People ask me constantly why I don’t have an iPhone. After all, “it’s the best phone”. Some people assume that I don’t have one because I work at Microsoft. Given the prevalence of iPhones on Microsoft campus, that is certainly not the case. Perhaps I’m using some Android phone? Nope. A pre-release Windows Phone 7 device? Nope. I got to use one for a few weeks (I really liked it), but the hardware is not yet broadly available.
A primary reason I don’t have an iPhone is that as a consumer, I detest service contracts and lock-in. If at all possible, I like to own my devices free and clear, and to be able to walk away from a service without punitive early termination fees. I also want the freedom to be able to switch from one phone to another when I want, not based on a service provider’s schedule. The data plan for what I need (email and the occasional search) is also inexpensive, and the phone plan options seem much more flexible outside the iPhone plan walled garden.
Another reason is that I like having a physical keyboard. I have tried using touch-based keyboards and I find them error-prone and hard to use. I know that some people like them; I am not one of them.
Battery life is a big deal for me. I don’t want to have to worry about making it through the day; I prefer to have phones with 2-3 days of battery life. That won’t happen with an iPhone, or any smart phone with a large display.
I also like phones that are relatively small. I consider the iPhone to be too large for me to have in my pocket and forget about.
I need my phone to have robust Exchange support with full push email and bug-free scheduling. iPhone is weak in that department. My friends with iPhones are constantly battling with missed meetings, meetings that don’t get properly updates, etc. No thanks. It’s the one thing I need my phone to get absolutely right.
I am also not interested in apps. I need some basic functionality, and that’s pretty much it. If I want to do real work or real play, I need a real display. I find small display maddening for anything other than basic functions.
Last but not least, I don’t want to belong to the Church of Steve Jobs. The iPhone smacks of a somewhat totalitarian approach to products – the people shall all have one phone. I find it boring and predictable, and life’s too short for that.
After all that, I should mention that my current phone is a Nokia N72 available unlocked directly from their online store. My other source for unlocked phones is www.mobilecityonline.com. It satisfies all the requirements above, and also has free voice-assisted turn-by-turn GPS which is great for traveling, is very pocket-friendly, has a sunlight-readable display, and doesn’t drop calls. The Symbian OS is pretty much a joke and the UI is evocative of the early ‘90s, but the phone does do what I need: