Why I dumped my iPhone

I dumped my iPhone for three reasons: (1) the high cost of a post-paid voice and data plan, (2) frequent international travel and (3) I do most of my reading on my iPad.

I had an iPhone for three years when I lived in San Francisco. I paid a little over $50 per month to AT&T, which amounts of $600 per year, for terrible service. The AT&T network dropped all of my incoming and outgoing voice calls, and when using applications such as Safari for web browsing, Facebook, Foursquare and NetNewsWire (my RSS newsreader), I found the network unbearably slow and often simply unusable. I ended up using the iPhone primarily on Wi-Fi networks, whether at home or in cafes. Paying over $600 a year for the privilege of web browsing, checking in and reading articles when bored to death on a subway platform was simply too extravagant.

Then, I moved to Chile for six months and to Singapore, where I am writing this article. In between, I traveled (and still travel) to many countries: Brazil, Argentina, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and India to name a few. When traveling internationally, the last thing I need is an iPhone that racks up thousands of dollars in roaming fees. What one needs for international travel is a cheap smartphone (or even a feature phone) into which one pops a prepaid SIM card. That is why after getting rid of the iPhone, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Mini, a tiny Android smartphone that fits in a small pocket. I don’t like the Samsung Galaxy Mini at all. It makes unnecessary irritating sounds, the interface frustrates me, and the virtual keyboard encourages one to make too many typos. It is inferior in every way (including battery life) to the iPhone. However, I use this phone mostly for calling and receiving calls, texting and the occasional map checking. That’s it. I bought a cheap prepaid SIM card from SingTel and I have yet to use up the S$25 I put on the prepaid plan at the end of December. I just don’t talk or text much.

I also discovered that I don’t need to be staring all the time into a phone, tapping away at applications while on a subway train, waiting for a flight or standing on a sidewalk. And I feel calmer for it. Most people in Singapore who have smart phones are iPhone users and you see them crossing the streets and walking along the sidewalks paying no attention whatsoever to what’s coming at them; they are too busy staring into their iPhones. In the underground metro, you find them doing the same thing: staring into their iPhones oblivious to the world around them. Perhaps there is some comfort to be had by withdrawing from the physical world. I prefer to be aware of what’s going on around me at all times.

The final reason for dumping the iPhone is something simple and obvious: I use my iPad (Wi-Fi only version) for reading, browsing, and email. The iPad’s larger screen is better for all of those activities. I use Skype on my iPad (and at times, my Mac Book Pro) for calls to other countries. When I bought the iPad, I found that I stopped using my iPhone, except for local phone calls and text messages.

So when I left San Francisco in May 2011, I sold my iPhone and have been traveling around the world only with my iPad and an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Mini. Will I get an iPhone anytime soon? Probably not — unless someone else is paying for the voice and data plan. With free Wi-Fi available in most places, plus Skype on my iPad, and a cheap prepaid card for local calls on my unlocked Samsung Galaxy Mini, I found out that you can get by just fine without an iPhone and the high cost of being tied to a one- or two-year contract.

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