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Nothing But Net: Dropped

Dropped call. Another. Again. For the millionth time. Nothing is more infuriating, more insulting. So I decided this last dropped call was, in fact, my last dropped call. In the past, I had just swallowed my pride and redialed whomever I was speaking to, which was followed by an awkward apology.

But not this time. This time, I channeled the rage of consumers the world over, cocked my arm over my head and hurled my iPhone toward the ground. Where there had been a smooth chrome bezel, dents. Where there had been volume buttons, a gaping hole. Where there had been a glass touchscreen, a spider web of cracks.

How did it come to this?


(Let me preface here that I am not an Apple, to use a phrase the Internet loves, fanboy. I use several PCs and rarely “think different.” So I promise to never go on rants about how great Apple’s stuff is, and if I do, please stop me. C’mon—one mouse button? Get real.)

When the original iPhone was announced in January of ’07, I peed my pants with glee. Exclusive to Cingular (this was just before the global renaming of the company back to AT&T)? I’m already a customer! $600? Whatever, it’s made by Apple and makes me look cool! Months later, a release date was announced—June 29. I had already booked a trip to Calif. to visit a good buddy from college for the last 10 days of the month. Can you guess how I spent the next-to-last day? That’s right—in the heat of the Irvine sun, huddled under a storefront awning in line for five hours. No, I don’t know why he still speaks to me.

My experiences with the first-generation iPhone were, by and large, great. A year later, I upgraded to the iPhone 3G, bringing along faster data, GPS and more storage. And heartbreak. But that’s not really Apple’s fault, and that brings us to the other side of the equation: AT&T.

There is an infamous story that, when the iPhone was first under development, Apple went to Verizon with the proposition to exclusively carry the device, only to have the carrier pass on it. AT&T became sloppy seconds and has been the exclusive U.S. carrier of the iPhone since. The iPhone debuted in other countries with similar agreements, but has since expanded to multiple carriers virtually everywhere else.

This has been wonderful for AT&T’s bottom line, but at a cost: Being an AT&T subscriber is an absolute nightmare. I’d say the service is spotty, but that would honestly be a compliment. Everybody’s seen Verizon’s “There’s A Map For That” commercials that make AT&T’s 3G coverage look pitiful, which prompted Luke Wilson (fresh off the buffet line) to retort with, “AT&T covers 97 percent of all Americans.” Fine. I’m not about to say my needs are more important than someone else’s. But Long Island is about 1,400 square miles and has close to 8 million people living on it. Simply “covering” an area isn’t enough. There have been times I’ve taken the train from Huntington to Penn Station and had the call get bobbled when presumably jumping from cell tower to cell tower. There have been times I’ve stood in an open parking lot, staring at my phone and slowly walking around like a beachcomber with a metal detector, trying to get a bar of service. I gave AT&T just shy of $100 per month and didn’t get service in my bedroom.

A few quibbles aside (WHY DOESN’T THE WEATHER APP UPDATE AUTOMATICALLY?!), I love the iPhone. The device is gorgeous, works exactly the way it should and does a lot of things nearly flawlessly. But by name, what is the iPhone? That’s right—a phone. And as a phone, it sucks. Nothing—not being 12 millimeters thin, not having 140,000 apps, not having a great screen I can watch a video of a cat trying to squeeze into a goldfish bowl—can compensate for that.

And yes, it felt awesome to destroy it.

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I promise this will be the last time I talk about Apple for a while, but the mysterious-as-a-leprechaun-riding-a-unicorn Apple tablet was unveiled—the iPad. Hours later, iTampon became a trending topic. Get it? It’s funny, because it sounds like a women’s product. Nice one, Internet!

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