Sunday, December 7, 2014

Got an iPhone 6 last night and stayed with Sprint

As you might have read already, I live in an area where the LTE installations haven't been finished.  While much of the town is on LTE, I live on the edge of LTE and a roaming zone.  In fact, my bedroom seems to be a transition area between 3G/EVDO and LTE, so I end up with 1xRTT too many times for too long.

Verizon First

I went to see Verizon, but after seeing the local reseller's Yelp ratings, I went to a city 15 miles away where there was an official company store.

They currently have a $150 switching rebate, and I had found that the data sharing plan of 12 GB had been upgraded to 15 GB.  This is important as I already have a mobile hotspot with the company.  Service is better than Sprint but not great, as though it's bordering on overloaded.  We apparently don't have enough towers in town.

I waited about 15 minutes until there was an available associate.  We talked, and he explained the rent-to-buy plan.  It sounded fine, and then, he talked about the data plan--6 GB for $120, along with talk and text messaging, which we didn't even discuss.  I told him that I'd really have to think about that, since it would drive my total expense up by $40.

Then, I said "I thought there was a 12GB 15 GB sharing plan" and he seemed to tap his headset, and looked surprised "Oh, why didn't I think of that?" and as if he'd been given information by someone behind the curtain, he remarked "That would be $160."  That pretty much ended the conversation but I asked if he was on commission, and he said yes, and had someone get his card for me.  I figured that he would get a little extra each month by not suggesting the cheaper plan.

Sprint Next but not Nextel

I went to one of the two Sprint kiosks in the mall just after that.  The first was busy, so I went to the other.  I said "Give me a reason to stay with Sprint.  I'm ready to pay my ETF." and we started a discussion.

Within only a couple of minutes, he mentioned an extra discount for long time customers on the lease plan.  This also supposedly doesn't include a contract.  They get to keep the phone at the end of the lease or you can pay an extra $200 to keep it.  I was a bit confused, but it still sounded okay.  Except for prepaid service, is it ever 100% straightforward?  Since I wanted a 64GB iPhone 6, it cost a bit more.

Naturally, with these plans, you leave without paying anything.  They put certain things on your initial bill, like the !@#$ $36.00 activation fee--yes, they need to pay for the rigamarole to handle all the crap of paperwork.

My plan is a bit old, so they had trouble deciding which reason to use to make the lease work.  They need to add "Hella Old Plan" to the list.  Eventually, everything was fine, and they also sold me a Otterbox glass screen protector and a Griffin case.  Amusingly, my old address from 2000-2008 was there, and now, with one of the receipts sent by e-mail, they showed me Indiana taxes, where I haven't lived for months.

What's bad about the lease discount is that I had to stay with my current service plan.  They have a better, cheaper plan now.  Actually, last year when I got the iPhone 5c, they add an Unlimited Everything plan or some such that was the same price but had no limits.  Still, I don't talk on the phone enough to need my current minutes.

Oh, and I didn't have to pay the ETF, so far.  Hopefully, it won't show up, since I was told that it wouldn't happen.

They asked me if I wanted insurance, and I told them AppleCare+ but I'm not sure that it will arrive or not.  They didn't charge me for it, but then, they didn't charge me right away last year.  I didn't want Asurion to handle it, as they want lots of money each month, and they have no problem refusing service.

In any case, the iPhone 6 is much better than the iPhone 5c.  That's a surprise?  I suppose not.  I'm thankful that the iPhone 6 is a bit more efficient than the iPhone 5s.  I was concerned about buying a first-generation 64-bit processor from Apple, so I didn't buy the iPhone 5s.  The phone keeps up with me, except when service is poor.  Given that the iPhone 5c is a two band LTE device and the iPhone 6 is a three band LTE device, I should have great performance in certain areas where the Nextel 800 MHz frequency band has been re-purposed.

