My Week With the iPhone 4S

For the last three years of college, I was probably the proudest Blackberry owner anyone had ever seen. I have always been big on texting, and the click of my keys as i approached was generally how people would identify me without looking. And just like my loud personality and generally brash demeanor, I learned to excuse that old click-click-clack as just another thing that makes me “me.” As time wore on, I figured out relatively late that making noise while I type, a trackball that refused to unstick for longer than five minutes, and jumbly software despite frequent updates (which was actually making my phone less and less usable) were all reasons for me to start looking into a new mobile phone option. I had to drop Blackberry like 3rd period French.

Sandy with iPhone

I went with white. I don't regret it! It's beautiful!

After reading dizzying reviews pitting the Android against iOS, Samsung Galaxy SII against iPhone 4S, I decided I was definitely going to go touch screen. It was a hard pill to swallow, but when I make a decision, I stick with it. My brother called me and expressed interest in the new iPhone, and before I knew it I was standing in line at the Sprint store just one week ago, making a big purchase and completing my physical transition from Blackberry to iPhone.

The past week has been one filled with many tough lessons. Some had to do with my new phone. The iPhone 4S didn’t have all that many updates from the iPhone 4 – the major upgrade being the addition of voice-recognition personal assistant Siri. But to me, everything was new. It was like living in a world of references to James Cameron’s Titanic, and then finally watching the film and understanding. So here, one week later, I share with you five things I’ve learned from my week with the iPhone 4S.

  1. Be prepared to be picked on relentlessly by auto-correct. As a longtime Blackberry user, I certainly wasn’t immune to typos. But in our digital age, many typos can still be understood by the casual reader given the context, letter order, etc. However, when you enter into a relationship with an iPhone, it is founded on a level of trust I’ve yet to invest in any other partnership this far in my life. I am trusting this thing to communicate for me, through my mistakes. The truth is, 95% of the time, capacitative touch is more helpful and much easier than I ever thought it would be. But every so often, the auto-correct will be wrong, and you’ll feel like a fool. I surmise this is Apple’s way of keeping you, the user, in your place.
  2. autocorrect

    Some of these things ACTUALLY happen.

  3. Spin-screen madness. Up until exactly three hours ago, this was driving me pretty nuts. While I understand the value in a screen that automatically orients itself relative to gravity (thanks, accelerometer sensor!) I realized very quickly that this value is lost when trying to check emails, write texts, watch YouTubes, or do just about anything with some level of comfort in my bed. I had actually started to get very good at reading sideways text before actually searching the Internet and finding the way to lock rotation (which is very easy, and therefore made me feel like a fool again). Tap the home button twice, scroll left, and tap that circular arrow until you see the lock. I know what I’m doing when I’m reading Tumblr tonight!
  4. GMail’s push notifications can be temperamental. The thing that changed my life when I got a Blackberry was how it places texts and emails on a level playing field – I could run business on my phone by receiving emails immediately! It’s a luxury I’ve become so accustomed to that one of the things that bothered me most in setting up my new iPhone was setting up my email. I selected the GMail option, provided on the phone’s setup menu, but once I plugged my information in, I found that I got significantly fewer e-mail notifications than I did on my Blackberry. Were my Old Navy sale alerts allergic to iOS 5? I would only see new e-mails when I clicked the Mail icon. After many hours of panicking (“I don’t want to be left out of the awesome failblog picture exchange between you and Dad!”) I went to a friend who offered the solution. Take note: if you use Gmail (including any email accounts that run on Gmail, as asu.edu and my work accounts do), you must set up your mailbox using the Microsoft Exchange option to receive push notifications. Enter your email, username (full email address), password, and description (“Gmail account”), leave the ‘Domain’ field blank and press next. After verification, enter “m.google.com” in the server, and you’re done! Isn’t it interesting that to make something work on my Apple device, I have to use a tool from Microsoft?
  5. App Store Icon

    They give the App Store icon a halo, because it's divine.

  6. Get a little app happy. There really is an app for just about anything, and they’re much more beautifully designed than anything for Blackberry ever was. Now, instead of being jealous of all my friends who could play Words with Friends with each other, I just resent the fact that they haven’t started a game with me yet. #passiveplayer
  7. No more flashing LED indications that I’m loved. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to get used to. If you had anything new happening on your Blackberry – text, email, software update, Facebook wall post, etc. – the little red light in the upper right corner of the device would flash every 5 seconds, kindly letting you know that there’s something going on that warrants your attention. The light won’t stop flashing until you check what’s going on (and sometimes even after that… it was a little glitchy of course). That flashing light became a symbol of attention and love in my life. On the off chance that I stopped looking at my phone for 5 minutes ever, I could return to a flashing red light letting me know that in my absence, something happened. I even maintained a disorder I liked to call Phantom Flash Syndrome, whereby I would often hold the image of my phone in the corner of my eye and swear I saw something flash, but upon checking, saw no new notifications at all. (This is especially prevalent in cars at night while driving on freeways with plenty of lights to reflect of the face of a phone.) Anyway, the point here is this: If I step away from my iPhone and miss anything, I have no way of knowing until I pick up my phone and check for myself. The number of times I check my phone screen daily just increased by a power of 10, I believe.

    Blackberry flashing light LED

    I equated 'flashing light' with 'self worth' for a while...

All in all, I am very satisfied with my decision to go from Blackberry to iPhone and it’s definitely something I’d recommend, under the provision that it definitely takes some getting used to. But with patience and time, you’ll get sucked into the iPhone cult just as quickly as you condemned it before you were a member. I promise.

Closing note: you may see I make no mention of Siri in this. That’s because I don’t find her all that useful. Maybe I will down the line, but for now she’s a feature I have used primarily as a means to prove to others that I have a 4S, not just a 4.

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