would I stay with AT&T and would I leave the iPhone behind.

    In answer to my last post, whether I would shift with the wind on which platform I wanted to commit to, the answer is both yes and no.  When I watched WWDC I became very excited about the iPhone 4.  What a gorgeous piece of hardware, and iOS has already proven to be a capable OS so I had no concerns there.  In short, there was much that was attractive to me about the iPhone 4.  Add in the capability to take slick 720p videos and edit them on-device and it seemed like a no-brainer.

    Then, antennae-gate hit.  It quite literally paralyzed me where I stood.  Could it be true, the vaunted iPhone 4 was a deeply flawed device?  Would simply holding the phone render it useless as a phone?  The echo-chamber of the gadget media covered the story in excruciating detail.

    As it turns out, it's not such a bad flaw, only showing up in low signal-strength areas.  Further, Apple is giving out bumpers with every iPhone 4.  The bumper mitigates the problem completely.  While I can't say that I love the thought that some high-end gadget has a design flaw which necessitates a case, the benefits of having an iPhone 4 greatly out-weigh the downsides.  Simply put, Apple has put out another superb machine for indoctrinating the masses and across the board all the pundits that have obtained one say it is a beautifully useful device.

    So, with the iPhone 4 back in the mix as a viable alternative (meaning I couldn't simply dismiss iOS and switch to Android), which phone would I get.  Ironically, work and AT&T provided the answer.

    Work has agreed to the necessity of development hardware and is allowing us to choose which device we would like.  We have to provide the service, should we want it, but by and large the choice of phone is ours.  The development team all agreed that Android was the way to go, as it is likely our customer will have Android phones at their disposal.

    Providing the service became a bit of a sticky wicket, though.  Did I really want another device, one that could be taken away at any time, and have to provide at least $40/month in service for it (on Verizon or AT&T)?  Did I want to switch to a lower tier provider like Sprint or T-Mobile?  Heck, did I want to carry around two devices with two numbers?  All of these questions came to mind, and I researched them to death.

    Turns out that Sprint and T-Mobile both have great plans which roll data into the plan.  On AT&T and Verizon, you have to pay ~$30 for data per smartphone and there is very little way around that.  However, the savings I would get on Sprint or T-Mobile weren't that much greater than what I have now.  If the answer had been that I could have my cost on my mobile bill go down $50/month, it would have been a no-brainer, but that is not the case.

    Adding to the complexity is the decision I made to have both major phone OSes at my disposal.  I would like to have my hand in both Android and in iOS, with an eye towards developing in both.  This requirement ruled out Sprint, but due to rumors did not rule out Verizon.  However, the modus operandi of AT&T provided a clear-cut answer.

    AT&T is a GSM carrier.  That means that the service each phone has is dependent on which SIM card is in the phone at any given time.  As long as I kept my iPhone plan/SIM, which provides data, SMS and phone service, I can switch my SIM into a different phone and still have all of that service, as well as keeping the same number.  It's a beautiful solution.  I could get both an iPhone 4 and an Android device and, depending on the necessity of the day, switch my SIM around to carry which phone I needed.

    Now, I have to find the right Android device on AT&T.  A Nexus One would suffice, but I will have to go to Ebay for one of those, so I may wait around and see what percolates out in the next few months.  Regardless, I believe I will be able to carry both OSes, and this makes my geeky heart very happy.