On a recent trip to Europe I discovered the joys of owning an IPhone 3G. More than a trendy device to one-up your friends, the iPhone is a one-stop time-saving device. If you have a plan with AT&T (and not, say, a jail-broken phone), you can request a special international plan that gives you a certain amount of data transfer at a much lower rate. This, because so many iPhone users complained of the high costs of using the phone overseas, with some people running up thousands of dollars.
If you do decide to go for the international plan, I would gently suggest going higher than the 20meg limit. There is no way if you have an iPhone you will use less than 40megs. The reason? There are so many reasons to use it that, short of the awful battery life, you will find it permanently attached to your palm.
While walking the streets of Paris, it was so handy to have the Google maps GPS on the phone. It finds where you are and lets you know where you have to go, down what street, across which bridge. There is even an app for the Paris Metro. It’s so easy to use: you simply type in where you are coming from and where you are going and it will tell you what trains you need to take and from which station. It will even tell you where the closest station is to where you are.
There is a catch, however. Remember my mentioning battery life? The iPhone’s battery is very nearly useless. It will last a day if you’re lucky. If you’re using it to map your way around Paris it will go much quicker. If you’re using it to take mobile uploads for Facebook, or status updates, or Twitpics, it will suck the life out of the phone and you might find yourself stranded with only the French to help you, and let’s face it, that’s like having no one there to help at all.
One cannot help but marvel at the kind of technology that went into this handy little machine. Anything you can’t figure out you can easily google on your phone. You can make phone calls, watch movies on the plane, even play video games, keep a food and exercise diary, there is even an app for an alarm clock.
In fact, there probably isn’t a thing you need that someone hasn’t developed an app for. If it isn’t developed and someone needs it you can bet it will be available soon. Is it without flaws? Of course not. The battery is a problem, and the touch keyboard is a permanent exercise in frustration. The other annoying thing it does is that sometimes when you want to zoom in, it thinks you want to cut, copy or paste. This is a new feature with the third generation iPhone. It still has bugs to work out.
The only potential drawback for a European traveler is finding an outlet to keep the thing charged. One doesn’t have to have a computer to charge the iPhone but finding electrical outlets in Europe can be tricky. Waiting for the device to fully charge could be bothersome for someone on the run.
It is perfect, though, for hotel travelers who have the time to let it charge over night. Yes, this sounds like an infomercial but true love can do that to a person.