Most apps I use seem to have been updated for iPhone 6, as well as iOS 8.x and they seem fine.  However, there seem to be so many bug fixes, with apps being updated every few days.  Asphalt 8 takes advantage of the new abilities and has some extra special effects.  I'm not seeing anything else like that from other apps, but everything else seems smooth.

As it has only been a little over 24 hours, I don't know how the battery life really is.  I was in a habit of charging whenever possible--in the car, in the house, and I have a Sony charging kit with a 10,000 mAh battery.  I'm not comfortable enough to let it go overnight without a charge, though I suspect that it will be fine.

The display seems so good.  I wish that they'd picked a more standard size, such as 1280x800 but had 1334-by-750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi.  That's big enough to play 720p video, finally.  Seeing "Full sRGB standard" makes me happy.  I can't tell you how many times I've looked at photos I've taken and the color range and dynamic range is lower than expected, leaving my photos not looking their best, requiring imagination.

TouchID seems to work well.  I was carrying on a conversation with the salesperson while trying to set up the phone and I wasn't synchronizing my movements well, but the TouchID setup was very patient.  It works fine and it's good to be able to put my thumb on the Home button to unlock the phone.  I'm not ready to use Apple Pay.  Let someone else live through the problems.

The thing I don't like is the size of the phone.  It's not horribly big, but it is a big difference.  When I'm playing games in a landscape position, it's great.  When I'm trying to use it as an internet device in portrait orientation, it's a little uncomfortable to use with one hand.

What else?  I'm planning to buy another Ballistic case, so I don't have to worry about dropping it.  The current Griffin case was labeled with "3'" but does it actually work after a drop of three feet?  The glass screen protector from Otterbox seems fine, but for such a price, it should be fine.

Oh, the speakers are in the way of my hands.  Yes, I know that doesn't make sense.  Playing games or watching videos in landscape orientation, I can barely hear the sound at all.  If they'd be a little less obsessed with thin and light, they'd likely have made it so headphones aren't necessary.  Maybe, I can charge my Bluetooth-connected Motorola S9 headphones and hopefully, the synchronization of sound is better than way back when with the second generation iPod touch and iOS 5.x.

Update 2014.12.12: I found Best Buy-only Ballistic cases for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.  They were $34.99, $39.99, and $49.99.  I bought one of the $39.99 priced cases that was labeled Tungsten Tough.  You won't find these on the Ballistic web site.  It's a similar situation to the Klipsch speakers that are made for Best Buy.  I suspect that there is a higher profit margin.  The case has what seems to be anodized aluminum in back.  The drop rating was 7+ feet.  The case for $49.99 added water resistance, a screen protector, and an 8+ rating for drops.

I'm not sure if I'll miss the clip (it didn't turn the case into a viewing easel), as it has hung on to my pocket when I didn't quite have the case far enough into the pocket, but the company's protection is great, so a 7+ rating should handle a fall from my pocket easily.

Update 2015.02.10: I have to say that the situation with Sprint in California isn't as good as it should be.  I understand that it is a long state, but seeing "No Service" should never happen, and it happened too often on my trip from Northern California to San Diego.

The compensation is that when LTE was available, it worked very well.  I've found too many transition zones, just like in my apartment, where they still haven't got overlapping towers.

Update 2015.11.06: Sprint provided better technology and therefore, a better connection.  After 1 month, they took it away, and things are back to the way they had been.  Where they have good service, the phone works just fine.  Elsewhere, the service is poor and the phone works poorly.  I was told I needed to have the phone serviced.  I told the @sprintcare team that I didn't know that humor was a new service they offered.

I almost wish that I had not got the new phone so I could switch to T-Mobile, which has improved their service.  Even paying more to Verizon might have been worth it.  I've been with Sprint since 2000 and the last couple of months have made me wish that Sprint would go out of business.  I actually mentioned that to the @sprintsavings people on Twitter.

The phone has been good.  Now, with iOS 9.0.2, it seems even better, if still a bit buggy.

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